MIssion Accomplished by ‘IRONMAN’! Local Oncologist Completes Triathlon in 8 Hours

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MIssion Accomplished by ‘IRONMAN’! Local Oncologist Completes Triathlon in 8 Hours

Dr Guruprasad Bhat, a Mangaluru-based medical oncologist, recently completed the Ironman Triathlon in Goa. This race needs an athlete to cover 1.8 km of swimming in 1 hour, 90 km of cycling in 4:30 min and 21 km running in 3 hours, a total of 114 km in 8hrs 30 min. Dr Guruprasad Bhat completed this task within 8 hours.

How did it all start…?

Back in 2018, a friend asked me to join the Kilimanjaro trek- which is the highest mountain in Africa. I did not have the necessary fitness, so he suggested I run to improve my endurance. This got me hooked on running. I started with shorter runs like 5km then 10km. The more we do these smaller runs, the more we are confident of longer runs. These were followed by half marathons, full marathons and finally ultramarathons across the globe. These include:

1) Vagamon Ultratrail -60 km run along the scenic forest route of Idduki.

2) Kardungla Ultra which is a 72 km run in Ladakh. This is a high-altitude race, the highest altitude of the race is around 17600 feet. This race is amongst the toughest endurance race in India.

3) The other beautiful high-altitude race in which I have taken part is the hell race-Buddha Trails. We start from Rimbick, which is near Darjeeling for this 65km race. Here overlooked by the sleeping Buddha on Mt. Kanchenjunga, we run on the trail leading to Sandakphu-Phalut ridge. Runners get a view of Mt. Everest, Makalu, Lhotse, and Kanchenjunga during the race.

4) My first ultra was the Dandeli ultra, where I ran 50km. In this race, I was chased by a bison on the forest trail.

5) Jarakabande eco ultra was my first 100 Km run.

6) Hennur bamboo ultra was my first 100miler (161Km) which I covered in 24 hours running in the heavy rain at night, muddy puddles, wet shoes, snakes and sleep deprivation which was very challenging.

7) While the Malnad Ultra which is held in Chikkamagaluru is my regular trail running event.

How was the transition to other endurance sports….?

Running slow and long distances also helps in endurance sports like mountaineering, cycling, swimming and triathlons. I have completed both mountaineering and rock climbing courses with A grade. Have also climbed both the highest peaks of Africa (Kilimanjaro 19,341 ft) and Europe (Mount Elbrus 18,510 ft).

Cycling is a good cross-training for running. Here I received help from Mangalore cycling groups of WERC, MACC and Mangalore riders. Received great help from Nithin and Mubeen (Taj Cycles) for technical aspects of the bicycle. Regular practice on the roads with Joseph Sir and Harivijay helped improve speed and cadence. While Sarvesh Sir guided me with the indoor cycle trainer. These clubs helped me in long-distance cycling competitions like brevets.

I started swimming in January 2023. Initially had the fear of water. With 3 months of training at the Aloysius swimming pool, I was able to swim confidently. I have participated in the 5km swimming races in river and sea, with help from my friend Sreejit (a maths professor by profession).

In 2023 April, he took part in a sprint triathlon ( short distance) in Pune.

How was the triathlon training….?

The training for this 40-year-old doctor included two sessions of swimming, running, and biking each week. Each session lasted for an hour, under coach Chaitanya. Juggling between profession, passion, and family, and finding 1-2 hours each day was the biggest task. This practice time was usually early morning or late night when children slept. One also needs to take strength training. Refuelling with glucose gels, rehydrating and preventing cramps due to excess salt loss with salt capsules also needed to be looked at.

What did you fear…?

There are so many negative thoughts running in our brains. Bad weather and heavy rain make swimming difficult. Swimming in the ocean is different from the pool. Breaking the waves in the first 50 meters and entering the calmer ocean is a challenge, knowing where we are swimming is also a challenge, with more than 2000 people swimming in a short time gap, we can bump into the next athlete.

We dread having mechanical issues with the Cycling leg, like tyre puncture. Can fall with aerobar and cleats. These triathlons are self-supported events with minimal support in case of any issue.

Running after cycling and swimming is also difficult. One gets a jelly leg, where we can’t even move. Running in the hot afternoon sun in hilly terrain can be very tiring.

Wearing the trisuit and using the restroom is a very difficult task. One dreads having a bad tummy during the race in a trisuit.

With all these thoughts one can rarely sleep on the race day.

How was your Ironman race…?

The race started at 7:30 a.m. The swim leg, which was 1.9 km had a sighting issue. I swam 2.1 km in 45 minutes at Miramar beach. The hilly cycling leg had a lot of elevation to climb at the Goa Medical College. Had cramps during my last loop, which subsided with electrolytes. Took 3 hours and 40 minutes to cycle this terrain. The running in the afternoon sun was difficult but completed within 3 hours.

What next….?

Plan for the full Ironman which is a gruelling 3.8 km swim, 180km cycling and 42 km run, within 15 hours. Practice for this includes events around Mangalore like the full Mangalore marathon, brevets from WERC and the Malpe triathlon.

These sporting events help us to control our thoughts and we lose ourselves being in the present and accepting the things in nature as it is and make us live the moment.

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