Australian six-day race unlikely to make return

A CLIFF Young Australian Six-Day Race stalwart says she would love to see the iconic race to return to Colac.

But former treasurer Pat Heffernan says she doubts the race will return, more than six years after its last appearance on Colac’s Memorial Square.

The race ran for 22 years, attracting around 30 runners each year from across the world to run around a track at the square, before a lack of volunteer support called the end of an era in 2006.

Former Cliff Young Australian Six-Day Race stalwart Pat Heffernan, pictured looking over race memorabilia from her 22 years as treasurer, hopes a dedicated committee could return the iconic race to Colac

District marathon runner Lee Troop attempted to revive the race in 2008 but it attracted just nine entrants due to a council-recommended shift from the central Memorial Square.

Troop organised for the event to be at Elliminyt’s Joiner Reserve after it was reported that the Colac Otway Shire Council had concerns about the long-term effect the race might have on the drought-affected square.

“It’d wouldn’t work anywhere but Memorial Square,” Mrs Heffernan said.

“It was just so central and everyone loved it there, runners came from overseas to compete, trees were great shade and protection,” she said.

“It was a good thing for Colac.”

Mrs Heffernan, who was on the race committee since the beginning, taking on a stack of different roles, said it would take a dedicated team to organise a possible return these days, if it was even possible at all.

At 88 years old, the race stalwart said she was too old to take on full-time role but said she would be happy to take on an advisory role to assist a new committee.

“It’s a pretty big job, the committee needs about six to 10 people attending monthly meetings all year around but when the race was on there were always people that would come in a help,” Mrs Heffernan said.

“I’d be a bit doubtful it could return, I think it’s been too long but I would love to see it return and I think a lot of other people would too,” she said.

 

Council says no to square

Colac Otway Shire Council says it would not support a return of the iconic Cliff Young Australian Six-Day Race at Colac’s Memorial Square.

The race, which attracted more than about 30 runners worldwide to the square for 22 years, has not run since 2005 after it suffered a lack of volunteer support.

District marathon runner Lee Troop attempted to bring back the iconic race but the council denied the use of the square, and there has been talk of a hopeful revival in 2012.

But council chief executive Rob Small said the use of Memorial Square was still unlikely, although the council would support a return elsewhere.

“If a committee came together wanting to revive the Six-Day Race, council would consider the proposal on its merits as part of its annual Festival and Events Support Scheme,” he said.

“Council is unlikely to support the event being located at the Memorial Square, but may consider it being located elsewhere.

“Compaction of the root systems of the ageing elms in Memorial Square has been identified as an issue affecting the health of the trees.”

In addition to concerns about the elm trees, Mr Small said the square lacked the facilities to host the event.

“Event processes have changed since the event last took place in 2005. Memorial Square lacks the appropriate infrastructure for an event such as the Six-Day Race – these include an appropriate track surface, participant access to hot and cold water and accommodation for competitor sleeping arrangements,” he said.

“Hiring infrastructure to meet current requirements would be a significant financial impost, and as such it would be unlikely that the Memorial Square would be a preferred venue of a future race committee in any case.”

Former race stalwart Pat Heffernan said she thought it would be unlikely the iconic race could return anywhere but the Memorial Square after Troop’s failed attempt at Elliminyt’s Joiner Reserve.

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