Two Amdavadis have managed to complete the Ironman challenge recently held at Busselton in Western Australia, earning themselves the tag of ‘finishers’ among 3,000 participants.
Siddharth Patel (40) completed the race in 15 hours and 45 minutes in the 40-44 age group, while Dr Bharat Oza (56) completed the race in 16 hours and 16 minutes in the 55-59 age group.
Patel, a chartered accountant, went into endurance sports after he saw his father struggling with poor health. “I began to actively pursue endurance sports at the age of 35 in 2019. I began with running and cycling and later joined the Ahmedabad Distance Runners Club (ADRC) where I learned about the Ironman challenge and decided to take it up,” said Patel.
He also took up training under one of India’s fastest athletes Pankaj Ravalu and then registered for Ironman Israel but soon a war broke out there. He then pursued it in Busselton.
Patel trained for 10 to 18 hours and eats only home-cooked food, keeps his body hydrated and avoids junk food.
Speaking about the Ironman challenge, he said swimming in the sea was difficult as salty water gets into the mouth which impacts cycling and swimming.
“The Indian Ocean was calm initially but later became turbulent. Cycling during the event was a challenge due to elevation and hills as I practice in Ahmedabad which does not have much elevation. Running was the most difficult as it is the last part of the challenge and the time was ticking,” said Patel.
Dr Bharat Oza, an anaesthesiologist, has been practising the sport since 2010 after he suffered hypertension. He initially focused on work-life balance but later ventured into the sport. He began with cycling and pursued cycling expeditions before getting into running, swimming and gym.
“I had been attending marathons and it helped improve my fitness. I was disqualified from Ironman Austria and was even disqualified from other events, but never gave up. Later, I participated in Ironman Western Australia.”
What is Ironman challenge?
Ironman is a triathlon event where participants have to complete three sports at a stretch. One needs to qualify in each section (swimming, cycling and running) to move to the next stage. Ironman Western Australia had a 3.8 km swim in the Indian Ocean, 90 km cycling twice and 42.2 km of running that need to be finished in 17 hours.