””

Me And My Car

Subaru Forester 2.0X AWD: Ironman's ride

Civil engineer Sante Scartozzi once forgot that his bicycle was on the car roof and hit an overhead camera

Mr Sante Scartozzi's daughters, aged nine and five, refer to his Subaru Forester 2.0X AWD as "the Ironman car".

This is fitting. Their 48-year-old dad is a five-time finisher of Ironman triathlon races. He is, in fact, seven races away from qualifying for the most famous of all Ironman races - the annual World Championship in Kona, Hawaii.

The Forester is the perfect vehicle for this ultra-fit Singapore permanent resident and civil engineer who has worked in the local construction industry for 24 years.

When Mr Scartozzi bought it five years ago, it was just one year old and still had its new car smell. However, this was quickly replaced by the odour of sweaty triathlon tights, T-shirts and socks.

His wife, 44, a Singaporean lawyer, does not like this, and so he uses air fresheners liberally.

  • WHAT’S IN THE BOOT

    • Running shoes

    • Triathlon suit

    • Swimming goggles, paddles and a pool buoy

    • Towels and T-shirts

    • Cycling shoes and helmet

The boot contains sports apparel and triathlon gear, ready for him to train at any time. There are running shoes, T-shirts, towels, goggles, swim paddles and a pool buoy.

Event T-shirts accumulated from numerous races are also stored in the boot (and strangely, not in the cupboard at home).

"The back of my car is my personal locker and it's equipped with all the training gear I need," he says.

When the training involves cycling, he racks up his tri-bike on the roof rack.

On one occasion when he was travelling to Malaysia for a race, he forgot that the bicycle was on the roof when he approached the Tuas immigration booth.

It hit the overhead camera, but thankfully, there was no damage to public or personal property.

The Forester is not only a mobile wardrobe, it is also a recuperating centre. After a hard race, he folds the rear seat down and lies down at the back of the SUV to rest.

When the senior project manager goes to work the next day, it can sometimes be an off-road trip to construction sites.

"The Forester is useful to get around rough terrain, especially when the site is new and the ground is soft," he says. "The bosses in their BMWs dare not drive in so I have all the parking space to myself."

He treats his Forester like a workhorse. He does not mind the dings and scratches on its bodywork given the places he has to go for work.

He says his next car will likely be another SUV.

"The car has taken me to many races locally and in Malaysia and it's ideal for all my needs," he says.

"I bought the car when my second child was born because more room was required compared with my (previous) Peugeot 308.

"Even today, it serves its purpose as the back of the SUV is ideal for my mother-in-law's wheelchair."

He says his daughters have made the rear cabin of the car their own. The seat pockets are filled with colouring pencils, note books and "those annoying colour rubber bands they make bracelets out of".

When asked how long he hopes to continue to take part in triathlons, he replies: "As long as my heart is pumping and I can breathe... My aim is to make it to Kona, Hawaii, even if I am 80."

•The writer is a contributor to Torque, a motoring monthly published by SPH Magazines.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 16, 2016, with the headline 'Ironman's ride'. Print Edition | Subscribe