The Ironmen of Pune

The Ironman Triathlon, which is organised by the World Triathlon Corporation is considered to be the world’s toughest triathlon. And rightly so, considering the fact that it requires a participant to swim for 3.86 kms, cycle for 180.25 kms and run a marathon of 42.2 kms in that order in one go. The triathlon has to be completed in 15 to 17 hours depending on the location of the race. And even finishing the race entitles participants to a title of being an ‘Ironman’.
The recently held Ironman Race in Zurich held a special meaning for Pune. Out of the seven Indians who participated in the race, five were from Pune. While we all know about Milind Soman and his exceptional achievement of completing the race even at 50, we spoke to the lesser known faces who participated in the world’s toughest triathlon.

The Punekars' Ironman finishing times
The Punekars’ Ironman finishing times

India saw its first Ironman finisher in Anu Vaidyanathan in 2006 at Subaru Ironman Canada and its youngest Ironman finisher in Pune’s Nishit Biniwale (21) in 2013 at Ironman Austria. And this year, Pune was on the radar of all tri fans in India; the simple reason being, out of the seven Ironman participants from India, five were from Pune and almost all of them completed the race in good time! Along with Milind Soman were Pune lads Dr. Kaustubh Radkar, Prithviraj Patil, Hiren Patel, Shantanu Ganbote and Dr. Anand Patil.
Kaustubh Radkar is one of the most well-known Ironman finisher from Pune. Having finished 12 Ironman events in almost all continents across the world, he was a mentor to the other participants from the city this year. So what was different for him in Ironman Zurich this year? “For me, this was always going to be a different race as I did not have my own bike and had to rent one in Zurich itself. Also, the weather this year was really hot and that made it difficult during the last segment of the race. But yes, all in all it was another amazing race and I look forward to more,” says Kaustubh.
Kautubh Radkar during the race
Kautubh Radkar during the race

Prithviraj Patil, another finisher from the city explained, “This was my first Ironman race and the experience was very good. Zurich is not the easiest destinations to race at because of its altitude and temperature, but even then I totally enjoyed it. I realised that no matter how much you practice before the race, the experience will be your biggest tutor. I was planning on a better timing but many factors affected that. And this gives me all the more reason to participate in the next race and better myself!”
Pritviraj Patil on completing the triathalon
Pritviraj Patil on completing the triathlon

Twenty-seven-year old Hiren Patel, who originally hails from Gujarat, works at Infosys Pune now and was even sponsored by the firm for the event. For Patel, these were the “most crucial 16 hours of his life”. Dr. Anand Patil who was the eldest participant of the lot also completed the race in a good time of 15 hours 53 minutes.
Hiren Patel at the finish
Hiren Patel at the finish

Truly a remarkable feat, it is these kind of awesome Punekars who are putting Pune on the global map and Pune thanks you for that. Who knows? Maybe we will see a whole bunch of Punekars in the next Ironman race or even the Olympics?