The Coffs Coast's 'Iron Born'
FOR Clint Rowlings it's the ultimate test of heart as he runs in the footsteps of his father Andrew, competing in the world's most gruelling test of sporting character.
It's an achievement of a lifetime to finish one Ironman World Championship event in Kona, Hawaii, but in Clint's case he's headed back for another year wanting to go one better.
Rowlings and two other Coffs Coast endurance athletes, Leighton Rogan and Jenny Williams, won the right to represent Australia in Hawaii in October at the recent Ironman 70.3 Port Macquarie on May 3.
Rowlings, a local electrician, placed 160th in Hawaii last year after nine hours of pain.
This month he won the 30-34 age group in Port Macquarie, finishing 17th overall out of1213 competitors.
Rogan, a nuclear medicine technologist, is a first-time world championship qualifier in the 45-49s.
He finished the Port Ironman eighth in his age group and 50th overall, while Williams, a local teacher, won her first world championship qualification in the women's 60-64 years.
"It's amazing the three of us qualified to go to Hawaii - there were only 40 slots on offer at the race in Port, spread across the age groups," Rowlings said.
"It's great to have two other locals earn qualification.
"It's the big test against the best."
Raced around the barren lava fields of Kona, on Hawaii's big island, the iconic 40-year-old race will attract more than 2800 of the globe's fittest athletes.
A sapping 4km swim leg will be followed by a 180km bike ride, before a gruelling marathon-distance 42km run leg.
Rowling's father, Andrew, a 30-year veteran of the sport and level-one triathlon coach, first competed in the famed ironman when Clint was a teenager.
"Watching Dad in Hawaii, I knew back then I would one day tackle it," Rowlings said.
"I was really happy with my first effort last year. To finish 160th was amazing but this year I want to finish in the top 100 and it will be great to have a couple of fellow Coffs competitors in the race with me."
For now a tough six-month training schedule awaits the trio to ensure they are physically and mentally ready for what's often labelled the toughest race in world sport in October.
"I'll spend probably 25-28 hours a week in training, when I say it like that it sounds like a lot of wasted time but you don't want to get there under done," he said.
"Given the commitment you have to have to your training, it's like working a second part-time job ... it's one that you get paid for in pain but I live for it."