Local athletes up for gold
SIX elite athletes with links to the Coffs Coast will face the starter at tomorrow's Coolangatta Gold event at Kurrawa on the Gold Coast.
Headlined by reigning Kelloggs' Iron Woman champion, Courtney Hancock, and sister Bonnie, Daniel Bannerman and Kayla Russell will be chasing individual glory, while Lilli Smyth and Emma Burgess have entered a team's event.
Courtney Hancock has placed three times in the event, while Bonnie finished fourth in her best effort last year.
Formerly from Sawtell, 20-year-old Russell made no bold predictions of victory but stated her prime goal is to finish the iconic race.
"My favourite discipline is the board," she said.
"But I have been training in all disciplines to challenge myself, to compete and finish."
In the four-person team known as 'The Fattys', Emma Burgess will compete in the ski leg while Lilli Smyth is in charge on the run.
Sydney-based pair Sophie Thompson (board) and Bella Raymond (swim) round out the unit.
But much interest will focus on Coffs Harbour swimming teacher Daniel Bannerman, who, after heading to the Gold Coast yesterday, will be racing the clock in two ways.
Around the same time he is due to hit the surf, his wife will be back in Coffs and due to go into labour for the birth of their child.
"I guess I'll be running the gauntlet in more ways than one," he said.
"The mobile phone goes with me everywhere and if I get the call to say the baby is on its way, it's back to Coffs for the birth.
"If the baby comes, it's then back up the highway to the start of the Coolie Gold.
"Any way you look at it there are a few sacrifices to be made so I want to make this one count."
Bannerman first believed the 2010 event would be his final attempt to reach his target of finishing under five hours.
But a few weeks back he told The Coffs Coast Advocate that "retirement is off" and one more assault was about to be launched.
"Wasn't happy with the finish as I overcooked too early," he said.
"Nutrition wasn't right in the lead-up and I dehydrated badly.
"This time, Andrew Rowlings coached the preparation with plenty of time in the pool to build up core strength.
"Last time I finished very sore in the hips and shoulder but I'm confident this time, the five-hour barrier will be broken."