Ironman 70.3: On October 8, 1,200 triathletes will run, swim, bike 113 kilometres in Goa
Nearly 1,200 triathletes from 30 countries will gather in Goa for Ironman (third edition in India), the world's toughest one-day sporting event.
Count the kilometres. Between London & Stonehenge. San Francisco to Sacramento. Paris to Moet & Chandon. New Delhi to Aligarh. Mumbai to Alibaug. Now, catch a breath and imagine running, swimming and cycling a distance of 70.3 miles (113 kilometres). No, you cannot be the snail, there's a cut-off time: 8 hours and 30 minutes. Wait, be prepared to lose 1-2 kilograms during a 70.3-mile race. Lost a breath and tons of sweat? Well, that's what nearly 1,200 triathletes from 30 countries will do on October 8 in Goa - participate in Ironman, the iconic global triathlon widely considered one of the most difficult one-day sporting events in the world.
In its third edition in India, the Ironman 70.3 (the full Ironman race is a combined length of 140.6 miles or 226.3 kilometres) will begin with a 1.9 km swim off Miramar Beach, followed by a 90 km bicycle ride before concluding with a 21.1 km run from Miramar Circle in Panaji, the state's capital.
While most triathletes start training a year or two prior to participating in the race, for the organisers, Ironman 70.3 is a logistical bogey. Nearly 1,200 people, including 700 volunteers will man and assist the streets and the crowd that day. 21 tons of ice and 23,000 litres of portable water will be readied for use. Eight aid stations along the course for hydration and nutrition. A couple of bike mechanics will be on standby in case of emergencies, but participants are responsible for their bikes. If something minor happens, like a flat tyre, they need to fix it themselves and keep going. That's how triathlons work. Roads will be closed, and traffic chaos in the state's heart will have to be managed.
Goa is the Ironman India's home ground. Why Goa? "We chose Goa because it's a popular travel destination, making it attractive to both locals and international participants. Goa offers a great backdrop for the race and provides convenience with various accommodation options and good airport access. Its marketability was crucial for attracting brands and participants. Ensuring the safety and quality of the beach waters was another essential factor. Government support for road closures was critical and after evaluating different cities, Goa emerged as the best choice due to its suitability and strong government backing," says Deepak Raj, Chief Executive Officer of Yoska and franchise owner of the Ironman brand in India.
Not every triathlete is a professional. There are 75+ participants from the Armed Forces, few CEOs, CFOs and management personnel will be testing their mettle beyond the boardroom. Several 18-year-olds queued up to register. So did Mumbai's Aries Kharas, 70, and Pervin Batliwala, 66, the oldest man and woman in the Ironman 70.3. And Bishworjit Saikhom previous winner of the men's category in the Ironman 70.3 India. Maharashtra, Karnataka and Haryana top the list of states with the highest number of participants.
What is usually a race-day meal? How does one prepare for a gruelling day? "The day before the race, athletes often focus on having a meal with more carbohydrates. Carbs are important because they provide energy and you don't want to start the race feeling low on energy. Additionally, a bit of salt and electrolytes are important to keep the body balanced. When it comes to the first meal after the race, it's about recovery. Athletes might opt for something like rice, which is easy on the stomach. It's important to replenish lost nutrients and stay hydrated," adds Deepak Raj, who has introduced an app-based training model to reach individuals in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities, enabling remote training for triathletes who did not have access to a certified Ironman coach.
Though Ironman is often considered a male sport, the number of female participants in Ironman 70.3 India is increasing steadily. This year, of the 1,200 participants, 200+ are women. Ironman 70,3 India offered coaching discounts and race registration deals to encourage women to participate. Meet Susan Hunt Thapar, 66, an Australian swimming coach and former sports tourism marketing professional who did a full Ironman 35 years ago, an Ironman 70.3 20 years ago and a number of triathlons in the past. She trained six days a week doing 50-90 kms bike rides, and two days dedicated to running and swimming.
On the other hand, Pune's Tanvi Kale, 30, a certified life coach, dedicates about one to two hours per day to a combination of workouts, including brick workouts. "I also incorporate strength training and Yin Yoga into my routine to balance the intensity of Ironman training," says Kale, who on weekends prioritises training, which includes early bedtime, bike maintenance and preparation, and a big no to socialising on Fridays and Saturdays.