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.
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.