For Head Constable Shankar Uthale, the past few days have been hectic but wonderful. The 39-year-old has been busy responding to congratulatory messages not only from his family and friends but also from his colleagues who work with Palghar Police.
The policeman from Virar police station has just earned an additional title. He is now an ‘Iron Man’ after he successfully completed the gruelling Triathlon competition that was held in Malaysia last week. Uthale completed the race – 3.8 km swimming, 180.2 km cycling, 42.2 km running in 16 hours and 15 minutes, making him the first police constable in India to achieve the feat.
It all started in 2016, when he checked his weight for the first time after a long gap of years. “I was shocked to realise that I weigh 91 kg. It was all because of my sedentary lifestyle. I then decided to do something about it,” he told InUth.
Initially, it wasn’t easy for him. “When I ran for the first time, I couldn’t even cover 500 metres. I got so exhausted,” he said. But that didn’t demotivate him from pushing his limits and he continued to run. Soon, he developed an interest in it after which he later joined a runners’ group. It was then when he explored the idea of taking part in marathons.
From marathons, he switched to cycling and swimming. In the year 2017-18, he successfully completed an Audax India Randonneurs event where the participants are expected to cycle 1500 km in four separate events (200 km – 300 -km – 400 km – 600 km). It was then when his friends suggested him to try Triathlon which he was unaware of. “I didn’t know much about it except the fact that two senior police officers have bagged the title in the past,” he said.
To take part in a Triathlon event, participants must first undergo training for months. They are required to complete the entire race within 17 hours without breaks thus making it one of the toughest single-day sporting event. Triathlon became popular in India in 2o15 after model-turned-actor Milnd Soman completed the race in 15 hours and 19 minutes at the age of 50.
Uthale trained for eight months, six days a week. He used to wake up every day at 5 in the morning. Even in his office, he used to take out time for skipping. “It was extremely difficult to manage it with work but I was determined to do it,” he said.
From getting information about the perfect training regime to chalking out diet plans, Uthale had to completely depend on the internet. As per his own admission, Uthale used to drink 15 teacups in a day. “I didn’t follow any strict diet but I made it a point to only have home cooked food. There was a special focus on boiled chicken and green salad. Junk food and tea were strictly off my diet,” he said.
Interestingly, he never was active in any form of sports. Apart from training during the police recruitment, he doesn’t remember being a part of any outdoor physical activity except farming. “I used to work a lot in the fields since I belong to a farmer’s family. That might have helped,” he said.
In the last two years, Uthale has lost around 30 kilograms. He is now a hero among his colleagues and seniors who have been his support system. “Policemen aren’t able to take care of their health because of erratic working hours. But it is important for them to at least take out an hour every day for their fitness,” he said.