COAST CLUB RE­VEALS NA­TION’S RICH­EST IRON­MAN

The Gold Coast Bulletin - - FRONT PAGE - TOM BOSWELL @TomBoswellGCB

SHANNON Eck­stein’s legacy in surf life­sav­ing has moved be­yond just rac­ing, with the dec­o­rated iron­man launch­ing Aus­tralia’s rich­est sin­gle-day event for the sport.

The 35-year-old has cre­ated the Shannon Eck­stein Iron­man Clas­sic, an event car­ry­ing an in­cred­i­ble $84,000 in prize­money.

The event will be held on March 22 and 23 at his home club North­cliffe, two weeks be­fore the Aus­tralian ti­tles.

The Clas­sic will have $20,000 up for grabs for each of the win­ners of the iron­man and iron­woman fi­nals – the rich­est prize purse for one event.

An­other $10,000 is on of­fer for Fri­day af­ter­noon’s Dash For Cash events.

Eck­stein will re­tire from pro­fes­sional iron­man rac­ing at the end of this sea­son.

His farewell events in­clude the Clas­sic, Aus­tralian cham­pi­onships

at Broad­beach from March 30 to April 7, and NutriGrain se­ries fi­nal at Wanda on Fe­bru­ary 22 and 23.

The man con­sid­ered the great­est ever iron­man said the Clas­sic was his way of giv­ing back to a sport he rev­elled in through­out its glory days of big cor­po­rate spon­sors.

Eck­stein said he hoped to make it an an­nual event and was proud to be able to pro­vide an­other race for cur­rent and fu­ture ath­letes to earn money.

“This is a really big event and we have got some cool prize­money. It’s more than any other event we have got,” Eck­stein said.

“If we do a good job we will do it ev­ery year.

“I’ll keep run­ning the event while we have sup­port­ers and spon­sors. I’m really look­ing for­ward to giv­ing back.

“Over 10 years ago we had a $50,000 race. It’s huge for some­one to win $20,000 in this sport.”

Eck­stein has won a record eight Aus­tralian iron­man cham­pi­onships, nine NutriGrain Iron­man Se­ries and six world iron­man ti­tles – more than any other com­peti­tor in the his­tory of the sport.

The revered ocean­man said the event would pro­vide the per­fect lead in to the Aus­tralian ti­tles and be a bea­con of hope for ath­letes in a sport that has bat­tled to stay fi­nan­cially vi­able.

Shaw And Part­ners CEO Earl Evans said he didn’t hes­i­tate in putting his name be­hind the Shannon Eck­stein Iron­man Clas­sic.

“These are the un­sung he­roes of Aus­tralian sport and Shannon Eck­stein has been the leader of the pack – and as soon as I heard about it I just loved it,” Evans said.

“I first met Shannon in Hawaii last year and I was very im­pressed with him and many of the other guys like Ali Day.

“They are such good peo­ple and if ever any­one de­serves a farewell like this it’s Shannon.

“I can’t wait – it’s go­ing to be a spec­tac­u­lar cou­ple of days I’m sure.”

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