Every Tuesday and Thursday morning, 5.30am, 5 triathletes across the city rise to shine on the cycle, in the pool and running on the road, on average, between five and 15 kilometres, across all three disciplines.
The city’s tri-205 don’t exercise together, but they all are bound by one goal – India’s first Ironman 70.3 event to be held in Panaji, Goa, on October 20.
Triathletes from 27 countries are expected to participate in the 70.3 event, which will include a 1.9km , followed by cycling for 90km and then, concluding with a 21.1km run, but at least 50 Indians at the event are under the guidance, expertise and training of one single tri-angel – Kaustubh Radkar – 25 from Pune and 25 from other cities.
Radkar is the face of triathlon in India, boasting a resume that spans the globe and, as a bottom line, has him finishing 24 full Ironmans.
As the Goa event is the first official Ironman event in India, there is palpable excitement, and rigorous preparation under way.
For Radkar, who started his journey in sports swimming at the age of eight, and then at the age of 26, finished his first Ironman in Arizona with an impressive time of 11 hours, 41 minutes and 36 seconds, it’s the journey that offers the payback; his personal journey, as India’s serial Ironman competitor and coach and mentor of every athlete he now works with.
“The scenario with Indian triathlons is changing and after every passing day people are more aware of the upcoming event. It is a big and renowned brand and I am absolutely sure that every Indian triathlete would love to bag a medal in Goa. It is a great thing for Indian sports. Until now, our triathletes had to travel to other countries for exposure, but now that the brand is coming to India, it is going to help them and it will be great,” says Radkar.
Across the board, the faith and belief his trainees have in him spans the athletic demograph, something triathlons have become famous for.
“It has been an amazing journey. What works for us is his (Radkar) experience in this field. There are some nuances of the event, which can only be understood by the experienced triathletes, and he has grasped really well. He has faced all the possible problems that can be faced and that has enriched his experience,” says Rituja Udpikar, a23-year-old physiotherapist and pilates instructor training under Radkar since 2018.
“In addition to his experience, his academics have helped him become an amazing coach. He comes up with a unique routine for every individual who trains under him, and that is not an easy task because there are athletes who are like me, aged 50 or 60, and there are also athletes who are 18-years-old,” says 52-year-old Ashish Sandu, an entrepreneur, training under Radkar since 2017.
“I have been in sports all my life. I have participated in numerous marathons in Karnataka and Maharashtra, but then, at some point, you reach a saturation point where you get tired of doing the same thing again and again. I did not possess the confidence to compete in a triathlon, but this year, I conjured up the strength and with his help [Radkar] I feel confident,” says 29-year-old Shreya Sunthankar, a pet grooming professional training with Radkar for the last 10 months.
“I like challenges and after completing my first full marathon earlier this year, in January, I decided to take the next step and take on a new challenge. Our training sessions are well organised and he is very particular about the minutest things involved in the sport. All of this comes because of the vast experience he has gained over the years,” says 42-year-old Amit Thete, a marketing professional training wwith Radkar since 2017.
Training over 300 athletes, how many assistant coaches does Radkar have? None. Every triathlete who is a part of the RadStrong Academy had direct access to Radkar.
“I analyse their plans, create their plans. Every triathlete has direct access to me, so RadStrong is a coach entity. I do have an orthopaedist and nutritionist who are a part of my team,” says Radkar.
As a coach, he would like to see the number of his triathletes finishing the full Ironman rise from 85 to touch the 100-mark.
The India half Ironman in Goa beckons. Bring it on!
Goa dream for Ironman is triathlon reality for India
The request from the public relations people handling the Goa half Ironman is for the word ‘Ironman’ to be used in capital letters.
It’s a sense that the brand – Ironman – is seeking to ensure that it is not swept into the multitude of triathlon races that now dot the nation and the world.
In the extreme sports universe – and make no mistake – swimming, cycling, running for at least seven hours is extreme – Ironman is the blue ribband event. And an independent global brand that will hold its first India event on October 20 in Panaji, Goa.
Geoff Meyer, managing director, Ironman Asia says, “It was our dream to bring Ironman to India and provide the fast-growing triathlete community in the country an opportunity to race at home. It was overwhelming to see the interest among international athletes as it not only gives them a first-time opportunity to race in India, but also experience Goa’s hospitality and enjoy its beautiful beaches.”
The Goa details are being fronted by Yoska. Deepak Raj, co-founder, says, “This being the first edition, we had to limit registrations to a little over 1,000 participants. Bengaluru alone has over 150 triathletes who have registered for the event, with several others from Delhi NCR region, Mumbai and Pune.”
Rudra Prasad Nanjundappa, the other Yoska co-founder, adds, “With under 15 days left for race-day, our entire team is excited and eager to host a world-class event in Goa. The participation list includes an array of people, some of whom are doctors, CEOs, tech-professionals and full-time mothers, among others. We believe each of these participants will be a celebrity and a role model whose story will inspire thousands of Indians to prioritise their fitness in whatever little way they can.”