Eckstein re-writes history books
CAINE Eckstein may have written himself into the record books but it was Mooloolaba's Alex Tibbits who put his name on the map at yesterday's Coolangatta Gold.
Eckstein, 25, took out the legendary 46.65km endurance race for a fifth time, crossing the line in 4 hours 15.26 minutes on the Gold Coast.
He blew away most of the field in the opening 23km ski leg from Kurrawa to Greenmount and never really looked in doubt of securing his fourth straight crown.
Eventual runner-up Nathan Smith stayed with him for the first three legs before Eckstein made his break on the middle run and powered away on the board.
Running into a stiff northerly breeze Eckstein never troubled the fabled four-hour mark, as some had predicted.
While Eckstein usually takes the line brimming with confidence he said he went in full of self doubt after battling glandular fever.
"I probably had the worst night of my life last night, I let the nerves get to me a little bit," he said.
"Every year I've done so much training that I've been so confident that no one's been fitter than me.
"Last night I was thinking with the northerly I was going to do the whole thing by myself.
"Seven weeks, I didn't know if that was enough.
"I only did seven weeks training whereas usually I only do 14 or 16 weeks.
"Luckily it worked out," Eckstein said.
"I probably had 45 minutes sleep last night which was tough."
Besides Eckstein, no competitor has won the event more than three times.
The win removed any doubt the Kurrawa surf life saver should be considered one of the country's greatest ever ironmen.
Tibbits crossed the line in 4:24.04, two-and-a-half minutes behind Smith while Noosa product Mitch Miller, 18, finished in fourth.
Twenty-year-old Tibbits said he tried to keep pace with Eckstein on the ski, but it was "virtually impossible".
He said the result put him in good stead for the upcoming Nutri-Grain Series, however he hoped to fly under the radar.
"I hope it doesn't make me feel pressured," he said.
"I'm best going into races with no expectations whatsoever," Tibbits said.
"If I go into races expecting something there's a 90% chance I won't get it."
Gold Coast 21-year-old Andrew Grimshaw was taken to hospital after being pulled from the water on the board leg.
Another female competitor was taken to hospital after pulling out during the swim leg and suffering convulsions on the beach.
Men: 1. Caine Eckstein, 2. Nathan Smith, 3. Alex Tibbits, 4. Mitchell Miller, 5. Cameron Gordon, 6. Cory Hill, 7. Stuart Snell, 8. Shane Blair, 9. Tom Atkinson, 10. Matt Bevilacqua, 11. Matthew Kent, 12. Trent Goulding, 13. Nick Pluimers, 14. Mark Bint, 15. Andrew Mosel, 16. Matt Bowbridge, 17. Stuart Louth, 18. Nathan Gray, 19. Jon Locke, 20. Sam Marris.
Women: 1. Courtney Hancock, 2. Elizabeth Pluimers, 3. Hayley Bateup, 4. Danielle Allen, 5. Brodie Moir, 6. Kelly-Ann Perkins, 7. Tenille Devine, 8. Harriet Brown, 9. Tara Coleman, 10. Kristyl Smith, 11. Jordan Mercer, 12. Crystal Maruna, 13. Larnee Stuart, 14. Jess Walker, 15. Allie Britton, 16, Natasha Scott, 17, Samantha Johnston, 18. Sarah Hardy, 19. Hannah Minogue, 20. Alisha Miller.