Multisport Magazine Issue 22 - Page 15

FEATURE STORY AT COOLANGATTA BY IAN HANSON Coolangatta Gold is steeped in a strong and prestigious history on the Gold Coast, and is also one of the most challenging endurance races in surf sports. What began as the central theme for a motion picture 30 years ago has now commanded a place on Australia’ s annual sports calendar. On October 16, 2016 the tradition continued as two worthy champions again took their place on top of the podium in the endurance event that combines swimming, running, board paddling and surf skiing. A li Day powered to his fourth Coates Hire Coolangatta Gold title on the Gold Coast on October 16, and is now looking ahead 12 months to a possible showdown with the only man who has a better record, fivetime winner Caine Eckstein. The Surfers Paradise Ironman star crossed the line in the 41.8km endurance test more than five minutes ahead of his nearest rival, Matt Bevilacqua (Kurrawa), with rising talent Alex Wright (Alexandra Headland) third. Day’s win in three hours 54 minutes and 29 seconds puts him one victory short of the record held by Caine Eckstein, and after the finish there was talk of the pair both lining up in what would be a monumental 2017 race. Adding further spice for next year is the clear indication that Australia’s greatest ever Ironman champion, Caine’s brother Shannon, has already hinted that 2017 “would be a perfect time” for him to race Australia’s toughest Ironman contest. “Caine is the reason I first wanted to win this race and it would be amazing to maybe take him on next year,” Day said. “When I was young and saw him win his first race I thought, ‘ How does he do that?’ and just wanted to be like him. “The respect is mutual between the both of us, which is all you can ask for. “I saw him on the course again today, like last year, and high fived him. We’ll see what happens next year but for now I’ll enjoy this fourth one.” Day said he was happy to break away from most of the 25-strong field in the opening ski leg, allowing him to dictate the rest of the race. At the first transition at Miami, Day was just ahead of Bevilacqua and Manly’s Kendrick Louis, and was then able to increase his advantage to more than two minutes in the 3.5km swim at Burleigh Heads. From there he stretched the advantage during the board leg and the final 7.1km soft-sand run from Currumbin to Coolangatta. Opening up a big gap was also some insurance for Day, who had battled a recent calf injury and only passed a fitness test late the day before the race. “I’m grateful I was just able to get to the start line after sustaining the injury,” he said. MULTISPORT MAGAZINE | 15