THE ache in David Dellow's legs does not compare to the pain that has been haunting him the past two years.
Injury and illness have robbed the 35-year-old Kawana triathlete of the chance to compete in the prestigious Ironman World Championships since his ninth-place finish in 2012.
"It's brutal because the only reason I do this sport is Kona," Dellow said after winning yesterday's Hervey Bay 100.
"To have to pull out the last two years is just massively disappointing.
"Now I'm just super hungry to get back."
The rangy redhead showed how hungry he was in Hervey Bay yesterday, dominating the 100km course in his first race since suffering a hip injury eight months ago.
"When you're coming off injury, you're always uncertain about your form and if you're going to break down," Dellow said.
"The win was probably better for me mentally rather than physically."
Hervey Bay was Dellow's opportunity to "blow out the cobwebs" ahead of his bid to qualify for next year's world championships.
His next test will come in Busselton on December 7 where a field of more than 60 professionals will line up to get an early start on gaining qualification points for next year's world championships.
Dellow (pictured) plans to follow up Ironman Western Australia with Ironman Melbourne next March before returning mid-year to Ironman Cairns where he triumphed in 2012 leading up to his ninth place finish at that year's world championships.
"I need to get about 4000 points to qualify for the Kona event and I'm on zero now so hopefully I can get a swag of points in Busselton," he said.
After his cruel luck in the last two years - Ross River Fever ended his 2012 campaign and a hip injury ruled him out this year - Dellow knows nothing is assured.
"I'm starting from scratch," he said.
"You can't do much about getting bitten by a mosquito to get Ross River Fever and the training you've got to do to actually do well over there, sometimes injuries can happen and that's what happened this year."
"YOU learn from those and hopefully I can get on the 2015 start line," Dellow said.
Yesterday he trailed Swiss Marc Widmer after the 2km swim and 80km bike legs but was dynamic on the run, overtaking Widmer 5km into the 18km run before taking victory in 3hr 43min 14sec. "I'm aching now," Dellow said. "But that's because I haven't finished a race in eight months. It's a good feeling to be finishing races again."
Mooloolaba's Steve Halliday crossed third at the Hervey Bay 100 but was disqualified for wearing neoprene shorts in the swim.