A PODIUM finish isn't out of the question, but having waited so long to take it on, Tim Jennett just wants to ensure he finishes the iconic SLSA Coolangatta Gold Ironman classic this Sunday.
The Wollongong City SLSC club captain has left no stone unturned in preparing for his first attempt in the 30-39 years division of the event.
Jennett and a group of Illawarra and South Coast ironmen and ironwomen have trained through all weather conditions under programs set by emerging coach Rhett Russell.
The 36-year-old also spent a weekend in Queensland and completed an almost full course run-through with ironman legend Dean Mercer, now co-coaching at Kurrawa with another former Illawarra resident, Phil Clayton.
"It was great to do a practice run on the course with Dean Mercer," Jennett said.
"A group of us have been on a 16-week training program specifically for the Coolangatta Gold . . . life has taken a back seat.
"Apart from the group training, we've also done more training on our own, which has consisted of training twice, if not sometimes three times, a day - doing all disciplines of swimming, running, board paddling and ski paddling."
The 41.5-kilometre event, on a totally revised course - now starting and finishing at Coolangatta for safety considerations - is the ultimate SLSA long-distance ironman challenge.
It includes a 23-kilometre ski leg, 3.5-kilometre swim, 6.1-kilometre board and sand runs of 1.8 and 7.1 kilometres.
Jennett hopes to emulate the success of his older brother, Michael, who finished seventh and second in 2010 and 2011 respectively.
"My goal at the moment is just to finish, but like everyone I'll be hoping to get the best possible placing I can get."
Other first-timers from throughout the region competing in the Coolangatta Gold include Sandon Point duo Scott Lunney and Steve Hanlon (40-49 division), as well as open division competitors Mitch Fagerstrom (Bulli), Jacob Helson (Warilla Barrack Point) and Adam Coble (Corrimal).
Mackenzie Hynard will compete in her second Coolangatta Gold.
Meanwhile, under-19 division competitors Tobias Lunney (Bulli) and James Haigh (WBP) will compete in the shorter 33.4-kilometre course on Saturday.