Ali Day.
Ali Day. Brett Wortman

Day clear at top

MOOLOOLABA ironman Ali Day extended his lead in the Kellogg's Nutri-Grain Ironman Series with a gritty showing in the heat of Perth yesterday.

The 21-year-old from Kiama snared second place in the 22.8km endurance race from Scarborough to Cottesloe Beach and back, finishing 2 minutes and 58 seconds behind long-distance king Caine Eckstein and 29 seconds ahead of third-placed Shannon Eckstein.

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Day's round-four effort helped him jump from a four-point lead in the series to a handy 10-point buffer with just two rounds remaining.

But he refused to think too far ahead and played down talk of winning the series.

"You're only human if you do think about it but I'm trying not to think about it," he said.

"I keep pretending each round is the first round. I'm taking every race as it comes and living the dream doing it," Day said.

Day said he tried hard to ignore the pressure of wearing the leader's black singlet in yesterday's race. "I didn't really look down at the colour of my singlet. I just tried to think I was wearing the (regular) sky blue singlet."

Caine moved to second place in the series standings with his dominant performance. The five-time Coolangatta Gold champion came into the event as a warm favourite and he didn't disappoint, making the most of two 3.8km run legs to exert his dominance over the field.

"I'm just happy to win the long ones. Everyone put a lot of pressure on to me going into this one and it's pretty hard to deal with that," he said. "Going into the short ones, guys like Shannon, Zane (Holmes) and Ky (Hurst) are the best but they don't really get the pressure on them because everyone knows a bit of luck comes into the short races but in the long ones, no luck comes into it so I have all the pressure on me. So it's good to produce when everyone is thinking you have to win."

The Eckstein brothers, Day, Cory Hill and Hugh Dougherty held a slim lead through the opening two legs of the six-leg race but Eckstein kicked away in the first run leg before extending his lead during the remainder of the race. Shannon finished strongly and is now in third place in the series, 14 points behind Day.

Kendrick Louis came into the race in second place in the series but he is almost certain to have seen his series hopes disappear after withdrawing from the race with a knee injury. He suffered a grade two medial strain in the opening 5km ski leg of the six-leg race. The Mooloolaba ironman battled on through the 1km swim leg but stumbled out of the water in pain before retiring.

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