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In 2018, the prestigious Coolangatta Gold celebrates its 18th year of competition since it was first run in 1984.

Manly Life Saving Club’s Guy Leech was just 18-years-old when he won the inaugural event that was staged for the making of the iconic 80s Australian movie, Coolangatta Gold. It was essentially the start of the iron man movement and what continues to be largely a NSW versus Queensland battle.

The Gold continues to be one of the pinnacle endurance events on the Surf Life Saving calendar each year. “The Gold is one of surf’s most iconic surf races and I look forward to a great weekend of racing and plenty of action.” Said SLSA CEO Adam Weir in the lead up to this year’s event.

The gruelling event is made up of three courses that interchange an ocean swim, board paddle, surf ski and soft sand run; long course (41.8km), short course (21km) and youth challenge(2km). Divisions include elite male and female, under 19s through over 50s as well as mixed teams and the ‘Mates Wave.’

In addition to the main race, a State of Origin style short-course Ironman format will be run to raise funds for Newcastle surf lifesaver Jess Collins. In May, Jess suffered a tragic accident while surfing that left her paralysed. Despite facing a long recovery, her teammates and friends are committed to keeping her spirits up.  

The race will feature Kendrick Louis, Mackenzie Hynard, Matt Poole and Hayden White for NSW who will take on Caine and Shannon Eckstein, Cory Hill and Luke Cuff. 

You can stream the live action and watch the replays on the Surf Life Saving Australia Facebook page.

10 Things ...

1. The Gold is unique. There are no other races like it anywhere else in the world.

2. It’s the only sporting event that was a movie first. The Coolangatta Gold film was released in 1984 before the event was even a thing! In fact, they made the race format up and then staged a mock version of what it would eventually become, just to promote the movie.

3. You can enter the race even if you’re not a surf life saving member so you can get together a team without having to have everyone proficient. It’s called the ‘Mates Wave.’

4. There are two Coolangattas; one on the Gold Coast where the actual event is held, and the other is in the Shoalhaven on the NSW south coast. Don’t get them mixed up when booking your accommodation.

5. You can enter as a team of up to four people with mixed genders.

6. It’s the kind of specialised event that not many people can win twice. It’s not always the fastest iron person who wins. It comes down to strategy and mental focus. Former Warilla athlete Ali Day has dominated the event since 2012.

7. It’s a family affair. There are so many families that compete together. Mums, dads and kids all taking on their individual divisions and enjoying the experience.

8. There’s a youth race that’s only 2km. It’s open to everyone under 16-years-old.

9. The biggest mistake that people make is that they over prepare and have too much ‘stuff’, like too many snacks and ‘accessories.’ Keep it simple.

10. Don’t underestimate yourself. You have to have a handler. It’s not because the rules say you have to, it’s because there is a lot of equipment during the changeovers and a handler makes sure you’ve got everything you need and can transition smoothly. Even if you’re in an individual division, it’s still about your small team getting you over the line.


Saturday 6 October 2018