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Hurst wins second race of summer to claim Coolum Pursuit
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Olympic swimmer Ky Hurst has stormed home in a thrilling sprint finish ahead of Hugh Dougherty to claim the fifth round of the Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain IronMan Series at Coolum on the Sunshine Coast.

Spurred on by his unfortunate disqualification for missing a turning buoy in round three at Newcastle, Hurst came from eighth place at the start of the day’s final handicap ironman race with a trademark powerful swim leg and a cracking wave from the back in the board to win his second race of the summer.

Caine Eckstein beat older brother Shannon in a sprint finish for third, while veteran Zane Holmes overcame Nutri-Grain Series leader Ali Day in another spirited gallop to the line for fifth.

With the season finale set down for an Eliminator race in Noosa next Sunday, Day (95 points) holds a five point lead over Caine Eckstein, with Shannon a further seven points back. Hurst is in fourth on 76.

The format for the day – the Pursuit – saw competitors race in individual ski, swim and board races where they accumulated points that were then converted to seconds for the final handicap traditional ironman race.

At that point Shannon Eckstein held a three second lead over his brother with Dougherty, who had his best result of an uncharacteristically slow summer, two seconds further back.

Hugh Dougherty had his best result of the summer to finish second (Pic Matt Roberts)

Hurst began the race 17 seconds behind Shannon Eckstein and that margin was exactly the same after the opening ski leg. Eckstein was then desperately unlucky in the swim leg and had to look back and see Dougherty, Hurst and his brother surf on by.

It then became a race in two as Dougherty and Hurst pierced the break in the board – the former looking to have victory in the bag until Hurst found his way onto the same wave, setting up the sprint to the line.

A jubilant Hurst said he had ridden a roller coast wave of a season but he was not looking for any excuses following his round three disqualification.

“It’s one of those seasons to tell you the truth. There have been so many highs and so many lows, so there’s been no real plateau for me and today is no different,” Hurst said.

“To be able to repeat my (round two) Portsea performance is certainly exciting and to have what happened to me at Newcastle is just unfortunate so I guess that’s just how the cookie crumbles.

“We’re not only here to race, but to put on a show for the public so each individual, all 21 of us who race, are role models for someone and we’re meant to set an example so at Newcastle I wasn’t going to carry on a prance up and down the beach just because I got disqualified.

“I had to take it on the chin and take it for what it was. No doubt I was disappointed, don’t get me wrong, but now I don’t look at treating the Series as a whole, I treat each race as it comes so today was the same, and so too will Noosa.

“I’m looking to make sure I do everything right this week, recover as good as I can before next Sunday and hopefully I can be ready to fire again.”

There are several scenarios that could play out in next week’s final round but Day can cement his first ever Nutri-Grain title by finishing first or second. If Caine Eckstein were to win, and claim his third race of the summer, and Day placed third, Eckstein would win the title on a count back.

If both athletes missed the podium Eckstein would need to beat Day by five places.

After that there are many permutations required for Shannon Eckstein to win but the only likely opportunity for him to take a record seventh Nutri-Grain title would be a victory.

Day, who has down played his overall Nutri-Grain Series chances since before he took the pointscore lead following round three, said he was happy to still have the famed black leader’s jersey and was looking forward to preparing for Noosa.

“It’s pretty cool to hang onto the black jersey though, but they are catching me,” Day said.

“I think they’ll probably catch me by the last round so we may even draw the Series. But I’m just going to get back into training tomorrow and get ready for a big weekend at Noosa.

Caine Eckstein said he knew the sprint finish against his brother was critical to his overall title hopes.

“I knew it was big to get an extra three points over fourth and I sort of needed them heading into Noosa, so I thought I may as well give it my best but that finish line never seemed like coming around,” Caine said.

“I’m looking forward to Noosa now and its pretty fun that Ali (Day) has come back to us a bit so we’ll see what we can do next week.”

While Ky Hurst was running away from him Caine Eckstein was edging closer to Ali Day as they both search for a maiden Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain IronMan Series (Pic Matt Roberts)

The final round of the summer is on Sunday at Noosa with the IronWoman race starting at 1130am, the Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain IronMan Series race getting underway at 1.30pm and the television coverage beginning on Network Ten at 2pm nationally.

For final results of round five of the IronWoman Series click here

For the progressive point score after round five of the 2011/112 IronWoman Series click here

 

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