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Business News/ News / Business Of Life/  Goa, get set, go

Goa, get set, go

The organizers of the Goa Triathlon hope to convert the tourist haven into a sporting hub

Rajesh Malhotra (in white T-shirt) with friends.Premium
Rajesh Malhotra (in white T-shirt) with friends.


It’s 11 on a Sunday morning, and the scene at the Bambolim beach just outside Panjim is an unusual one. While holidayers and residents are enjoying a Sunday sleep-in, a bunch of people have just cycled down to the beach for the final open-water swimming practice session before the Goa Triathlon scheduled to take place on 22 February.

The brainchild of Go Adventures, this is the second edition of the Goa Triathlon, India’s largest Olympic triathlon, and the only Indian one to feature a swim in the sea. The event starts with a 1.5km swim in the sea, followed by a 40km cycling circuit, and ends with a 10km run—all in the vicinity of Bambolim beach. Registration has seen an upswing, from 140 participants in 2014, to 320 this year—the process ended on 7 February. Elias Patel, a certified swimming coach, lifeguard and founder member of Go Adventures, attributes this to the team-entry category that has encouraged those who are not all-round athletes, but have a definite interest in sports like cycling and swimming, to team up with others and bank on each other’s collective strengths.

Goa has a thriving running culture and a fair number of annual marathons along its scenic coast and riversides. The triathlon has brought together many of Goa’s urban cyclists. Cycling is probably the new go-to sport, attracting people not just to fitness, but to sporting and adventure initiatives.

For many participants, this is a first attempt at a multiple-stage competition that tests three consecutive disciplines. Elvina Pontes, 37, a fitness enthusiast from Panjim, sees it as a personal physical challenge. “This is the first time I’m participating in a triathlon. I ran the Goa River Marathon in December and I’ve been wanting to give the triathlon a shot since I heard about it happening in Goa last year," she says. A dedicated student of kick-aerobics, she has been running and cycling in preparation for the triathlon. Pontes is among the 30 women and over 150 men vying to be finishers in the solo category of the event.

For several others, love for one sport—cycling, running or swimming—is a draw to try something new. Also, the Goa Triathlon allows participants to form teams of a runner, swimmer and cyclist each, encouraging 42 teams (of twos and threes) to compete against each other this year.

“We wanted to do our bit to promote Goa as a sporting hub, to encourage families to participate in a variety of events. Goa has got so much more to offer than people know," says Patel, who believes that Facebook marketing for the event helped spread the word outside the state. “Being in Goa, we tend to take our facilities for granted, whereas people outside are always waiting for a unique opportunity to come here and participate in such events."

Bengaluru-based fitness enthusiast Namu Kini, 36, is among the 250 out-of-towners, travelling down just for the event. Bitten by the cycling bug a year ago, she says her journey began with 50km easy rides in the countryside. She found that cycling was a great way have a cardiovascular workout while engaging with the outdoors. “Cycling not only builds stamina, but also exposes you to the elements," she says.

Having recently completed the Tour of Nilgiris (over 900km across eight days), she says her training for the triathlon has been a true test of the body and mind. “My weekly schedule includes three bike rides of 20-60 km, three swims of 1-1.5 km, two strength-training sessions, three runs of 5-9km." That’s an average of two training sessions a day, while juggling entrepreneurial activities, a home and family. “Experiences like this toughen you up," she says.

The longest distance of the triathlon, 40km, is to be covered on a cycle and many participants believe that this is likely to stretch endurance and stamina to the maximum. Like running, cycling offers a low entry barrier and is easy to take to.

Panjim-based Rajesh Malhotra started Probyk, which deals in high-end cycles, in August 2013. Even since then, he has seen cycling grow as a sport. His own passion for cycling led him to a team entry at the triathlon. Always up for a challenge, he says, “Shalini Menezes has completed the half marathon many times, so she is running. She requested me to be her teammate, along with David Brown, who is swimming, and that’s how I am participating in this event."

Panjim-based interaction design specialist Dileepan Ramanan has been cycling for five years. He believes the terrain in Goa is perfect for cycling—it’s not flat, and it doesn’t have too many high steep slopes. So it’s a great way to combine fitness and exploration. “Cycling takes you longer distances, so it’s a great way to see places, venture into narrower allies, beat traffic, etc." Ramanan is set to partner with two colleagues at the Goa Triathlon.

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Updated: 16 Feb 2015, 08:14 PM IST
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