*** many thanks to Matt Warnock for this blog post.  And we all wish you the very best for your future in the Netherlands Matt! ***

(see what I did with that title, eh?)

OK, OK, OK… so it’s been a while. And for that I offer up my deepest, sincerest condolences, yadda yadda yadda… Actually, what do you want from me? I’ve been damn busy. ‘How busy?’ you may ask. Lots of work on? Too much training? Few personal commitments?

 Actually, I’ve been rounding up my life in the UAE (easier said than done), saying my goodbyes and have been a tad preoccupied with moving to the Netherlands, I’ll have you know. But now I’m there, and have been living in Amsterdam for one week exactly, I’m writing the blog I should have written a couple of weeks ago.

First up, let me say that the time was right and, even before I got here, I’ve been super-psyched about my move. Now I’m here, despite having to increase the overall size of my wardrobe by several thousand percent (coats, scarves and gloves are essentials for life in this here Netherlands, people!), I’m even more excited. But that doesn’t mean that there’s not some sadness attached to leaving Dubai. 

There’s sadness attached to the place – I was lucky enough to leave while I still feel a lot of fondness towards Dubai and the UAE, rather than so many who are ‘just reeeeally over the whole thing, you know, man?’  when they make the move away. There’s sadness attached to the job – I think I had one of the best jobs in the world at Explorer – and the people. But what I’m going to miss, more than anything else, can be summed up in one word: triathlon. 

Let’s take a pictorial journey through my time in Dubai…

2008: 93kgs and already many, many kilos lighter than at the same point the year before, I tackle my first triathlon in gym clothes, wearing a borrowed kids’ helmet and riding a borrowed bike. Sprint triathlon time: 1hr46.

2010: 85kgs and with a marathon and several triathlons under my belt, with a proper bike helmet and on my very own tri bike, I register a time of 1.17 for a sprint tri.

2012: 79kgs (going into the race…70kgs finishing it!) I complete my second Ironman. I now have many, many swim, bike, run and tri races under my belt and can cover the sprint distance in around 1.03.

What many will see there is either a dude who got himself into some sort of decent shape or a blogger who’s feeling a mite proud of himself. I’d disagree. When I look at those photos now I think of experiences (climbing Kilimanjaro, racing Ironmans, cycling tours across Thailand and Laos or Europe), I think of achievements, I think of a guy who’s happier in life and better at his job, and  I think of someone who wouldn’t have had the balls or ability to make the move I’ve just made before my tri adventure began. But, most of all, I think of all the friends I’ve made along the way.

The Middle East and endurance sport may not seem to be a match made in heaven but for me it most definitely was. So, when I look back on my time in Dubai, what I’ll always remember and be grateful for is that it gave me one of the things I love most and makes me happiest in the world. 

And it taught me one thing. Wherever you are in the world, never let location be your limiter or your barrier. Get out there and make it count! While everyone else in Amsterdam is bemoaning the cold snap and the rain, I’m wrapped up and ready for action – after jogging around and around and around at Safa or Dubai Marina in 45 degree C, hitting the canal-side trails, parks and woods of Holland in the cold is a breeze.

As rubbish and silly a dedication as it may be, this blog serves as a huge thanks to everyone at Tri2Aspire, Dubai Masters, Cycle Safe, Tri Dubai, ABRaS etc etc… thanks for pushing me harder, faster and further, and for teaching me that pushing harder, faster and further is the greatest feeling in the whole, wide, lovely, great world.