Thirty-four-year-old Puneite Kaustubh Radkar could never have imagined that he would be diagnosed with asthma. Kaustubh is a sportsman, you see. A swimmer since the age of nine, Kaustubh ran his first marathon in 2006 – the New York City Marathon. Since then, his journey as a runner hasn’t been easy. As a former national-level swimmer, he received constant support and encouragement from his parents in Pune. In 2008, he took part in the Ironman triathlon (3.8 km swim, 180 km cycle, 42.2 km marathon) – one of the toughest sporting event in the word – in Arizona, USA, and was the first Indian to successfully do so. Over the course of eight years, he has successfully completed 16 Ironman triathlons across six continents in the world. It is no surprise then that he is India’s poster boy for Ironman triathlon.
Kaustubh has a Masters in cardiovascular physiology, an MBA, and a PhD in Healthcare Management of Chronic Diseases from the USA. He practises sports medicine and looks after the rehabilitation of cancer, and heart attack patients. Seven years ago, this Ironman champion was diagnosed with asthma, a disorder of the lungs, which makes breathing difficult making it difficult to indulge in rigorous sports.
“I was participating in Ironman Canada,” he says, “I swam fairly well, and cycled for only a few kilometres. For the first time, I was falling short of breath. At one point while cycling, I had to stop just to regain my breath, but I just couldn’t. Every breath I took was accompanied by a noise. After cycling, I felt breathless when I started my run. I later went for a check-up and I found out that I had asthma.”
But being asthmatic doesn’t dent his spirits. He continues to run marathons and participate in the Ironman events year after year. In 2014, 2015, and 2016, he participated in three Ironman events in each year. Come Sunday, January 15, 2017, Kaustubh will participate in the Mumbai Marathon for the third consecutive year.
From a realistic point of view, how does Kaustubh manage participating in sports, given his condition? Recently, he had a major asthma attack due to an allergy triggered from food. However, Kaustubh knows what causes him an allergy and what sort of food he should avoid. “I have to be careful with what I eat, and I do not compromise on my food or diet,” he says. His asthma is generally manageable. It worsens if he is exposed to smoke. Kaustubh also takes precautions. “Every time I go for a swim, run, or for cycling, I carry the inhaler with myself. I keep it in my cycle pad for the Ironman, or in my pocket while running the marathon.”
Besides being a doctor and an avid sportsman, Kaustubh also runs a clinic in Pune where he trains middle-aged persons for triathlons and the Ironman. He trains youngsters and middle-aged men and women in his academy – the RadStrong Coaching. He has also trained celebrities like Sonali Kulkarni and Girija Oak.
Kaustubh says that the biggest takeaway from the Mumbai Marathon that Mumbai is a tough course. People who don’t give the course that respect, don’t have a good race. The weather in Mumbai is interesting as well. He says, “If you don’t hydrate well and start slow it’s going to hit you.”