With European racing on the agenda this year and two years of disruptions from COVID-19, professional triathlete Kurt McDonald admits there has never been more on the line.
The Camperdown export, now living permanently in Brisbane, kicks off his racing season this weekend in the Oceania Triathlon Cup in Devonport, Tasmania.
McDonald has not raced competitively since competing in Noosa back in September last year, and admits he's itching to get started.
"Having had COVID in the early parts of January and not having raced this year it'll be good to get the season started," he told The Standard.
"I'm tracking well, having been knocked around in the early parts of the year.
"I wasn't sure if I'd come into the season in shape but the last week has been super positive with training and preparation.
"You never know quite what to expect for the first race of the year but everything's shaping up to be a beauty."
The 22-year-old said this particular racing season held greater significance than others.
"This season is more important than others," he said.
Training and preparation - both mentally and physically - as well as time management is one of the cornerstones of the life of a triathlete and for the Warwick Dalziel-coached athlete the key is to be meticulous.
"I'm up around that 25 hour mark at the moment during the week, so about 20km in the water, 300 to 400 on the bike and 60 to 70 run-wise, so it's very time consuming and nearing a race the intensity goes up," he said.
"Recovery is just as important so it's a full-time gig that's for sure."
After competing in Devonport, McDonald will set his sights on racing in Mooloolaba on March 13 before jetting to Europe to compete over the Australian winter.
"This year looks a bit different as opposed to other years - Triathlon Australia Federation is undergoing a bit of an overhaul and our program is seeing some changes which the public will see in the coming weeks," he said.
"I'm looking to dabble in long course racing a bit more, half ironman distance so I'm excited to head to Europe in May and home in August at this stage."
He said despite looking to rejig his racing loads overseas, training will remain consistent and focused.
"It's double the distance and even three times what I'm accustomed to but training is largely the same," he said.
"You do such big volumes but it's just about tapping into a different energy system. In terms of hours it's very comparable."
Now settled into life in Brisbane after moving from the south-west a few years ago, McDonald says he has no plans of going anywhere in the future.
"This is my third year in Brisbane and it feels like home," he said.
"It's perfect for our lifestyle even with the rain, it's still a beautiful climate and I have great training partners.
"The conditions certainly allow for more consistency, you can get out on the road everyday, but the biggest thing for me is the coach-athlete relationship and having a team around me.
"I'm super happy."
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