It’s the story of historic run in a far away city and a Ballarat Olympian whose appeal for a bit of equality has got a lot of athletes talking.
The race is Albury’s Nail Can Hill Run first hosted in 1977 and the runner is Eureka athlete Victoria Mitchell.
Since that time, the initial Sunday in May has seen thousands of runners, from Olympic standard to battlers, traverse those rises and falls.
However, it’s fair to say this year’s Nail Can has been the most contentious with women’s winner Victoria Mitchell criticising organisers over prizemoney set aside for a race record.
The Beijing Olympian won her race in a time of 42 minutes, 46 seconds to cut the women’s record mark by more than a minute.
Mitchell thought she had collected a $5000 winning bonus by creating a new race record, only to discover that prize only applied to breaking the overall mark, held by marathon ace Steve Moneghetti.
Mitchell was stunned, wondering aloud “how can you do that in this day and age?”.
What followed was debate about men and women in sport, much of it sexist and covering ground long fertile for gender stereotyping.
Then on Friday, the Rotary Club of Albury West, which has administered the race since 2009, announced Mitchell would receive the prizemoney.
In a somewhat grudging media release, the club said Mitchell would be given the chance to claim the $5000 and “the organising committee has agreed to remove it from the prize list for future years”.
Club president Stuart Abbott later told media there was a possibility it could return “but it’s unlikely”.
Surprisingly Mitchell had not been contacted by the club, before its announcement, but she welcomed the decision.
“If they do want to do a race bonus, of course, yes, make it equal for both genders,” she said.
That is the bottom line, it is only fair that up to 50 per cent of competitors, women, have the chance to get a record, given the similar preparation required and the course distance being the same for both genders.
The Melbourne Marathon has $20,000 on offer to a man or woman who breaks their respective record.
Hopefully, Nail Can organisers will offer a bonus to both men and women next year.
As ABC broadcaster Angela Pippos wrote in her book, Breaking the Mould, about sexism in sport – “equality should be a pillar of a decent and progressive society”.