The 2019 Coolangatta Gold featuring Round 1 of the Nutri-Grain IronMan / IronWoman Series has produced the most sensational day of racing across the southern end of the Gold Coast after competitors battled it out over 41.8km in stellar conditions.
Nutri-Grain Series stars Matt Bevilacqua (Kurrawa) and Lana Rogers (Noosa) took the illustrious crowns in one of the best days of racing the Coolangatta Gold has ever witnessed.
The lead changed throughout both the men’s and women’s events and after four hours of racing, the titles were decided by dramatic sprint finishes. With the event doubling as round one of the Nutri-Grain IronMan & IronWoman Series, there was even more at stake.
Tasmanian-born Matt Bevilacqua out-ran great friend and Kurrawa SLSC teammate Matt Poole to take back the lead he had held for most of the day, and take his first Coolie Gold title in four hours, six minutes and 19 seconds. Poole was 36 seconds further back and is set up well for the rest of the Nutri-Grain Series. James Lacy from Mermaid Beach had wobbly legs but hung on for third.
“I think it is the best day of my life! The Nutri-Grain Series is a full series, this is just one day, one stand-alone race, that you have to win, there is no consistency about it, you just have to be at the top,” said Bevilacqua.
“It was one of my childhood goals, the Coolangatta Gold, even when I was 16 the Nutri-Grain Series was far beyond me at that stage, so this is a proper childhood dream come true and for that reason it is the best.”
ahead of his best mate and training partner Matt Poole.
“If you had of asked me before the race, I knew it was going to come down to me and Pooley… we had just done so much work.
“A lot of people opted to do a few things over the last few weeks that probably wouldn’t of helped them today that we didn’t, I knew that we had sacrificed so much and yes it was a bit of a script, me and Pooley just side by side with two kilometres to go over four hours.
“We have trained together for the last eight years, side-by-side three times a day and I was kind of pinching myself just kind of looking at him going, you are kidding aren’t you.
“He gave me a friendly bum pat on the way through on the board, he came flying past me, it was encouraging and I was dead at that point, I thought it was all over but I put the shoes on, got rid of my arms, I didn’t have to use them anymore and switched muscle groups and everything changes.”
The women’s race was even more dramatic with the five favourites, Georgia Miller, Courtney Hancock, Jemma Smith, Lana Rogers and Danielle McKenzie, all coming off the board and into the run, within reach of each other.
Local favourite Hancock led the 7.1km run early before Rogers from Noosa SLSC and Smith from Umina SLSC, took the lead and started an incredible battle. Rogers, 23, almost stopped twice on the run, while leading, but kept finding more. In the final 100 metre sprint on the soft sand of Coolangatta Beach, she lifted again and passed Smith only 50 metres from the finish. Hancock, who has won the title three times before, hung on for the bronze.
For Noosa based Lana Rogers, it came down to a tactical decision to kick off the shoes a few kilometres out to give her the best chance to taking the title.
“Honestly, that last two ks (kilometres), I wasn’t getting through that at all. I had second in my mind…. I was looking where Courtney (Hancock) and Danielle McKenzie were.
“There was a guy who was telling me memories of last year saying “take your shoes off, take your shoes off,” as soon as I turned that corner I did and got the win… I can’t believe it.
“Through that dry sand I wasn’t going to get through that with shoes on, it’s just so much easier running in bare feet. I managed to get that win and chase down Jemma.
“It’s the toughest and most gruelling event Surf Life Saving has, as an athlete there are three boxes you want to tick, the Nutri-Grain Series, Coolangatta Gold and Australian Ironwoman champion… I’ve managed to do two and I have a lot longer in the Nutri-Grain Series, there is one more to tick,” said an elated Rogers.
With the Coolangatta Gold in the books, the athletes will now turn their attention to the remaining 4 short format rounds of the Nutri-Grain Series.
Click here for the full Nutri-Grain Series Round 1 results.