Amit Samarth is the first Asian to finish Red Bull Trans-Siberian Extreme in August 2018 and became the first Indian to finish the Race Across America in June 2017. In this exclusive interview, he speaks about his journey as a triathlete, experiences so far, preparation for the Ironman 70.3 in Goa, overcoming challenges and his future goals.
Q 1) When were you first introduced to triathlon and what made you pursue it professionally?
I was introduced to triathlon way back in 2011 when I used to live in Hyderabad. At that time there was a Hyderabad adventure club which had started organizing a triathlon and that was a first of its kind in the country. I was fortunate to be a participant of the first edition of the Hyderabad triathlon. Before that I used to be into marathon running and then I was happy to finish 2nd in my first ever triathlon. I have incredible memories of the Hyderabad triathlon and that is where I started my journey with triathlon.
Q 2) You were the first Asian and Indian to finish the Red Bull Trans-Siberian Extreme in August 2018. Tell us about your experience and how did you prepare yourself for that event?
It's a very long cycling race, 9100 kms to be exact. Before that I had done a race across America in 2017 which was one of the toughest cycle races of 5000 kms. The Trans-Siberian Extreme is a totally different monster. It is very difficult to prepare for the geographical and weather conditions of Siberia in India. I trained really hard for 4-5 months before the race. One of the important things I trained for is hardships because I was living in Nagpur which is a very hot place that too in April, May and June which are the hottest months and I was going to race in Siberia which is a cold place. It was a tough challenge but I didn't have an option. I trained for the hardships and I trained mentally to be strong no matter what the weather conditions. In Siberia the temperature was very low and at night the temperature used to go as low as 0°.
Q 3) You were also the first Indian to finish the Race Across America in June, 2017 in your first attempt. What was that experience like?
That was the race where my association with Scott Bikes started and it was my first experience of such a long race. It was my first time in ultra cycling and I was a novice. The most important thing for me was to finish because that is very tough to do. You have to go sleepless for almost 12 days while riding from the west coast to east coast. I trained for it but I was still a novice and my crew were also inexperienced. I call them my 'Lagaan' team because we were all rookies and we had no experience. We did manage to do that successfully too without any time penalties. That was a big achievement for me and my team. The city of Nagpur also showed great support to me because it was a very expensive race to participate in and A lot of people raised funds for it. My entire objective was to create a successful story for someone from India and Nagpur to show everyone that we can also do such things and it's not just the foreigners.
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Q 4) How are you preparing yourself for the Ironman 70.3 in Goa this November?
I have participated in quite a few Ironman events. I have competed in 3 full Ironman events and 16 half Ironman events so it's safe to say that I have plenty of experience in Ironman competitions. In 2019, I had the maximum number of Ironman points but then the pandemic came and during that time I couldn’t compete in international events. I’m very excited for Goa since I‘m training in the sun to get acclimatized to the weather. I tend to train in the afternoon which helps me get familiar with the conditions. In Nagpur we have open water lakes where I tend to practice open water swimming because in Goa we are going to swim in the sea.
Q 5) What are some of the biggest challenges that you have faced in your career? How did you overcome them?
The biggest challenge I faced is to get sponsors for yourself and sustain yourself in the sport. I was very fortunate with Scott Sports who have supported me throughout this journey. When I was starting off my career it was very difficult. I want to train athletes from outside of Nagpur but the thing with Nagpur is that the city has great infrastructure, roads and there is less traffic compared to the metropolitan cities. The disadvantage of staying in Nagpur is that sponsors tend to ignore you if you're from a small city, but in my case Scott has helped me in every way and form to achieve international success.
Q 6) What are your future goals and how are you working towards achieving them?
I’m actually going to prepare for the race across India which is going to start at Srinagar and at Kanyakumari as it will be the longest race in India with 3600km of cycling. The next target will be the Race across America which is going to be in June. I run a sports academy and I want to inspire youngsters to take up this sport. I also train 11 tribal athletes and I want them also to compete one day at the international level.