Bex Rimmington faces the biggest stage of her career when she goes up against the world’s best athletes in one of sport’s toughest challenges.
The Melton sportswoman will need all the experience of a rich and varied career when she competes in the World Ironman Championships in Kona, Hawaii, on Saturday.
The 35-year-old’s sporting journey has taken her from swimming and triathlon, to professional cycling and international para-cycling, via a stint in rowing.
Yet despite all of this, Saturday will mark a journey into the barely-known as she embarks on only her second Ironman challenge against the best in the business.
Bex’s road to Hawaii began in April when she won selection to a four-strong triathlon squad, set up by California-based Specalized Zwift Academy following a global search to find the best amateur triathletes.
She qualified for the worlds after winning the 35-39 women’s age category at the UK Ironman Championships in Bolton, finishing fourth woman overall in July.
“The aim and objective of the academy was to qualify for Kona,” she said.
“Now I suppose it’s a case of seeing where I am against the best in the world.
“I hope I’m as ready as I can possibly be. I think I have similar feelings to what I had before Bolton Ironman, excited and nervous.
“At Bolton I had no idea what to expect and now I’m racing at a world championships in my second Ironman where essentially everyone on the start line has won their event.
“Everyone has earned their place from being the best on their given day so all I can do is take my game to the table and see how it goes.”
Training for such punishing distances has required careful balance, to prepare the body for the ultra-high demands, without pushing it into the red.
“There have been some really tough days, but everyone has those,” she said.
“You know that if you can get through them you can draw on those past experiences when times get tough in the race.
“In an Ironman distance that is always going to happen as it’s such a long day out.”
While swimming and cycling were still fresh in the muscle memory, Bex had not run competitively since her triathlon days in 2005.
“The running element has been the most progressive discipline,” she added.
“It’s been a case of building up really slowly as going from non-impact sport to impact has provided it’s own unique challenges.
“I’ve had to do a lot of strength and conditioning and injury prevention work to allow me to complete the workload, but also to ensure I stay healthy as well.
“Ironman training is a lot different to what I’ve done previously.
“It’s a real balancing act with training for the three disciplines and fitting in the hours that are necessary.
“On average I’m doing around 12 to 15 hours a week before and after work and then making the most of longer sessions at the weekend.”
The Ironman test begins with a 2.4-mile open water swim before competitors complete 112 miles on the bike and then face a full 26.2-mile marathon run to the finish line.
And while Hawaii appears an exotic host, the climate of the Pacific islands will add an extra layer of extreme to the 10-hour test.
“Kona can bring some of the toughest conditions,” Bex explained.
“The swim can have swells and the bike course is notorious for its windy conditions - headwinds and crosswinds.
“Added to that the marathon is in the hottest part of the day so the heat and humidity can prove a massive factor; it’s not only pacing, but also nutrition and hydration.”