Aquablue’s Doherty on staying fit with the Army in Lebanon

Posted on: November 12th, 2015

Irish cyclist Nicola Doherty out for a run on the Lebanese-Israeli border with the Irish Army. The Aquablue rider has been based there on a peacekeeping mission for the last six months.


By Brian Canty

She may be 4,000 kilometres from home but Cork woman Nicola Doherty is an example of the lengths Irish riders are willing to go to in order to stay in shape during the off-season.

The Aquablue rider is currently working with the Irish Army in Lebanon on a peacekeeping mission and divides her time between assisting armed forces on the ground by day and long runs in the middle of nowhere in the evenings.

The 22 year-old said while she misses home – and her bike; working in a potentially dangerous area known as ‘The Blue Line’ on the Israeli border is something she’s loving.

“I’ve been here six months now and am really enjoying it,” she said.

“I’ve never been away from home before so while it’s been tough, it’s also been quite rewarding.

“And I’ve gained so much experience and gotten to know so many other great soldiers,” she said.


Doherty leads the peloton through the corners during the Suir Valley criterium. The 22 year-old is an accomplished road rider and cannot wait to get back to Ireland in a few days to go for a spin!


Staying in shape is par for the course as a member of the defence forces and Doherty outlines what she’s been at in that regard.

“Unfortunately, my bike is at home so I’ve only been able to use spinning bikes in the gym out here,” she explained.

“Getting out for a spin will be one of the first things I’ll be doing when I’m home!

“To stay fit out here has been tough at times, especially when temperatures were over 40 degrees.

“But I’ve taken up weights and been following my programme three days a week.

“I’ve never really done weights before so it was good to change things up. I’ll also keep up the cardio, depending on my duties or patrols.

“Running is the main thing I’ve been doing and I’ve registered for a half marathon along with a few fun runs to do when I get back home in December so it’s something to keep me focused.


Doherty is determined to stay in shape despite being on alert with a United Nations danger mission; using spinning bikes on her base to her benefit.


“I did the Insanity Workout for about eight weeks which was a bit of fun; there was a few of us together, and it’s tough.

“I like to train six days a week if I can, unless I’m completely exhausted.”

Life is very varied where she’s stationed, as she explains.

“My weekly duties consist of patrolling along the Blue Line, assisting the Lebanese Armed Forces ‘area domination patrols’ where we show our presence and we ensure a safe and secure environment.

“We also go to a local orphanage and teach English which was one of my highlights.”

Doherty is one of 28 women there; the highest ever number on an overseas mission.

“They’re a great bunch and it’s great to be a part of but I miss everything green.

“It’s amazing how much you miss your own country when you’re away for so long. I’m looking forward to overgrown hedges and potholes and will never complain about rain again.”


Full metal jacket; Doherty looking sharp in her Army kit on tour.