Ironman 70.3 Goa
© Shane Cardozo
Ironman

What it feels like to be part of Ironman 70.3 Goa

The race technical officer, athlete coaches, volunteers, and competitors speak about their experiences at the 2022 edition of Ironman 70.3 Goa.
Written by Shail Desai
7 min readPublished on
In 2019, Pradeep Katrodia had struggled to find adequate time to train for Ironman 70.3 Goa. But he knew he wanted to soak in the experience of competing in the inaugural edition of the reputed race, which was being held for the first time in India.
By the time race day arrived, he had lined up at the start alongside his wife as part of a relay team. While Pradeep pulled off the swimming and running segments, Deepa took on the biking section to make it a memorable race debut as a team.
At the 2022 edition in November 2022, the husband-wife duo was at the start line yet again. With adequate time invested in the training, they decided to take on the race in an individual capacity this time around. Both encountered different challenges on the course and by the end of it, had lived their own journeys en route the finish.
Ironman 70.3 Goa, which unfolds in the city of Panjim, has handed Indian triathletes the opportunity to experience a world class race in their own backyard. A few seasoned campaigners share their experience from the latest edition of the competition.
Ironman 70.3 Goa

Participants at Ironman 70.3 Goa

© Shane Cardozo

Focus on first timers

It was business as usual for those who had experienced an Ironman in the past, while for first timers, it was the perfect opportunity to get a taste of what the race entails (1.9km swim, 90.1km bike ride, 21.1km run).
Former international triathlon champion, Pooja Chaurushi, donned the dual role of technical official and coach, with a keen eye on her wards’ performance.
“My team consisted of newbies, who were looking to finish their first half Ironman. My advice for them was to focus on a steady effort, instead of struggling to get to the finish. Only when you enjoy the experience will you return for another race,” Pooja says.
“It’s best to go a couple of days in advance and do a course recce, so you can visualise the race and be familiar with every turn and climb. Once you’ve run the race in your mind, it does wonders for your confidence levels,” she adds.
Three years ago, veteran campaigner Sridhar Venkatraman had taken top spot in his age category. However, this time around, his goal was quite different as he got the swim underway alongside his students.
“I specialise in getting beginners into racing. They require special attention, a lot of hand holding. As for personal goals, I had just about recovered from a calf injury, so I took a conservative approach and didn’t push very hard. The idea was to simply finish,” he says.
Participants at Ironman 70.3 Goa

Participants at Ironman 70.3 Goa

© Shane Cardozo

New twists and turns

The course for this edition was altered after taking into account the learnings from the first edition. In 2019, Pooja recalls a lot of participants walking the swim course that unfolded at the shallow end of the Arabian Sea off Miramar Beach.
“A lot of people were simply walking, since their hands touched the ground and it was impossible to swim. With a new course this time around, they had to swim against the waves and with the waves, so there were all kinds of experiences on offer. At the same time, there were jellyfish in the deep, which added to the challenges,” Pooja says.
“However, the course this year was much better – really technical and the perfect challenge for anyone who wanted to be an Ironman,” she adds.
The bike section presented a veritable test even for returning racers. Sridhar had to dig deep while tackling two inclines at the 30km and 60km marks. Pradeep suffered a mechanical issue on his bicycle, which persisted despite his best efforts to fix it. It got even more taxing after he was buffeted by headwinds and crosswinds during the ride.
“The time trial bike I ride gives me good speed and I pushed on, hopeful of making time. But I gave up on a podium finish after someone on a road bike eased past me. At the same time, I knew I had to keep moving. It’s all a part of the game,” Pradeep says.
Participants cool off in ice baths after Ironman 70.3 Goa

Participants cool off in ice baths after Ironman 70.3 Goa

© Shane Cardozo

Challenges on the road

Though the race was held in November, a relatively cooler period in Goa, the coastal course provided no respite for the athletes. Coach Ingit Anand believes that heat and humidity, alongside the inclines, were the major challenges encountered during the race. But there were a number of other difficulties as well when it came down to simply conducting the event.
“The sports culture is still missing in India. A number of rules were flouted because there were a lot of beginners who tend to take things casually. Then while the infrastructure is good, we are still far from the quality of roads that are needed to make it a seamless experience,” Ingit says.
A delayed start also meant that the running segment unfolded as the heat picked up. Sridhar experienced severe cramping towards the end of the biking section, but well stocked aid stations helped him power on towards the end.
“In these conditions, it is important to get cold water and ice, and it was all very accessible. The Red Bull aid station was placed perfectly to aid the runners,” Sridhar says.
Red Bull aid station at Ironman 70.3 Goa

Red Bull aid station at Ironman 70.3 Goa

© Shane Cardozo

Joys of volunteering

In 2019, Ingit was the technical director for the run course. This year, he took on the job of overlooking operations in the transition area – a critical aspect of any triathlon where athletes look to switch gear as efficiently as possible before moving on to the next discipline.
He recalls lending a hand in everything – from attending to cramps to picking up shoes and setting them in order. After experiencing many triathlons around the world as an athlete, volunteering is the one moment that continues to keep him grounded.
“In sport, there is no hierarchy and you have to be open to all kinds of jobs. Just standing there exposes you to so many experiences. For instance, it was heartening to see folks over 65 years old at the race. It was great motivation for me to continue my own journey as a triathlete,” he says.
Come 2024, Ingit hopes to compete in Goa after ticking off a few testing races on his wish list. But he considers volunteering to be a vital part of his Ironman journey.
“By supporting other athletes, it is my way of giving back to the community. This role is bigger than the race itself,” he says.
Bicycle transition area at Ironman 70.3 Goa

Bicycle transition area at Ironman 70.3 Goa

© Shane Cardozo

Becoming an Ironman

Most agree that there’s no feeling like getting to the finish line, egged on by the community at every step. Ingit says that a full Ironman is the world’s toughest one-day endurance race. And finishing it speaks volumes of the dedication, hard work and discipline that the sport demands. He believes in a gradual progression through the distances, in order to adapt to the volume and intensity of training.
“If you’ve finished this race, you’re not only physically strong, but also mentally very strong. And it’s really humbling to see a beginner get through his race, only to realise that you too were in their shoes at some point,” Ingit says.
Pradeep considers triathlons to not just be a sport, but also a lifestyle that he’s embraced over time. And just as in life, he’s enjoyed the many challenges thrown at him at every step.
“The moment you decide to train for an Ironman, you’ve agreed to everything from time management to being disciplined and making sacrifices. Only you know what it takes to get across the finish line, which explains that burst of emotion that one goes through when it’s over. And every single person experiences it, which is what makes an Ironman really special,” Pradeep says.