Ten-day Virtual Coolangatta Gold comes to an end
The 10-day period of the Virtual Coolangatta Gold has come to an end with over 800 competitors from 17 different countries taking part in the inaugural event.
The event was launched in August after Surf Life Saving Australia made the difficult decision to cancel the iconic Coolangatta Gold due to border restrictions associated with COVID-19 and was open to all SLSA members as well as the general public.
The 41.8km iron race known for its toughness called on competitors, elite and the everyday, to push their own limits, keep active and take part in the Coolangatta Gold Challenge – “Your Gold, Your Way, Your Challenge”.
As part of the Coolangatta Gold festival, states around Australia also ran physical endurance events for people to participate in locally, which featured the Coolangatta Gold at Bate Bay in Sydney and The Unbreakable at Alexandra Headland on the Sunshine Coast.
SLSA National Sport Manager Wayne Druery said that after the very tough decision to cancel the Coolangatta Gold, there has been an incredible response to the virtual and state events.
“We were deeply disappointed to be forced to cancel the Coolangatta Gold earlier this year due to COVID-19 and border restrictions that made it impossible to hold the event in it’s traditional capacity on the Gold Coast,” said Druery.
“But it has been fantastic to see that so many people not only from Australia, but around the world have taken up the challenge to do the Gold in their own way and share that experience online.
“It was also amazing to see the events at both Wanda and Alexandra Headlands take shape over a matter of weeks and provide athletes something to train and look forward to who have not had an opportunity to compete since March.”
Wanda SLSC Director of Surf Sports Greg Pierce has praised the efforts of all involved in the inaugural Coolangatta Gold at Bate Bay event and declared the event held on Saturday, October 24, a resounding success.
The 25km individual and teams event across open, U19, U17 and U15 categories saw 315 competitors start at Wanda SLSC with a 12.5km ski paddle to Hungry Point, Port Hacking before returning to Wanda to complete the 2.5km swim and 4.5km board legs within Bate Bay before finishing off with a 5.5km run from Wanda to North Cronulla and back.
“We probably didn’t really know what to expect when we first came up with the idea but we knew we had a good concept and with Nathan Smith designing the course, it was always going to be good and we couldn’t of asked for better conditions on the day,” said Pierce.
“The numbers were good, there was great energy and positivity down on the beach and the best part was simply the fact that we were able to race and have a Club carnival, the first one for the year. All the competitors were just so happy to be back racing.
“It was also great to be able to show other clubs that you can run a carnival in these COVID-19 conditions and hopefully it will encourage them to put on events for kids because we need them and the competitors love racing, it is a big part of why they join surf clubs.” Added Pierce.
“The Unbreakable” 16km endurance event hosted by Alexandra Headland SLSC featured an 8km ski leg that started at Mudjimba paddling to Alex Headland, where competitors completed a 3km board paddle followed by a 1.5km swim and finished off with 3.5km run leg towards Maroochydore SLSC and back.
SLSA Chair of Surf Sports and Alexandra Headlands SLSC Life Member Andrew Buhk said that the first Alex Unbreakable event went off like “clockwork” and that the club plans to hold more in the future.
“The feedback was fantastic! We had just over 200 entries across the different categories,” said Buhk.
“There were many reasons for the great feedback but the main one being that people were dying to get together and race. We also had great feedback about the centralised transition area so the supporters, spectators and handlers could see what was happening at the end of each leg, who was in the lead and who was racing, so that was really really good.
“The ability to be able to run it right in front of the surf club with a raised platform and viewing area also created that really great atmosphere for spectators.”
Wayne Druery said that the success of the virtual event as well as the events in New South Wales and Queensland have provided a lot to consider for the future.
“There has been so much positive feedback from the weekend not only from the virtual event but both state events, the Coolangatta Gold at Bate Bay and the Alex Unbreakable,” Druery said.
“It has opened up a lot of opportunities and possibilities to what could be created or achieved in the future, and we have a lot of positive considerations to think about for next year’s event.”
To relive the races from the weekend, check out the live race day blog here.