Anuradha Vaidyanathan, a triathlete, became the country's first Ironman woman athlete, who has received universal attention for her enduring feats on the world stage. Ironman is an extreme form of triathlon involving several hundred kilometres of cycling, running, and swimming in open waters, which not only tests the limits of the human body but also the athlete's mental strength.
At a time when girls of her age — 27 years — plan to quit the sport and settle down in life, Anu has been riding high in both sports and academics. She is also the CEO of Patent-n- Mark, an intellectual patent rights company. She recently married Ashish, a fellow-alumni from Punjab. Anu is now training in New Zealand and spoke of her plans for the hectic season ahead, in an email interview with MetroPlus. Excerpts.
How is the training going in New Zealand?
Training has been difficult due to the earthquake that struck on February 22. We were very lucky to be alive and leave for safety a week after the quake. I was slowly getting back into the groove and planning my races. A few weeks after the quake, I started a 50km run.
There was 4,200 feet of climbing on the run and we ran way up, above the clouds into some Alpine Country. I have a dream — to win an Ironman title. That dream is like a mountain, it's not going anywhere, anytime soon. I also managed to raise nearly 35,000 for the New Zealand Red Cross by reaching out to the athletic community and doing fund-raising through my training and racing.
What are the major races this season?
I am starting my campaign this year with a race in Australia, to mark the end of my training camp. I will then compete in the Continental USA in June and finish up the season with a race in Canada. I also plan to compete in Brazil, followed by a few in Asia (Taiwan, Thailand and Japan). My focus this year is just to get to competing again at the highest level by training consistently and racing often and well. I will spend the first part of the year getting ready and the second half really getting out there and racing for India.
Do share details of your fund raising run for Japan.
Other world champions and I have taken up the cause for donating the proceeds of my running this month to Japan's earthquake victims. Run for Japan (inspired by Japan's great runners) is about bringing together the global runners' community and showing solidarity and support through dedicating runs around the world to the people of Japan.
The participants cover 24,901 miles (right around the world) in 28 days with at least one run dedicated from every country in the world, and donate at least one unit of their home currency per mile run.
What keeps you in this daunting sport?
My love for triathlon was fostered in Bangalore. I started to train for an Ironman in 2005, when I resolved that only the ultimate challenge would motivate me.
I did not want to be another stereotyped Indian woman and I identified my love for triathlons in a bit of rebellion. I love this sport for the great adventure and what seems like an impossible dream. I have come further than I ever dreamt possible in a very short while and I still have “miles to go, before I sleep”.