HERVEY Bay's Chris Barnes seemed destined to be a triathlete for the rest of his life.
But after 30 years competing and six ironman events, tragedy struck. In a cruel twist of fate, Barnes busted his pelvis from running too much.
"I'd been racing since I was 17 and all of a sudden I was told I couldn't run anymore," he said.
"It was pretty devastating and changed my life."
The desire for a return to triathlon has been burning inside the 43-year-old since he was told he could no longer run two years ago.
But giving up simply wasn't an option for the registered nurse.
Before the truth had set in, Barnes had bought a ski and was paddling in the waters off Hervey Bay's beaches.
"I took up paddling to build up my core strength and for rehab," he said.
"My brother-in-law (Roger Allwright) was racing at the time so I joined him.
"I paddle in the evenings while watching the sun go down or early to watch the sun come up. It's quite nice."
On Sunday, Barnes will join dozens of paddlers in the inaugural Hervey Bay Triangle, which is part of the fast-growing Pacific Ocean Series.
Barnes has been a regular participant in the competition, which comprises seven events with cash prizes.
Barnes, not surprisingly, said he was excited by the series making its way north.
"It's fantastic. Let's hope we get more locals go out there training and racing and giving it a go," he said.
"Somewhere along the line I hope we have a big series and get a few hundred skis turn up."
Barnes joined the series last year and has made a good fist of the move, but it has only fuelled his desire to return to triathlon.
"I still believe I can get back into running. It's just a matter of giving it time to heal," he said.
"I've done a few adventure races, which have got a paddling component, but not too much running.
"I'd like to think one day I can do both and I think I'll get back to Olympic distance triathlons again."
HERVEY BAY TRIANGLE
Starts 7.30am (registration 6.30am) on Sunday, at Hervey Bay Surf Lifesaving Club
Competitors paddle three times around a 3-4km looped course
Open to ocean/SLSA, stand-up, outriggers and double skis
For more information visit http://www.paddle2fitness.com.au/2012/04/hervey-bay-information/