Shannon Eckstein shines in fifth round of Nutri-Grain Ironman and Ironwoman Series in Newcastle

THE 2013-14 Nutri-Grain Ironman and Ironwoman Series rolled into Newcastle Beach last weekend and brought with it courageous stories of success.

A strong local crowd cheered on the contestants as they competed in the third, fourth and fifth rounds of the series on Saturday and Sunday.

Gold Coast legend Shannon Eckstein cleared rival Kendrick Louis by 19 points in a remarkable fifth-round win.

Matt Poole fought off Eckstein in round three on Saturday.

Eckstein crossed the line first in round four and backed up again in the fifth round.

In the women's rounds, Sawtell's Courtney Hancock celebrated victory in the fifth round, inspired by her ill sister.

Hancock pushed her series lead to seven points, ahead of 2011-12 series champion Liz Pluimers.

Race director Zane Holmes believes the series' return to Newcastle Beach next summer is "definitely on the cards".

Initially, the city was overlooked for this year's series after hosting a round for two consecutive years.

Newcastle was handed back the privilege because of construction works in Portsea, Victoria.

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