STRATHFIELDSAYE teenager Michael Preece will mark the new year by racing at Maryborough’s Highland Gathering on Tuesday at Princes Park.
After many months of training, Preece will race off the 100m mark in the $1000 Harvey World Travel backmarkers 1600m.
His debut on the Victorian Athletics League circuit includes taking on this year’s winner on the Borough’s track, Maiden Gully’s Cody Williamson, who will start off 75m.
The New Year’s Day run will be the start of a busy couple of months for Preece.
The Bendigo Harriers Athletics Club member has clocked fast times in the 1500m in several runs at Athletics Bendigo meets on Saturay afternoon at the La Trobe University Bendigo athletics complex in Flora Hill.
“Racing at the Maryborough Gift was always a goal at the start of the year,” Preece said at his training base at the Tom Flood Sports Centre.
This season his personal best for the 1500m is down from 4.08 minutes to 4.00.
“Hopefully, I can go faster by a few more seconds.”
He is not fazed about being near the rear of the field and conceding 220m to the limit runner.
“Racing off a handicap mark is a challenge I am really looking forward to.
“My trainers (John Burke and Neil Macdonald) have been giving me a lot of support and encouragement.”
Tips from Harriers’ clubmates, such as Brady Threlfall who has raced with great success on the VAL circuit, are a huge plus for the 18-year-old.
“The key will be to run at a pace that suits me,” said Preece, who is aiming to emulate the success other Bendigo athletes such as Josh Nolan, Williamson, Threlfall, Mitch Hocking, Phil and Peter Noden, Greg Hilson, Glenn Stephens and more have achieved at Maryborough in recent years.
Preece’s parents, Shane and Linda will be at Princes Park.
After the New Year’s Day run, the young runner’s focus will switch to chasing consecutive under-20 1500m wins at the Victoria Country titles.
Preece will compete at the Victorian Juniors on February 8 at Albert Park and the Australian Juniors on March 12-17 in Perth.