COOLANGATTA Gold winner Hayley Bateup gives a victory salute in what officials describe as a successful return of the marathon
COOLANGATTA Gold winner Hayley Bateup gives a victory salute in what officials describe as a successful return of the marathon

It's a winner

By ADAM WRATTEN

IT'S back. Organisers of yesterday's Coolangatta Gold declared the return of the iconic ironman surf-lifesaving event a raging success despite miserable weather keeping crowd numbers down.

They have promised the race will be bigger and better next year.

Gold Coast teenager Caine Eckstein upstaged his training partner and older brother Shannon to win the gruelling 46.64km race, the first in 13 years.

His club mate Hayley Bateup won the women's event.

Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA) national media and communications manager Sean O'Connell was triumphant after the race, confident the Coolangatta Gold was here to stay.

"But for the weather, this has been a very, very successful event," O'Connell said.

"There's no point in doing this only once. As we have always said the Gold Coast and Tweed Coast are core surf lifesaving areas and we are committed to this iconic event.

"In talking to the competitors and the senior officials I have no doubt we will be back next year."

O'Connell said he had hoped for crowds of up to 5000 people for the finish at Surfers Paradise.

Only about 1000 turned up. Along the course numbers were also well down, with competitor's loved ones, organisers and the media making up the majority of those cheering the athletes along.

"Obviously the weather kept the crowd down ... (but) given the conditions that was to be expected.

"I'm confident if the weather had been better there would have been a lot more people supporting the athletes."

SLSA will conduct a review of the race in coming weeks.

"We will learn from this event and make it better next time.

"We expect there will be more entrants and a bigger crowd. This is a growth proposition."

Sport fans will be able to watch a one-hour package of the race on Channel Nine on December 4.



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