Ryan Fisher had just completed a 23-kilometre run when he decided to have scans on what he thought was a “tight quad”.
Results showed he had been training with a fractured femur, the news flooring the Tokyo triathlon hopeful who had to cancel plans to fly to Japan where he had hoped to qualify for the Olympics.
That broken leg and COVID-19 reduced the 2016 Olympian to a “professional trainer” over the last 18 months.
But he’ll line up in Sunday’s Noosa Triathlon as one of the main chances in an open men’s field that doesn’t feature a former winner.
“I thought I had a tight quad for a while, didn’t do much about it and then they told me I had a fracture and that was the end of it, it changed everything,” he said.
“Mentally it was very tough from then on, but I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to race after not doing it much at all in last 18 months.
“I’ve been coming here for quite a while and have finished second twice, third once … all the places you don’t want to come.”
Leading Australian pair Jake Birtwhistle and Aaron Royle are notable absentees from a 28-strong elite field that includes 2018 runner-up Max Neumann and fellow Ironman and Ironman 70.3 event winners Josh Amberger, Tim Van Berkel, Nicholas Free and Steve McKenna.
“I was talking to Jake a few days ago, asked him when he was coming up,” Fisher said.
“When he said he wasn’t I was pretty happy to be honest, as much as I was looking forward to catching up with him.”
Ashleigh Gentle will start hot favourite for an eighth women’s crown, but she faces fresh opposition from in-form Dutch talent Lotte Wilms and Kirra Seidel.
A standout swimmer, Wilms blitzed the field to dominate the recent Ironman 70.3 Sunshine Coast, finishing ahead of Seidel.