SURF STAR: Courtney Hancock faces a difficult task defending her ironwoman title. Photo: John McCutcheon
SURF STAR: Courtney Hancock faces a difficult task defending her ironwoman title. Photo: John McCutcheon John McCutcheon

A champion effort will be needed for a happy ending

DEFENDING champion Courtney Hancock faces an uphill battle in this weekend's final rounds of the Nutri-Grain Ironwoman series at Newcastle Main Beach.

Stranded in fifth place behind tearaway leader Liz Pluimers, the former Sawtell surf lifesaver started the series well by finishing second in Perth in the opening round but then fell right off the pace.

Today's race is under the M-shape format while Sunday is an eliminator, something Courtney has struggled with lately.

However, it's still too early to write off the champion surf star who won last year's title from a seemingly impossible position.

She prepared for the event by spending Christmas with her sisters before knuckling down to a solid seven-day training schedule to be ready for the Novocastrian finale.