The buzz around Coolum has reached fever pitch this week as the town welcomes the arrival of Australia’s best surf lifesaving athletes for round five of the Kellogg’s NutriGrain IronMan and Telstra IronWoman Series.
The penultimate round, which kicks off with the IronWomen’s race at 11:30am, will follow the pursuit format introduced during last year’s series which features individual swim, board and ski races.
The Sunshine Coast will be well represented at Coolum, with Mooloolaba’s Kendrick Louis claiming a breakthrough victory to win round four of the IronMan series at the Gold Coast last weekend.
Fellow Mooloolaba competitor and series wildcard, Maddy Dunn claimed the maiden win of her IronWoman career at the Surfer’s Paradise Round Four Enduro Race and will join Louis to continue a hunt for series points at Coolum this weekend before the final beach battle hits Noosa on 24 February.
The pair will line up alongside a healthy showing of Sunshine Coast competitors currently in the leaderboard’s top tier, including Noosa’s Jordan Mercer who will be hoping to continue her current form after claiming a second podium win of the series and taking the round four runner-up position.
Other charismatic locals Matt Poole and Corey Jones, currently holding 5th and 11th positions respectively, are also expected to have the home crowds behind them, with Poole looking to finish strongly in the final two rounds despite posting a frustrating third-last finish at the Gold Coast thanks to a broken ski.
After staging one of the best comebacks in IronMan history last weekend, 22-year-old Kendrick Louis is just 40 points off the pace and within reach of series leader, Shannon Eckstein.
The talented sunny coaster pushed through from dead last to take a maiden round victory at Surfers Paradise, and is set for a points showdown with Eckstein whom he describes as his idol, alongside with Round Four runner-up and last year’s Coolum round winner, Ky Hurst.
“Shannon [Eckstein] and Ky [Hurst] are my idols and to race to the finish line with them is unbelievable,” Louis said after his win last Sunday.
“After coming back from last year when I hurt myself, I am really enjoying being back out there. I’m going to take each round as it comes and take a lot of confidence out of this win.”
Coolum Beach has earned a reputation for tricky conditions that consistently test competitors, and last year saw a delighted Candice Falzon (NSW) post her first round win of the IronWoman series.
Sunday’s forecast is for 2-3ft swell and competition gets underway from 11:30am for the IronWomen, with the men racing from 1:30pm. Coolum’s Round Five will be broadcast nationally on Network Ten from 2:00pm -5:00pm.
Local celebrations will kick off a little earlier though, with a FREE movie screening of Steven Spielberg’s classic, E.T. in Tickle Park on Saturday night (16 Feb) providing the perfect welcome for visiting IronMan fans.
For full details of the Kellogg’s NutriGrain IronMan and Telstra IronWoman series, visit www.surfironmanseries.com.