Both Day and Eckstein paid tribute to Dean Mercer whose life was celebrated with a minute’s silence before the race.
Both Day and Eckstein paid tribute to Dean Mercer whose life was celebrated with a minute’s silence before the race. Emma Greenwood

'Doing it for Dean': Inspiring Mercer tribute for Coolangatta Gold

ALI Day has won a record-equalling fifth Coolangatta Gold title, beating ironman legend Shannon Eckstein across the line in the marathon test.

Day and Eckstein were locked together in the opening ski but Day gained 15 seconds on his rival heading into the 3.5km swim and emerged from the water 90 seconds ahead.

The Surfers Paradise Ironman extended his lead on the board and headed into the run almost 4min ahead of Eckstein to break the tape in 3hr 52min 15sec.

Courtney Hancock won her third Gold title after breaking Georgia Miller in the run.

The pair were locked together for much of the 41.8km race before Hancock pushed ahead to become only the fourth woman in history to win back-to-back Gold titles.

Both Day and Eckstein paid tribute to Dean Mercer whose life was celebrated with a minute's silence before the race.

Competitors in the elite men's and women's fields stood united with their paddles up as hundreds on the beach observed a minute's silence in tribute to ironman great Mercer, who died of a heart attack in August.

Day and Hancock, who were both influenced heavily by Mercer, exchanged a quick embrace after the tribute, before heading to the start line for the opening leg of the race, a 23km ski paddle.

The 53 men and women in the elite fields - including ironman great Shannon Eckstein - along with more than 700 other competitors over the weekend, also wore black wrist bands with the inscription "Doing it for Dean".

Mercer's brother Darren, a Coolangatta Gold champion, started the men's and women's races said the tribute to Dean had been a fitting way for the sport to honour his brother's love of the Gold.

"It's a special day, obviously it was a race that meant a lot to Dean and to have that tribute before the race was just tremendous and the guys (racing) really respected it as well, so it was great," Darren Mercer said.

"It's (a race) that eluded him but one that he had so much passion about.

"It's just all turned out very nicely."

News Corp Australia

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