Hunter Track Classic returns to Glendale with new event - Newcastle Gift

IT has been dubbed the Surfest of athletics by local and international competitors alike.

This weekend, the Hunter Track Classic will return to Lake Macquarie for its fifth year.

As part of Athletics Australia's National Athletic Series, the Hunter Classic is recognised as one of the most popular meets of the season.

It will feature more than 20 track and field events for men and women.

Event organiser Scott Westcott said it was the crown jewel for Hunter athletics.

"Before this, we didn't have a flagship athletics event and our sports centre was looking a bit sad," Mr Westcott said.

"Now, we have something for our elite athletes to compete in, as well as international ones."

Six athletes from New Zealand, Ireland and the United States will compete.

This year, the Hunter Track Classic will incorporate the inaugural Newcastle Gift and community events - Twilight 2 Miler Community Fun Run, Chicked Women In Running afternoon tea and junior coaching clinics.

The Newcastle Gift is highly anticipated by Blacksmiths athlete Liam Wanless.

Based on Victoria's popular Stawell Gift, it will include men's and women's handicapped races.

Mr Wanless, who placed second in high jump at the Eastern Uni Games in Queensland in November, said he was excited to compete.

"Pro-races like these account for everybody," Mr Wanless said.

"Because it's handicapped to each athlete's ability, in theory, everyone should cross the finish line at the same time."

■ The Hunter Track Classic is this Saturday, January 18, at the Hunter Sports Centre, Glendale.

Entry starts from $8. Fees also apply to community events.

Go to www.huntertrackclassic.com.au for more information.

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