Triathletes Josh and Krystal Hockley reckon participating at the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii next week will be akin to competing in a sauna.
So the Mandalong couple went out last year and bought a sauna to add daily sweat sessions to their gruelling training regimes.
“The temperature can get up to 35 degrees in Hawaii, but it’s the humidity that gets you. It can get up to 90 per cent humidity,” Ms Hockley said.
“We have competed in similar conditions, but not quite that extreme.”
Throw in winds of around 60km/h and you begin to understand why, for 30 years, those who complete the 3.8-kilometre swim, the 180-kilometre bike ride, and the 42-kilometre run in Hawaii consider it to be the ultimate test of body, mind and spirit.
“By using the sauna you can train your body. They call it heat adaptation. After our training sessions we jump in the sauna, and it helps,” Ms Hockley said.
Buying a sauna specifically to prepare for the world championship event is another example of the husband-and-wife team’s commitment to the sport.
The Hockleys estimate that competing at Hawaii’s Kailua-Kona on October 14 will cost them $15,000 each. The entry fee alone is $1400.
“And if you include the cost of qualifying for the world championship, it’s probably closer to $20,000 or $25,000,” Ms Hockley said.
And it’s not as if the Hockleys can hope to recoup that expenditure with prizemoney: as amateur competitors in the 30- to 34-years age group, the best the pair can hope for is a trophy.
The elite professional competitors, by the way, will be chasing a share of the $180,000 prize pool.
Ms Hockley qualified for the world championship by finishing second in her age group in an event in Busselton, Western Australia, in December.
Mr Hockley qualified when he achieved fourth place in his age group at the Ironman Asia-Pacific Championship, in Cairns, in June.
The couple started competing in triathlons just four years ago. At the time, Mr Hockley admitted he couldn’t swim 25 metres.
Now, the Hockleys train for 28 to 30 hours every week, and feel at home competing against the sport’s best.
The challenge is to find a balance between respecting the opportunity they’ve earned to compete in Hawaii, and not being over-awed by the occasion.
“The world championship race is physically no different to the qualifying races we competed in,” Ms Hockley said.
“The big thing is not letting the event swallow you up. It’s still the same distance. It’s still an ironman.
“We want to appreciate it, but still treat it like a normal race.”
The pair are at the peak of their powers, and are optimistic about their chances.
“We’ve both put in a lot of work, and we’re the fittest that we’ve ever been, so we’re both hoping for top 10 finishes. But it’s just so hard to predict,” Ms Hockley said.
Mr Hockley said the couple continued to be buoyed by the support they’d received from their community.
Businesses such as Breakaway Cycles, Central Podiatry, and Dawson Solicitors, all of Morisset, and Fit Life Health Club, in Cooranbong, had helped the pair to be the best they could be, he said.
“And even the clients that I have in my lawn mowing business, A Perfect Cut – Your Local Lawn Mowing Service, have been with us all the way. When I told some of my clients that we’d qualified for the world championships they were so happy for us that they had tears rolling down their faces,” Mr Hockley said.