THEY will be at different ends of the spectrum at the Gold Coast this weekend, but Emma Schuch and Paula Stone are focused on only one thing - finishing the Coolangatta Gold.
It doesn't matter how they get there when they line up at the starting line on Saturday and Sunday.
Stone is a stalwart of the event having done nearly 10 of the short course races, while Schuch hadn't even paddled a surfski other than for fun up until 20 weeks ago.
Stone will compete in her first full-distance event after competing in her first half-distance race 23 years ago.
"Each one has been a different course and the first one I did was in 1996 and it was part of the Devondale Uncle Tobys Series," Stone said.
"There was no ski leg for women and a couple of years later they brought the ski leg in and then every other Coolangatta Gold has had the ski leg in it since.
But the full has always eluded me; I probably should have done it before I had a child, but I thought better late than never.Paula Stone
"But the full has always eluded me; I probably should have done it before I had a child, but I thought better late than never."
Stone said the satisfaction of knowing what her body was capable of was one of the main reasons why she took up the challenge of the full-distance event.
"It's the challenge for the body, but mainly after the first two or three hours it will be all about the mind and then trying to stay focused and tick off each leg as you go," she said.
"Just to be able to complete the distance is the goal because the surf is quite different to the triathlon where you're stuck on the water and can't have a timeout.
"It's just trying to be aware of the conditions on the day and being smart about your choices."
The mental battle is another one that all competitors will face no matter how many races they have done previously.
"Once you start the ski and get halfway through it, your mind is only thinking one leg at a time, not two legs down," Stone said.
It's the challenge for the body, but mainly after the first two or three hours it will be all about the mind.Paula Stone
"Once you get through the ski it's a tick and onto the next one.
"You can't get too far in front in your mind, you've got to prepare yourself so you don't waste energy in those early stages of the race."
The final leg of the race is where Stone feels her race will start.
"Three out of the four legs I have been consistent, but the last leg which is the seven kilometre run is the one I haven't done any training for," she said.
"So the start of the race will be the start of the run."
In total, Port Macquarie will have another five competitors joining Schuch and Stone in the individual races including Jeff Polverino, Lindsay Moller, Luke Morris, Tom Osborne and Chayce Anderson.
"There's a strong Port Macquarie contingent going up so that's always nice," Stone said.
"Every year we publicise we're starting the 20-week program and Emma was one of the very few people who replied.
"She's thrived on doing something different which has sparked her along."
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