The city’s amateur athletes are spending weeks and sometimes months in training for endurance sports

Two months ago, the city hosted over a hundred people who had come from all parts of the country to take part in the Hyderabad Triathlon. Organised by the Great Hyderabad Adventure Club, the fourth edition of the triathlon had over 600 athletes, with 75 per cent local participation — more than double of last year’s numbers and ten times more than when they first began in 2011. Whether a marathon, a long distance cycle ride or a triathlon, these sports are high on intensity and will often put your body to the test.What makes the sport so popular despite the fact that it requires rigorous training and ounces of commitment?

Deepam Morparia, a triathlete and organiser of the Hyderabad Triathlon, says people usually start with fitness in mind and gradually get more serious. “They might start just running marathons or cycling long distances and eventually start training for the triathlon as well,” he says. The Hyderabad Triathlon has events of different intensity and is open to ‘age-groupers’ or amateurs who contest according to their age-group. “But we have noticed an improvement in our participants and people who have been participating in the triathlon since the first year, have moved to higher difficulty levels with each event, which means that they have been training,” says Deepam.

The challenge

To the 40-year-old IT professional Sunil Menon, it is not about winning but completing the race. “ It’s not an easy event and the sense of accomplishment you get after finishing it is what draws me to it,” says Sunil who started only a few years ago but has since completed Ironman triathlons (3.86 km swim, 180.25 km cycle, 42.2 km run)in Sri Lanka, Zurich and soon, South Africa.

“Unlike football and cricket, this is an endurance sport so the focus is on individual performance and the hardest race is the one against yourself,” says Taroon Bali, 28, a resident of Mumbai, who finished fastest in the Sprint Triathlon, a shorter race. The Hyderabad Triathlon was Taroon’s first race and he has since travelled to Bangalore for another one last weekend. Lakshman Reddy, an educationist, who will turn 69 in March, says he runs to inspire his students to do the same. “Besides, I have no blood pressure, or diabetes or any such conditions,” he adds.

The extra mile

However, the sense of accomplishment does not come easy, “Triathlon is different from just running or cycling as you need to train not only different muscles for the different sports, but also train them to adapt quickly between them. The first time I ran immediately after cycling, my legs were incredibly painful, but with repeated practice it becomes much easier. The hardest steps for training are the first ones from the bedroom to the front door, assuming you can make those, then the rest is easy!,” says Richard McDowell, a design manager at an MNC, who developed an interest in the sport after moving to Hyderabad four years ago. Richard has since taken part in triathlons across the globe including Abu Dhabi, Switzerland, Indonesia and USA.

However, Sunil and Richard don’t consider themselves professionals yet. “The reality is that I am very new to this sport, and I’m not good enough to be a pro, and had I wanted to be one, I should have started training seriously about 15 years ago,” says Richard, shedding light on what it takes to excel in a sport like this. Besides, training and travel also costs time and money.

Triathlons and marathons have sparked an interest among many individuals and groups in the city who sign up for these events, many with minimum or no training.

To some it is a way to test their limits; others see it as a way to bond with friends. Some see it as a fun way to stay fit, there are those who enjoy training more than the actual race itself, while many simply think it’s a good way to spend their weekends.