The Ironman Triathlon is widely touted as the toughest single-day endurance race in the world and is organized by the World Triathlon Corporation across the globe. The race begins with a 3.8km swim, 180km of cycling, followed by a marathon run of 42.2km. The race has to be completed in the very same order and within a time frame of 17 hours – a mammoth task only a few can successfully undertake.
Over the years, many Indians have taken part in the event including Dr. Kaustubh Radkar of Pune, who completed the race, a mind-boggling 16 times and now trains other aspirants. The race gained in popularity after model-actor Milind Soman accomplished the task of finishing the race in Zurich in 2015. Kaushik Mukherjee and Vineeta Singh, a couple from Powai, Maharashtra created history on July 2, 2017, when they became the first Indian couple to complete the grueling triathlon together.
Meet the couple
Kaushik and Vineeta, MBA graduates from IIM, Ahmedabad and parents to a 3-year-old son successfully run a five-year-old VC-funded beauty and personal care company. Vineeta, 33 years old has been an avid runner for the last decade and has completed the Comrades Ultra-marathon thrice from 2012-14. On the other hand, Kaushik, 35 had been a swimmer during his university days. After a lot of thought, the couple decided to meet halfway and contest triathlons, in order to combine both disciplines.
In order to train themselves for the Ironman challenge in Austria, they traveled across India participating in various races in Hyderabad, Chennai, Bengaluru, Delhi, and Goa.
Trying to juggle their lives between being doting parents to their 3-year-old son, running a business and also training for the event of this scale was quite a herculean task. They could never train together and had to split their busy training schedules between early mornings and late evenings on most days to be with their son, so he never feels ignored. Also with the help of their supportive families, friends, and colleagues, they were able to dedicate time and focus on their training. Kaushik adds by saying “Both of us have always been fitness freaks and wanted to test ourselves. This Ironman was perfect in the sense that it was something we could do as a couple.”
A few years ago, right after having their baby, the outdoorsy swimmer-runner couple found themselves lost in their daily routine of changing dirty diapers and sterilizing milk bottles. It was then that their lighthearted conversations around trying out the Ironman “someday” turned serious. After six months of training, which included rigorous planning, strict diet, 8-12 long hours of regular practice and 120km cycle rides on the Mumbai-Nashik highway on weekends, both set off to Austria to compete in the event and finished the race with excellent timings. While Vineeta completed the race in 16hrs 01min, Kaushik came in a 28 minutes later at 16hrs 29mins. According to them, the feeling was surreal when they touched the finishing line.
An important lesson they learned through this run was the importance of physical fitness in India is far less focused on when compared to that part of the world. Cycling and running long-distances was part of their daily routine. Age had no limit there felt Kaushik, as a 60-year-old man had comfortably overtaken them during the race which really inspired him.
A major element checked off their bucket list, the couple is looking forward to participating in the Ironman Triathlon again in the near future. “For now, our aim is to focus on our business and family in the next year or two. But after that, we will definitely do another Ironman in the future,” Kaushik said.
Kaushik and Vineeta’s journey shows us that it is possible to be physically fit and at the same time balance professional and personal lives. Here’s hoping their story inspires us to make fitness an important part of our daily life!