The Coolangatta Gold is one of the toughest endurance races in the world.

You can’t be afraid to hurt. You are going to hurt in this race, no matter.

My strategy for this event has always been quite simple. The way I see it, everyone is going to struggle with the arduous conditions. But that hurt will always be a lot more bearable if you’re at the front of the pack!

So fix your sights on setting the pace, and don’t look back.

Of course, it’s easier said than done. You’ll go through stages where you won’t feel good at all. I vividly remember last year, after paddling the first ten strokes of the course, the only thought I had racing through my mind was “how am I going to do this for four & a half hours?”.

You have to be mentally strong, and embrace the gruelling challenge.

Externally, having won the event last year, I know the expectations will be high. But I’m not fazed; my focus is simply on performing to the best I can.

It has to be; this race is one of most challenging endurance races in surf sports.

Like every other short course competition, you can’t cut corners. You really do have to start training 16-20 weeks ahead and make sure you really ease into it.

I’m confident in my preparation this year.

Courtney Hancock celebrates during the Noosa Heads 2012-13 Telstra Ironwoman Series
NOOSA, AUSTRALIA – FEBRUARY 24: Courtney Hancock reacts to the camera during the Noosa Heads round of the 2012-13 Telstra Ironwoman Series on February 24, 2013 in Noosa, Australia. (Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images)

This time last year, I had just toured the Netherlands for the world titles, so not having that separate focus and being able to dedicate solely to this marathon event is a strong advantage this time around.

I know I am not immune to nerves though. No doubt they’ll start to kick in over the coming days, but you just have to try your best to relax, and really back yourself in that you’ve done the hard work.

This year, I have particularly had to take a step back and do more recovery sessions than I ever had. Maybe all these years of competition are finally starting to catch up to me, or maybe the experience I have cultivated throughout my career is now helping me know how to best manage and maximise my body.

Either way, I’m confident I’ll arrive to Coolangatta beach on race day primed and ready to perform.

I’m ready to hurt.

Courtney Hancock

Courtney Hancock is an Australian ironwoman champion, currently living on the Gold Coast

She is a young woman who has a natural ability, charismatic personality and zest for life that makes her very special.