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Stewarding Introduction for season 21/22

Welcome everyone to the 21-22 season.

Our Commitment to you:

As the new Chief Steward, I’m looking forward to enjoying the summer of athletics and doing my part to ensure that myself and the VAL Stewarding Team maintain a fair and transparent competition for all.

My Background:

My background includes being a competitor for over 20 years, competing as a sprinter, with wins from 70m up to 400m.  My best wins were the Bendigo thousand in 1998 and the Keilor Gift at the ripe old age of 39 in 2011.

Having competed and coached in the sport as well as being a Director on the Board for 5 years, I have a strong knowledge of professional running and the intricacies of handicap racing.  It is my intention to Steward strongly, but transparently, so all runners will receive timely and useful feedback on their performances, so they can adjust accordingly.

Your Responsibilities as an Athlete:

As a past athlete, I understand that athletes are not at their best every week, however we would like to see an intent to run at their best for that meeting.  If you are competing with no intention of winning, we will be speaking with you about your performance, and you may be sanctioned by the Stewarding Team. If there are reasons why you can’t compete to your regular or expected standard, please speak with one of the Stewarding Team before you run.

Some key points we would like you to consider for the 21-22 season:

  1. Consistency of performance from meeting to meeting, especially from 1 week to the next is expected.  Sharp improvements or drop offs will be strongly scrutinised, particularly when it relates to events of higher prizemoney or prestige.  We understand that runners will set themselves or ‘peak’ for certain events, however we expect to see a consistent form shift towards that peak.  Conversely, runners competing in the weeks following their ‘peak’ are expected to show similar form.
  2. Whilst performances from meeting to meeting can be measured and are relatively clear to Steward, there is a subjective area to Stewarding, which is the intensity or ‘effort’ that a runner is showing when competing. The time parameters for achieving an AP are relatively easy for established runners who are in shape, however if a runner is not competing with a sufficient level of effort, then a non time based NAP will be issued.  Should a runner continue to compete without showing intent they then run the risk of Stewards taking further actions.
  3. Runners consistently making finals but not placing will come under scrutiny, particularly when they are lower prizemoney races where they receive an AP for their performance.
  4. We will be paying particular attention to ‘winning intent’ in races this season. Runners who find themselves in a winning position but fail to ‘finish it off’ may be subjected to an appropriate sanction.
  5. There is a process for runners wanting to discuss or query handicaps, and that is via the VAL office. Any members wishing to speak or meet with a steward or handicapper must make an appointment through the VAL office. Runners or trainers approaching handicappers to discuss their handicap on race days without an appointment will be issued with a warning on the first occasion and fined for subsequent breaches.  Any abusive or snide comments directed toward handicappers and officials at meetings will not be tolerated.
  6. If you do not compete or behave in an acceptable, way you may be subject to the following: warnings, reviews, handicap reviews, fines and more. Further information on sanctions can be found in the VAL Regulations.

In summary, our role is to ensure a fair and competition for all runners, your responsibility is to compete at a consistent level of effort across the season. Moving forward, the Stewarding Team would like to have more regular conversations with runners, so please do not be concerned if we ask you for a discussion. If you are worried about competing at a meeting because of Stewarding, or you have questions about stewarding, please approach a member of the Stewarding Team before you race. We are only too happy to provide advice that supports fair competition for everyone.  If you are targeting a particular race, our advice would be to carefully consider what lead up races and distances in which you compete. If you or your trainer are unsure what is best, a member of the Runners & Trainers Association can assist you.

Good luck for the season!

Rob Lehmann

VAL Chief Steward