Palava resident Arijeet Mukherjee, completes his first Ironman in Kazakhstan.

A candid and an inspiring tete- a- tete with the athelete

Tell us about your first tryst with fitness
It began with a health scare while I was in the United States of America. At 30, after a routine medical check-up, I was diagnosed with high blood pressure and high cholesterol. It was an alarm bell to watch my lifestyle and mend my ways, so I began to run/jog regularly. It started with 2 -3 km per day.

When did fitness become a passion?
It began at Palava! I returned to India and moved to Palava in 2014. The vast open and green spaces the city offers helped me continue my usual 5 km run. Cut to 2016, I met some residents who are ace runners and they made me join the Palava Runners Group. Under their guidance, I could train better, improve my form and speed, and complete my first Vasai Virar Full Marathon (42 km) in 4 hours and 7 minutes.

Later, I was introduced to the Palava Cycling Club. Under the watchful guidance of Manoj an ace cyclist in the club, I completed 200 km, 300 km, 400 km and 600 km ride within a year and was honoured with the title ‘Super Randonneur.’

In 2019, along with some of the members of the Palava Runners Club and Palava Cycling Club I decided to learn swimming and joined the in-house Rupali Repale Swimming Academy at Olympic Sports Centre. Most of us, like me, had never swam before though under the patient coaching of Ravi Sopare we quickly mastered the art of cutting across the water.

It was Palava where I truly realised my love for fitness and got the opportunity to hone that passion into a skill and a professional competency. Thanks to the world-class infrastructure, great mentorship and an amazing comradeship.

A brief explanation of what exactly Ironman is all about, as many of us know it a very broad level

An Ironman Triathlon is one of a series of long-distance triathlon races organized by the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC), entails of a 3.9 km swim, a 180.2km bicycle ride and a marathon 42.2 km run completed in that order, a total of 226.3 km. It is widely regarded as one of the world’s most challenging one-day sporting competitions.

Ironman often remains a dream for many. How did you prepare for it and realise it? But before, what made you consider it?

Being a part of Palava’s running and cycling clubs, I had the mentorship of expert runners and cyclists. Under their guidance, I began venturing into ultra runs and endurance training. As a result, I completed the 100 miles Pune Ultra in 2019, 2020 and 2021.

My fitness club friends, Shivanand Kugatoli and Kunal Choksi had completed the Half Ironman distance, which was a massive inspiration for us to complete a Full Ironman. Likewise, they inspired me to register for a full Ironman, and I chose the 2020 race in Kazakhstan.

So there was never any hesitation or doubt about undertaking this mammoth task?

I never doubted my running and cycling abilities, as I could undertake any strenuous exercise and sustain it for 16 -17 hours. Swimming was my weakest link. But with Rupali Repale there to guide me, it did not seem impossible at any time! A rigorous training in the pool at the Olympic Sport’s Centre followed by swimming experience at Uran in the open waters geared me up for the 3.8km swim in open water for Ironman.

You had a Full Ironman dry run in Palava! Tell us about that!

In March 2021, Rupali Repale Swimming Academy conducted a Half Ironman Triathlon followed by a Full Ironman in June 2022. Rupali ensured that both these events replicated the actual event and detailed it accordingly; this helped gauge the time taken for transitions between swim to bike and bike to run.

The support crew included Ravindra Koli and my wife Shilpi Biswas who had helped me in the strength training. And thanks to my supportive crew of Palava Runners and Palava Cycling Club, I was always given company while I completed my swim, run and ride distances.

At Palava, we strive to provide a healthier lifestyle – right from a world-class sporting infrastructure to a professional coaching framework that provides the residents a platform to excel in their choice of sports.

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