They breed them hardy on Scotland’s west coast, which is just as well because Irvine local David McNamee could not have picked a much tougher assignment for his first tilt at non-drafting racing.


The 26-year-old triathlete, who made the surprising decision to turn his back on a stab at the Rio Olympics in favour of going long, must have thought he was back in the ITU ranks after lining up alongside 61 other professional men for the start of Challenge Dubai. 

In a race characterised by testing conditions and beset with controversy, the flying Scotsman clocked 3:55:03 to finish 21st. Once the desert dust had settled, 220 columnist Tim Heming caught up with McNamee to discover if he was content with his debut, what he learnt and whether it has whetted the appetite for Ironman South Africa on March 29. 

Let’s clear up the controversy first. Your training partner and long course mentor Fraser Cartmell emerged from the swim sporting a black eye. Why did you lay one on him?

Sometimes he just gets a little bit cheeky. No, he’s got a bit of a bruise but I can honestly say it wasn’t me and he has no idea who it was either.

Did you manage to settle and train satisfactorily in Dubai pre-race?

I had a bit of a travel nightmare. My flight from Glasgow to London was delayed so I missed the connection and stayed in a hotel overnight. I arrived on Tuesday, a day later than planned, but my bike didn’t. It was a bit of a farce and a nervous wait. 

The homestay I had with Fraser was good though. The family were part of the local Tri Dubai Triathlon Team and doing the race too so their local knowledge helped massively. We’re so used to cycling from the front door, but in Dubai we had to drive to a safe cycling area.