AFTER criss-crossing Victoria for this season's pro athletics action, Lonain Burnett is rapt about a chance to compete at home in the Bendigo Gift meeting on Saturday.
Burnett, 27, will be chasing success in the open 400m and 800m contests when the Victorian Athletic League runs a meet at the Retreat Road track in Flora Hill from about 3pm until 10pm.
"It's a track I have always enjoyed racing on," Burnett said.
His training is still done on the grass surface of the Tom Flood Sports Centre or on the climbs at nearby Rosalind Park.
For many years, Burnett has competed at the Bendigo International Madison athletics/cycling carnival.
The Bendigo Thousand was first run in 1947 and since 1972 it's been the blue riband sprint event on the Bendigo International Madison program which was to have marked its 50th anniversary this year.
The Madison carnival is on hold until 2023.
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For Burnett, and those in pro running circles, the Bendigo Gift carnival is another chance to get out on the track and compete.
"As athletes that's what we want to do and why I enjoy the sport so much."
Burnett's competed at the recent Castlemaine Gift meeting at Camp Reserve.
From a mark of 56m, Burnett ran his 800m heat in 1:54.31 to be third, and ran 1:54.19 as he was seventh in the final.
He raced from 28m in the 400m and ran 49.8, but narrowly missed a finals berth.
"The 800m races have been my best this season,'' Burnett said.
"I have been a lot more competitive in those races this season and that distance is a major focus going into the Bendigo Gift and also for Geelong and Stawell.
"The 400m time at Castlemaine was slower than I was aiming for. The goal was low 48s, high 47s, but I will just keep working as hard as I can."
Stops on this season's racing calendar have included Warrnambool, Terang, Wangaratta, Frankston, Beachside, and Ballarat.
The only meets he has not raced were Hastings and St Albans as he recovered from Covid.
"To have a race meeting just five minutes from home is a huge advantage," Burnett said of the meet in Bendigo.
Athletics has played a big part in the life of the Burnett family of Craig, Roz, Lonain and Kirrily.
"Dad (Craig) raced in the VAL, and Kirrily is still racing and plays a key part in admin for the league."
Roz is regularly trackside at athletics, but also on the sidelines when Lonain plays soccer from a wing for Strathdale.
For Lonain a great motivating factor in athletics is the competition, keeping fit, but also the camaraderie.
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