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    Published On : Fri, Jun 16th, 2017

    Will Nagpur’s Amit Samarth be the first Indian to successfully finish Race Across America???

    Nagpur, Amit Marathe team
    Nagpur: Over the 36 years it has started, not one Indian yet has been able to finish the Race Across America!

    Not many are brave enough to attempt it in the first place; it also takes lots of rigorous training, discipline and king hearted friends and sponsors who will fund the enormous cost. The best of friends will also not participate, in every way possible, unless they know they have a winner on their hands. All this seems to have come together in the case of young Dr. Amit Samarth, who is already on the way to finish the first 3 days successfully.

    So what is Race Across America all about??

    It is the hardest cycle race in the world which is equivalent to climbing the Mount Everest three times over.

    As their web site describes it:

    For 36 years RAAM has been challenging ultracyclists from around the globe to push their physical and mental limits to the farthest reaches. Starting in Oceanside, under one of the longest piers in California, RAAM spans 3000 miles, climbs 175,000 feet, crosses 12 states and finishes in Annapolis, Maryland,the east coast sailing mecca.

    The route travels west to east, traversing three major mountain ranges (Sierra, Rocky and Appalachian), crosses four of America’s longest rivers (Colorado, Mississippi, Missouri and Ohio) and the Great Plains. Also, passing through such iconic American landmarks as the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts, Monument Valley, Great Plains and Gettysburg.

    Open to amateur and professional racers, in solo, 2-, 4- and 8-person relay teams, there is no other race in the world comparable to RAAM. The Race has become a global icon, having had over 35 countries represented. Not only has RAAM proved to be one of the most challenging races in the world, but has become a huge platform for racers to raise awareness and money for charities of their choice. Racers have raised over $2 million per year over the past 5 years.

    How did Amit Samarth qualify?

    Amit, a Doctor by profession, has been fanatic about physical fitness and taking on challenges, in cycling, racing etc. since some time.

    When he heard about RAAM it seemed like the ultimate challenge one could face and successfully conclude! He set about preparing for it, knowing that even attempting it would be a herculean task in many ways.

    The first step was to qualify for it, which he did when he participated in the Deccan Cliff Hangers, a cycle race from Pune to Goa via Sahyadri ghats. This rally which takes cyclists along difficult terrains and torturous ghats.

    The Race starts in Pune, the city of cycles, and finishes in Goa, on the sea shore. Set on the Deccan Plateau, the route follows the Sahyadri Range, which defines the western edge of the Deccan, finally dropping through dense forests that cover the cliffs of the Escarpment, into the Konkan as it heads to the Indian Ocean.

    A challenge in itself, this race is also a qualifier for the much more difficult RAAM. Amit was one of the finalists of that race.

    This was two years ago. Since then Amit has been planning for RAAM, and his friends have been busy mobilizing back up support and other logistics for it.

    How did Amit train?

    Amit knew he would have to be very physically fit, mentally prepared and absolutely ready if he hoped to finish the RAAM. He hired a European trainer for the purpose, who has been putting him through arduous trial races and runs for the past few months.

    Amit has run 2700 Kms in India in 5 days; he has cycled to Hyderabad and back when the mercury was at its worst 47* – the height of summer.

    He has cycled in Pachmarhi, Belgaon and other places.

    But it has not been Amit alone! A team has been working with him, believing in him and goading him on during worst moments of doubt. Have to say it, but such a support team could have happened only in Nagpur!

    There was his mother, his wife and some others including professionals from LAD college who laid out a strict diet and nutrition chart for him to prepare him physically for RAAM.

    And there were his other friends, who do not want to be named, who took care of the whopping finance needed to just participate.

    The cost is over Rs. one crore – could be around 1.3 crores finally.

    For the past one year, this core team has been trying Crowd sourcing and other means to galvanize Nagpurians into supporting a Nagpurian in this world famous rally.

    Unfortunately, they did not quite succeed in getting many Corporates to donate; nor so called ‘philanthropists’.

    “Everyone likes to back a celebrity; a star. To them Amit was still unknown and not many in this area are aware of how prestigious it is to be a part of RAAM. ”

    Not withstanding this obstacle, his close group got their friends, and their friends’ friends to fund this unique endeavour. A lot of them are spending out of their pockets; not just their money but also giving their time, effort and are physically in USA now with Amit. To name just a few ( though they forbid it! ) there is Jeetu Naik and his wife Renuka, the Ugemuges, Dinesh Rathi and Nikhil Chavan. Plus Bhanu Rajgopal of Metaphors. A Nagpurian based in USA, Sachin Kulhe who is big shot in BMW, USA, has helped a lot too.

    The Race is for 12 days and began on 13th June American time which is 14th morning Indian time. Participants have to finish it by 26th June, which will be 1.30 a.m. 26th in India.

    This year there are over 115 teams from 35 countries participating.

    The Race Format

    According to the rules of RAAM, it is not just Amit who takes part. He has to have a follow up car with 3 persons in it at all times. This is compulsory. Amit is always ‘in conversation’ with them through the Terano communication system.

    Then there has to be an Auxiliary vehicle carrying spares ( for the cycle), a team for food and nutrition and bunkers to crash in. Amit’s Aux vehicle is like a ‘home on wheels’ with 7 beds, a kitchen, and a whole team of cback up.

    Amit’s mother has been cooking : not just nutritious meals for her son, but for the entire team.

    One can track Amit live on this link: http://trackleaders.com/raam17i.php?name=Team_Amit_Samarth

    It is going to be a nail biting race and finish! Right now Amit is the leading Indian racer among the 3 participating, for another fellow it is his second time.

    Bhanu Rajgopal, the ‘leader of the team’ is confident that Amit will not just finish the race, he will do it in 10 days.

    In the first 2 days, he has already climbed 6000 feet and then descended it. “It was like coming down on a slide” he said.

    Tomorrow is slated to be one of the hottest days of the race, since the temperatures will be 100 to 115 and the terrain will be through deserts.

    Remember, they begin at sea level and then cross USA to reach the East coast, climbing most of the way.

    It is a ‘race’ of almost 5000 kms!

    But Amit has begun well and going to conclude in a fantastic finish.

    All of Nagpur will be praying for him and rooting him on we are sure!

    —Sunita Mudaliar (Associate Editor)

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