Courtney survives Coolangatta Gold
By BRAD GREENSHIELDS
AS far as gruelling sporting events go, there are few in Australia that are tougher than the famed Coolangatta Gold.
The men have to complete a 46.64km epic while the women still have to do it tough as they cover a 25.5km journey.
For the women, the race begins with a 10km surf ski leg from Greenmount to Currumbin followed by a 5.5km board paddle to Burleigh Heads, a 2.5km surf swim to Miami before the final 7.5km run back to Surfers Paradise.
For 18-year-old Sawtell surf lifesaver Courtney Hancock, last week's Coolangatta Gold was her first taste of the tough race and she said that adverse conditions made the experience worse than she imagined.
"At the start of the run I ran up that hill, that horrible hill and then I got onto the beach and I was feeling alright but once I hit the beach I felt awful,"
"You know how you hit that wall? I don't know if it was my fitness levels but I'd been training here practising ironmans for two and a half hours. When I got to the beach it was about three hours that we'd been going and it just hit me. I felt really bad and my legs were all shaking and I dropped from eighth to 12th."
When all the hard work was done, Hayley Bateup had successfully defended her women's title, winning over the total distance of 25.5km in a time of 3:17.13.
Kristy Harris finished in second place and Elizabeth Pluiners claimed third position.
Hancock finished the race in a time of 3:40.17 but the result could've been so much better if she knew what to expect from the old heads in the race.
"I had a good start, I got out there about third so I was going allright but they're really aggressive out there, so you have to really watch out for them. I got pushed off at the first can," Hancock said
"They dug a paddle into the side of me and I've fallen off so they just have little tactics like that. By the time I recovered I was last. With those events it's really good if you can get out there in front and stay with the pack.
"I think 13 of them were all from Northcliffe so they all worked in groups. In the board they all tailed in behind and got the wash. It's good, they race really smart.
"I'm happy though. I just really wanted to get out there and finish it and just experience it because those girls are just unbelievable. I haven't competed at an elite level yet. I've done under 19s but this was opens so it was good see how I went but I was happy."
The John Paul College student has had a tough time lately preparing for both the big race and her HSC exams which she's currently doing.
"It did get a bit hectic towards the end because you had your mind on two things," she said.
"On the other hand, it was also good for my HSC because my mind wasn't always on that and it was good for the Coolangatta Gold because my mind wasn't always on that."
Hancock's efforts for the summer will be now geared towards again pulling in a swag of medals at the national surf lifesaving championships.
She believes that the work done over winter preparing for the Coolangatta Gold has already given her a headstart on her rivals.
"Now is the time when I would normally have started training."