Cory makes ‘Cooly’ history

First Kiwi man on Coolangatta Gold podium

First Kiwi man on Coolangatta Gold podium

File photo

MIDWAY’S Cory Taylor and Mairangi Bay’s Danielle McKenzie made surf lifesaving history when they finished third in the men’s and women’s long-course Coolangatta Gold at the weekend. Taylor and McKenzie, who both compete for the Northcliffe Surf Life Saving Club, are the first Kiwis to get on to the podium in the prestigious event.

“This was my first attempt at the full distance of the Coolangatta Gold and I’m ecstatic to come third,” said 23-year-old Taylor — one of only five New Zealanders, along with Cory Hutchings, Max Beattie, Mike Janes and Dan Moodie — to have competed in the Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Ironman Series.

The Coolangatta race is 41.8 kilometres, consisting of a 23km ski paddle, 2km soft-sand run, 3.5km swim, 6.2km board paddle and a 7.1km soft-sand run. Surfers Paradise ironman Ali Day won a record-equalling fifth Coolangatta Gold title, beating Northcliffe’s ironman legend, Shannon Eckstein. Day broke the tape in 3 hours 52 minutes 15 seconds, ahead of Eckstein (3:58:54) and Taylor (4:02:17).

“Finishing third behind the GOAT (greatest of all time Eckstein) and Ali Day was special,” Taylor said. “Having been able to race them in the Cooly Gold is something I’ll always treasure. It’s super humbling training alongside Shannon twice a day, every day, so to me he’s just a mate. It’s crazy to sit back and remember what he has achieved, and train with him.

“We did so much work together over the winter. I’d hate to think how many three-minute ski leads we did together but it was all worth it in the end. In training he does a lot of long ski paddles. We’d paddle together and rotate leads of three-minute efforts — one person leading while the other is on the wash.”

Taylor said preparation for the race “involved 20 weeks of planned training, split into five four-week blocks”.

“It was a long winter, grinding out a lot of kilometres to make sure the body was in peak condition to last the four-hour gruelling race. Training went quite well leading into it; the body survived the winter with a few niggles along the way. At Northcliffe, we had an awesome group of guys training for the event. With Shannon leading, we had a good benchmark to work off.”

Taylor said his expectations for the event were mixed. He knew that if he put a good race together he had a shot at the podium. He knew, too, that as it was his first attempt, a lot of things could go wrong — things that he might not have trained for, that could cause a different result. But this also added to the excitement.

Taylor had some early problems on the ski. The lactic acid in his forearms was so bad that he couldn’t grip his paddle.

“I couldn’t paddle and had to stop and massage my forearms. All my training hadn’t prepared me for this, but I stayed mentally strong, told myself it was a long race and kept going. I was able to get back into the race and work my way through the field.”

Taylor, who has spent the past four years on the Gold Coast, said it was a tough day on the water.

“There wasn’t a breath of wind for assistance, we had a high tide, which made the sand-running even harder, and the sun was out to play. Overall, I loved the challenge of this event, doing all the training and getting on the start line to have a go. I enjoyed the race and would love to have another crack at it.”

New Zealand surf lifesaving legend and now Waikanae head coach Cory Hutchings, who coached Taylor during his younger days at Midway, said it was an awesome achievement and “a huge reward for a lot of hard work”.

“When I was competing, Cory was always at the beach. He’s been over there for a while now and it can be thankless. I competed in the race a few times but never even made top 10. It’ll be a massive boost for his confidence but, knowing Cory, I reckon he won’t get carried away. He’ll stay humble, like most of the guys at elite level, like the guys who beat him, Ali and Shannon.

“He’ll know that when you’re at the pointy end of the stick, you’re vulnerable. Like my dad (Benny Hutchings) used to say, ‘You’ve got to be respectful, give everyone equal respect, never underestimate anyone competing against you’.”

MIDWAY’S Cory Taylor and Mairangi Bay’s Danielle McKenzie made surf lifesaving history when they finished third in the men’s and women’s long-course Coolangatta Gold at the weekend. Taylor and McKenzie, who both compete for the Northcliffe Surf Life Saving Club, are the first Kiwis to get on to the podium in the prestigious event.

“This was my first attempt at the full distance of the Coolangatta Gold and I’m ecstatic to come third,” said 23-year-old Taylor — one of only five New Zealanders, along with Cory Hutchings, Max Beattie, Mike Janes and Dan Moodie — to have competed in the Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Ironman Series.

The Coolangatta race is 41.8 kilometres, consisting of a 23km ski paddle, 2km soft-sand run, 3.5km swim, 6.2km board paddle and a 7.1km soft-sand run. Surfers Paradise ironman Ali Day won a record-equalling fifth Coolangatta Gold title, beating Northcliffe’s ironman legend, Shannon Eckstein. Day broke the tape in 3 hours 52 minutes 15 seconds, ahead of Eckstein (3:58:54) and Taylor (4:02:17).

“Finishing third behind the GOAT (greatest of all time Eckstein) and Ali Day was special,” Taylor said. “Having been able to race them in the Cooly Gold is something I’ll always treasure. It’s super humbling training alongside Shannon twice a day, every day, so to me he’s just a mate. It’s crazy to sit back and remember what he has achieved, and train with him.

“We did so much work together over the winter. I’d hate to think how many three-minute ski leads we did together but it was all worth it in the end. In training he does a lot of long ski paddles. We’d paddle together and rotate leads of three-minute efforts — one person leading while the other is on the wash.”

Taylor said preparation for the race “involved 20 weeks of planned training, split into five four-week blocks”.

“It was a long winter, grinding out a lot of kilometres to make sure the body was in peak condition to last the four-hour gruelling race. Training went quite well leading into it; the body survived the winter with a few niggles along the way. At Northcliffe, we had an awesome group of guys training for the event. With Shannon leading, we had a good benchmark to work off.”

Taylor said his expectations for the event were mixed. He knew that if he put a good race together he had a shot at the podium. He knew, too, that as it was his first attempt, a lot of things could go wrong — things that he might not have trained for, that could cause a different result. But this also added to the excitement.

Taylor had some early problems on the ski. The lactic acid in his forearms was so bad that he couldn’t grip his paddle.

“I couldn’t paddle and had to stop and massage my forearms. All my training hadn’t prepared me for this, but I stayed mentally strong, told myself it was a long race and kept going. I was able to get back into the race and work my way through the field.”

Taylor, who has spent the past four years on the Gold Coast, said it was a tough day on the water.

“There wasn’t a breath of wind for assistance, we had a high tide, which made the sand-running even harder, and the sun was out to play. Overall, I loved the challenge of this event, doing all the training and getting on the start line to have a go. I enjoyed the race and would love to have another crack at it.”

New Zealand surf lifesaving legend and now Waikanae head coach Cory Hutchings, who coached Taylor during his younger days at Midway, said it was an awesome achievement and “a huge reward for a lot of hard work”.

“When I was competing, Cory was always at the beach. He’s been over there for a while now and it can be thankless. I competed in the race a few times but never even made top 10. It’ll be a massive boost for his confidence but, knowing Cory, I reckon he won’t get carried away. He’ll stay humble, like most of the guys at elite level, like the guys who beat him, Ali and Shannon.

“He’ll know that when you’re at the pointy end of the stick, you’re vulnerable. Like my dad (Benny Hutchings) used to say, ‘You’ve got to be respectful, give everyone equal respect, never underestimate anyone competing against you’.”

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