Meet 'Ironman couple' Kaushik Mukherjee and Vineeta Singh, India's first couple to complete world's toughest race

Vineeta and Kaushik after completing the Ironman triathlon earlier this month

The Ironman Triathlon is widely recognised as the most difficult single-day endurance race in the world and is organised by the World Triathlon Corporation at multiple locations across the globe. It starts off with a 2.4-mile swim, followed by an 112-mile bicycle ride, after which the participants must complete a marathon run, which is 26.2 miles long.

All of it has to be finished in this very order and within a time frame of 17 hours – a task only a few can successfully undertake.

Over the years, many Indians have taken part in the event, including Dr Kaustubh Radkar of Pune, who has completed the race a whopping 16 times and now trains other aspirants. The race also gained nationwide popularity after model-actor Milind Soman completed it in Zurich in 2015, along with a few other countrymen.

Earlier this month, a small piece of history was created by Kaushik Mukherjee and Vineeta Singh, who on July 2, became the first Indian couple to complete the race together. The two are graduates from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad and currently, they run a five-year-old startup.

“Something we could do together”

Kaushik and Vineeta met during their MBA days and got married in 2011. Vineeta, who is 33 years old, has been an avid runner for the last decade or so and has completed the Comrades Ultra-marathon, which is 89 km long, thrice from 2012-14. On the other hand, 35-year-old Kaushik had been a swimmer during his university days. After some deliberation, the couple decided to meet halfway and contest triathlons, so as to combine both disciplines.

Last year, they packed their bags and travelled across the country to compete in various events to train and get in shape for the Ironman. They participated in races in Hyderabad, Chennai, Bengaluru, Delhi and Goa, and around eight months before the Ironman was scheduled in Austria, they decided that they were ready.

Kaushik spoke to Sportskeeda about why they decided to undertake this arduous journey. He said, “Both of us have always been fitness freaks and wanted to test ourselves. This Ironman was perfect in the sense that it was something we could do as a couple.”

Managing training, business and family

Training for this event was a Herculean task, which was made even tougher by the fact that the two of them ran their own company and also are parents to a two-year-old boy. “We never really could train together,” said Kaushik. “Since one of us always had to be with our son, we would have different slots for training.”

In the mornings, from around 5.30 to 7.30 am, it was Vineeta who would train, while Kaushik would use the evening to prepare for the triathlon. Also, they continued to travel due to their growing business and that had to be factored in as well.

"Our business has also been growing rapidly and we had just received a round of funding two months back,” explained Kaushik. “So we had to alternate our business travel as well, depending on the situation.”

Becoming Ironman

After a six-month training period, that included rigourous planning, a strict diet, long hours of regular practice and recovery sessions, both were able to complete the race with excellent timings.

Vineeta finished within a timing of 16 hours and one minute, while Kaushik crossed the finish line 28 minutes later. He said, “The reception at the finishing line was amazing. When you finally finish, it is a truly surreal feeling – it changes you completely and makes you forget everything – the struggle and the self-doubt.”

Another important lesson they learned was the difference in the importance given to physical fitness in India and other parts of the world. “We realised that in that part of the world, running and cycling long distances is a part of their daily routine,” stated Kaushik. “There were people in the same race who were over 60 years old and they were overtaking us so easily. That was really inspiring for us!”

It is a major item checked off their bucket list but they’re looking forward to competing once again in the near future. “For now, our aim is to focus on our business and family in the next year or two. But after that, we will definitely do another Ironman in the future,” Kaushik said, signing off.

Kaushik and Vineeta’s journey shows that it is possible to be physically fit while managing professional and personal lives side-by-side. Training and being fit are things that everyone should make a part of their daily routine. Here's hoping their story inspires others to realize the importance of keeping in shape and making fitness a part of their day-to-day life!

Also read: Milind Soman completes world's toughest endurance challenge in Florida

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Edited by Staff Editor
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