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25 Oct 2020, Edition - 1930, Sunday

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India News

‘Ironman’ readying to prove his mettle

Rani Devalla

Suraj Walia, a 40-year-old Gurgaon-based triathlete, is waiting for the weekend to get over. He is preparing for ‘Ironman Malaysia’ starting November 17, for which he gets up as early as 4 am on weekends to start with his swim, followed by a long bike training and ending it with a running session for four to eight hours.

His fitness journey started back in 2008 when he ran his first Delhi Half Marathon (21.1 km) and continued doing so for the next couple of years. “I was scared to go longer,” he confesses. In 2015, he finally decided to let go of his fear and enrolled for a full marathon. His preparation and determination bore fruit and he completed his first full marathon in 4 hours and 3 minutes. From that point on there was no looking back and he participated in many half and full marathons, clocking 1 hour 30 minutes in half and 3 hour 40 minutes in full.

Next, he decided to push himself further and enrolled as an ultra-marathon runner (a 12-hour stadium run). He came out strong and covered roughly 98 km in 12 hours in his very first ultra-marathon. Later, he got inspired to take up Ironman triathlon challenge (3.8 km of sea swim, 180 km of cycling, 42.2 km of running) in a single day within 17 hours. Believe it or not, he had not cycled beyond his school days and really did not know swimming.

In early 2017, he bought a bicycle and as luck would have it, within a few weeks he met with an accident breaking his left hand. Undeterred and despite doctors warning him against practising cycling, he did it as soon as his plaster was removed. To stay in shape, he practised running with his plastered hand. Soon, he enrolled for swimming in March 2018.

He was advised by his friends to try his hand at some of the easier ironman events in Europe as they have better weather and the terrain is less challenging. Malaysia is known as one of the toughest Ironman challenges amongst the 25+ Ironman events that happen globally. Being the fighter he is, Suraj decided to go for Ironman Malaysia in November 2018. He took the challenge head-on despite having no prior experience at triathlons.

What followed was long training hours ranging from anywhere between 12 and 18 hours a week, even giving up on family time. He works for MetLife Noida, which means his daily routine includes 3-4 hours of Noida Gurgaon commute as well (folks from Delhi NCR know it is a challenge in itself). If you are in endurance sports, it osnot easy to find partners to train with you. And during this tough training on his own, Suraj learnt the art of shutting down the brain at times when it wants you to stop.

As the event approaches closer, the intensity of the programme is going up and he is looking to win over his title of Ironman Malaysia 2018.

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