Triathlete contributor Holly Bennett says goodbye after seven years as a contributor.

I’m taking a different tact with this week’s Dispatch–namely, to let you know that with this final column I say bye-bye to my byline on Triathlete.com and in Triathlete magazine.

I’ve had the pleasure of serving as a contributor to Triathlete since 2008, when I started as a bright-eyed newbie blogger, eager to marry my passion for creative writing with my love of all things swim, bike and run. Apparently readers (or at least my editors) enjoyed my work, as my input evolved over time into the ultimate gig: freelance editor at large.

The experiences this role has afforded me have bordered on unbelievable. I’ve traveled to and come to love and feel at home in far-flung parts of the world, some of which I previously couldn’t pinpoint on a map: Thailand, Vietnam, Taiwan, the Philippines, Bahrain, Costa Rica, Australia, New Zealand and a tiny town in Germany called Roth that especially stole my heart. I’ve met, befriended, interviewed and raced alongside everyone from professional athletes to princes, age group rookies and tough-as-nails podium-topping grandmas–all incredible individuals in their own right with the common bond of triathlon. I’ve raced past elephants and water buffalo, dodged dogs and chickens and daring scooter drivers and enjoyed the swim safety protection of Vietnamese army boats. I’ve shared Turkish coffee with Bahraini women speaking only Arabic, bonded over proper beer-pouring technique with my adopted homestay family in Germany and seen some of the most stunning race venues imaginable. The volume of people that have asked me over the years, “Would you like an assistant?” speaks to the enviable coolness of all I’ve experienced as a Triathlete contributor.

It hasn’t been entirely glitz and glamour, of course. I’ve also been soaked through and through (and through again) during a non-stop New Zealand downpour while following nine-plus hours of race action, crashed and scored a concussion (among other injuries) in Mexico, suffered an intestinal parasite (‘nuff said about that) and endured more travel delays, lost luggage and reroutings than most (for the record, Denver to Sydney and back to Manila is not the most direct path to the Philippines). But all in the name of journalistic adventure, and I’ve loved every moment, whether awesome or annoying at the time.

Traveling the world and sharing these wild and wonderful experiences with a global community of triathletes–whether sitting down over coffee or during sweat-drenched moments of celebration or agony–I’ve witnessed the many ways in which people commit to the pursuit of their passions. I’ve been chasing my own passion around the world, but now it’s time to hone in on a new adventure and purpose closer to home.

Over the past few years I’ve developed a close kinship with the Challenge Family triathlon series, and the family and extended family behind the scenes of the organization. It’s a rapidly growing bunch, that’s for sure; in the time I’ve known them, Challenge Family has increased their reach from 20-something events to 44 worldwide. Fifteen of these races are in North, Central and South America, and my next step professionally is to head up the marketing and communications efforts for Challenge Family Americas. I’m over the moon about the move, and while I’ll certainly miss having regular contact with Triathlete readers, I hope to meet many of you throughout the season from this new perspective and help you celebrate your own swim, bike and run adventures.

Thanks for a fantastic seven-year run and I’ll see you at the races. Be sure to say hi!

Look back on Holly’s “Dispatch” and “Confessions of an Age Grouper” columns.