Joy Gurung, resident of Dentam West Sikkim and a sub-inspector at Pakyong Police Station has qualified for a slot in the Ironman 70.3 World Championships 2020, one of the toughest endurance events in the world. The pride is not even in winning the contest, but having dedicated one’s time and energy to the rigorous training regime prior to it and completing the course no matter how long one takes to finish it.
More than mastering the three events – swimming (often in the sea), cycling and long-distance running, triathlons are about pushing boundaries.
After coming in 5th at Ironman 70.3 at Langkawi Malaysia in the Male 25-29 age group category, having competed with hundreds of other strong athletes. He finished 1.9 km swimming in 39 minutes and 42 seconds, 90km cycling in 2 hours 44 minutes and 16 seconds and 21.1km running in 2 hours 4 minutes and 25 seconds, making his finish record at 5hrs 34 mins and 43 seconds, establishing him as one of the leading triathletes of the nation. The win has also increased his Asian ranking.
Last year in May, he stood 194th, out of 1,113 participants, overall in the Ironman 70.3 held in Danang, Vietnam. He completed 2km swimming in 44 minutes and 13 seconds, 90 km cycling in 2 hours 40 minutes and 36 seconds and the 21 km half-marathon in 2 hours 5 minutes and 2 seconds, finishing the event in a total of 5 hours 35 minutes and 34 seconds.
This will be Gurung’s third triathlon, having taken part in his first one at Phuket, Thailand on October 2017. As someone with a government job, training sessions require more concentration than the average person’s exercise routine. “It is very difficult to take up sports professionally but I am working hard to keep up my training and balance my career as well. I have to continuously train for 14 to 15 hours a week. The Police Department and the government has been supportive”, he says. “Every time the experience is new. Triathlon challenges the athlete mentally and physically and with each experience, I learn more about my mental strength and endurance”.
Speaking to SC, he recounts that in his childhood, he would watch videos of professional swimmers and followed sportspeople like Michael Phelps and Ian Thorpe, with a dream to pursue sports in the future but soon his priority became finishing his education and finding a job. “Then, a few years back I started wondering about my dream to become a sportsperson. I began to renew my inspiration. It was during this period that I learnt of IRONMAN Triathlon from two people Mr Yogesh Gurung and Mr Wangchuk Lama. They had also previously participated in the event and finished it.
My first triathlon was in Phuket, Thailand and since then I have loved the game. I made a pledge to myself to qualify for the Championships and this year I have finally been able to achieve my goal. I hope to make my state and my country proud. Renewing my love for sports has helped me to improve my mind and body.”
Currently, India has one of the biggest numbers of participants in the Ironman 70.3 events, apart from being one of the most daunting physical endurance contests in the world, it is also one of the most expensive. If one takes into account the diet, training and tickets to the locations these trials occur at and then adds the registration fee (which are sometimes above INR 30,000) it takes a giant chunk out of people’s savings. But Gurung is hopeful that the event will garner fame soon enough. “Triathlon is a new event for Sikkim. It is slowly gaining popularity. I am sure the Government will take a positive step to support triathlon in future.”
The Ironman world championship will be held in Taupo, New Zealand.