AFTER a breakthrough performance in her debut Nutri Grain ironperson series in 2015/16, it's been a battle for Nowra-Culburra SLSC's KIrsty Higgison just to complete each race, due to a wretched run of injuries.
But staying true to her positive outlook on life, Higgison took all the adversity in her stride - seeing her head into the final round of this year's Ocean6 Series in second place.
"Heading into the final event at Wanda, I'd actually had six weeks off training due to ligament damage in my ankle as well as me falling quite sick - meaning my preparation wasn't ideal," Higgison said.
"During this time, due to my stubborn nature, I battled through the Surfers Paradise round five event.
"After that race, I went down hill, because I put so much effort into that race - leading into more time off training.
"But I managed to get a couple of sessions in on my craft and in the pool before Wanda, so I didn't lose too much touch.
"So going into that final race, I knew it was going to hurt but with the tricky surf predicted, which is my favourite - I just thought I had nothing to lose."
Despite all this, Higgison started the day's racing strongly before an unfortunate incident derailed her campaign.
"In the eliminator format, I got through the first race quite easily and in race two, I led going into the ski leg.
"But a rogue set out the back, forced me to roll my ski - it was so big that it ripped my paddle out of my hands and all the way back into shore.
"I went from first to pretty much last in the space of a couple of seconds, forcing me to work hard just to keep my race alive.
"It really hurt to finish in the bottom six and miss out of progression into the next race - unfortunately that's the nature of our sport where your whole race can change in a split second."
This result saw the former St Johns student just miss out on the podium, by finishing fourth behind Georgia Miller, Maddy Dunn and Lana Rogers.
While admitting the past couple of seasons, full of adversity, have taught her a lot about herself and made her stronger both physically and mentally, Higgison knows an elusive Ocean6 Series crown is within grasp the next couple of seasons.
"That first season was like a dream - it was overwhelming," she said.
"You have all those goals when you're a kid but you never think it's going to happen, especially in your first season.
"Then to have two tough years, where I battled to stay fit, makes the fact I was in podium contention all the more special.
"It proves the first year wasn't just a fluke but a reward for all those years of hard work I've put in.
"I'm now back to where I want to be - I've got hunger, skill and knowledge needed to win the series and I 100 per cent believe it's within reach the next couple of years."
Higgison will now shift her focus to the Queensland state titles before zeroing in on that Australian women's ironperson title.
"I can't wait for Aussies - all my training at the moment is focused on that," she said.
"I've always wanted to win that ironwoman title and on the back of my great season thus far, I believe I've got as good of a chance as ever to achieve that goal.
"It would be the perfect way to cap off my year."