The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
  • Harrisburg's Mehta runs Ironman in Brazil

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  • Everyone knows Ironman.
    Chances are, not many people are familiar with this Ironman.
    He isn't the Ironman, but he is Harrisburg's Ironman.
    Uday Mehta, a former Harrisburg High School student and now doctor in Chicago, made a decision recently that he admits is one that has changed his life — for the better.
    On January 1, Mehta made the commitment, one that he'll never regret on taking part in the Ironman Brasil race at Florianopolis in Brazil.
    The Ironman race in Brazil's fall season has been attracting athletes from all over the world for over 15 years. The race features a 2.4-mile, mass-swim start located on El Divino Beach, where the two-loop swim is in waters of 70 degrees. That is followed by a mostly flat two-loop 112-mile bike course, that featured four major climbs and descents. The race concludes with a 26.2-mile run with a 13-mile loop with one hill and two 6.5-mile loops that are mostly flat.
    Nothing about Mehta's race was flat. Aside from being joined by his wife, Arpita and his 10-year-old daughter, Serena; Metha's parents also made the trip as did his cousin's family from India, leaving Metha with a roller coaster of emotions as he tackled the course.
    Mehta finished with a time of 12:24.43, under the 13 hour mark that he had set for himself. He joked, saying that "for your first one to say anything other than you just want to finish is humorous."
    However, Mehta can reflect back now on multiple changes in his life and do so with confidence, not just for himself, but his Indian community as well.
    "I think what comes with these is a sense of accomplishment," Mehta said. "Anytime you finish any of these (event) and as the distances get long and longer you gain confidence. For me, doing these races is not something you see a lot of in the Indian community. I've been able to pull five or six of my very close friends who are all Indian and are all athletes in their own right, it's a great feeling."
    Also, having my daughter witness me finish the race was pretty cool. She was excited. My parents were able to see me finish the race, it was all very satisfying and very humbling."
    Competing in the Ironman Brasil didn't come without some sacrifices — decisions that even Metha admits to being "selfish" ones.
    "While it was my decision, it was truly a family event," Mehta said. "You have to have support of your family or you're not going to be able to do this. You need that understanding more than anything. I have a wife and a 10-year-old daughter, my wife is a physician as well, she works. She has her own responsibilities and an athlete and runner as well. But, the first decision after you decide this is what you're going to do, is to sit down with the family. They were phenomenal throughout this whole process.
    Page 2 of 2 - "They were influential in helping me when I needed it and staying out of my way when I needed it."
    As far as dealing with grueling conditions and achieving a lifelong achievement, Mehta isn't sure when — or even if — he will do another Ironman, but does know that the bond he shares with his family and friends his stronger than it has ever been.
    "It takes an inordinate amount of time to train for one of these (races). But, we have never been to Brazil and I like to travel. I thought, here is this perfect opportunity to do the Ironman race and take a trip to Brazil. I love the aura of traveling for a race. I've traveled to San Francisco (escape from Alcatraz) and Vermont for the U.S. Nationals. I enjoy going to someplace new and competing against a whole new group of athletes."
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