"It scares the hell out of me, just mentioning how far it actually is."
NEWCASTLES Aaron Royle is preparing for his first half-ironman event as he waits to learn if he has been chosen in the Australian triathlon team for next years Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
Unlike for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and Rio Olympics, Royle has been unable to secure automatic qualification.
After a year interrupted by injury and illness, he is now at the mercy of selectors discretion but hopesthey will offer him one of the two remaining spots on the Australian team.
In the meantime, he plans to finish2017 on a positive note by performing well in three lucrative season-ending events, the Nepean, Noosa and Island House (Bahamas) Triathlon, before the Western Sydney Ironman on November 26.
He has won the Nepean three times, Noosa twice and last year finished third at the Island House, collecting the biggest pay cheque ($40,000) of his career.
He said the half-ironman at Penrith would be a step towards a long-time ambition, competing in the gruelling Hawaiian Ironman.
Its a 1.9km swim, a 90-km bike ride and you finish with a half-marathon run, so 21.1kms, he said.
Which scares the hell out of me, just mentioning how far it actually is. Its going to be quite painful, but Ive been wanting to do one for a little while now and its just none have ever seemed to fit in with my season.
A standard Olympic-length triathlon is a 1.5km swim, 40km bike ride and 10 kilometre run. The Hawaiian Ironman comprises a3.86km, 180.25kmride and fullmarathon (42.2km) run.
The Hawaiian Ironmanhas always been appealing to me, he said. Theres options for the longer stuff for me, but I still think I have a few years left in me doing the Olympic version of the sport.
I still think that Tokyo  is a realistic goal. Its tough after a year when you dont go as well as you think youre capable of.
You question yourself a little bit, but I still think I have the ability to go to Tokyo and perform better than I did in Rio [when he finished ninth].
In the lead-up to Glasgow and Rio, Royle automatically qualified almost a year ahead of both events, which allowed him to focus solely on his preparation.
For Gold Coast, he hopes selectors take into account his performances over the past five years, rather than a 2017 campaign hindered by a torn plantar fasciitis and then a bout of gastroenteritis before the last race on the world-series circuit, in Rotterdam.
Its in the selectors hands, and there are no more races for them to look at for selection, he said.
So its basically out of my control now. Whatever happens, happens. I cant do anything about it and I just have to wait and see what they decide.
The 27-year-old from Maryland has taken this years setbacks in his stride.
If youre ever going to have a down year, I guess the year after the Olympics is the best time to do it, he said.