Former Nutri-Grain Ironman champion Matt Bevilacqua (Northcliffe) and NSW Ironwoman Lizzie Welborn (Newport) have opened the 2022/23 Nutri-Grain IronMan and IronWoman Series with a win today at Manly Beach.

A gruelling EnduroSurf format saw the lead constantly change in both the men’s and women’s races, as the field battled it out against each other and the surf conditions on Sydney’s northern beaches.

With the women racing first, Welborn came out of the water in 10th after the opening leg, but managed to make her way through the field, moving through in the swim and board legs.

The 24-year-old Newport athlete said she couldn’t have been more happy, with her friends and family watching on, and the only NSW athlete in the women’s field.

“You couldn’t switch off in that race…the lead changed about 20 times and I just tried to keep it together and focus on the little things,” Welborn said.

“Being the only female NSW athlete this year really meant a lot to me, I wanted to prove that a NSW athlete can get the win.

“To show the next generation of NSW nippers that it’s possible, so this race, and this win is so special to me,” she said.

New Zealander Olivia Corrin (Northcliffe) claimed her first Nutri-Grain IronWoman Series podium, with Northcliffe teammate Georgia Miller (Northcliffe) finishing third.

In the men’s race, Bevilacqua powered home, beating defending champion Ali Day (Surfers Paradise) up the beach in a sprint finish.

“I made a few mistakes out there today, but I’m really happy to take the win and start the Series with a bang.

“I didn’t feel great, and I just tried to build into it…at those times you’ve just got to make sure you stay at the front and go when you can.

“I couldn’t believe it at the end…there was no waves! Everytime we went out, a set held us up, but then coming back there was nothing.

“Got to the beach, had to sprint up next to him (Day) but was so happy to cross the line first,” he said.

Day’s former Warilla Barrack Point teammate Ben Carberry (Burleigh Heads Mowbray Park) finished third.

Racing will return to Manly Beach tomorrow, with Round 2 of the Nutri-Grain IronMan and IronWoman Series.