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In handicap running, competitors start at different positions on the track dependant upon their ability. The backmarker is generally the more naturally gifted athlete and starts behind everyone else. The handicaps are designed to even up the competition just like horse racing so that the running is more fascinating and unpredictable and gives everyone a chance.

First year runners with no record of performances start off the novice marks . After a few starts at various meetings, the handicapper may adjust the marks to ensure the runner is more competitive. Runners who are running with the League for the first time but have a record of performances behind them may be handicapped according to their ability.

After an athlete competes in at least three races of the same distance, the handicapper can increase the athletes handicap by at least the minimum increment. The increments differ across all distances and the handicapper also has the ability to alter an athlete’s handicap at their discretion.

Each meeting comprises a selection of Sprint races (70m, 100m, 120m, 200m, 300m and 400m) and Middle Distance races (550m, 800m, 1000m, 1600m and 3200m).

11 to 13 year olds can compete in junior races such as Under 14 and Under 18 events.
Athletes must be aged 14 years and over to compete in all other categories such as Open and Restricted events. 

Open events allow anyone to compete regardless of age or gender. ALL VAL meetings also have separate events for Women, Masters (35+), Juniors (U17 & U20).  Restricted races are also frequent for those athletes who have not won a race valued at $300 or more.

The Victorian Athletic League has many registered and experienced coaches who are willing to help athletes improve their technique, fitness and speed. Search for VAL registered trainer here or contact the League Office during business hours for advice regarding finding a coach in your area.

A registration fee is payable prior to competing in any registered VAL races. You are also required to pay an entry fee for each race you want to compete in.  Race entry fees vary depending on the amount of prize money that is on offer.

Each race meeting will have a deadline for race entries. The entry deadlines can be found on the VAL website in the ‘meeting details’ section within the featured event. Entries can be completed through your personal login in through the VAL website, after you have successfully registered. Select the races you wish to compete in for that race meeting by adding the item to your ‘Cart’ and purchasing them at the checkout.

Note: All race meets will have a mandatory levy fee that is automatically added with every entry.

As athletes arrive a the race venue, you purchase a program that has what heat number and colour top you have been allocated to and the time your race is scheduled to run. Athletes can set up their belongings on the outside of the track or within the centre of the arena, away from the warm up area.

All athletes should make their way to the information tent to collect their coloured top from the official and make their way to the starting area of their race at least 5 to 10 minutes before the scheduled start time. After the race is completed, return your coloured top to the information tent.

After the completion of all heats, it is the athletes responsibility to check if they have qualified for a semi-final or final. The finals sheets can be found on the board at the information tent and confirmation of the finals being posted is usually announced over the PA system.

All athletes require to wear a pair of athletic spikes for all events on track or grass surfaces. The maximum length of the spikes will differ in sprint and distance races and length choice is at the discretion of the athlete. All athletes are expected to wear a singlet (or a crop top for women who choose) in all races, and will be required to wear a coloured top that corresponds to what lane they have drawn in the race day program. Athletes are required to supply their own set of starting blocks for sprint events

Each race meeting will have allocated prize pools of money for each race, depending on their group category. This prize pool is then distributed between race finalist depending on their finishing positions at the discretion of the race meeting organisers. The allocations of prize money can be found in your race day program.

The collection area for prize money will differ between race meets, but usually can be sought in the clubrooms of the venue, the information tent or at a designated tent in the arena. If an athlete is ever unsure of the area in which to collect their prize money, ask one of our friendly officials at the information tent.

Yes. The League participates in the National Registration System, which permits athletes who compete with the VAL to run at other meetings around Australia without being required to pay an additional registration fee. This includes the famous Gifts at Bay Sheffield (South Australia) and Burnie (Tasmania). Similarly, athletes that are registered with other Leagues around the country can enter VAL events - over 200 interstate athletes compete in Victoria at events such as the Stawell Gift, the Ballarat Gift and the Stonnington Gift.

Athletes compete with the VAL for many reasons. Top class runners find it challenging, as they have to chase the frontmarkers, whilst others use the athletics to supplement their other sporting pursuits or incomes. For example, many current footballers and umpires keep fit during the summer months by competing with the VAL. Whatever the reason, the VAL provides everyone who competes with the opportunity to improve his or her level of fitness and win cash!