Bangalore witnessed the first event of its kind in India on the 14th of June, a duathlon! Runners for Life (RFL), an organisation dedicated to runners and running, partnered with Ride a Cycle foundation, a non-profit organization which encourages cycling as a form of recreation, sport and a means to commute to work. A duathlon is an athletic event that consists of a running leg, followed by a cycling leg and then another running leg.
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Many of the city’s seasoned as well as first time runners along with cyclists were gathered at the Inventure Academy, an international day school off Sarjapur road. For someone like me who battled Sunday morning sleep and managed to reach Inventure Academy on time, the sheer spirit of the event and the lovely weather was a pleasant wake up call. About 320 participants ran and cycled in either of the two loops of the event which started around 7 AM. The loops include a 10k run plus 20k cycling and a 5k run plus 10k cycling. (k stands for kilometres)
The event’s chief guest was the Commissioner of Transport and Road safety, Bhaskar Rao, who is an avid runner and cyclist. He has cycled five times from Bangalore to Mysore!
There was an eclectic mix of participants. There were veterans who had run in the Sunfeast 10k run, Bangalore marathons and so on, and then there were participants who promoted the spirit of healthy living by saying no to motored vehicles. There were people from many age groups, youngest being a 7 year old boy. B R Janardhan, the oldest at 76, had cycled to Inventure Academy from New BEL road, to be a part of this event. He cycled from 3:45 in the morning to reach the venue.
Sharanya Ramprakash, Public Relation Representative from RFL said that the response was excellent, and provided them encouragement for conducting similar events in future. The duathlon also showcased some high end performance bikes by Italian brand Bianchi and Cannondale at the exhibition area. These “super bikes” cost anything between Rs. 15,000 to about Rs. one lakh. But does higher price mean better bike and better performance?
“May not be”, feels Sharanya, she agrees that high end bikes are meant for better performance but finally it depends on how well the cyclist knows his/her bike and is comfortable with it. The type of bike is very important opines Sudhir P who came 5th in the 5k running plus 10k cycling race in a Merida Crossway 10V. He suggests bikes should be as light as possible. Many people remove all frills from their bike (sidestand, bell, mudguards) to shave grams off their cycle. The lighter the bike, the faster you can go. Also, the thinner the tyres, the lesser the weight, the lesser the friction, so the faster they are.
Sudhir cycles daily to work and had earlier taken part in endurance cycling events (Tour of Nilgiris), marathons, the Bangalore Ultra, Bangalore Bicycling Championships and Sunfeast 10k run.
Preparing for duathlon had been quite a serious affair too. Many workshops were conducted prior to the duathlon for providing information on training and technique. Sudhir believes three to four weeks of preparation should suffice for such events.
Namit Nangia, who is the CEO of lifemojo.com, that promotes healthy lifestyle, believes that practice improves performance. He cycles on a daily basis now on his month old cycle and recommends training at different speeds for better endurance so that leg muscles get trained for varying speeds. He feels that transitioning period would be the tough task in this event. Nangia who has been running regularly, had earlier participated in Bangalore midnight marathon and Sunfeast 10k run.”I sees a trend of people adapting to running and cycling and fitness as a whole”, he says.
Leona Meng has been in Bangalore for two and a half years and has run in London prior to this. She believes the only hassle for such an event when conducted in India is battling the traffic. She came second in the 5K run plus 10k cycling and trained for about 16 weeks. Primarily a runner, she is now enthused to take her cycle out of storage and use it more often.
Most people felt that the event was well organized. Leona said that the event was superbly organized and was an enjoyable experience as a whole. Seconds Sudhir, “the event was well managed and it has become an RFL trademark now”.
Medical assistance was sponsored by Manipal Hospital. The organizers had also set up first aid stations on the track at every 1.5 kilometer with glucose, bananas, water et cetera.
Sharanya opines that events like duathlon, which club running and cycling has better appeal than individual events. She says the company is also considering organizing a triathlon as many enthusiasts have written to them asking for such an event where the third leg involves swimming.
After conducting events like Tour de Nilgiris, Ultra marathon and many endurance events, bringing runners and cycling enthusiasts together has been the motivation for RFL.
Sudhir says that if you can run, and you can cycle, you should do both! Cycling and running are complementary to each other in terms of training for events. A formal event like duathlon gives opportunity for enthusiasts who are good at both. In august, RFL is hosting a running event for corporates called “Urban Stampede”.
Among the first time runners and cyclists was Pragati Diwakar, who was happy to have finished the race and appreciated the spirit of the event. “I’d pat their back and they’d pat mine and that was very encouraging”, she adds. The audience, mainly family members of the participants, volunteers and organizers were highly supportive and cheered every participant.
Duathlon proved to be a real test of stamina and endurance. Many runners were cycling for the first time. The city’s elite, who could afford to take up running and cycling as leisure activities or hobbies constituted the majority of the participants. One hopes the events would become more inclusive in time.
The blogs for the events provide useful information for beginners and professionals including the kinds of training needed to tips on bike maintenance. Whether the motivation is saving petrol, avoiding traffic or fitness, running and cycling definitely promote a healthier lifestyle.