Reigning Coolangatta Gold champion, Zane Holmes
Reigning Coolangatta Gold champion, Zane Holmes

It's a Gold rush

RECORD numbers are set to greet the starter in this Sunday's gruelling NIB Coolangatta Gold. Numbers for the iconic endurance event have skyrocketed this year in the individual categories with 163 athletes registering - almost a 50 percent increase on last year's entries. General Manager of Surf Sports Australia, Grant Baldock said Surf Life Saving Australia was extremely excited by the number of entries and attributed part of this year's increase to the decision to open entries to the general public and securing major sponsorship from NIB for the next three years. "We have been excited by the growth that has occurred in each of the categories," Baldock said. This year's Coolangatta Gold will see 64 men including two former winners Zane Holmes and Caine Eckstein compete for Gold glory in the 46.65km men's open race-a 28 percent increase on last year's entries. The women's course has had an additional five kilometres added to it and has attracted 39 female competitors-up a whopping 32 percent on the 2006 number of entrants. In the teams category there is also a surge in numbers with 38 teams registered - three more than 2006 and 18 more than 2005. Major growth areas for this year's race have been in the women's, masters and under 19 categories and Baldock was excited for those athletes who had signed on. "I think with the growth in the under 19, masters and teams it demonstrates the NIB Coolangatta Gold is not only for the elite but for the up and coming athletes and I suppose for all-comers who have the skills," Baldock said. With solid numbers and the security of a sponsor for the next three years, Baldock says the future of the race looks safe and he hopes to see it grow a lot more. "I hope to see the Gold continue to grow in the future and become the surf life saving equivalent of the Ironman Triathlon," he said. 2006 winners were Zane Holmes (men's) and Hayley Bateup (women's). Both will be defending their titles at the 2007 NIB Coolangatta Gold. FAST FACTS NIB Coolangatta Gold Start Times 7.00am Open Men 7.05am Masters 7.20am Teams 7.55am Open Women 8.15am U/19 men OPEN MEN, MASTERS & TEAMS Leg 1 SKI (Surfers Paradise to Greenmount 23km) 2 RUN (Greenmount to Coolangatta 0.65km) 3 SWIM (Coolangatta to Bilinga 3.50km) 4 RUN (Bilinga to Currumbin 4.00) 5 BOARD (Currumbin to Burleigh Heads 5.5km) 6 RUN (Burleigh Heads to Surfers Paradise 10.00km)



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