Iron stars Courtney Hancock (Surfers Paradise) and Caine Eckstein (BMD Northcliffe) were again on top of the podiums together after taking out the inaugural Nutri-Grain Iron X crowns in front of a packed house at Mooloolaba Beach.
Hancock and Eckstein both won Coolangatta Gold crowns in 2011 and today shared the limelight once more as they took out the Nutri-Grain Iron X, the newest event of the summer calendar that featured a series of obstacles including battleground beach course, underwater swimming, traditional board, swim and run disciplines as well as stand-up paddle boarding.
The midseason switch to Surfers Paradise paid dividends for Hancock, with her role models Trevor Hendy and Karla Gilbert inspiring Hancock’s emphatic win in the inaugural Nutri-Grain Iron-X.
Hancock has officially done it all in surf sports, adding the Nutri-Grain Iron-X crown to her Australian, Coolangatta Gold and Nutri-Grain Ironwoman titles, to make her the greatest all-round Ocean Female athlete.
“I’m so lucky to be at Surfers Paradise two of my heroes in Zane Hamill and Trevor Hendy. Trevor just said to me to ‘just relax’… he told me I was born on the beach and in the ocean and to just relax,” said Hancock.
“Thank you to Karla Gilbert, she taught me to paddle SUP (stand up board paddling)… she gave me confidence in that SUP and I was pretending I was her out there.
“I was so nervous (before the race) because it was the unknown of the race. Throughout my years I’ve never been the strongest athlete, it’s something I’ve always had to work hard at in the gym, other girls it comes naturally too.
“I thought it was wonderful… we could move this (event) around to Bondi or Hawaii… who knows where it could go.
“I love this sport, I love racing, this year’s Series (Nutri-Grain IronWoman) I finished sixth overall which was okay and I am here today to support this event because I want this sport to be able to give every athlete the opportunity to be full-time.
“My partner is a cricketer, everyone loves the big bash, I just want this sport to be like that, I just want it to be on television every day, and these athletes deserve to be full-time for their entire career, and that is what I want for this sport and that is why I am here today supporting it.
“I believe every athlete whether they are here today or not deserve to be able to do this full-time,” she said.
Hancock led the group from the outset and had a tidy lead after the board leg but the first battleground proved a challenge for the entire pack and she (along with all but one athlete, Bay Wildin-Snedden) was forced to complete the 200 metre run penalty after she was unable to make it through the gruelling monkey bars obstacle.
A self-described novice at stand-up paddle boarding, Hancock made that leg look easy and she maintained her lead before tactics played a role in getting her through the second battlefield. She opted to run the 200 metre penalty before wasting energy on the second round of monkey bars.
In the final ski leg Hancock hit her straps, her experience rising to the top to make a smooth run home ahead of fellow Nutri-Grain IronWomen Series competitors Tiarrn Raymond (Alexandra Headland) and Emma Dick (Currumbin).
Five time Coolangatta Gold champion Caine Eckstein smashed the opposition to convincingly take out the inaugural Nutri-Grain Iron-X men’s title in front of thousands at Mooloolaba Beach.
The Northcliffe Ironman is renowned for his endurance and fitness and showed why this new Nutri-Grain Iron-X course was purpose made for him, taking the win ahead of recently crowned Nutri-Grain IronMan Series winner Kendrick Louis (Manly) and Tanyn Lyndon (Kurrawa).
Eckstein had to work for his lead after he slipped from the monkey bars in the first battlefield. He recovered with a strong swim leg that put the 34-year old in charge of the race and from there he didn’t look back, a confident stand up paddle (SUP) leg extending his lead.
The 34 year old then dominated the second battlefield and he successfully completed the monkey bars as well as remaining obstacle challenges without pressure from his rivals.
The dominant performance allowed Eckstein to enjoy the final ski leg and run up the beach.
“I’m swimming well. I did the first underwater pretty good and just kept going, but I just wanted to get through that SUP because I knew I could do those bars. I thought if all the guys stuffed up on that, I thought if I get onto the obstacles first again I’ll get it… and then I got a pretty big lead,” Eckstein.
“I was pretty nervous to be honest, a lot of people put pressure on me, a lot of people thought I was going to win, expecting me to win and I didn’t know how any of these guys were going to go.
“Obviously with the SUP, (Michael) Boothy and that could have put a minute and a half of us.”
The race for runner-up intensified as athletes made their way onto the beach for the second battlefield with Kendrick Louis and Tanyn Lyndon fighting it out on the sand and in the surf. Louis in the end claimed second with a strong ski leg race that brought him home in front of Lyndon.