Every year at various venues around the world, thousands of ambitious and athletic men and women gather with nervous expectation, and pumped with adrenaline, at the starting line of the world's toughest triathlon, the Ironman.
On July 31st, the IRONMAN 70.3 was held in Ecuador, at the port city of Manta. Dr. Aakash Singh Rathore, age 45, was there to represent India. The triathlon begins with a 1.9 km swim in the open Pacific Ocean. The waves and surf toss the swimmers around in the 25 degrees water. Contestants are given one hour and ten minutes to complete the 1.9km swim before being disqualified. Rathore completed the swim segment in 43 minutes.
Out of the water, the triathletes then jog to where their bicycles, helmets and shoes are waiting, and hurriedly mount their bikes to start the second leg of the triathlon. This is a brutal 90 km bike course, which in Ecuador gets ameliorated by the splendid scenery. Cyclists travel along the rolling Pacific coast until reaching the turn-around point at the beautiful beach of Crucita. Looping back, they return to the transition point where their bikes were originally located. Rathore's total time racing the bicycle a distance of 90km: a bit over three hours, at 3:18:11.
Parking the bike, triathletes immediately embark on a gruelling 21-km run. Fortunately, the Ecuadorian run course offers beautiful ocean views, spectacular crowds cheering athletes on and a lively finish line on the beach. Rathore crashed through that finish line after a run of just over two hours, at 2:06:56. That gave India's only Ironman Ecuador participant a total race time just north of six hours, at 6:18:42, a strong standing amongst the one thousand participants representing 25 countries around the world.
How did the Indian Ironman feel upon completing the exhausting challenge in six and a quarter hours? Panting at the finish line, Rathore said, "I feel great! I was hoping for 6 hours flat, but my time is pretty good. Give me a few minutes to rest and I will be ready to do it again."
And he will do it again in just two months' time.
Dr. Rathore left his Visiting Professorship in the School of Social Sciences at the Jawaharlal Nehru University back in May to train full time for the triathlon. When he is not writing books on topics as diverse as Indian Wine, Indian Jurisprudence, and Indian Political Theory, you can see Rathore swimming, biking, and running all over Delhi.
On September 25th in Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA, Professor Rathore will participate in the full Ironman, doubling all the distances of the Ironman Ecuador 70.3. He is aiming for a finish time of 12 hours flat, which will make this JNU Professor India's fastest Ironman ever.