VAL News


Posted in: Newsletters

Welcome to the 20-21 season! What a crazy 9 months it has been. Big changes made to the State Governments Covid-19 restrictions in recent weeks has been welcomed with open arms. We've been incredibly busy getting everything ready to welcome you all back for what is shaping up to be an exciting season.

There are some important updates in this newsletter including the changes to competition operations, rule updates, the 'Stawell Lift' bonus system, introduction of the VAL Medal, and more, so please take the time to read.

Thank you to all our amazing clubs for putting in the hard yards during such challenging times. It would be great to see our athlete and trainer members giving them a big (CovidSafe) thank you if you spot them during the course of the competitions. They've done an outstanding job!

Athletes - I'm sure the lockdowns wouldn't have made life and training easy, so I wish you all the greatest success this season. You deserve it. Enjoy!

Tom Burbidge
VAL manager


Meadowglen Sunday 13 December
Warrnambool Saturday 2 January
Geelong Saturday 9 January
Frankston Saturday 16 January
Wangaratta Saturday 23 January
Maribyrnong Sunday 31 January
Parkdale Saturday 6 February
Ballarat Sat & Sun 13-14 February
Waverley Sunday 21 February
Castlemaine Sunday 28 February
Bendigo Sat & Sun 6-7 March
Hastings Saturday 13 March
Docklands Saturday 20 March
Ringwood Sunday 28 March
Stawell Sat, Sun & Mon 3-5 April
Coburg (TBC) Sat or Sun 24-25 April




All athletes, trainers, family and friends will be required to sign into each venue using the QR code displayed at the entry point. You can check in prior to arriving by accessing the link on the VAL Covid-19 page, or as you arrive at the gate.

Unless a club meeting successfully applies for a Tier 2 Public Event, each competition venue will be capped at 500 patrons. This cap includes participants and spectators which means family and friends may be limited at some meetings. We hope this number will increase in the new year but for now ask that spectators only attend when family, friends and training partners are actually competing. 

We're happy to say that the racing format will remain business as usual. Whilst there will be some additional safety protocols in place to adhere to the Victorian State Governments restrictions, the scheduling of heats, semis and finals will remain unchanged.

VAL competition singlets (colours) will not be worn in any heats or semi finals until further notice. We hope to resume the normal use of VAL singlets in the new year. We will endeavour to have all race finalists in our traditional colours and finalists silks where possible.

Coloured hip patches will be required for all circular events. Each hip colour patch collected should be kept by the athlete for future races. Hip patches and pins will be available for collection at the colour tent.

Athletes will be permitted to wear their squad or individual racing singlets during any heats and semi finals. However, we would like to encourage all athletes to (where possible) race in singlets that align to the colour assigned in the heat draw. Example, if you are drawn in the red lane and you have your own red singlet to wear. We understand this cannot be applied frequently, but would appreciate any assistance where possible, particularly for our race caller.

Singlets must not contain offensive material and they should resemble a similar 'cut' or 'fit' to the VAL singlets. If athletes are unable to provide their own singlets, we will happily provide assistance via our official in the colour tent. Female athletes are permitted to wear crop tops.


  • Do not attend if you feel sick or unwell
  • Maintain physical distancing (1.5 metres) when not competing
  • Cough and sneeze into tissue or elbow
  • Good hand hygiene
  • Do not spit or blow nasal fluid at any time within the venue

See the VAL CovidSafe Plan for the full list of safety measures and requirements


An athlete is considered to be established for a specific category within a particular event, if they have competed in that event within that category on 10 or more occasions in the previous 2 seasons and 20 or more occasions within the last 5 seasons in VAL competition.  Refer to key terms (Page 5) for a more detailed explanation. However, for athletes over both the 800 and 1600 metre distances to be deemed Established will require 6 runs in the previous 2 seasons and 16 runs the past 5 seasons. Once an athlete has competed over the particular distance (800 or 1600 metres) 16 times, they remain an Established athlete in that specific category, unless they do not compete at all over that particular distance for 2 complete seasons, whereupon they would revert to OGA status until the criteria as outlined above is met.

The Warrnambool meeting will once again provide athletes with the chance to receive two 'ticks'. Athletes that receive an acceptable performance (AP) for each race they compete in at Warrnambool will receive 2 x AP's, effectively applying 2 ticks towards a handicap adjustment.

3200M OPEN
Due to the infrequent running of the 3200 metre event over the past few seasons, start marks will no longer be prepared at the beginning of the season, with all handicaps done based on entries for the particular carnival.

Below are the lift's that will be applied to the winners handicap for the 120m Open and 120m Women’s Stawell Gifts. These lifts are only available for the Stawell 120m Gifts conducted in 2021. If the 2021 Stawell Gifts are not conducted the lifts do not carry forward to a future season


100/120M RACES

The VAL will apply a handicap lift for Open Stawell Gift and Women's Stawell Gift to the athletes winning handicap for the below races.

For 100/120m events conducted in December and January the lift will be .75m. 

For 100/120m events conducted in February and March the lift will be .5m.
If an event is postponed to a new date the lift will be relevant to the new date.
Lift's for each selected race will be advertised via the VAL’s website.

The below eligibility criteria applies:

  • The athlete must not break net time in the win.
  • A second win over the 100/120m distance will deem the athlete ineligible for the lift.
  • The lift will be added to the athletes winning handicap for the Stawell Gift races only. Standard penalties apply for all other races.
  • In receiving this lift, athletes will not be handicapped to a mark that places them beyond their ceiling handicap. More information on ceiling times can be found within the Handicap Regulations.
  • To be eligible for the lift, the athlete must not break the distance ceiling time in the win.
  • A handicap lift that places the athlete under the ceiling target time will not be applied.
  • An athlete will not receive a handicap that exceeds 2m from their season start mark.
  • Athletes that are allocated a UP (Unacceptable Performance) during the season may not automatically qualify for the lift in the Stawell Gift. This will be at the steward’s discretion.
  • All athletes must have competed at least once in Victoria over the 100/120m distance in seasons 19/20 or 20/21, or have a handicap less than the novice handicap to be eligible for the Stawell lift.
  • Interstate female athletes must have competed in a VAL event within seasons 2019/20, 2020/21 or have an initial handicap of the novice mark or less.
  • A win in an Open 100/120m race by a female excludes her from any lift in the Stawell Women's Gift.

More information on ceiling and target times can be found in the VAL Handicapping Regulations.


In 550m events the VAL will apply a handicap lift for the 2021 Stawell 550m Open to the athletes winning handicap for those events during the 2020-21 season.

550m Open:

  • Lifts for Stawell to be a minimum of 3m and up to a maximum of 5m.
  • Winning athletes cannot go past their ceiling handicap and cannot break net time.
  • Athletes that are allocated a UP (Unacceptable Performance) during the season may not automatically qualify for the lift in the Stawell Gift. This will be at the steward’s discretion.
  • Every first time novice entry must have at least one run off the novice handicap or less.
  • Athletes that win any Group 1 or Classic race after obtaining the Stawell Lift become ineligible for the lift.

A second win over the 550m distance will deem the athlete ineligible for the lift.


The 20-21 season will see the introduction of the 'VAL Medal'. The award will be presented to the athlete that demonstrates the most supreme athletic performances amongst their peers throughout the season across from any and all distances or categories. With all athletes being eligible, a culmination of points will be awarded by the officials at each meeting throughout the season and the award will be presented to the highest points scorer. Stay tuned for more information on the VAL Medal.

Warrnambool closes 16 December - Enter now
Geelong closes 28 December - Enter now
Frankston closes 1 January - Enter now
Wangaratta closes 8 January - Enter now
Maribyrnong closes 15 January - Enter now


Here's your chance to be a part of one of the country's most historic sporting events. Come, compete, and celebrate the Centenary of the Wangaratta Sports Carnival on Saturday 23 January. Entries close on Friday 8 January. Enter now


Since the pandemic took hold 7 months ago, several community sports clubs across Australia remain closed. Many will find it hard to survive.

The financial impact of COVID-19 has devastated Australian sport—particularly to the Victorian community and club sports that rely on membership fees and local sponsorships to keep the lights on. The Australian Sports Foundation (ASF) provides a way for the community to make tax deductible donations to their chosen sporting organisation.

The VAL will allocate all funds raised via the ASF towards maintaining the most optimal level of competition possible for the 2020-21 season.

Find out more about the VAL Covid Relief Fund here