To celebrate his 50th birthday, India's 'hottest old man', Milind Soman, swam 3.8-km, rode 180.2-km on a cycle and ran 42.2-km in just 15 hours and 19 minutes in Zurich to complete the Ironman challenge.
Photographs: Courtesy, Vinay Dahiya/Facebook
If one were to ask who is the fittest man in India at the moment, Milind Soman's name would definitely spring to your mind. Not surprising since Soman, who is touching 50 (he will turn 50 on November 4, 2015) completed one of the world's toughest races, the Ironman Triathlon in Zurich last month.
Now Robert Downing Jr. did a fabulous job in reel life, but in real life, Soman is the fittest guy you would come across, in India at least.
Competing with more than 2000 participants, Soman completed the Ironman challenge that consisted of a non-stop 3.8-km swim, a 180.2-km cycle ride and 42.2-km run in just 15 hours and 19 minutes.
The supermodel was in the capital recently to announce the third edition of Pinkathon marathon, where Manu Shankar/Rediff.com caught up with this Made in India star for a spicy chat.
How did you come across the idea of participating in the Ironman Challenge?
Last year few people started asking me as to how I would celebrate my 50th birthday and what's the plan and all. Let me tell you that I never celebrate my birthday -- never ever have I celebrated it.
So since they were asking and 50 years is a milestone of sorts, I thought maybe we should make it memorable. So I started looking around for something challenging and exciting to do and someone suggested Ironman.
Initially I wasn't really interested in triathlon because I don't like cycling, but when I read about it I found it interesting and felt it would be a different experience to train for this.
Staying motivated for such a challenge must have been a challenge on its own?
Actually staying motivated is not tough; the preparation is tough and I believe that thumb rule applies to everything in life.
The challenge is what we think it is. It's not always tough. If you prepare well then you can do it easily.
And why the training is tough is because you need a lot of mental discipline to continue everyday for three months, to do that again and again so that on that day it becomes easy.
But still considering that you haven't cycled before, it must have been tough…
To do a 180 kilometers cycling, you start with small milestones. When you prepare you start with 20-30 km, then you move to 40 km and so on...
If I didn't have the time to prepare and had still gone to Zurich, it would have been really tough. I would be dead. But when you have time to prepare, it is easy.
So most of your preparation was in Mumbai or elsewhere too?
I travel a lot. So you can say, I prepared everywhere: Delhi, Pune, Bangalore.
In Mumbai it's very, very difficult to train because the roads, for cycling especially, are not so good. So in Mumbai I have to first load the cycle in the car, drive for about 40 minutes before I can actually cycle where it's somewhere safe.
But here in Delhi you have the Gurgaon-Faridabad highway, in Ahmedabad you have Ahmedabad-Gandhinagar highway, which have really good stretches of roads. Bangalore and Chennai too have good facilities compared to Mumbai.
15 hours and 19 minutes, racing without a break... were you helped by the fact that you were an athlete from a young age?
Of course! It made the preparation easier. You see I've been running actively from the age of 38 and have been a national level swimmer.
Which was the toughest part of the challenge?
Cycling is also tough because there is a cycle involved -- you have to take care of the cycle.
You have to make sure that you don't have an accident or tyre doesn't get punctured, because there is no one to help you out with that in the event. So the challenge and stress is in the cycling. Also I'm not a fast cycler as I've just started.
Suppose someone is doing 180kms in 6 hours, I was taking more than 8 hours, plus there is a cut off period.
Your mother influenced you a lot while you were growing up…
Whatever I've achieved today, the credit for it goes to my mother. She's the one who inspired me to take myself seriously.
She was a professor of bio-chemistry and even today, at 76, she participates in a 100 kilometre trek. She does that every year and has inspired my sisters to join her. They all are above 50.
Like any other family, focus was more on studies rather than swimming. But, my mother insisted that since I enjoy swimming, I should balance both studies and sports.
Those 13 years of my life played such an important role in shaping my life and mind.
Pinkathon is entering its third edition and you must be quite pleased as to how it has picked up?
Pinkathon is more than just a marathon. It is unfortunate that as a country we don't have this culture of promoting health and sports.
I feel if women understand the value of sports like my mother did, then children will be encouraged to create that balance between sports and academic.
I would like to see women of the house inspire their family. We wanted to create a platform where women can come even in a saree or salwar kameez and run for their health without any inhibitions.
Today the Pinkathon is conducted in eight cities, wherein more than 10,000 women run at each of these events over the 3km, 5km, 10km and 21km distances.
Photographs: Courtesy, Milind Soman/Facebook