Meet Venkat Reddy, tough and strong 15-year-old Hyderabad ‘Ironman’

Venkat Reddy of Hyderabad completed a local version of the gruelling Ironman triathlon in 15 hours 57 minutes.

ByAjay Tomar

Published Dec 04, 2022 | 2:00 PM Updated Dec 05, 2022 | 7:53 AM

Venkat Reddy Hyderabad marathon ironman runner after winning a medal.

Hyderabad-based Venkat Reddy became an “Ironman” at the age of 15.

The boy’s achievement, however, is not official. The World Triathlon Corporation (WTC), which organises the actual Ironman event, prohibits anyone aged below 18 from participating.

A triathlon, the Ironman, is considered one of the world’s most gruelling one-day sporting events. It tests the participant’s strength, stamina and will power.

The event comprises a 3.9 km swim, 180 km of cycling, topped off by a full 42-km marathon.

Venkat participated in a similar event — meeting all the parameters of the real Ironman — for fun and, more importantly, to test himself.

“It was a private event, supported by LB Nagar Runners group,” Venkat told South First.

Venkat’s feat stood out on Sunday, 27 November, when he completed the “Ironman” triathlon in 15 hours and 57 minutes.

Ironman, at last!

Venkat Reddy Hyderabad marathon and ironman runner. ied)

Venkat Reddy. (Supplied)

Most Ironman competitions mandate that an athlete must complete the triathlon in under 17 hours.

Venkat had earlier tried privately organised “Ironman” events twice.

“Two weeks ago he completed half of it and over a month ago, one-third of the competition,” the boy’s father Rajesh Reddy said.

And on 27 November, he was in his elements.

“He completed the 3.9 km swim in an hour and 22 minutes in a 25-metre pool. He cycled the required 180 km in eight hours and 10 minutes while he finished the 42-km marathon in five hours and 45 minutes. The total time was around fifteen hours and 57 minutes, including the transition period (the off-time between the three segments),” Rajesh claimed.

He added that Venkat had a sound sleep before the event. “Even during the transition period, he took five-ten minutes nap and ate curd rice,” he added.

“Venkat performed fantastically. He finished swimming and cycling with ease. But the heat and humidity affected him while running. The whole LB Nagar Runners’ Group joined the run in his support,” Venkat Ankam, co-founder of LB Nagar Runners’ Group, recalled.

He added that it was Venkat’s idea to complete the “Ironman” since he could not make it in his previous attempts.

“Honestly, we all thought he wouldn’t complete the race within the stipulated time. So I suggested he forget about time since it’s not an official event and focus on completing the race. But he picked up as soon as the weather changed,” Ankam said.

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Family of fitness freaks

Venkat Reddy Hyderabad marathon and ironman runner at the Sri Aurobindo memorial run from Warangal to Hyderabad in August 2022.

Venkat Reddy participated in the 150-km marathon held as part of Sri Aurobindo birth anniversary celebrations in August 2022. (Supplied)

Venkat, initially, used to run with his friends in the locality just to maintain fitness, before it turned into a habit.

“Venkat was around four-five years when he started running. Earlier, I did not know he was running long distances such as 10 km. As soon as he told me (around the age of eight), I took him to a doctor for a full-body check-up. The doctor assured me that he was fine. So we allowed him to run,” Rajesh told South First.

And it’s not just him. While his father Rajesh has been cycling long distances and is a part of the city-based Randonneurs Group, his sister Bhuvana Reddy, 13, is also a long-distance runner.

“She has run four 10-km races in the past month, including the Vijayawada half-marathon,” the proud father said.

Venkat’s first official event was in 2016, at the Police Martyrs Memorial run. “He completed 10 km in 55 minutes. Since then he has run around 40 to 50 long-distance races, including full marathons,” Rajesh added.

Venkat Reddy Hyderabad marathon and ironman runner felicitated after completing the Sri Aurobindo memorial run. d)

Venkat Reddy was felicitated after the Sri Aurobindo memorial run. (Supplied)

The boy has been a member of the LB Nagar Runners’ Group (founded in 2011) since 2018. The collective is a sub-group of the Hyderabad Runners’ Group.

Venkat has also completed the 150-km Warangal to Hyderabad marathon organised as part of the 150th birth anniversary celebrations of Sri Aurobindo.

‘Physique like East-African runners’

The Class 11 student at the National Institute of Open Learning (NIOS), practices three times a day.

Venkat Reddy Hyderabad marathon runner during the swimming event of Ironman.

Venkat Reddy during the swimming segment of the triathlon. (Supplied)

“The open school gives me more time to practice. In the morning, I practice running, then yoga and some core exercises in the afternoon and swimming or cycling in the evening,” he said.

“He is very particular about practice, and is committed and comes every morning to Shilparaman Nagole where we run. He is suited for marathons and long-distance running,” Ankam, himself an ultramarathon runner, told South First.

Rajesh compared Venkat’s physique to that of the legendary East African long-distance runners. “His body is very slim with long tendons and elastic calf with a solid core. No matter how much he eats, he does not gain weight,” he pointed out.

Venkat, a resident of the Nagole area in Hyderabad, idolises veteran Kenyan marathon runner and four-time Olympic medalist Eliud Kipchoge.

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Competition is not on his mind

Venkat Reddy Hyderabad marathon and Ironman runner during his time at the Khardung La pass in Leh Ladakh.

Venkat Reddy during his time at the Khardung La, north of Leh. (Supplied)

Venkat underwent high-altitude training in Leh, Ladakh, in September this year. Despite depleted oxygen levels, he ran the 72-km Khardung La Challenge.

“He competed on his own since the organisers did not let him participate as the age limit was 20,” Rajesh said.

“My time in Ladakh helped me during the ‘Ironman’. I could cope up with the chilly morning while swimming,” Venkat quipped.

Venkat Reddy Hyderabad marathon runner while cycling at the Ironman event.

Venkat Reddy cycling during the “Ironman” event. (Supplied)

However, he has never participated in any events organised by the Telangana State Sports Department.

“He is not planning to take part in any tournament. Representing the country is also not on his mind right now,” Rajesh said.

The teenager enjoys solving Rubik’s Cube in his free time and is interested in becoming a lawyer.

“He solves Rubik’s Cube in under 20 seconds. His favourite subject is an introduction to law in the class,” Rajesh said.

He added that the idea of competition might not allow him to enjoy running. “We also do not put him under any pressure as we think he is doing this as there are no expectations from him,” Rajesh said.

Venkat has three more years ahead to officially compete in marathons.