When did Ultraman Florida happen? Was this your first invite?
I had done Comrades Ultramarathon on 29th May and then Ironman Austria 3 weeks later. Post that, end of June I had seen an invite for Ultraman, but it was actually for 2018. I had emailed the race director a potential yes and 2 days later he replied saying do you want 2017, someone has dropped out. This was my first invite and it completely fell into my lap! I knew there were 3 other Indians doing the same event Abhishek, Milind and Pritviraj. I didn’t know about Manmad then.
How does the “invite” procedure work for Ultraman?
To be honest I am not too sure about this procedure. I just know the race director has certain invites that he sends out but who, why when I am completely unsure of 🙂
How did you prepare for Ultraman?
My preparation was below par. I had torn my ACL in September and that was when I wanted to start preparations. I couldn’t do anything besides swimming for 6 weeks so that was a big blow. But I knew if I did rehab well I could come ahead. So I focussed on rehab, and then went straight to Ironman Malaysia, then week after Delhi HM, then a fast 10 km and then Bahrain 70.3. I packed a lot of events in, as back to back stuff is what you need. I also ran SCMM and Dubai full marathons back to back in a matter of 5 days which helped gain confidence for the run. My bike training was very limited and so I trained as much as I could on the trainer during regular hours.
What were the challenges you faced during Ultraman?
First challenge was to find a crew, baring my cousin Sampada Kanade all other crew members fell apart for one reason to another. I experience severe cold water issues on the swim with frozen hands, shoulders and nausea. But don’t mistake this for hyperthermia. First day on the entire bike I was having nausea and could not keep food or fluids in, so everything fell apart. Day three on the run I had a lot of issues with energy loss, allergic reaction on both feet, nausea and some cramping in the last 20 minutes.
Did you have any target in mind for the three days? Did you manage to meet your expectations?
Yes I had a target for each day, you need some challenge to keep you focused for the long 3 days. My first day target was 9 hours which I met. The second day I had told myself around 11:15-11:30 hours as this was my toughest day and I did it in 11:05! Third day my target was 10-11 hours, but due to issues on the run the first target was to finish. I always say first target of each race is to finish, then you work on the time goals.
Your views on how the event was managed?
It was an exceptionally well managed event. Roads were well marked for directions which was my big worry as this is a point to point race. And there was no guarantee that your crew would be next to you all the time. The finish line and start points were spectacular like a family affair.
How was your overall experience?
My overall experience was amazing! It was humbling too to have gone through this experience. But the best part was so many friends and family members who came out to cheer! Also as compared to other events, the crew members helped each other during this marathon. It was just wonderful as a sportsman to be a part of all of it!
What are your plans for future?
I am looking at resting next 2 weeks to give my mind and body a break. Once I reach Pune, I will focus my energy on my running. I also need to focus on the triathlon group and have some plans for them as their off season is ending. I will be travelling to South Africa on April 2nd for my trainees race too.
Your message to the aspiring tri athletes eyeing Ultraman? Well I always say this will be the ultimate goal, but you have to go through the process of doing smaller triathlons, then half Ironman, and later Ironman to get here or else you will set yourself for failure.
What are your thoughts on the increasing popularity of marathons and Ironman events today?
It’s good to see events like marathons and Ironman becoming popular. The health conscious have a good goal to work towards. It has opened doors for a lot of people post mid life crisis to get their life back on track. Similarly also enabled people in their 30s-40s who left sports at a young age to come back to an athletic activity.