No one knew how historic the Ironman 70.3 Goa race would turn out to be. And that too, on so many counts:
That it was the first Ironman 70.3 race in India.
That the overall winners would be 3 Indians.
That it would be flawlessly organised, down to every last detail, with enthusiastic, informed volunteers and perfectly planned aid stations.
It was a tricky weekend. Unseasonal rains on Friday threw everyone in a tizzy…What if it rains on Sunday morning/ what will happen to the swim? The bike?
Bright sunshine for a bit on Saturday morning resulted in further conjecturing…What if it is hot? How will we run? But Sunday morning turned out to be a beautiful cloudy day, albeit a tad humid.
The check in area was filled with loud music, in typical Ironman style. Athletes were high-fiving, high on adrenaline, unable to contain their excitement. The race start was delayed by 30 minutes, which just meant more time for photographs and insta stories!
Triing Souls (aka Team Buttersport) participated as a relay and here is the Race report:
The SWIM: 1.9 km, with an Australian exit
Kapil did the swim leg. The start was a bit messy, as the flags for the starting corrals were not followed. The course was well marked, and there was a reasonably strong drift towards the left, as a result of which a lot of swimmers slamming into ropes, especially newbies. The sea was a bit choppy, but nothing remarkable. The real troublemakers were the jelly fish and a lot of swimmers were stung. Considering it was divided into 2 loops, and the water was quite shallow near the beach, there was a fair bit of walking.
Overall, he swam 2.2km, and most swimmers swam close to 2km.
The showers was well organised, with a clear path (close to 400m) to rinse off and reach T1.
The BIKE: 90km, with 302m elevation gain (as per Garmin)
Vikas did the bike leg, a particularly picturesque route, along the Mandovi river, with the hustle bustle of the port, cargo ships being unloaded and the cruise liners parked. Then they climbed a bridge after which the road narrowed, but was pretty and smooth. At the end of the road was an aid station, perfectly positioned, with water and Fast and Up reload in different coloured bottles, stocked with nutrition in terms of Fast and up gels, bananas and biscuits and most importantly, manned by well trained, earnest volunteers. The route then wove back to the circle, towards Dona Paula, where there was another aid station and crowd support was just fantastic! The surface was alright leading upto the “killer climb”. It was a 300/400m (distance) climb to the circle, and after the left turn it just got steeper. A lot of triathletes were walking, which was a smart thing to do to save their legs. Since he was only biking he climbed the hill out of saddle. The downhill was the best part with the cheering spectators, even though further ahead it became a no pass zone before the turnaround with cobbled stones and a narrow road. The last loop was hotter and harder and it was important to pace the distance correctly. As a result, his last 5-10 km were quick and energetic.
The road surface was great for most part.
The ride along the Mandovi on the quiet, narrow road was the best part.
The organisation was brilliant, with the way the cones were laid out, all alerts and warnings regarding speed-breakers, and traffic and pedestrian management.
The 3 loops were perfect with cheering all along.
The RUN: 21.1km, 73m Elevation gain (as per garmin)
A quick transition, as I velcroed the timing chip onto my ankle, I started off fast. Over the mat and onto the road, I ran at a steady pace. To my good luck, the sky was overcast and the route was chosen well, being shaded for most part. Being a closed course (3 loops of 7km each) ensured fantastic crowd support all along! My spirit was high, I had waited for over 4 hours to become a part of this incredible event! I cheered all the triathletes along the way, being able to understand their pain. It had been a long day for them! I smiled, waved and explained…I am ONLY running!
The aid stations were designed as a linear spread, beginning with water, then electrolyte, followed by gels, oranges, coke and then electrolyte and water again, along with an “ice bucket challenge” style dunking station. Oh yes, also chilled sponges! They had planned well for a HOT day and tired triathletes!
Midway through the 3.5km stretch was a hill. Not any hill, a steeeeeep hill! And just at the turn I saw Deepak Raj, cheering all the participants, with a big smile! I thanked him for the fantastic day that he and his team had engineered for us! At the 3.5km point there was another aid station. It became slightly warmer in my second loop (1pm-1.45pm) so I slowed down a bit, but then the weather turned for the better, and I changed gears to finish strong.
Walking the uphill, running the flats and encouraging the real heroes, the triathletes, was the story of my half marathon.
The team ran over the red carpet together, all smiles! It was wonderful to be a part of this awesome event.
Deepak Raj and Team Yoska should take a bow for pulling this one off with aplomb!
Three cheers for Bishorjit Saikhom, Nihal Baig and Mahesh Louembam, for showing us what Indians are capable of!
A special mention for Pablo Erat, who showed us the dream of a triathlon on Indian shores, and gratitude for always supporting it!