Rogers claims gritty glory in Coolangatta Gold
SURF LIFESAVING: Noosa Heads' Lana Rogers thought her race was over before she claimed a remarkable victory in the demanding Coolangatta Gold on Sunday.
The 23-year-old produced a determined late rally to overtake Jemma Smith in the iconic 41.8km test, which doubled as the opening event in the Nutri-Grain Ironwoman Series.
"It came down to that last 50m and I just can't believe it really," she said.
"A dream came true."
The race consisted of a 23km ski, a 2.1km run, 3.5km swim, 6.1km board and a 7.1km run.
She clocked 4hr27min51sec, winning by just 3sec.
The 2018 Australian ironwoman champion was among a front group of five at the final transition before her plans went askew.
"I said to myself that I had this because I was quite prepared for my race to start at the run leg," he said.
"But the Coolangatta Gold keeps you on your toes every year and my legs blew up at 5km and I still had 2km to go.
"I thought my race was over."
But she gritted her teeth and ultimately ran down Smith in the dying stages, taking off her shoes to run in the soft sand.
"I lived and breathed this race for the last 20 weeks (in preparation).
"I was really shattered for the last 2km and the last 150m-50m is what it took (to win). I can't believe it."
Rogers, who was fifth in 2017 and third last year, drew resolve from an unlikely source in the crowd.
"This man, who was also there last year, got me through that last 150m," she said.
"His name's Daniel. I've never really spoken to him, only bumped into him at the Coolangatta Gold and he really told me that the race isn't done and that got me going and the adrenalin pumping.
"Every year we bump into each other at the same spot and he gets me through it."
The last female to win representing a Sunshine Coast club was Alicia Marriott, while based at Mooloolaba, in 2010.
Now Rogers can lay claim to the coveted title.
"As a surf ironwoman, you have three boxes to tick. That's a Series win, a Coolangatta Gold win and an Australian ironwoman championship and I've done two and I can't be happier," she said.
"And I couldn't have done it without the support crew I have today and I'm really thankful for that."
Rogers was third in the Ironwoman Series last summer and is expected to press her claims again this time around.
"I know I still have a long road ahead of me in the sport and the career path I've chosen and if it (a series win) doesn't happen this year that's OK," she said.
She has the best possible start to the 2019/2020 though after the Gold was included in the five-round schedule.
Alexandra Headland's Tiarrn Raymond came eighth while Sunshine Coast product Maddy Dunn finished in sixth place.
Matt Bevilacqua won the men's race, ahead of Matt Poole.