It was a race against time, but Wilbert Egipsy (42) from Calangute endured to complete the full Ironman race (226 kilometres of swimming, cycling and running) in 15 hours and 44 minutes racing over hills and plains in windy and rainy conditions in Subic Bay, Philippines, on June 11.
Ironman is a race many endurance athletes think twice before committing to because they have to train hard for months with an unfaltering dedication by taking care of injuries and watching their diet.
So, from January to the start of June, this year, Wilbert, who has his roots in Velsao in South Goa, shut himself off from all other distractions and trained for 12 to 20 hours a week which gave him the confidence to take on this mighty challenge.
Surrounded by mountains and endowed with a deep natural harbour, Subic Bay was once the home base of the US naval forces in the Pacific.
The bay is now a premier holiday destination for visitors from all over the world who come for its pristine beaches, first-rate amenities and friendly service.
But when Egipsy, a technology consultant, landed in Subic Bay, he was not in a holiday mood. He was there to get into something he had never attempted earlier but was relieved to be in a place somewhat similar to Goa with its sea and hills.
But that relief soon turned into momentary pessimism when the weather turned windy and cyclonic. Before such a big race, it is normal for athletes to feel negative energy, which is also required to psyche the mind for that adrenaline rush.
The full Ironman race is a combination of a 3.8 km open water swim, a 180-km cycle ride and a full marathon (42 kilometres) to be completed in 17 hours.
On the day of the race, that will-he or will-he-not-finish negativity came to haunt Egipsy again as he stood with around 300 participants at the start point when the weather turned windy.
He said that the race was tough and challenging, as the athletes had to brave light to heavy winds and rains throughout the course. Egipsy, who had trained well, said the rains made the cycling part a bit risky.
“At least 10 triathletes gave up the race at the start of the swim stage of both the half-distance and full-distance Ironman as the sea was choppy which threw up debris onto the surface of the water,” Egipsy said.
While Egipsy had a relatively easy cycle ride, he experienced many challenges in the full marathon. “I had pain in my calf muscles at the 4-kilometre mark, my knee began to hurt at the 10-kilometre mark, but somehow I pushed through the 42-kilometre distance,” he narrated.
Egipsy, a seasoned triathlete has completed two, Ironman 70.3 races in Colombo and Goa, nine full marathons, two ultra-marathons, four 200-kilometre cycle rides and a five-kilometre open sea swim race.
When Gomantak Times caught up with Egipsy, he was still holidaying in the Philippines. Meanwhile, his athlete friends and relatives back home are waiting to give him a champion's welcome on June 19, the day he arrives in Goa.