Marriott makes it number three

Next year was on the mind of Mooloolaba’s Alicia Marriott not long after she crossed the line for a three minutes and 15 seconds victory over Northcliffe’s Courtney Hancock, while Liz Pluimers placed third.

Her third race triumph matched the record of rival Hayley Bateup who was missing today as she recovers from shoulder surgery and sets up a potential clash of the titans in the 2011 Coolangatta Gold if Bateup makes a successful recovery.

Bateup said prior to the race she hoped Marriott would win to match her record so they could race for supremacy in 12 months’ time.

“I saw Hayley at the finish there and she gave me the thumbs up, which is unreal,” 24-year-old Marriott said.

“Hayley and I have a very strong rivalry – we’re both extremely competitive people and love to beat each other but at the same time we both respect each other.

“It’s going to be such a big event next year to see which one of us can win number four.”

While the Coolangatta Gold is never easy to win, Bateup’s absence meant  Marriott didn’t have to push quite as hard as in the past, although the Hancock sisters – Courtney and Bonnie – and Pluimers pushed her all the way.

It wasn’t until the 2.5km swim from Burleigh Heads to North Burleigh and the run to the finish that Marriott was finally able to shake off her pursuers, of which Courtney Hancock was the most dogged.

“I probably feel as fresh as I have in all of the three victories,” she said.

“In the run leg I could get into a rhythm and go at my own pace whereas in the past I’ve had girls pushing me.”

As well as looking forward to taking on Bateup, Marriott would like to take on the longer men’s course in the future.

“If it means the women get equal prizemoney to the guys, then bring it on, it’s just another challenge for us,” she said.

“I think we’ve proven that we’re just as good as the guys so why not.”

Both Courtney Hancock and Pluimers paid tribute to the winner and said there was nothing else they could have done to win.

“I was pretty happy, I did the best I could out there, I didn’t leave anything in the tank,” Courtney said.

“It’s such a hard race because so much goes into it. It’s such a massive six months training for this.”

For Pluimers it was a much happier result that one year ago when she collapsed 20 metres from the finish line and had to be stretchered away unable to complete the course.

Marriott’s challengers in years to come may well feature the fifth and sixth placegetters today – Maroubra’s Tara Coleman and Noosa Heads’ Jorday Mercer.

Coleman is the 19-year-old daughter of former South Sydney star halfback Craig Coleman and is one of the most improved competitors in ironwoman racing.

Mercer, just 16, is the daughter of 1992 Coolangatta Gold winner Darren Mercer and the niece of Dean, and showed the determination and poise that marked her father and uncle’s surf careers.

Source Coolangatta Gold 2010