Towards the end of the Ironman Triathlon, an announcement came on the loudspeaker. “Here comes the birthday boy and another record holder,” surprised the 18-year-old Megh Thakar. He recalls the final strides of the IRONMAN Louisville competition, where after crossing that finishing line, he became India’s youngest ever to achieve the feat. ( To note, the minimum age for competing in the gruelling course is 18.)
Megh managed to tweak the rule in a dramatic fashion, as he turned 18 on the day of his race and not prior to it. He is confident that not many would be able to repeat that feat.
The Grueling Journey
The Ironman Competition was made popular in India by supermodel Milind Soman, who had also participated in the competition (and had won it). The length of the triathlon includes a 3.86 km swim followed by a 180 km of cycling concluded then by a full marathon.
Megh’s journey in the Kentucky event began from his hometown Pune, back in May. He had just finished his standard class 12th board examinations. Thakar met many people who had completed the Ironman Triathlon. He checked the dates and found himself to be just about eligible for the competition. Megh started training soon afterwards.
Swimming came congenitally to him, as he had been competing at the national since he was 10. However, he needed to work on his cycling and running skills for the competition. Megh’s father owns a cycle shop and coincidentally, one of his customers happened to be a certified Ironman coach, Kaustubh Radkar. Kaustabh has notably completed the competition successfully 22 times.
Recalling how his young pupil was disciplined throughout the training, Radkar stated that sometimes he had to rein Megh back because he’d push himself too much. They prepared for the one-day event for over five months.
Social life, especially on the weekends, soon vanished. Instead, Saturdays were dedicated for cycling up to Lonavala or Lavasa as his father drove close by. Cycling uphill gave strengthened his legs.
However hard he trained in Pune, his experience was going to be drastically different in Kentucky.
For example, around the 80th-kilometre mark during the cycling event, Megh started to cramp. He had no choice but to stop. That showed how the environmental change affected, even if you trained hard for the event. He sat for a whole 47 minutes by the side of Kentucky road, hoping to recover energy as soon as possible.
However, overcoming the brief incident, Thakar managed to finally complete the race in about 13 hours and 15 minutes. That feat made him India’s youngest ever individual to compete and complete the Ironman Triathlon.