In 2002 I got a job working for the UK Government (the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – Defra) as an advisor on international development policy. I was part of the team that negotiated for the UK at the World Summit on Sustainable Development, and was heavily involved in its follow up – particularly the Government’s, and UN’s commitments, on water and sanitation. I also did a lot of work on post conflict environmental reconstruction policy, although narrowly avoided a trip to Iraq!
During this time I continued running, and joined a group, coached by the legendary and ever inspiring, Frank Horwill. Unfortunately I got hit by a car in March 2003 and, much to my frustration, I had to shelve my plans to run the London Marathon a few weeks later. I decided to start swimming again and in 2004, injury free, a friend – and member of the Birmingham Running and Triathlon Club (BRATS) Paul Robertshaw – encouraged me to give triathlon a go, even though I had never sat on a road bike. I bought a third hand Peugeot (which is still collecting dust in my parent’s garage) for £300 and set to work learning how to ride it. I joined the Birmingham based BRAT Club (even though I lived in London) and blindly embarked on training for this new sport. That year I did a few sprint triathlons (the Eton Super Sprint series) and a couple of Olympic distance races (the Bedford Triathlon and the Milton Keynes Triathlon), all with the toe clips and with an ill-fitting second hand wetsuit! The races went pretty well and definitely left me wanting to do more.