Courtesy of surfironmanseries.com
After finishing second more times than he can remember Hugh Dougherty has finally scored his maiden victory in round three of the Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain IronMan Series at Coolum on the Sunshine Coast.
Earlier Liz Pluimers won her third straight IronWoman Series race of the year, edging out Courtney Hancock and surprise packets Tara Coleman and Amy Nurthen.
But the day belonged to Dougherty, who was second overall in last summer’s series, second in five of the last seven ironman series races and also second at this year’s world championships and who pledged to change his tactics and try to lead from the start and he followed his plan to the letter.
The 27-year-old was never out of the lead group early on and by the time they reached the halfway point he had built up a 35 second lead and was never headed, getting home 25 seconds ahead of Caine Eckstein with Corey Jones 23 seconds further back.
Dougherty now leads the series on 56 points from defending series champion Shannon Eckstein (fourth today) on 52 and last start winner Matt Poole and Caine Eckstein (both 49). Poole had suffered from a respiratory complaint all week and finished tenth today, collapsing after crossing the line.
After the race Dougherty said he was glad to have the monkey off his back although he doubted he could have held on if the one hour 45 minute race went much further.
“Yeah definitely (it’s good to have that monkey off my back) I’ve had so many seconds and I’ve been so close so many times, trying so hard and finally getting it was amazing and hopefully I get a bit of a roll on. I want to have a couple more,” Dougherty said.
“I gave it my all, and I’m glad we didn’t have to do another leg because that run leg at the end – I know I had a bit of a gap that I had to hold on to but I knew Caine was coming closer and I didn’t have anything left.”
But despite those fears he was over the moon and really enjoyed his time in the sun.
“I was stoked and a little bit relieved, I’ve never been in that position before and I thought I’ve got to make the most of this – it doesn’t happen every day,” he said.
Caine Eckstein was gallant in defeat and Jones had his best race of the summer after a tenth and an 11th in the opening two rounds. Rising star Ali Day was fifth and Ky Hurst another big improver was sixth.
The series now heads to Portsea in Victoria where massive surf is a staple and the series could be won or lost in an instant, something Dougherty is acutely aware of.
“I always thought Portsea was going to be the one to make or break you,” the apprentice plumber from Yamba on the NSW north coast, who now lives at Tugun on the Gold Coast said.
“You get big surf down there and it can cause an upset, that’s the important one, if you get a good result at Portsea you go on and win the series.”
Racing in flat conditions and pelting rain, Pluimers led the 50 minute IronWoman race from the start to draw away and win comfortably by 50 metres from a determined Courtney Hancock, with Tara Coleman producing the race of her life to claim third, 100m further back.
Coleman, the only woman in the series from Sydney, won a sprint to the line with 18-year-old Central Coaster Amy Nurthen – both scoring their best results as professionals.
The win gives Pluimers a perfect 60 points in the overall point score to lead Hancock by five points with defending series champion Alicia Marriott (sixth today) a further five points adrift in third.
When Pluimers won the season opener at Currumbin she came from the clouds with the aid of a great wave in the final board leg, mowing down Marriott to claim victory but today she needed no such assistance, leading from the starter’s gun.
She shared the front with Brodie Moir (ninth) in the board leg before dropping the field in the swim and maintaining her lead in the ski leg. Hancock pushed her all the way in the ski leg but was too far back to make a race of it over the last run leg – something Pluimers said she was happy about.
“I knew I had to go hard off the board start and that’s how it panned out,” Pluimers said of her tactics.
“When I turned to come in for the last ski leg I thought ‘I hope Courtney’s not on my tail’ because I couldn’t do a sprint finish.”
Pluimers is riding a wave of confidence right now that comes from five consecutive series wins – three this summer and two at the end of last season – but the 24-year-old part time accountant stopped short of saying she could clean sweep the series.
“I’d like to say yes it’s possible (to win all five rounds) but we’ve got Portsea next and there should be waves and anything can happen,” Pluimers said.
As dominant as Pluimers was and as consistent as number one challenger Hancock again proved to be it was the stunning performances of Coleman and Nurthen that was the story of the race.
Coleman was 17th in the first Enduro of the season at Currumbin and Nurthen 14th – they sat 17th and 12th respectively on the point score before this race but have now jumped to 12th and 7th .
Even Coleman was shocked with her performance and when asked what she would have thought if someone had told her she would make the podium in a race this year she said “yeah keep dreaming”.
Results Round 3 – Men's
1. Hugh Dougherty
2. Caine Eckstein
3. Corey Jones
4. Shannon Eckstein
5. Ali Day
Results Round 3 – Women's
1. Liz Pluimers
2. Courtney Hancock
3. Tara Coleman
4. Amy Nurthen
5. Rebecca Creedy
Overall Pointscore – Men's
1. Hugh Dougherty 56
2. Shannon Eckstein 52
3. Matt Poole 49
4. Caine Eckstein 49
5. Ali Day 46
Overall Pointscore – Women's
1. Liz Pluimers 60
2. Courtney Hancock 55
3. Alicia Marriott 50
4. Gemma Newbiggin 47
5. Kristyl Smith 45
For full results please visit www.surfironmanseries.com