by David Lems
THE focus will be on catering for younger people and providing more opportunities in the prizemoney events at this year's Ipswich Winter Carnival.
The 36th running of the tradition-rich event is on August 27 at Bill Paterson Oval.
After experimenting with a twilight format, organisers have returned to a day program to encourage more competitors to participate, especially from Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast clubs.
This year's program starts at 9.30am, providing more suitable afternoon times for the exciting handicap finals.
Last year's winter carnival created history with Ipswich club runners, cousins Nicholas Grant and Larissa Chambers, winning their respective Gift races.
It was the first time Ipswich-based runners had won the handicap events ahead of competitors from other centres.
Five prizemoney events are being offered again on August 27.
They are the 28th Ipswich Lightning Gift over 120m, the Ladies Open Gift (120m), U18 Girls Dash (70m), U18 Boys Dash (70m) and Geoff Jones Memorial Backmarkers Consolation (120m).
Athletes in the Ipswich Lightning Gift and Ladies Open Gift are chasing a slice of the $3000 prizemoney in each race.
The other three races have $500 up for grabs.
Ipswich and District Athletic Club president Vic Pascoe said the age for the two under 18 dashes had been lowered from 15 years to 13 years to encourage more young runners to enter and test their sprinting form.
Entries close for the five prizemoney events on August 21.
The registration form can be downloaded at www.ipswichathletics.org.au
The Queensland Athletic League is the professional organisation for handicapping.
Nominations for other events on the Ipswich Winter Carnival program are open until August 24.
Competitors can nominate for these events at www.qldathletics.org.au
Pascoe said the non-prizemoney field and track events were open to everyone, not just athletes linked to clubs.
"Anybody can have a go. You just have to register online,'' Pascoe said, welcoming newcomers to athletics competition.
Defending titleholders Grant (Lightning Gift) and Chambers (Ladies Gift) are expected to race again.
Grant has been in solid form, coming second in his under-18 event at the recent Somerset program on the Gold Coast.
Chambers is returning from a calf injury, having also been busy doing some fine encouragement work with Indigenous kids in The Northern Territory.
Pascoe said other Ipswich club regulars like 1500m runner Reece Griffin and Wright sisters Erin (70m Dash) and Hayley (70m Dash and 120m Ladies gift) would provide exceptional competition for the challengers.
Pascoe said medals would be given to all placegetters in a range of events.
He said records would be acknowledged with a certificate.
Among long-standing record holders at the carnival are Sydney Olympic 400m gold medallist Cathy Freeman. She still has an under 18 100m record dating back to 1989.
Athletes in all races will be electronically timed at Limestone Park.