IT will be a baptism of fire when triathlete Sally Poole competes on the world stage in Hawaii next month.
Poole has qualified for the world championship event after finishing third in the 45-49 female division at the Port Macquarie Ironman.
Kona, Hawaii, is notorious for being a gruelling race which consists of a 3.8km run, 180km bike ride and 42km run.
Competitors often struggle to acclimatise to the conditions with a run and bike leg through lava fields.
Poole trains around her home base at Moree and is a regular in the Hell of the West which is run by her Goondiwindi Triathlon Club.
"Without sounding over confident, they breed us tough out here and I'd like to think I'll be ready to go," Poole said.
"My coach told me it won't be a PB event; I'll have to be smart about hydration and how I manage the race, too.
"I've built up a bit of confidence over the last few years and you start to think 'do I dare to dream' about racing in an iconic event like this.
"It's one of those things that's been on the 'would be nice to do' list."
"I'm heading over a little bit earlier to try and acclimatise and make sure my bike arrives on time.
"It could be a once-in-a-lifetime thing for me so I really want to make the most of it."
Poole grew up with professional triathlete Rebecca Hoschke at Armidale and ramped up her training in triathlon six years ago.
She credits Hoschke for having her up to speed for what lies ahead.
"I feel like I'm in really good hands with Bec," Poole said
"We grew up together and were always friends; now she's gone on to run a successful coaching business.
"She lives at Sydney, but has a lot of clients from rural areas and plans around what they have access to.
"I've got another friend from Brisbane and my partner Paul coming over with me, so I'll have a nice little support crew."
Poole expects her division to be one of the biggest with about 170 women having qualified.
She is passionate about the sport and is currently secretary of Goondiwindi Triathlon Club.
"It's a fantastic club; we already have about 100 people registered for the Hell of the West in March," Poole said.
"We've got a good balance of social and competitive events and we always support other clubs."
Her race is on Thursday, October 6.
Meanwhile, Daryl Cleeve will also represent the club in a world championship event in Finland next year.
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