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Finishing the Tri Thonnur with Ajit Thandur

Deepthi Velkur in conversation with Ajit Thandur, a triathlete who is the founder of the Mysoorunners and the organiser for the Tri Thonnur.

The moment we hear “triathlon” often what comes to mind is a hard-core challenge like the grueling Ironman, a race consisting of a 3.86 km swim, 180.25 km bike and 46.20 km run. But, on the contrary, this fun sport isn’t just for extreme endurance athletes. A triathlon includes short races spread across 3 disciplines (swimming, cycling, and running) that makes the challenge more engaging and fun.

The 3 most common triathlon races and distance are:

  • Super Sprint – 400m swim / 10km bike / 2.5km run
  • Sprint – 750m swim / 20km bike / 5km run
  • Olympic – 1,500m swim / 40km bike / 10km run

Ajit Thandur, a property developer in Mysuru has always been a fitness fanatic and keeps fit by hitting the gym, swimming and doing 5K runs. In 2008, after his first ever 21K Midnight Marathon in Bengaluru he took to running seriously competing in several half and full marathons. Building on this experience, he ran his first Ultra run in 2016 – a 50K run from Mandya to Mysuru and he quickly followed that up with a 12-hour stadium run covering 82 km.

An ex-triathlete himself, he had to cut back owing to a nasty cycling accident a few years ago but continues to swim at least 5 km a week alongside his regular running schedule. Ajit is a minimalist runner relying primarily on Vibrams and thoroughly enjoys running barefoot when in a stadium. He is the founder of the Mysoorunners – a running group in Mysuru that encourages running and living a healthy lifestyle. He also organizes events like the Tri Thonnur (triathlon event), Thonnur Swimathon and the Chamundi Hill Challenge (a running event) every year.

I spoke with him to find out about their upcoming event The Tri Thonnur on September 9, 2018 organised by Enduro Events owned by the man himself.

Enduro has come a long way from its humble beginnings in 2009 – it must fill you with a lot of pride and joy. How would you describe the journey so far?

It all started with a passion for endurance sports and it is still the passion that keeps it going. Years ago, as a small group, we used to swim in the Thonnur Lake and we wanted to share the joy and experience of the amazing Thonnur Lake with everyone and not just ourselves. That’s how the first edition of Tri Thonnur came into being in 2013 which saw 30 participants.

With each passing year, have you seen the participant count increasing? If yes, how are you working on creating more awareness and getting people to participate?

The participant count for sure has been on the rise year after year. We build awareness through our Facebook page. Apart from that, the discussions and exchange of notes that happen on social media amongst like-minded people is what helps us in spreading the message across.

So far, you have 3 amazing challenges – the Swimathon, the Tri Thonnur, and the Chamundi Hill Challenge. Do you envision adding any other challenges/events / courses to your calendar?

We do plan on adding longer distance challenges to the existing three races. But we have no plans to add new races as of now.

2018 is your 6th edition to the Tri Thonnur challenge – how has this event evolved since it started? What kind of changes have been made since it started?

This event started 6 years ago and we had 30 participants attend who came to know of the event through word of mouth. In the inaugural event, we held the the Olympic distance. Today, we have included the Sprint, Olympic and Half Iron distances with close to 300 triathletes coming from all over the country.

Tri Thonnur has gained the reputation of being the best open water triathlon in India and also the stepping stone for future Ironman aspirants as an ideal first time open water experience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In terms of location for the triathlon – why Thonnur?

Thonnur Lake is an amazing water body with clean waters and is extremely safe.

When organizing an event of such scale, you need a lot of planning. When did you start planning the 2018 race and how did you go about it?

We start working on the race a good four months in advance. Our base is Mysuru and Thonnur is a good 40kms away. We need to work on statutory permissions from government agencies, decide on the swim location based on best roads for bicycling, running and sort out the logistics as well.

Part of the challenge – the bike leg is an “open to traffic” leg. How do you take care of participant safety?

Where ever required we seek help from the police to set up barricades to slow/control traffic at junctions. We also have volunteers traversing the bike/run routes on bikes to make sure everything is going smoothly. They do intimate the medical support team in times of emergency or accidents. Sparsh Hospitals, Bengaluru has been our backbone med-support team for 4 years now.

You have a young and passionate team but to manage an event such as this, you will need volunteer help as well. Is this easy to come by? Do you run any campaign to encourage people to help?

Volunteers come from our Mysuru based run group Mysoorunners and ultimate frisbee team Girgitlae. We also appoint paid volunteers from the local village because they are well aware of the routes and the people.

Putting together all the learning from the past 5 editions of the Tri Thonnur – what advice do you have for the 2018 participants on the course?

For many, this may be their first open water experience. My advice to them is to look ahead after every 10 strokes or so to be sure you are heading in the right direction which is indicated by the marker buoys. Also, be careful with the traffic on the roads and do not speed on your bikes when passing through villages. On the run leg, always run against traffic.

What kind of challenges did you face in setting this event up?

The major challenge is with logistics, due to the distance of Thonnur being 40kms away from Mysuru.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Deepthi Velkur is a former sprinter who is trying her hand at various sports today. A tennis fanatic, who believes that sleep should never be compromised.

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Tri crash and burn!

Radhika Meganathan interviews IRONMAN Raghul Trekker, who recently completed the IronMan Challenge in Sri Lanka

A triathlon is an endurance competition that consists of three continuous disciplines. Its most popular form involves swimming, cycling, and running, to be completed in succession within a set time frame. We  talk to RAGHUL TREKKER who recently conquered the Colombo Ironman and is the force behind the scientific training for triathlon aspirants at his fitness studio, TRI CRASH ‘n’ BURN.

THE BUG

How did you get into fitness? I was born and brought up in Chennai, but studied marine engineering in Pune (Incidentally, the idea for the original Ironman Triathlon was suggested by US Navy Commander John Collins!). In my college, it was mandatory to run every morning except on Sundays. It was only for the first three semesters, but that set the pace for my attachment with fitness and exercise. I already was a swimmer and cyclist, so the stage was already set for me.

From the IT industry to triathlons…how did that happen? When I returned to Chennai from Pune after graduation, I joined Polaris. As you probably know, IT jobs are mostly sedentary. I started to actively look for exercising opportunities when I came across Chennai Trekkers Club. CTC introduced me to triathlons and that was it, it all clicked. They conduct triathlons twice a year in and around Chennai, and I trained and participated in all of them. I eventually learned about Ironman and other global races and started travelling and participating in them. Malaysia in 2014 and 2015, Australia and Netherlands in 2017, Columbo in Feb 2018 and I am going to China and South Africa shortly.

Was any triathlon a breeze? There are no easy triathlons! It all involves consistent training and dedication, but I get what you mean. I have to say so far Malaysia was the toughest, because of its hilly and unpredictable terrain. Colombo, relatively, was easier – I finished the 90 km cycling in 2 hrs 32 min, the swimming in 36 minutes 55 sec and the running in 1 hr 48 min 40 sec.

TRIATHLONS FULL TIME

So what triggered you to become a full time triathlete? In 2015, it came to a point where I clearly preferred to race and train than work inside an office. So I took the plunge to follow my passion. It was not an easy decision, but then I have never been the kind of person who will agonize or waver indefinitely. At some point, if you have a passion and vision, you have to make a choice. Once you make it, then you have to do everything necessary – from monetary investment to setting self-paced goals and networking hard – in order to meet your goals.

So how do you train? In general, when it comes to training for a triathlon, consistency is key. You don’t have to train every single day, but you do have to train consistently, say, three or four days a week, and you need to have your own customized schedule to follow. Emergencies happen, you can miss one or two workouts, but you need to be disciplined enough to get back on track in no time.

Do you have a trainer? Everyone needs a trainer! I met my trainer Lucie Zelenkova in Malaysia in 2015. She is a prolific triathlete based in South Africa and she has designed my workout schedule which I follow every day. Yes, it’s possible to have a long-distance coach! We have weekly skype sessions and she sends me workouts and diet charts and is there for me whenever I need her advice.

The question everyone wants an answer to – what do you eat? I eat normal Indian food. But where I differ is in my plating, I don’t fill it with a mountain of white rice! I make sure I eat a well-balanced meal of equal amounts of veggies, protein and carbs in the form of millets. In my opinion, you don’t need to be on any special diet to train for a triathlon. You just need to make healthy food choices and eat good food in the right quantity. Don’t eat junk food, don’t eat too much or too little, and you will do perfectly fine.

Global races are expensive, do you have sponsors? I still fondly remember the time when my past employer Polaris sponsored me to participate my first Ironman triathlon in Malaysia. This year, Running Lab is my sponsor for all my sporting equipment and attire needs. Otherwise, I have to sponsor myself for all other expenses, like travel and accommodation. But that’s how it is. You need to invest in yourself when you are competing in a global scale sport. The more you do, the more chances you have in networking and meeting potential sponsors, runners, trainers. And the experience and exposure is fantastic, so it’s all worth it.

Tri.Crash.Burn is Born

In 2015, 25 Dream Runners asked to train under me and I did it in the mornings and weekends while still working a full time job. I loved the experience and it inspired me to start Try Crash Burn, offering customized and scientific coaching for runners and triathletes. I concentrate only on training for triathlons.

So if I wanted to train for a triathlon can I join?  Yes, but you have to be ready to be trained. For example, I cannot teach you to swim or cycle. You already have to be a swimmer and a cyclist when you sign up for my training. If you are differently-abled, I’d be happy to train you if you have already found your guide runner.

What is the time line for training for a triathlon? If you already know cycling and swimming, then 6 months of intense training is the bare minimum. But one year is a more sustainable and comfortable pace, which you should take if you are not on some unreasonable deadline to participate in a triathlon. In Chennai, the running scene is vibrant, but not many are cyclists and about 98% are non-swimmers. So that’s an unequal balance, and it’s largely a standard status for an Indian triathlete aspirant. First step is to identify which discipline is your weakest and then start training in it.

What advice do you have to those aspiring to be triathletes? Don’t over train, and don’t under train. I don’t recommend any one to train on their own for a triathlon, as risk of injury is higher and you cannot self-correct any errors. If you are serious about being a triathlete, find a qualified trainer who is in sync with your fitness level and goals, and you will be able to achieve your targets in no time.

Raghul Trekker can be contacted at http://www.tricrashnburn.com. His FB page is https://www.facebook.com/tricrashnburn

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Radhika Meganathan is a published author who is an advocate for healthy living, she practices sugar-free intermittent fasting, all-terrain rambling and weight training.

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From Marathon to Triathlon

The first recorded triathlon was held in California on September 1974. Since then, it has become a popular sporting challenge around the world. Radhika Meganathan tells how a runner can seamlessly transition into training for a triathlon.

A Triathlon is about mastering three races in one event – running, swimming and cycling. The standard distance in triathlon, also used in the Olympics, is a 1500 metre swim, 40 kilometre bike, and 10 kilometre run. If you are already a runner looking to train for a triathlon, you will have the following questions: How do I train? Where do I start first? What if I don’t know how to swim or bike? Read on for answers.

SWIMMING
If you don’t know swimming, your training period for the triathlon just got longer. No worries, you got this. Many people have learned swimming late in their life and have mastered it as a skill and as a sport, so there is no reason why you can’t, too. Since you are going to be training in a professional level, don’t ask for lessons from your best friend! It is advisable to learn swimming from a coach or a registered swimming school in your locality. You need someone to look at your progress, and give you feedback on your form and the correct stroke mechanics.

If you are already a swimmer, now is the time to start practising in open water. Some things that you need to take in consideration are: wave condition, weather, navigation, water temperature, any wild life in the vicinity (and the water!). A wet suit is a good investment if you tend to feel the cold more, though of course you can rent them on a need basis too. If you’re doubtful about swimming in open water, then your best bet is to compete in a race that offers a pool swim. These races are beginner-friendly, and can be a perfect starter practice before you think about doing wilder triathlons.

CYCLING
Again, if you are not familiar with cycling, your training period gets even longer, but definitely it’s doable. In this case, you can ask your best friend to teach you how to cycle. Once you master the basics of balance and riding a bike, just hop on one (you don’t need to invest in a fancy bike) and practice every day. Since speed is one of the goals, you will need a helmet for safety and protection (yours and others!). Buy one that’s structurally sound and fits properly in your head.

Often, runners have difficulty adapting to the equipment of cycling. The inclination to “run” on the bike must be cured! You don’t want to wear out your legs before you get to the running part of the triathlon. The secret is to learn the art of using one set of muscles on the bike and another set for your running.

RUNNING
Yes, this is the part of the triathlon that you already are familiar with. Don’t get over confident though, you still need to practice! Run every day as per your usual routine. Three weeks to a month before D-Day, have dress rehearsals which will help you understand how Race Day is going to be. During the race simulation, concentrate on your pacing strategies and wear the entire gear what you plan to wear for the actual event.

A triathlon is comprised of all aerobic and high-cardio activities, so you may also look into eating the right way to train for it. Diet is crucial in maintaining your fitness while training and during the race, so consult your trainer or a nutritionist.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

A published author and an avid rambler, Radhika Meganathan is a recent keto convert who may or may not be having a complicated relationship with bacon and butter.

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