Pune’s Anjali Bhalinge completes Ironman to celebrate birthday – Hindustan Times

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City’s adventure enthusiast Anjali Bhalinge celebrated her 50th year in a unique way. Known for her passion for swimming and cycling, Anjali decided to gift herself an Ironman medal for being 50. 
Ironman is an international triathlon event which includes a 3.8-km swim, 180-km cycling and a 42.2-km run, which has to be completed within the time limit. Anjali participated in the 50-54 category and finished the event in 14 hours, 52 minutes and 26 seconds. She took 2.06 hours for swimming, 7.13 hours for cycling and 5.09 hours for the running event and was placed 18th at the event. 
“I feel it’s about your passion and training. If I can finish an Ironman at this age, I believe any women in our country can do it. They just need to push themselves a little harder and I would love to see an increase in the number of Indian women participating in such events,” she said. 
Anjali, who turned 50 in November 2016, was eager to add the coveted Ironman title to her collection of medals that she earned at several endurance events. With proper planning and training, she managed to grab the medal in Vichy, France on August 27. She became the second lady from Pune to finish the Ironman event. Last year, city’s Saloni Pathaniya had also earned the medal. However, in the above-50 class, Anjali is the first women to finish this challenging task. 
“Though I was participating in the event for the first time, I had the experience of completing several endurance events. So I was mentally and physically prepared. The terrain was challenging, but the weather was good. It was summer season in France, which is the most suitable weather condition for Indian athletes. As it was my first time at the event, I wasn’t bothered about the timing and wanted to finish ahead of the cut-off timing only, which I did comfortably,” she said. 
Talking about her preparations, she said, “Ahead of my event, it was necessary to eat well and rest enough. So I enjoyed Salmon and meat for protein and carb loaded with French bread along with berries. A day before the event, I strolled by the river to see the swim loops, walked in the park and on the bridges to check the run route.” 
“What I liked the most was the enthusiasm of the locals. They were so proud of the event, so much so that everyone was out on the roads to cheer the participants. It was quite encouraging,” she said. 
Anjali has won several cycle races in Pune, Mumbai, Thane, Rajasthan, UP and Karnataka. Last year, she impressed everyone by participating and winning a men’s event in hybrid class, a 100-km cycle race, in Pune. She had covered the 100-km distance in 3 hours 08 minutes, while second-placed rider Kirit Kokje clocked 3 hours 24 minutes. 
“Multiple Ironman finisher Kaustubh Radkar helped me train. He had faith in me and was always there to guide me. I don’t think I would have thought of attempting this had we not cycled together in 2010. Yogesh Almale altered his training runs to help me with my long runs. Raman Agrawal of Merida India EAS also sponsored an awesome bike to me, Merida Scultura 5,000. Fast&Up India provided me with the essential nutrition throughout my training and Nitin Dhavale kept my fitness level high by implementing a regular fitness routine. It is because of these people that I managed to complete the event,” she said. 
“Most importantly, it was my husband Nitin’s support. He knew that I was eager for an Ironman title and planned the entire thing for me. My daughter, Pooja, came all the way from US for my event,” Anjali added.


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