The iconic Coolangatta Gold race will be going virtual in 2020, after Surf Life Saving Australia today made the difficult decision to cancel the remaining elite category due to the current border restrictions in place due to COVID-19.
A race known for pushing barriers is going for a new first with a digital experience designed to connect the toughest athletes from across the globe - "Your Gold, Your Way, Your Challenge".
The 41.8km iron race is known for its toughness and in 2020 it will call on competitors, elite and the everyday, to push their own limits, keep active and take part in the free Coolangatta Gold Challenge.
The 2020 virtual Coolangatta Gold is open to all SLSA members and the general public and will be held over a 10-day period from October 16-25, enabling participants to complete the various components of the event during this time.
Surf Life Saving Australia CEO Adam Weir, said while we are all disappointed that athletes won't be able to experience the best of the Gold Coast as part of the Coolangatta Gold, the virtual event aims to connect competitors from across the country, and potentially other parts of the world.
"The Coolangatta Gold can now be easily experienced by participants the world over. We want participants from all disciplines to take up the virtual challenge and during these challenging times, stay active and stay connected," said Weir.
"We are deeply disappointed to be forced to cancel the elite category of the traditional Coolangatta Gold, as it has become a hallmark event on our surf sports calendar.
"But we hope competitors from across Australia and indeed around the world will take part in the Virtual Coolangatta Gold and connect with other competitors through the 10-day event celebration. The virtual event will be designed to suit all competitors regardless of location or circumstance and can be completed as one or multiple race legs, as a team or an individual," he said.
Weir said that while the Virtual Coolangatta Gold will give participants a great opportunity to stay active, he acknowledged the disappointment many athletes will be feeling today who have been training hard for the real event.
"Our team of volunteers and staff have been working tirelessly to review a variety of scenarios, develop COVID Safe plans and look at ways in which we could still run the elite category of the Coolangatta Gold. But we have reached the point today where we unfortunately have had to cancel the real event," said Weir.
"After working through a range of options with Queensland Health it became very apparent that there is no way for any of our athletes, officials and volunteers outside of Queensland to get to the Gold Coast without having to self-isolate for 14 days prior to the event being held, which is not feasible for many.
"We know that people have been preparing and training for these events through winter and we wanted to give our athletes every opportunity to participate, but the time has come where we needed to provide clear certainty taking into consideration what is in the best interests of the entire community."
Entries for the 2020 virtual Coolangatta Gold are now open to all SLSA members and the general public with entries free for all participants.
To register or for further information, please visit www.sls.com.au/coolangattagold/virtual
Surf Life Saving Australia will also be supporting state-based endurance race style events around the country, for those who are interested and able to attend. Events are being planned in New South Wales (Sydney Branch), Queensland (Alexandra Headlands SLSC, Sunshine Coast), South Australia and Tasmania with more information available below:
The NSW endurance event is being planned to take place over 25-28km in the Bate Bay area with further event information coming soon.
Alexandra Headland SLSC will host an endurance surf race on the Sunshine Coast for Queensland athletes looking to compete, with more information to come next week.
Surf Life Saving SA will be kicking off the 2020-21 season with endurance racing events to be held on Saturday 10 October 2020 at West Lakes. Athletes have the choice of racing in discipline specific events or can complete all available individual events for the Enduro Gold.
For those in Tasmania wishing to compete in an endurance style event, The North West Marathon will be taking place on 24 October and is the second race of a three round Marathon Series.