Athletics

Love for running and rasam rice

READY TO RUN: Ultraman Abhishek Mishra   | Photo Credit: S. James

Abhishek Mishra rolls up his tracks to show his hardened shin and calf. The 34-year-old just did a double marathon in Bangalore last weekend and can hardly wait for an upcoming half-Iron event. “My legs are swollen, but my body has now learnt to recover quickly. Sprains, ligament ruptures and muscle cramps have become common for me,” he says. For someone, who has successfully conquered two Ironman Titles and the Ultraman Florida, injuries are hardly any digression from the goal. Be it while scaling Florida’s second highest peak, the Sugarloaf mountain, on Day Two of the Ultraman or limping for 17 kms to the finishing line of the gruelling challenge, Mishra fought it with grit and spirit.

Love for running and rasam rice

“During the final run of 84 kms in 12 hours, I met with an accident hurting my ankles and jaw. But I remembered the words of my friend and mentor Milind Soman, who told me at the start if I complete Ultraman, many aspiring average Indians would identify with me and take it as an inspiration. I remembered the thousands of wishes we received on our Facebook page and I imagined carrying the Tricolour at the finish line,” recalls Mishra. “That egged me on.” With duck tapes and crepe bandages holding his torn ligaments together, he managed to cover the remaining distance in the stipulated time to finally win the title.

Love for running and rasam rice

Mishra quit a corporate job in 2011 and took up running as passion. “The sport bug continued to bite me after I ran my first marathon,” he says. Ever since there has been no looking back. In less than a decade, he has participated in several marathons and long distance endurance sport events.

After winning his first Ironman in Spain, he signed up for the second one in South Africa in April 2016. It was then while Mishra was standing on the shores of Port Elizabeth, ready to take the leap into the choppy ocean that he suddenly got a mail on the phone. “I had applied for Ultraman before going for the second Ironman challenge. And I got the invitation when I was least expecting it,” says Mishra, excitement still ringing in his voice. “I read the mail half-a-dozen times gleefully, totally forgetting the task in front of me. In less than a minute, I was fighting the waves, struggling to swim 3.8 kms.”

Love for running and rasam rice

Mishra calls this experience as unhealthy pride vs. healthy confidence. “I became complacent and didn't train properly for the second Ironman title. Though I managed to win, I had to really struggle. My learnings and experiences as an endurance sportsman is being brought out as a book by sports journalist G Rajaraman,” he says. “I had eight months to train for Ultraman. I knew my forte was running and I was fairly good at cycling. However swimming was my weak point and I trained regularly in pools, though the real task was to take place in a lake or the sea.”

Love for running and rasam rice

In February 2017, Mishra was one among the four Indians including Soman, who swam a distance of 10 kms in the alligator infested Orlando lake in Florida. After finishing it in six hours, Mishra cycled 150 kms in traffic in the next six hours, completing the task successfully. “The following day was cycling on rolling terrain for 275 kms and it was extremely taxing. However, I managed to finish it just seven minutes before the cut off time,” says Mishra.

Love for running and rasam rice

“Any athlete's life is full of unpredictable yet spirited moments. I am emotionally charged in every run” says Mishra, who narrates the experience of conquering the Run the Rann in Dholavera, Gujarat. The annual running event requires extreme fitness levels to endure the harsh and inhospitable landscape of Rann of Kutch. “I was seeing only salt deserts for hundreds of kilometres and had to navigate thorny pathways. It made me realise the colours of life and I was thankful at the end of the event.” “Once on a half-iron event in Chennai, my skin started peeling off due to the scorching Sun. There are many such instances and experiences that hardens you, prepares your mind and body, stretches your ability and endurance power. That's why I like endurance sports.”

Love for running and rasam rice

After a slew of fêtes, ,Mishra set up Tabono Sports, which organises long distance running events across the country. He's also a motivational speaker, visiting institutions regularly. For the past three years on the last two days of December, he and Milind have been jointly organising 150K-runs. “The idea is to tell people that it's doable. We are aiming to promote running as a healthy lifestyle among city dwellers. India's urban population is increasingly leading a sedentary life and are prone to lifestyle diseases. We want to pull people out of their homes and make them run even for a few hundred metres.”

“Running is a preventive healthcare. I haven't fallen sick even once in the past eight years. I believe, running is a philosophy. It brings in behavioural changes, leading to spiritual, mental, emotional and physical well being,” says Mishra, a vegetarian. “I eat around three kilos of seasonal fruits every morning and live on ghar ka khana. Simple home cooked food is the healthiest and my favourite is rasam rice. I haven’t touched sweets made of refined sugar and stayed off oily and fried food for years together now.”

Tabono Sports along with HCL has planned to organise a 10k run in Madurai in September. “In metro cities, the awareness levels are high and there are lot of people who run daily. We are targeting tier-II towns to build the culture of running and the Madurai event is part of it,” says Mishra.

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Printable version | Apr 20, 2021 4:49:01 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/athletics/a-two-time-ironman-title-winner-abhishek-mishra-has-also-completed-the-ultraman-florida-this-year-the-celebrated-marathoner-will-soon-be-organising-a-10k-run-in-madurai/article19409055.ece

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