In the concluding part of his Ironman journey, Deepak Raj talks about how his passion, focus and unrelenting endurance, helped him achieve his Ironman goals.
To read the first part of this incredible story, click here.
Unrelenting. Focused. Passionate.
In the last 6 years, the coaching business and having to organize several triathlon events across India have kept Deepak busy but that didn’t let his focus slip on himself and has only made him a stronger athlete over time. Talking about how this sport has made him a stronger endurance athlete, he says “It has helped me stay fit all year long and appreciate the holistic approach you need to take on nutrition, rest, recovery along with the workouts and training. The tough nature of the sport and the consistent training demands helped me to get stronger mentally, stay disciplined and give me the confidence to chase bigger goals not only as an athlete but also to apply those same traits in my professional career”.
With his unrelenting spirit, he has proven to himself and all the other aspiring triathletes that anything can be achieved with the right determination and discipline. His list of achievements is commendable and to name them –
- Finished 20 IRONMAN Triathlons (Swim 3.8 km, Cycle 180 Km, Run 42.2 km) with the best time of 10 hrs 19 min 08 sec.
- Qualified and Completed IRONMAN World Championships in Kona in 2017.
- Finished 4 IRONMAN 70.3 Triathlons (Swim 1.9 km, Cycle 90 Km, Run 21.1 km) with the best time of 4 hrs 43 min 40 sec.
- Finished 13 Full Marathons (42.2 km Running) with the best time of 2 hrs 59 min 53 sec. Boston Qualifier.
- Finished 6 Half Marathons (21.1 km running) with the best time of 1 hr 22 min 19 sec.
- Qualified and Completed ITU World Triathlon Championships in 2017 in the Olympic Distance Triathlon (Swim 1.5 km, Bike 40 km, Run 10 km) in Gold Coast, Australia.
- Ran multiple 10 K run events, Duathlons (10 km Run, 40 km Bike, 5 km Run) and 2 Mini Sprint Triathlons (Swim 400m, Bike 20 km, Run 5 km)
Having achieved so much for himself, one of his biggest dreams and a special one too was to qualify and compete in IRONMAN World Championship in Kona, Hawaii which he eventually did in 2017. “Qualifying for Kona was a dream and that kept me going every day for close to 10 years and work hard towards that goal. I had read up, watched videos and listened to people talking about Kona, Hawaii, the race, course and everything about it. So, it was a very special feeling to finally qualify after many years, race and complete the race”, he says.
IRONMAN 70.3 comes home to Goa.
Deepak wanted to do more for the triathlon scene in India by bringing the global brand- IRONMAN 70.3 to Goa, India. After many years of relentless work done by him and his partner at Yoska, they successfully achieved their goal and we couldn’t be more proud of this. Bringing a global brand like IRONMAN to India came with a whole set of challenges that they had to overcome and speaking of which he says, “IRONMAN was an established global brand with races all over the world but we at Yoska understood the challenges in India. They were primarily the infrastructure and ensure that the chosen city and location ticks every box for factors such as safe and clean water body (lake, sea, etc.) for the triathlon swim, good roads connected to the water body and ability to have them closed down for the race, local government support, good airport connectivity to the race location, range of accommodation for the participants and supporters and also needed to be a good tourist location to draw the participants as IRONMAN is a destination sport. While some cities in India ticked a few boxes for the listed factors, it failed for the other factors. So, the main challenge was to find the city and location which meets all factors and that took a long time”.
Preparing for the IRONMAN 70.3.
Participating in a tough endurance sport like the IRONMAN requires you to be extremely focused on training yourself in all 3 disciplines. According to Deepak the most important factors one has to keep in mind if they want to complete the IRONMAN 70.3 is “Apart from the number of months of preparation in terms of improving your fitness and conditioning on swim, bike and running, you also need to buildup gradually with training for smaller races such as Olympic Distance Triathlon and then training and completing Half IRONMAN races and then progressing to the big IRONMAN race. I recommended to take up coaching and sign up for a proper training program to avoid inconsistent workouts, overtraining in the last few weeks of the race and injuries which are common with first-timers.
He further adds by saying “There are some more aspects that people need to take time to assess and proceed such as –
- Evaluate the time available to train and ensure they can sustain this between the other work and family commitments.
- Ensure they give sufficient time to themselves before signing up for a race and do an honest evaluation of their current fitness conditions. Best done by someone else such as Triathlon Coach as we are always very optimistic about our fitness levels J
- Triathlon is an expensive sport compared to other endurance sports and involves equipment and accessories which they need to procure and have access to”.
The focus for the future for Team Yoska is taking triathlon to the next level in India, developing the IRONMAN 70.3 race further and training the endurance community with their coaching academies. While pursuing his professional goals, Deepak hasn’t lost focus in pursuing his personal goals. “I still take time out to train myself. I continue to have personal athletic goals and balance my time and season based on how much time I have to prepare. I am looking forward to the 2020 season to pick up my training and chase down my next set of athletic goals”.
Deepak has this to say, “I along with the endurance community in India are very excited with the fact that we are creating history with the pinnacle of endurance events happening for the first time in India on 20th October 2019 with the inaugural IRONMAN 70.3 Goa. We strongly believe each participant of IRONMAN 70.3 Goa is a celebrity who will inspire millions of Indians to prioritize their fitness in whatever way they can, even if someone can get out and walk being inspired by the event, it is a BIG win for us. This is our humble contribution to the “Fit India” movement”.