The West

Big weekend for Leonora

The punter's eyes shifted to the coins as they rolled around in the burly bloke's hands.

It was a focus with the intensity of a Hollywood cowboy shootout.

But this was no blood sport. This was two-up.

"The same enthusiasm applies to the pigeon race, you know," quipped a passerby.

"Someone bid over $2000 on a pigeon last year."

Despite the belief a lot of the gold has been mined, the rush still remains for Leonora.

The tiny Goldfields town, 800km north-east of Perth, hosted its 11th Golden Gift - a series of events including horse races, two-up, a pigeon race, a cycling race and a running race along the town's main street - at the weekend.

The final running race called the Elite Mile attracts athletes from all over Australia, competing for $6000 and a gold nugget first prize.

Two-time Olympic runner Jeffrey Riseley punched the air as he crossed the line first in the men's event.

"I've been lucky enough to travel the world, but this is like nothing I've ever done before," he said.

Melissa Duncan, 24, took out the women's race.

"I'm just a uni student and I'm currently waiting to see if I have been selected for the Commonwealth Games, and so it's fantastic," she said.

The West Australian

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