The West

Picture: John Mokrzycki

For the first time in 15 years, Perth will host a leg of the Kellogg's Nutri-Grain ironman and ironwoman series in summer.

It will be preceded by a new event open to the public, to be known as the Indian Ocean Classic, where members of the public will have the opportunity to compete as individuals or in teams on a similar ironman course along Trigg, Scarborough, City Beach, Swanbourne and Cottesloe beaches.

Like the Nutri-Grain event, the classic will involve legs of surf ski, board, swimming and running.

With plans to entice teams of past ironman champions, celebrities and local sports stars, it is hoped the Classic will become a signature WA event, along similar lines to high-profile events such as the Rottnest Channel Swim and the Avon Descent.

Details of both events - to be held on the January 28-29 weekend - will be announced this morning by Tourism Minister Kim Hames.

But it is believed both events have secured funding from the State Government, through Eventscorp, for the next four summers.

They are the brainchild of former ironman champion Guy Leech, who developed both events with sports marketing and management company SEL.

Dr Hames said the Nutri-Grain series was considered one of the most gruelling ocean-based competitions in the world, with last year's series attracting an average television audience of more than one million people.

"Hosting a round of the competition for the next four years gives us the opportunity to showcase WA's extraordinary coastline to a huge TV audience and help further promote the sport in the State," he said.

Four local ironmen will fly to Queensland later this month to compete in trials to win a place in the Nutri-Grain series.

Tom Dowling, 20, Joshua Maurice, 16, Andrew Mosel, 30, and Alex Nash, 18, have been in heavy training for several weeks in preparation for their shot at "the big time".

"Every ironman dreams of competing in at least one Nutri-Grain series," Dowling, a commerce student, said.

"That's why we train so hard … to compete against some of the legends in the sport. The prizemoney's good, too."

Former Perth ironwoman Alicia Marriott, who now races in Queensland, is already guaranteed a place in the series.

The West Australian

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