Living life in sunny Cyprus - Sue Pugh Personal blog

So, some people have said you must be living the high life now you’re in the sun, training all the time, relaxing when you’ve finished work on the beach or by the pool…. well the first six months of living in Cyprus have been anything but relaxing!!!

Working as an RAF Physical Training Instructor, every now and then other job opportunities come up. I was due to move from my current job within the School of Physical Training and RAF Cosford, one job jumped out at me, working in Cyprus as an Exercise Remedial Instructor and Physical Training Instructor. So, after much deliberation and many conversations with family, boyfriend and friends, I decided I would be daft not to take the opportunity to at least apply to be considered. Long story short, I was selected and successful with my application starting in my new role in January 2018.

Oh sh1t, I was off to Cyprus. Now to sort my life out and prepare to move. Unlike most moves, I’d just pack my belongings into the van and off I’d go…. what would I need, how much was I allowed to take, where was I going to live, would I take my Transporter? Now as a single person in military terms, not married, no kids, even though I have a boyfriend Mat, who is in the Marines, I would only be entitled to living in the WO & Sergeants Mess, glorified University living if you like. This was not living in my eyes, merely existing so I quickly started looking at the prospect of renting a house/villa/apartment. Then after several conversations with my brother and parents, it quickly became clear it would a better decision to buy a property, so they could easily come over and not to ‘waste’ money in my eyes, renting. House hunting was a go. Packing up my belongings from Cosford, ready for removal day, most vital pieces of kit were my bikes, how was I going to get at least 2bikes, kitchen equipment, all my triathlon kit, normal clothes, uniform, tennis rackets (for a little comeback...!!)  into 7cubic metres? Lots of planning, preparation and it was done. Belongings left at the end of October, hopefully, I would see them soon after I arrive…!?!

Up until Christmas was busy visiting family especially and saying bye for now to friends. I think the hardest part about being in the military is leaving behind family and friends. I have made some fantastic friends at Cosford, especially Jonny, Hucks, Dayle, Rik and not forgetting Penny and Lucy, who I’d see, chat, laugh, train, ask advice, list goes on. But by far the hardest hard of all was saying bye for now to my Granddad, who was gradually deteriorating at 91years young. So, the day before I flew, I went to see him, he laughed and joked saying at least I’d have more time to ride my bike, about time I didn’t work as much before he slipped back to talking about the dog up the field was caught in the fence. He was living in a residential home having left the farm just over 12moths before. Little did I know that this would be the last time I saw him, as 3days after I arrived in Cyprus, my Mum phoned me to tell me he had passed away. At least he was not suffering anymore.

So after a very sad way to start life in Cyprus, I did exactly what he would have wanted me to do and ensured I live life here to the full.

I viewed 16 properties in 2days, deciding on the 2nd day which I was to buy and started the process. I bought a car, a ‘Cyprus banger’ to get me around for the next 3years, no nice new VW Transporter here. Got out on my bike, explored the island as much as I could, rode everywhere. Met so many new faces I forgot most of their names. Took over the organising and running of the station cycling club, organised rides and led groups around. Flew back for my Grandads funeral. Organised a RAF Triathlon Training Weekend for the membership in February which was exactly when it started to snow a lot, just after I landed at Brize Norton…. Got to know more of my job role working with RAF, Army and Royal Navy, made some changes to how I would like to run my department (all sounds very grand, I was the only ERI so I just sorted myself out!). Get back to some consistent training, especially as race season is slightly earlier here due to the temperature!

My first race was a Road Cycling Race as part of British Forces Cyprus Cup, which was brutal with the guys, I managed to stay away to take the ladies win, although the field wasn’t the biggest, got to be in it to win it! Then came the first tri of the season with Cyprus Middle Distance Championships held at Ayia Napa. Now most people go to Napa for other reasons but early in the year its rather different! Top 10 AG finish but boy, had I a lot of work to do! This was exceptionally early for middle distance race for me, I wouldn’t normally race this distance until end of May so this was a honest reflection of where my training was.

In amongst all of this, I was busy organising the RAF Triathlon Overseas Training Camp to Mallorca, applying for diplomatic clearance, sorting flights, hotel, admin instructions and least of planning the coaching plan and delivering to 40athletes. A challenging 2weeks in Mallorca with the first week of the camp for Standard distance athletes resulting in 7bikes missing off the flight and a bout of D&V running through the hotel with 18 out of the 21 athletes and coaches being affected, adapting the coaching plan to see who was fit and able to train! The second week thankfully was far less eventful with the Iron distance athletes, with all getting some quality training in. Oh and the small fact of trying to finalise my apartment!

Back in Cyprus, end of April, another race, April Joke Middle Distance Triathlon in Northern Cyprus. A tough day, but more successful than the last one, 5th overall, 2nd AG. An exceptionally tough run saw me having a battle with a Turkish woman, who just had the better of me within the last 2.5km, I just couldn’t hold onto her. Damn, more run strength work needed.

Two weeks after this, Larnaca Standard Distance race. It had been a while since I had raced a standard distance, so I just decided to use it as a hard training session, go hard and hang on for as long as I could. Well, that plan worked quite well to secure 3rd female overall. Perhaps I might race more standards? 

Then came an event more similar to what I completed in 2015, this time a 4day cycling event, gradually working your way around Cyprus. This time though I would be leading the peloton, responsible for 60riders of varying ability and fitness, implementing a safety management plan to ensure they all complete the Cyprus Cycle Challenge 2018, 530km, with 5500m of climbing in four days. Temperatures as you can imagine at the beginning of May in Cyprus should be warming up, however, we didn’t expect a heat wave with temperatures some days, according to my Garmin, up to 43.6deg. Our support crews worked tirelessly to ensure we had enough fluids, especially on the day we climbed Troodos mountain. All riders successfully made it safely around, with a handful having to withdraw due to temperature related illness, but no major incidents with crashes which I think is quite successful, so perhaps my nagging at the start of each day about riding etiquette and communication worked!! J

You must be thinking have you not moved into your apartment by now? So, after several delays, I finally picked up my keys just before Bank Holiday weekend and moved in! Yes, at last, I could start living and enjoying Cyprus properly and unpack the rest of my belongings. I was too pig headed and stubborn to unpack more than 3boxes when I arrived as I didn’t want to unpack, re pack and unpack again, knowing that I would soon be moving into my own place…. stubborn yes!

So now I have a nice little place, in a quiet area, 25mins bike ride away from work in one direction and 20mins bike ride in the other to the beach, a big patio to sit out on and eat dinner/sit in the sun, a small pool which I am gradually turning into a training pool – a swim tether to attach myself by this to a pole/wall so I swim statically in the 12m pool, both my Dassi road bike and EVO2MAX R9 TT bike have a home, all my kit is unpacked (didn’t realise I’d managed to squeeze so much in!), have a wonderful kitchen to conjure up some lovely meals and busy buying a few items for the apartment to make it my own. Now I can order things from the UK and not have to wait at least 2weeks to get it delivered, this could be lethal!!

Training is getting back to being more consistent, after a hectic few months as you can see. The next few months are focussing on IM Wales, in September after I’ve got rid of an Achilles niggle and Challenge Paguera in October, along with some bike races and other triathlons in Cyprus, the possibility of some more 70.3s later in the year and then planning for next year. I have a few ideas….

Thanks as ever goes to the companies that support me in my crazy endeavours – RaceSkin for the comfiest tri-suit I have ever owned, SockMine to keep my feet happy in great socks, Zone3 for comfy, flexible and super-fast wetsuits, CurraNZ for keeping me healthy and helping me recover better for the next training session or race, CrossFit Bull for providing the best training facility in Hereford for when I’m home, really do miss these guys to spur me on and motivate me, and not forgetting RAF Triathlon, RAF Sports Federation and RAF Central Fund for without their support all of this wouldn’t be possible.


I’ll try not to take so long for the next update….. writing this as I sit on an aircraft flying back to the UK for British Triathlon Federation High Performance Coach Programme Level 3 Course. Never stop learning or challenging yourself.

So as my Grandad said to me, make sure I get some time for myself and enjoy things, that’s certainly how I intend to spend the next few years at least in Cyprus and beyond.


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