"It is iron will that makes you an Ironman," says IPS Krishna Prakash, who created history by becoming the first civil servant from India to complete the famous Ironman triathlon on August 27. Currently posted as the IG VIP Securities in Mumbai, the 1998 Maharashtra cadre officer joins a select list of his fellow countrymen to have finished the grueling event, which is widely recognized as the toughest single-day race in the world.
It kicks off with a 2.4-mile swim, after which there is a 112-mile bicycle ride. It is then followed by a full marathon run, 26.2 miles long. And to register as a finisher, one has to complete this ordeal in this particular sequence and within 17 hours, which makes it a test only the fittest can survive.
Many Indians over the years have participated in the event over the years and it became extremely popular in India as model-actor Milind Soman completed it in Zurich in 2015, along with a few other compatriots. In July this year, Kaushik Mukherjee and Vineeta Singh became the first Indian couple to successfully complete the race.
Prakash participated in the Vichy Ironman, held in one of the most beautiful cities in France, which is also known as the "Queen of Spa Towns". It was the first time he was participating in an event of such magnitude and finished with an impressive timing of 14 hours and eight minutes, shaving off more than an hour off Soman's timing from two years ago.
Sportskeeda spoke at length with Prakash, as he detailed his training regimen, how he balanced it with his duties and his thoughts on completing the race, among other things! Here are a few excerpts!
Congratulations on your incredible feat! What were your thoughts as you crossed the finish line?
Thank you! The first thing that came to my mind was that nothing is impossible. Any person can achieve anything he wants. It's all about having the will power and it's an iron will that makes you an Ironman!
It was my first attempt at the race and I felt very grateful to the people who supported me, my family, friends and my staff. I actually finished the race seven minutes before than what my time shows! I was so excited that I ran off course with the Indian tricolour and missed the final checkpoint! (laughs)
How did you start long distance running and endurance races? Was it something you always wanted to do?
It was back during the time when the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon was being held. I was in charge of the overall security and some of my friends were running in it. So I decided that I should give it a shot as well.
We managed to register just two days before the event and I was successfully able to complete it. As soon as I finished, I got back to my duties as we made sure that it went off smoothly till the very end. It was a great experience and from there, I haven't looked back!
From the marathon, how did the idea of doing the Ironman come about?
Someone suggested that I should take a look at the Ironman triathlon and that I try the half Ironman, given that it was my first attempt. However, I decided that if I am doing something, I will do it in full!
I got in touch with other athletes such as Dr. Kaustubh Radkar, who have completed the Ironman multiple times to look at the possibility of competing. Given the time frame and the task at hand, many suggested not to go for it. But I decided and made up my mind already that I will complete the full race!
What was your training regimen like for the Ironman?
Every day, I would wake up at around 3-3.30 am and start my training with either of the disciplines - swimming, running or cycling.
Each Sunday, I would go to Pune, where I practiced open water swimming at the Manas Lake in Pirangut. Then, I would cycle down to Navi Mumbai and after that, I did my running practice and exercises. This routine, I kept up for a good three to three-and-a-half months!
How did you balance your training with your police duties?
Yes, it was extremely difficult. But I received support from my family, especially my wife, and my staff, who always supported me! After training in the morning, I immediately got home and got ready for work. It was hectic but I ensured I never bypassed my duty!
Were there any instances when you had to sacrifice your training in the line of duty? Is there any incident that stands out?
As I said, for me it was duty first! At times, there would be important meetings due to which I had to cut down on my practice but I would ensure that I would utilize the time I got afterward towards my training and practiced at home.
There was one time when the President of India was visiting Mumbai and I was in charge of his security. I still found time in between to carry on my training and ensure that I do not miss out on my sessions.
Lastly, what message would you like to give to your followers and people who look up to you?
As Swami Vivekananda said, "Strength is goodness, weakness is sin."
Break your ceilings! There is no such thing as time constraint, physical constraint or age limit. It is only your iron will that will make you an Ironman!