Ironman king Shannon Eckstein will decide tomorrow whether he will continue his charge towards a 10th Nutri-Grain Ironman Series after suffering a torn toenail in today’s Enduro round at North Cronulla.
The 33-year-old nine-time champion finished fourth behind 2015 Series champion Ali Day (Surfers Paradise), who charged to the finish line a clear winner in the 45 minute race ahead of Kendrick Louis (Manly) and Matt Poole (Kurrawa).
It came after North Bondi teen sensation Lizzie Welborn streeted the “who’s who” of Ironwomen to win her first Series round ahead of Northcliffe pair, Maddy Dunn, Harriet Brown, and Courtney Hancock.
Eckstein said ‘he felt something wasn’t right’ during he race but paid scant attention to it until he crossed the line and looked down at his foot which he said ‘wasn’t a pretty site.’
Immediate medial attention revealed Eckstein had lifted the little toenail and part of his toe on his right foot.
He was carried off the beach and into the North Cronulla Surf Club medical room before being transferred to the local medical centre.
Australia’s greatest ironman said he would make a decision whether he will be able to race in the morning.
“I honestly don’t know how it happened and was as shocked as anyone when I looked down and saw it when I crossed the line,” said Eckstein.
“The nail is still there but the top skin has come off; they will want to x-ray it and stitch it but I’ll see what’s best to try and race tomorrow. I will seek the best medical advice but ultimately it will be my call– I will see how it is in the morning.
“The Series is not lost but running across the low tide sand bank probably won’t help my cause.”
Even if Eckstein does race, the door is now open for the likes of Day, Louis and Poole, Northcliffe’s New Zealander Cory Taylor and Redhead rookie Daniel Collins to lead the change towards Sunday’s crowning glory.
Day fell flat on his face on the opening run into the water but his race got better the longer it went.
It was a race that looked like anyone’s when they continued to swim and paddle three times through the M shaped swim-ski-board course with waves making a difference as the lead chopped and changed.
After Eckstein had led through all three swim legs, he had ben ;eft in no-man’s land in between waves on the ski but it was Day who turned the smallest run into a winning lead.
“I guess I got a little lucky,” said a humble Day.
“I just managed to get a extra run on the final ski leg ahead of Kendrick (Louis) and which Matt (Poole) missed and that was the difference on the day.”
And if there was a report card for surf skills in the women’s race then Welborn, the 18-year-old coached by former ironman great Scott Thomson was top of the class.
The girl who graduated ‘with honours’ in her HSC at St Catherine’s Waverley last year, handed out a board-riding lesson to the best in the business, three times landing a body wave to keep her in contention before showing skills above her years on the ski before paddling away from the field.
“This win means the world to me; it’s what I’ve been training for all year; just thinking about holding that black Nutri-Grain banner above my head but I am not getting too far ahead of myself I still have two races to go in the Series,” said Welborn, who was quick to praise coach Thomson.
“Reading the surf was a critical part of racing today and we sat down and planned the day and I could not have done it without him.”
Nutri-Grain IronMan Finals Series Enduro result:
1. Ali Day; 2. Kendrick Louis; 3. Matt Poole; 4. Shannon Eckstein; 5. Daniel Collins; 6. Matt Bevilacqua; 7. Cory Taylor; 8. Wes Berg; 9. Max Brooks; 10. Luke Cuff; 11. Nathan Smith; 12. Ben Carberry; 13. Tanyn Lyndon; 14. James Lacy; 15. Jay Furniss; 16. Jackson Maynard; 17. Isak Costello, 18. Hayden Allum; 19. Hayden White; 20. TJ Hendy.
Nutri-Grain IronWoman Finals Series Enduro result:
1. Lizzie Welborn ; 2. Maddy Dunn; 3. Harriet Brown; 4. Courtney Hancock; 5. Emma Dick; 6. Jemma Smith; 7. Rebecca Creedy; 8. Danielle McKenzie; 9. Karlee Nurthen; 10. Kristyl Smith; 11. Georgia Miller; 12. Maddie Spencer; 13. Naomi Scott; 14. Taylar Puskaric; 15. Amy Nurthen; 16. Tara Coleman; 17. Kirsty Higginson; 18. Allie Britton; 19. Ella Brown; 20. Brielle Cooper.