Interview: 20-time Ironman Kaustubh Radkar still gunning for greater heights
2.4 miles of swimming, followed by a 112-mile bicycle ride and then a full marathon run that is 26.2 miles long - complete these without a break within 17 hours and congratulations, you are now an Ironman!
The Ironman triathlon is widely considered to be one of the toughest sporting events in the world and is a real test of an athlete's physical and mental stamina. Completing one Ironman triathlon is as hard a challenge as it gets and requires an incredible amount of discipline and perseverance.
From India, there are a number of triathletes, from a number of walks of life, who have completed the gruelling race and flown the tricolour high at Ironman events. However, one man who stands out is Dr. Kaustubh Radkar, who has completed the race a whopping 20 times and is billed as the poster boy of Ironman in India.
A former national swimming champion, Radkar ran his first Ironman in 2008 and almost a decade on, he has finished atleast one on all six continents. And along with participating, he also actively trains budding Ironmen and women, while also running managing his day-to-day business.
Sportskeeda spoke to Radkar in an exclusive chat, where he spoke about his first race, what makes him tick and who inspires him the most! Here are a few excerpts:
How did you get to know about the Ironman triathlon? What were your thoughts prior to your maiden attempt?
I moved to Colorado in the United States in 2007 and it was in 2008 that I found out about the Ironman Triathlon after a few of my friends took part in one in Hawaii. The swimming part was obviously covered for me and the marathon wasn't much of an issue since I had run a couple at the time. So, the only concern was the bike part, which I felt I could deal with comfortably.
Back then in 2008, there was no Indian male who had completed an Ironman and I thought to myself that it was a good challenge to undertake. I signed up in May for a race that was being organized in Arizona and was held in November. I really enjoyed the experience as a whole and was already thinking about doing another.
What is your regular training regimen like?
Nowadays, I am actively into coaching and three days a week, we do group runs. As far as my cycling is concerned, that I do around 3-4 days in a week as well. However, all of it is indoors as it is much safer.
For my swimming routine, I am lucky to have a pool nearby at the Deccan Gymkhana, where I can train regularly. All in all, during peak training, it adds up to 12-15 hours a week. Along with the three Ironman disciplines, I have to manage my gym work as well so as to remain in top shape.
And how do you manage all this with your day-to-day routine? It must be a real challenge!
Yes, it is challenging as there is only so much time that one has. If you miss the morning, you can't go out later in the day to run. Thankfully, my swimming training is quite flexible and manageable.
Since I run my own business, I create a daily schedule accordingly and plan my day around it.
20 Ironmans and still going strong! What keeps you ticking?
Motivation is not an issue for me, I feel. I have been swimming from a very young age and while the passion for sports has always been there, I have had the urge to go above and beyond and push the limits as much as possible.
Competing at the World Championship in Hawaii was another major honour for me and now, the next target is reaching the 25-mark. Plus, a lot of my focus goes towards my students now and seeing them do well also gives me immense satisfaction.
The Ironman triathlon is gaining more and popularity in India, with the number of participants on the up. What are your thoughts on it?
It is obviously great to see more and more Indians take part in the Ironman and prepare for it. However, my only concern is the availability of ideal coaching.
A large population is interested in competing in triathlons but there are not enough coaches, which means that something wrong can happen as well.
Who would you say is your role model or inspiration?
As they say, charity begins at home and my inspiration has to be my family. Every time I take part in a race, my son is always in my thoughts.
And lastly, what message would you like to give to our readers?
First of all, one should never ignore one's own health. It is quite important that people take out time to invest in their health, no matter how busy their routines may be. Even the world's top CEOs make time to take care of their bodies.
Also, something I feel that is missing is getting kids to go out and run. Getting children involved in outdoor activities is quite important and goes a long way in their overall development.