Balkrishna Desai or Rajoo Desai, as he is popularly known may look like an average 57-year old businessman but is much more than only that. An excellent endurance athlete and runner, Rajoo has been a part of some of the toughest endurance expeditions, such as a bike ride across four nations, including Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Malaysia, while covering a distance of over 2,000 kilometers. Last year, he biked all the way from Gujarat to the highest motorable road of the world, Khardung La in Leh. When we heard of him and his extraordinary expeditions, we just knew we needed talk to him. Here’s some of what he had to say:
Q. How did you get into running?
A: I was always into sports and athletics since my college days. Back then, I started running and then just never stopped! I find it to be the easiest and most efficient way of staying in shape and keeping fit.
Q. What does your daily workout look like?
A: I like to mix things up during the week; a good mix of cardio and strength training helps any athlete. I usually do yoga twice a week and hit the gym on rest of the days. On weekends, I prefer doing cross country; I usually go all the way up to the Maruti Mandir Tekdi since it offers an amazing view in the morning.
Q. How do you prepare yourself for a marathon?
A: I follow my usual workout regime with one particular addition – running on the road. When any upcoming marathon is a month away, I pick two days in a week and begin my running routine on flat roads to acclimatize myself to the kind of terrain I will be running on for the marathon.
Q. You have partaken in a lot of cycling expeditions which look quite extreme! Can you tell us about them?
A: Some of my friends and I plan these cycling expeditions because we are very passionate about cycles, fitness and travel in general. Last year, we did an 18,380 feet expedition where we went from the lowest point at sea level to the highest road in India. We started at Khambat in Gujarat and went all the way to KhardungLa in Leh. There were just the three of us, with no back up; we cycled all the way from Gujarat, through Rajasthan, Haryana, Delhi, Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir and then finally Ladakh. It was an amazing feeling. The year before that we cycled throughout Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia and Thailand for about a month at a stretch.
Q. Do you have a favourite running moment of yours?
A: A defining moment for me would be when I finished the Pune Triathlon which was held in April. It was a very tough race and I was really proud of myself for finishing it. And really, I feel that every finish line I cross is special.
Q. Do you have any advice for beginners?
A: Buy a good pair of shoes. They are very important, every runner needs good support and many times people buy the wrong kind of shoes.