Home Australia Stawell Gift delayed as torrential downpour floods running track in regional Victoria

Stawell Gift delayed as torrential downpour floods running track in regional Victoria

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A major rain event on an oval track at Stawell in western Victoria.

The finals of the Stawell Gift races were temporarily delayed after torrential rain flooded the grass track at Central Park in the western Victorian city.

The women’s final scheduled for 1:45 p.m. this afternoon and the men’s final at 2:20 p.m. have been suspended due to a large storm, which is believed to have left around 10 millimeters of rain in half an hour.

A severe weather and heavy rain warning remains in place for the Wimmera and southwestern regions of Victoria, as a strengthening cold front moves across the state.

Other areas of the state expected to be affected include Bendigo, Ballarat, Geelong and Melbourne.(Supplied: Channel 7. )

State agency SES commander Alistair Drayton said motorists in particular should take extra care as flooding is possible.

“There is a risk of flash flooding with those heavy rains and if we are in unfamiliar areas it is very important to drive to the current conditions,” he said.

“Be environmentally conscious, especially during the school holidays… for the next 24 hours.”

Damaging wind gusts of up to about 90 kilometers per hour are also possible tonight in the central and northeastern mountain ranges.

Peter Bol races in the rain at the Stawell Gift races.

Peter Bol braved the rain to compete in the men’s 1,000 meter handicap race at Stawell.(AAP: Joel Carrett)

Earlier in the afternoon, Olympian Peter Bol finished second to Riley Bryce in the 1km handicap invitational challenge, after starting about 32 meters behind most of the field.

The race drew comparisons to Cathy Freeman’s Stawell Gift victory in 1996.

The Stawell Gift began at the end of the gold rush in 1878 and has been held every year except five since.

Event organizers are waiting for the water to clear the track before racing begins.

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