Featured Comments Off on Raja Partha – The Deca Super Randonneur |

Raja Partha – The Deca Super Randonneur

In a candid tete-a-tete, Capt Seshadri Sreenivasan catches up with India’s first and only bike enthusiast to have completed ten Super Randonneurs in one year.

A young engineer from Chennai discovered a passion for cycling after probably not having ridden after his early school days. An air conditioning engineer, who has worked with multinationals in a highly technical sphere in the field, is now an entrepreneur in his own right and has made sacrifices in business and family life in pursuit of his dreams.

FM: So what exactly constitutes a Super Randonneur (SR)?

RP: An SR is a cycling event in which you cover distances of 200, 300, 400 & 600 km in one year. The qualifying timings are 13.5, 20, 27 & 40 hours for each of the distances. The event is conducted by AUDAX, a UK based entity, that franchises it across the world. The annual calendar is from November to October of the following year.

FM: And you did 10 SRs in one year?

RP: (slow smile)… Yes.

FM: Wow! That is a whopping 16,000 km of cycling in one year. More than what a well-used car does in the same period! So what makes your engine run?

RP: (Laughs). Just a need for self-recognition, a sense of personal achievement, nothing based on medals or awards.

FM: So how did it all start?

RP: It started in June 2017, when I decided to accompany a lady friend on a 5 km cycling trip. By the end of the 4th km, I was exhausted and couldn’t go any further, I just gave up. This preyed on my mind so strongly that I wanted to push myself to bigger things. In August, I started out with two friends to do a 100 km trip to Mahabalipuram (56 km from Chennai) and back. The return part was pure hell. I had to keep stopping every now and then. At the end of it, my motivation became stronger and on September 3, I ventured out on ‘Dhatri’, a 100 km ride for a charitable cause. I was doomed to fail again, and quit at Kovalam, after about 65 km or so. This was the final straw and I promised myself that I would stretch my endurance to the limit to complete the distance.

FM: And when did you taste your first success?

RP: I came to know of the Super Randonneur through an organisation called BRM. In November 2017, I finished my first 100 km and the next month I managed 200 km. I also heard of this ace cyclist from Pune who had done a record 8 SRs in a single year, and I decided then and there that I had to break his feat. I even put out messages on social media that I planned to cross 8 SRs in 2018.

FM: That you achieved this stupendous feat is now part of the record books. But how did you actually do it?

RP: In January 2018, I joined the Noida Club team and completed one Super Randonneur in 6 days. This was some kind of world record. I did the event in reverse order, working down from 600 km to 200 km. Between January and October 2018, spread over 45 weeks, I traversed the length and breadth of India, covering 17 cities, in pursuit of my objective. Finally, on October 28, my dream came true. I completed my 10th SR within one year.

FM: What were the highlights of all this cycling across the country? The good and the bad?

RP: The best part was the people, their spontaneous hospitality, help and support. I made several good friends across the country. The organisers were very helpful with travel, accommodation and logistics. A fellow biking enthusiast, Saju Thangappan, was a pillar of strength and support. The elements could be both kind and extremely harsh. I encountered all seasons… rode through heat, dust, cold, wind and rain.

A major setback was on March 17, 2018, when I met with an accident in Bengaluru. I was laid low for one month and at times I felt that I would not be able to recover in time or to regain fitness to complete what I had set out to achieve. By mid-April, the scar on my thigh began to spread all over my leg and sometimes would even ooze liquid. There was a permanent wound for almost seven months. But I decided that this injury would not make me stop. Two doctors, one an injury specialist and the other a dermatologist, helped me immensely in my recovery, with the least amount of medication. To make matters worse, the planning went awry. Even a single missed weekend necessitated careful re-planning of the entire schedule.

(Smiles wryly). But in the end, it all panned out successfully.

FM: What kind of bike and accessories did you use?

RP: I started out with a Firefox MTB but later switched to a Ridley Road bike. I quite liked both, but found the Ridley more suited to my style and my event. As for gear, I never had any specific or special kit. I monitored my schedule on my smartphone and used very basic accessories, more from the safety and comfort point of view than anything else. In fact, I wore sandals most of the time. Many people harbour the misconception that cycling is a costly sport; I beg to disagree. What it needs is just a lot of confidence and self-belief. While accessories are useful, I do not consider them essential for achievement.

FM: What kind of diet and training schedules did you maintain?

RP: Actually, I did not have any specific training calendar, nor did I stick to any kind of special diet. Yes, biking needs a strong core, and I concentrated on core exercises during the week and long- distance cycling on weekends. As for diet, I followed the simple, staple food habits of a typical South Indian. That’s all!

FM: How did you manage family and business commitments?

RP: My working wife and our 8-year-old daughter were not just understanding, but provided unstinted support and encouragement. Nothing could have been possible without this. My business partners were also extremely supportive and looked after all my duties while I was away.

FM: And what next? The Tour de France perhaps?

RP: (Laughs loud). No, certainly not the Tour de France; far from my list of favourites. I also love running and swimming, so a triathlon could very much be in the offing.

FM: One final question. What would your message be for today’s youth?

RP: It’s actually very simple. Do not run behind myths or chase rainbows. Give considerable thought about what you want to achieve and never forget basics. Try out your choices and when you have narrowed down on something, give it your best effort. Understand the difference between being ‘fit’ and being ‘healthy’. This also includes not being carried away by ‘diets’. Each individual has different body constitutions and one must try and understand that in training and in diet, just as in life, there is no ‘one size fits all’!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Capt Seshadri Sreenivasan is a former armed forces officer with over 30 years experience in marketing. He also a consulting editor with a leading publishing house. He is a co-author of the best selling biography of astronaut Sunita Williams.

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Motivation Comments Off on Record Breaking Iron(wo)man |

Record Breaking Iron(wo)man

In conversation with Vinolee Ramalingam, the Chennai based Triathlete who has never let any obstacle deter her.

Ironman is not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of non-compete to endurance sports, how did you choose to take it up?
ironmanI started out again to get my body and mind into shape. I didn’t have any endurance sports in mind, as I was focused only on swimming. In my city Chennai, there was a triathlon event around that time and My friends and well-wishers pushed me to take up that. That’s how it happened and rest was history, as I was completely into training and participating in it.

Finishing two Ironman’s and setting a new record, how did that happen?
Participating in an Ironman was not for any record, rather it was only for my own self. I needed to see where I am, and how to fit I am. Being a short distance national athlete (100m,200m) and national swimmer, my mind was and is into sports from my childhood. All my dream and my father and brother’s dream was to represent India at an international arena. When I did that, it was kind of exhilarating and I was addicted to it. That’s what is pushing me.

You have now set your sights on the World Championship, how would you be preparing for it?
World championships are always a dream of a triathlete. For it, I got to train harder and smarter. Need twice or thrice the dedication level which I have now to go to that level. I have got my training plans altered to that, have identified my lagging areas, and am now working more on it. Also, we have analyzed the effort which I did for the two Ironmans. With that as a reference, I am looking forward to an improved training.

What advice would you give to a newbie who wants to try an Ironman event?
An Ironman aspirant should have an open strong mind to even choose this event. He /she should have a structured training plan which will help them in concentrating on each of the legs individually. He/she should be very strong in their basics. They may be a good swimmer, but without knowledge of the bike, they will have trouble. A sound mind to accept whatever may come as output, be ready to push through. My motto is “No way out, Push Through”

How has your family viewed this change?
My family have been supporting me from day 1 when I told I am planning to pursue this. They were happy and they started encouraging me on day to day basis. My kid, Vinesh, is so accommodating, he used to sleep in the car when I go for a ride, as my husband drives the car. Without family, I am nothing.

Who is your inspiration or role model?
My dad, Ramalingam, is my inspiration. He was a national medal winner during 1970s in Heptathlon. He decided things on his own and took up sports as his career, stayed as a coach until he retired. He was also the District Sports Officer. He encourages and coaches me and my kid for our events. He is coaching my kid for upcoming kids triathlon.

Do you work with a coach? If yes, what are the benefits? If no, then how do you plan your training?
Yes, I work with my coach, Xavier Coppock of Team TRI Coaching. He has trained many athletes and has made their dream of qualifying for World Championships come true. Working with a coach is always beneficial as they will know the right amount of training for each leg. And they will be on top of your training and will change it accordingly to your positives and negatives. We just got to blindly follow them

Do you follow a special nutrition plan before and during your race? Can you share a few tips about that?
I didn’t follow any specific nutrition plan, but I did mind what I ate. I had included more amount of proteins, enough carbs and minimal fat. I completely avoided all bakery items, aerated drinks. These kept me in shape. And of course loads of water.
The week leading to the race one should be drinking as much water and take more electrolytes to keep them in shape. If we don’t keep ourselves equipped with this, we will end up feeling exhausted during the race.

Plan earlier for the race. Keep adequate gels, salt capsules and electrolyte. Though the organizers will have enough supplementary drinks, it’s always better to carry our own. That way we will be confident during the race and need not fear if the next aid station carries water or not.

They say mental strength is the most important factor for an endurance event. Do you agree and how have you trained yourself to tackle the challenge the race throws at you?
Along with your physical strength, we need to have tremendous mental strength. We will have a lot of delusions and tons of questions, and you will be asked to quit and go to sleep. During the race, I used to talk to myself about my kid, my family and how they will feel happy when I reach the finish line. How they will be happily and patiently waiting on the finish line for me etc. If we have something to concentrate on and think on, then that’s a boon.

How have you changed as a person since you took up the training for the Ironman?
As a person, I started looking at things positively and started being an influencer indirectly and directly for many women, who think life is just to take care of kids and family and not have any kind of aspirations. Life is short, you are your best friend and your body is the only thing which comes with you till the end. My mind is now fresh, am happy because I do what my mind wants me to do. Indirectly I have changed my kid’s life, as he is happily taken sports as part of his day to day life, and is ready to stay fit.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

An irregular runner who has run in dry, wet, high altitude and humid conditions. Loves to write a little more than run so now is the managing editor of Finisher Magazine.

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Featured Comments Off on Record Breaking Running |

Record Breaking Running

The TCSW10k saw some new records this year and Deepthi Velkur gets the insights from Procam. 

Bengaluru hosted the 11th edition of the TCS World 10K which is completing a decade this year and is quite a sought-after race in the running world. Approximately 27,000 runners took to the roads to participate in five different race formats. The event offers an unmatched race experience for elite and amateur runners alike. The race was also special because of the all-woman pacer team that was leading the runners.

The Elite Athlete 10K saw 105 athletes from India and all over the world competing for the gold. It included 63 male runners and 42 female runners.

The Elite International Men’s category saw Geoffrey Kamworor (Kenya), securing his third win with a timing of 28:18 mins. Followed by Ethiopian’s Birhanu Legese (28:38 mins) and Mosinet Grimew (28:39 mins). The Elite Indian Men’s saw Suresh Kumar and Man Singh (both at 30:12mins) lead the pack followed by Shankar Man Thapa at 30:41 mins.

The real stars of the show were the female athletes, with all the three international elite podium finishers breaking the previous course record that was set by Lucy Kabuu in 2014. Kenya’s Agnes Tirop and Ethiopia’s Senbere Teferi broke the course record with a time of 31:19 mins and 31:22 mins, and a close third was Kenya’s Caroline Kipkirui bagging the bronze at 31:28 mins.

The Indian sensation was Sanjivani Jadhav, who broke the course record after a period of 9 years, with a time of 33:38 mins.

Swati Gadhave and Kiranjeet Kaur took silver and bronze, completing the race with times of 35:08 and 35:25 respectively. The last course record amongst the Indian elite women was set by Kavita Raut in the year 2009 clocking a time of 34:32. All three women showed immense passion and a quest for victory that propelled them forward.

Overall, the runners actively talked about how much they love the TCSW10K as an event. Monika Athare, a former winner of the run and a veteran athlete mentioned that the facilities and the treatment the athletes received at the TCSW10K is unparalleled and that she loves coming to Bangalore to run. Geoffrey Kamworor, who bagged his third win at this year’s race stated that he needs to fall in love with the marathon and the course to do well, which is why Bangalore is one of his favourite cities to run in. Additionally, Sanjivani Jadhav talked about how she specially spoke to her coach and asked if she could come run this year, because she loves the city and the course.

Commenting about the record breaking timings, Procam representatives said, “Having all three women smash the event course record shows the dept of the elite field and the fact that Bengaluru is a flat and fast course for athletes to clock their personal best.  What Sanjivani Jadhav has done today by creating a new course record and a national record is truly remarkable. Her zeal and determination is something that’s wonderful to watch and it motivates other runners to do better and come back stronger. We hope to see her and all the other athletes come back next year, where hopefully more records get shattered, because that is what they are there for.”

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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