TOUGH: Caine Eckstein is set to compete in the Iron X at Mooloolaba.
TOUGH: Caine Eckstein is set to compete in the Iron X at Mooloolaba.

New year, new event, same Caine Eckstein

IRON X: Five-time Coolangatta Gold Champion Caine Eckstein says only new challenges will motivate him to put his foot on the start line this season, and Nutri-Grain Iron X is a real test.

The Northcliffe Ironman has bypassed the Nutri-Grain Ironman Series this summer, instead turning his attention to the Ironman event that includes stand-up paddleboarding and a CrossFit-style obstacle course dubbed "The battleground" at Mooloolaba on Monday.

"I've done this sport seriously in the professional (Nutri-Grain) series since I was 17, won the Coolangatta (Gold) at 19, and I'm now 34, so it's a long time to do the same challenges year after year. Other sports and more importantly other training really excite me," he said.

"I got the same feeling when I did the Coolangatta Gold in 2005, that was the first time any of us got to race that race,"

"And again, all of us have no real idea of what to expect when racing the obstacle legs and the SUP leg of the race and doing it in front of so many people at the beach and watching on TV with a fair bit of money on the line is super exciting to be a part of."

Eckstein is no stranger to absurd tests of strength and endurance; he has twice broken the world record for most pull-ups in 12 and 24 hours with 7620 and believes that is his secret weapon when it comes to the battleground challenges.

"For my second world record attempt I completed 1500 pull-ups a day for six weeks and didn't miss a day, so that's given me a good base and blueprint for power to weight strength," said the former Nutri-Grain Ironman Series Champion.

"I still do pull-ups in my gym programs, so I think my fitness through those types of exercises and grip strength will be good, and hopefully that helps backing up the water legs."

While not proven on a stand-up paddleboard, Eckstein believes that regardless of the event he can win, as long as it's tough.

"Any kind of endurance race in the surf when I am fit and motivated, I have a really good shot at. This race might be only 40 minutes but it's going to tap into the endurance style of racing for sure.

"The SUP leg is halfway into the race, so that's at a spot where I am usually pretty strong, so I am hoping my fitness and strength can get me through a solid SUP. I've obviously been doing it a couple of times a week with the other ironman disciplines, and this season I have done a lot more strength stuff in the gym anyway. So, having (Nutri-Grain) Iron X has worked out quite well."

Despite Eckstein's lighter than usual race schedule this summer, he is refusing to admit he is past his prime and continues to be one of the hardest workers in Ironman racing.

"Training hard like that is something I'll always do whereas I think I could stop racing and be pretty happy with what I've achieved," he said.

"But in saying that I am really motivated to try and achieve a couple more goals I have set myself this season and I'm going to give my best shot at trying to get them before I finish competing."

Nutri-Grain Iron X be the finale of a huge Australia Day weekend of surf sports action on the Sunshine Coast, beginning with the Interstate Championships on Friday.

Nutri-Grain Iron X will be run and won at Mooloolaba Beach on Monday with a Sea FM Live DJ performance to kick things off at 11am and will be televised live on Fox Sports and Kayo at 1pm local time (2pm AEDT).