Hugh Dougherty.
Hugh Dougherty. Mark Donaldson

Dougherty has opening round blues

ROUND one of the Kellogg's Nutri-Grain Ironman Series at Surfers Paradise is done and dusted and unfortunately for me it wasn't the start I was looking for.

The hour-and-a-half endurance race was taken out by Caine Eckstein - his first ever ironman series race win.

Caine showed why he is regarded as the best endurance ironman in the country as his challengers slowly dropped off as the race went on, and he was left out in front when he crossed the line.

The Sunshine Coast duo of Corey Jones and Ali Day put in good performances to finish second and third, while I struggled home in 16th position.

Leading into the race I felt fit and confident and thought I was going to challenge the leaders, but once the race got underway it was a different story.

I felt quite flat and didn't have the spring in my step that I needed to go with the leaders and really found the going tough. It makes for a long day when you're not feeling real flash and you know you've still got over an hour of racing in front of you.

Defending series champ Shannon Eckstein surprisingly finished back in 9th position, with other big names Ky Hurst 10th and Zane Holmes 11th.

Meanwhile, Alyce Bennett finished 12th overall in the women's race. She had some bad luck with the waves at the start of the race and was a long way off the leaders, but managed to fight back to finish midfield.

Once again, Alyce and I were stoked to have the support of the Yamba Surf Club members and our families who made the trip up there to Surfers Paradise to cheer us on. It was great to see some familiar faces in the crowd and it always gives you a little boost when you hear them cheering as you run past.

I'm looking forward to getting back to Yamba for a week or so and do a bit of training with everyone down there over the Christmas break.

Round 2 of the six-race series takes us to Portsea in Victoria on January 8. So with another five rounds still to go, I need to have some good results over the next few races to get back up near the series pointscore leaders.

Hugh is supported by Adenbrook Homes, Kracka, Slipstream and TYR

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