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Toughest Race in the World:Meet the Indians Who’ve Conquered the Ultraman Challenge

The Ultraman is one of the most elite events in the world, held on an invite-only basis.

A three-day, 515 km multisport race. 10 km of open-water swimming, 421 km cross-country cycling and an 84 km ultra-marathon run, makes up the “Ultraman” a multisport race modelled on the one held annually in Hawaii.

The first day, you swim and cover 140 km on the bike, on day 2, you bike another 280.1 km, and on the third day, you complete the double marathon. What’s more, each stage has to be completed in 12 hours or less.

The Ultraman, spread over 3 days, has contestants bike, swim and run over huge distances. Image Credit: Arunaabh Shah, Dr Kaustubh Radkar & Danielle (Wikimedia Commons)
The Ultraman, spread over 3 days, has contestants bike, swim and run over huge distances. Image Credit: Arunaabh Shah, Dr Kaustubh Radkar & Danielle (Wikimedia Commons)

Reading the above numbers and figures would make regular people recoil in pain and fright, yet some athletes crave the pain and subsequent glory, that Ultraman events bring them. What’s more, the Ultraman is an invite-only event; you can’t walk up and take part in it.

Pushing yourself to the extreme, to discover physical and mental abilities you never knew existed, breaks you down and builds you up a whole new person. Ultraman enthusiasts are a special breed indeed and these athletes from India, who participated in the various Ultraman events over time, prove that point.

1) Milind Soman:

Milind Soman, who has the distinction of being the only barefoot participant at the Ultraman. Image Credit: Milind Soman
Milind Soman, who has the distinction of being the only barefoot participant at the Ultraman. Image Credit: Milind Soman

Milind Soman needs no introduction. He bagged the title after participating in the 2017 Ultraman Florida, and completed the entire event barefoot, becoming the only athlete to do so. Soman finished 41st in the race and completed it in 34 hours and 46 minutes. He was one of the five Indians who participated in the Florida event.

2) Anshul Agarwal:
Before participating in the Ultraman Australia, Anshul eased into the training—starting with running and then taking up cycling, before mastering swimming.

Anshul’s training would range from cycling from one city to another, to swimming kilometres trying to master his technique. A strict diet, consisting of dry fruits, vegetables and other nutritious items, fuelled him and were probably what gave him the edge when it came to the Ultraman event.

3) Dr Kaustubh Radkar:

Dr Kaustubh Radkar, who had the fastest time among Indians, at the Ultraman Florida. Image credit: Dr Kaustubh Radkar
Dr Kaustubh Radkar, who had the fastest time among Indians, at the Ultraman Florida. Image credit: Dr Kaustubh Radkar

This 20-time Ironman finisher completed the Ultraman Florida in 31 hours and 29 minutes (the fastest timing among Indians). Dr Radkar was a national-level swimming champion during his youth, and while cycling and running were alien to him, he practised hard and left no stone unturned during his training sessions.

4) Bipin Kaul:
Juggling his job, that involved extensive travelling, and his other pursuits, this 41-year-old senior banker always made sure that he had time to train for the Ultraman Australia. Kaul is a seasoned cyclist, who has completed the Paris-Brest-Paris 2015, a 1,200 km cycling event in France. He cycles from Gurugram to Connaught Place, in Delhi, before working out, changing and then attending a whole day at work!

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5) Anu Vaidyanathan:

Anu Vaidyanathan, who has the distinction of being the first person from India to bag the Ultraman title. Image Credit: Abode
Anu Vaidyanathan, who has the distinction of being the first person from India to bag the Ultraman title. Image Credit: Abode

Bengaluru-native Anuradha “Anu” Vaidyanathan is a true inspiration. She has the distinction of being the first Indian athlete, to take part in the Ultraman event, and the first Asian woman to complete the Ultraman Canada. Anu is a PhD in Electrical Engineering, from UC Canterbury—she completed the program in a record 26 months. Anu snuck into swimming pools in private society properties and cycled before dawn—all in pursuit of her Ultraman dreams.

6) Shubham Kajale:
This 20-year-old student from Pune finished 36th in the Ultraman Australia—his first—and completed it in 31 hours, 32 minutes and 7 seconds. Shubham completed the Ironman Australia when he was 18 and claims that he was practising for it while he was still in school. The second year BCom student of SP College, Shubham loves adventure sports, and credits his teacher, for mentioning and igniting the spark in him.

7) Abhishek Mishra:

Abhishek Mishra, who quit the corporate life, to follow endurance sports. Image Credit: Abhishek Mishra
Abhishek Mishra, who quit the corporate life, to follow endurance sports. Image Credit:Abhishek Mishra, who quit the corporate life, to follow endurance sports. Image Credit: Abhishek Mishra

Gurgaon’s Abhishek Mishra was a regular corporate employee, who decided to quit his job in 2011 and pursue endurance sports. Hard work followed, and so did success. He won the Ironman title, after which he decided to try the Ultraman Florida. Interestingly, Abhishek has also participated in ‘Run the Rann,’ which claims to be India’s hardest trail running desert race. He is a motivational speaker and has set up a company which organises long-distance running events across the country.

8) Manmadh Rebba:
The only Ultraman from South India, the alumnus of the Jawaharlal Nehru Architecture and Fine Arts University, was among the 5 Indians who took part in the Florida event, and his third-day double marathon timing in Florida was the fastest for that segment. He finished the Ultraman Florida, in 31 hours and 43 minutes. Incidentally, Manmadh is one of the designers of the Hyderabad International Airport.

9) Arunaabh Shah:

Arunaabh Shah, from Pune, who happens to be a national-level pro swimmer. Image Credit: Arunaabh Shah
Arunaabh Shah, from Pune, who happens to be a national-level pro swimmer. Image Credit: Arunaabh Shah

He happens to be the first Indian male Ultraman, and has an impressive athletic profile. He has completed seven half-iron distance triathlons, in seven consecutive days.

A national-level pro swimmer, he braved injuries to continue training to be fit enough to participate in the Ultraman. When he finally did take part, he went through the event and emerged triumphant, achieving his goal of being someone who would “change the perspective of the world towards Indians.”

10) Krishna Prakash:
He is the country’s first civil servant, to bag the coveted Ultraman title, at the Ultraman Florida. The IPS officer dedicated his race to “Bharat Ke Veer,” an initiative to financially help families of India’s martyrs. For him, the Ultraman title becomes extra special, as he had suffered a major fracture in November last year, while participating in the Deccan Cliffhanger Race, from Pune to Goa. Despite several warnings from doctors, he decided to go ahead with training and was vindicated, when he completed the Florida Ultraman.


You may also like:- MY STORY: Journey of Becoming the First Indian Man to Finish an Ultraman


The Ultraman is a very prestigious event, and completing it within the allocated time is a feat in itself. Kudos to these athletes for being an inspiration to millions, in India and around the world.

(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)

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