Meeting with Arnav "Sonic" Shah A NEW YORKER LOVED TO ROLLER!
3rd place in the SOLO category of the 2022 24 H ROLLERS
Hello Sonic, can you tell us a bit more about your life and your passion for rollerblading?
I was born in Queens, New York, where I still live, and my parents are Indian immigrants.
I have been skating for more than 25 years for my urban trips, freestyle and skate park slalom, speed skating and of course ultra-distance.
I enjoy helping and growing the skating community, teaching skaters and training new instructors through the Skate Instructors Association, helping run NYC Wednesday Night Skate for 14 years, and managing NYC's skate shop, Kinetic Expression.
How did you come to solo ultra-distance?
I like long-distance skating events like the 100k NYC, the Road Skate Athens to Atlanta (140km), and the RAGBRAI (a seven-day 800km bike ride across the state of Iowa, which I do on skates). A friend, Parker, convinced me to try the 24 hours solo, and so we came to Le Mans in 2019, but that year we were unlucky.
Can you tell us more about your experience at Le Mans?
In 2022, I came back and finished 3rd. It was like a dream to finally skate on this mythical circuit!
The asphalt is very smooth and the repetition of the Dunlop climb is difficult solo but the reward is 2/3 of the circuit in false flats descending with large turns at high speed that made every thrilling ride!
As a solo skater, I was lucky to be helped by the Swiss Missiles team, in particular Sabrina, who did Le Mans several times but did not skate last year due to injury. She gave me material and encouraged me a lot.
How did you manage your diet?
I had homemade energy bars, supplements, water, and Gatorade (which I brought from the US). During my few breaks, I ate crisps, croissants with jam, cheese and fruit juice. The important thing is that I ate a lot of good food in France in the days leading up to and following the race.
What were the highlights of your 24 hours alone.
I experienced so many emotions during the 24 hours: Initially it was the excitement of running on the track and putting my skates on (and not taking them off for the 24 hours) . For the first few hours, I felt the urge as other solo skaters passed me, but I stayed disciplined and stuck to my strategy of not going too fast in hot weather. After about seven hours I felt discouraged because my body was exhausted, but luckily a few short rest periods proved invaluable.
In the middle of the night, I felt euphoria as our solo platoon moved like a bullet train, under the stars, as if we were in another world. When day broke I was in awe - it was too perfect to see the orange sun rising in the center of the Dunlop Walkway. »
“At five hours from the finish, I was angry because one of the solos had attacked and broke the peloton with which I had spent more than half of the race. I decided not to follow and stick to my consistency strategy, and found a duo to skate with. About three hours from the finish, I felt great joy when Sabrina told me that I had moved up to third place, and I knew I had the energy to keep it!
As I reached the 500km mark at 3:35 p.m., I had a great sense of triumph for my accomplishment! What an event ! It was great skating with so many friends from all over the world and sharing that energy with new skaters I was meeting for the first time! I can't wait to come back to skate solo again at Le Mans!
You are a real accomplished sportsman
Apart from skating, I have done many physical activities, including martial arts (black belt in Kyokushin karate and Graduado in Capoeira), telemark, hiking and rock climbing. I also participated solo in the 24 hours of Miami Ultraskate in 2022 and 2023.
Thank you "Sonic" See you soon on the Le Mans circuit.