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Abu Dhabi ITU Triathlon creates a desert storm



The Outdoor Journal

Abu Dhabi ITU Triathlon witnessed over 2000 athletes partake in one of the most exciting triathlons of the region. Indian triathlete Mohit Oberoi gives a first-person account.

The International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Triathlon Series held its first event in the middle-eastern city of Abu Dhabi on March 6-7, 2015. The event, held in collaboration with International Petroleum Investment Co (IPIC) saw numerous participants of various age groups race the course at Abu Dhabi’s Corniche in three distance categories – Sprint, Olympic and Maxi.
Indian triathlete Mohit Oberoi took part in the event along with two friends ( Mohit Satyanand aka Big Mo and Sanjay Suri) and wrote about his thrilling experience.

Back to Delhi after an epic 8-hour delayed flight from Abu Dhabi ETA. “BIG MO”( Mohit Satyanand) and I arrive groggy-eyed at 5.30 am on 9th March.

Anyway the setting was as amazing as it can be, at Abu Dhabi ITU triathlon. The awesome blue of the Corniche water, flags of various countries fluttering in the cool breeze…it was a great setting for age groupers like us ( Sanjay Suri, Big Mo and I ) and of course elite races to be held later in the day with the likes of Jonny Brornlee and three-time World champ like Javier Gomez competing in the men’s category and Gwen Jorgesson in the women’s.


Sprint (0.5km swim/20km bike/5km run)
Maxi( 1.5 swim/ 40km bike/ 10km run)
Olympic ( 2 km  swim/ 80 km bike/  20 km run).
I opted for the Maxi while Sanjay and Mo opted for the Olympic. We arrived two days before the start and tuned up the bikes, registered for the race, and all is going well till I break the hanger of the derailleur and also damage the Derrullier of the bike, the old Dynastik carbon frame.
The mechanic says this is “too beat up man!” .. and “we can’t find a hanger for this old machine!”
Heart-broken, the only option is a bike on rent,  but everything was sold out!  Hassan at the B-sport bike shop present at the venue said he had some Hybrid (straight handle ) aluminium frames coming in from an amusement park in Ras al Khammei in 2 hours. Looked like my “only hope” to do the event.
The rental bike came in, nice and simple hybrid with a baby carrier attachment bolted on it!! Managed to change the pedals on it with the “clip on MTB ones”, put the bike computer on it, and did a short 100 mtrs test ride. It was ready to go!

Here we go race day morning. The wet suit was optional and I decided not to wear one. The water temp was 22 degrees celsius – nice and cool. The start horn went off at 6:45 am for my age group and the 2 km swim started. Hung back, found a rhythm and here we go – it was like swimming in Faridabad’s Bhatti lakes – clear water, could see the sand at the bottom, lovely clean water, easy strokes and may have wandered a bit since no one was around. Completed the swim in 51 mins.

Out of the water, and a quick banana and on the bike here we go for 4 laps of 20 km each, it went fine except when we were overtaken often ( or all the time ). but on the 3rd lap (60 km ) I started to overtake some fancy bikes and chaps with ‘tear drop helmets”. Paced well and sucking in GU’S at a rapid rate, finished the 80 km in 2 hrs 45 mins, not too bad for the bike thankfully great cool conditions. Quick racking of the bike and put on my running shoes.
I met Sanju on the start of the run. We ran together feeling good, did 23.30 in the first 5 km. Overall flat and fast course, 5 km loops we need to do X 4 = 20 km. The last 150 mtrs on the blue carpet and finish chute with energy to spare. Felt good all through, kept an even pace and enjoyed the run to finish the 20km in 1.44. 57 mins. Happy with the run, and that I had energy to spare. Of course good, cool conditions helped!
Big MO and Sanju who were on the Olympic distance ( which started later ) finished just less than an hour earlier. Pints of Guinness and plates of Lebanese food went down quickly.
The elite event was magnificent, what a treat to watch such amazing athletes, lucky to be watching this live. The event was well organised, and it was my personal best effort in terms of timings — all this leading to my participation next year for sure.
Images © ITU World Triathlon Abu Dhabi 2015
About the author: Mohit Oberoi is a former India sport climbing team coach and adviser to the Indian Mountaineering Foundation. He has authored the country’s first rock-climbing guidebook, Guide to Rock Climbing In and Around Delhi. Mohit is the founder and owner of The Outdoor School, a climbing wall manufacturer that has helped build nearly all of India’s artificial climbing structures. He’s also the founder of Adventure 18, India’s first and most widely spread outdoor gear store. 

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Kayaking’s Elite Return to India at the Malabar River Festival

During the week of July 18th to 22nd, the Malabar River Festival returned to Kerala, India with one of the biggest cash prizes in whitewater kayaking in the world.



Brooke Hess

A $20,000 purse attracted some of the world’s best kayakers to the region for an epic week battling it out on some of India’s best whitewater.

The kayaking events at Malabar River Festival were held on the Kuttiyadi River, Chalippuzha River, and the Iruvajippuzha River, in South India on the Malabar Coast. The festival was founded and organized by Manik Taneja and Jacopo Nordera of GoodWave Adventures, the first whitewater kayaking school in South India.

Photo: Akash Sharma

“Look out for these guys in the future because there are some future stars there”

One of the goals of the festival is to promote whitewater kayaking in the state of Kerala and encourage locals to get into the sport. One of the event organizers, Vaijayanthi Bhat, feels that the festival plays a large part in promoting the sport within the community.  “The kayak community is building up through the Malabar Festival. Quite a few people are picking up kayaking… It starts with people watching the event and getting curious.  GoodWave Adventures are teaching the locals.”

Photo: Akash Sharma

Vaijayanthi is not lying when she says the kayak community is starting to build up.  In addition to the pro category, this year’s Malabar Festival hosted an intermediate competition specifically designed for local kayakers. The intermediate competition saw a huge turnout of 22 competitors in the men’s category and 9 competitors in the women’s category. Even the professional kayakers who traveled across the world to compete at the festival were impressed with the talent shown by the local kayakers. Mike Dawson of New Zealand, and the winner of the men’s pro competition had nothing but good things to say about the local kayakers. “I have so much respect for the local kayakers. I was stoked to see huge improvements from these guys since I met them in 2015. It was cool to see them ripping up the rivers and also just trying to hang out and ask as many questions about how to improve their paddling. It was awesome to watch them racing and making it through the rounds. Look out for these guys in the future because there are some future stars there.”

Photo: Akash Sharma


“It was awesome because you had such a great field of racers so you had to push it and be on your game without making a mistake”

Vaijayanthi says the festival has future goals of being named a world championship.  In order to do this, they have to attract world class kayakers to the event.  With names like Dane Jackson, Nouria Newman, Nicole Mansfield, Mike Dawson, and Gerd Serrasolses coming out for the pro competition, it already seems like they are doing a good job of working toward that goal! The pro competition was composed of four different kayaking events- boatercross, freestyle, slalom, and a superfinal race down a technical rapid. “The Finals of the extreme racing held on the Malabar Express was the favourite event for me. It was an epic rapid to race down. 90 seconds of continuous whitewater with a decent flow. It was awesome because you had such a great field of racers so you had to push it and be on your game without making a mistake.” says Dawson.

Photo: Akash Sharma

The impressive amount of prize money wasn’t the only thing that lured these big name kayakers to Kerala for the festival. Many of the kayakers have stayed in South India after the event ended to explore the rivers in the region. With numerous unexplored jungle rivers, the possibilities for exploratory kayaking are seemingly endless. Dawson knows the exploratory nature of the region well.  “I’ve been to the Malabar River Fest in 2015. I loved it then, and that’s why I’ve been so keen to come back. Kerala is an amazing region for kayaking. In the rainy season there is so much water, and because the state has tons of mountains close to the sea it means that there’s a lot of exploring and sections that are around. It’s a unique kind of paddling, with the rivers taking you through some really jungly inaccessible terrain. Looking forward to coming back to Kerala and also exploring the other regions of India in the future.”


For more information on the festival, visit: http://www.malabarfest.com/

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