Triathlete Martyn Matthews is gearing for his toughest challenge yet, as he prepares to tackle the searing heat of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

Mr Matthews, 64, has been running triathlons around the UK for more than ten years, but is now in training for his first international competition, the Abu Dhabi Inter-national Triathlon, on March 3.

The ex-Army commando said: “I wanted a different challenge, I haven’t travelled much lately and wanted to start doing so again.”

The competition starts with a 3km swim in the Persian Gulf, followed by a 200km bike ride through the centre of the city into the Yas Marina Formula 1 circuit, ending with a 20km run back out onto the seafront.

British Olympic men’s triathlon champion Alistair Brownlee will also be taking part, but Mr Matthews does not plan on changing his usual training routine.

He said: “As long as you understand the distance and what the terrain is going to be like, it’s not too bad. This is a very flat course, so it’s not going to be difficult.

“I have prepared by doing the distance training the same way as I normally do, it will be just like doing it on a warm day.

“I’ve done a lot of intensive cycle training, which this time of year is mostly done in the gym, as you have to put a lot of hours in to get used to the distance.”

By completing the race he aims to raise £5,000 for BLESMA, the British Limbless Ex Service Men’s Association, which works with injured and disabled troops.

He said: “I am an ex-serviceman myself, and I have friends within the organisation who served in the same unit. They do a lot of the work restoring people, both mentally and physically, when they come back from the battle scene.

“I’m fortunate that I’m as fit and healthy as I am, and I wanted to encourage other people to support those who aren’t.”

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