Maroochy Surf Classic Open Men's winner Mitch Miller.
Maroochy Surf Classic Open Men's winner Mitch Miller. john mccutcheon

Miller spurred on by ironman legend Shannon Eckstein

MITCH Miller is invigorated by training alongside surf lifesaving icon Shannon Eckstein and is poised to unleash in round two of the Kellogg's Nutri-Grain Ironman Series at Newcastle on Saturday.

The 20-year-old Sunshine Coast product, who left North Burleigh to link with Northcliffe in the off-season, is clearly enjoying his time at the Gold Coast club.

And it's the presence of Eckstein which has provided him with the drive to succeed.

"I love the sport and everything that comes with it," he said.

"Changing clubs to Northcliffe and training with Shannon is the best thing that's ever happened to me, the best thing in my career."

Eckstein, 29, is a three time-world ironman champion, five-time Australian champion and is a six-time Kellogg's Nutri-Grain Ironman Series champion so has the skills and experience to help Miller evolve into a top elite athlete in his own right.

"In my eyes, he is the best ironman ever and he's opened up a world for me," Miller said.

"You've got to love what you're doing and you've got to love going to training with blokes that you want to train with."

Miller was 19th in the 2011/2012 series but has since enjoyed a pre-season which included a second place behind Eckstein in the ironman final at the World Championships in Adelaide in November.

And he has started the 2012/2013 series in strong fashion, finishing seventh in round one at Perth last month.

That format saw competitors earn points over four races; ski, surf, board and ironman.

Miller will head to Newcastle in high spirits after snaring second place behind round-one winner Eckstein in the ironman race.

"I was leading the iron after the swim leg and to be there with Shannon in that last race was really good. I was happy at the end of the day. And at seventh overall in the series, I'm still there and I'm looking forward to round two."

Miller believes the format in Newcastle will suit him perfectly and said it should sort the contenders from the pretenders.

"We only did one ironman race in the first round. I wasn't happy about that and I think a lot of people weren't," he said.

"To start the series off with individual races I didn't think was a good idea but that's behind us.

"Now we've got five 12-minute ironman races, in an eliminator format and I think this is probably my best format.

"There's a lot of guys that just scraped through (round one) on having those individual races there but come the iron they were a bit off the pace so I'm really looking forward to doing five ironman races in a row. I think it will really split the field up and this is going to really show who is going to be there for the whole ironman series."


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