Retired Major General Vikram Dogra, the first army man to successfully complete an Ironman triathlon, beat his own record at the gruelling event in Germany on July 28.Dogra, 59, beat his earlier record by 41 minutes in his second appearance at the triathlon which was held in Hamburg.In July 2018, Dogra had participated in the Ironman triathlon event, held in Klagenfurt in Austria, for the first time in his career while he was still a serving officer in the Indian Army. He had completed the triathlon in 14 hours and 21 minutes.The Hamburg Ironman triathlon comprised three loops -- a swim of 3.86 km, a cycling event of 184 km and a run of 42.2 km. It had to be completed without a break within a maximum time limit of 15 hours and 50 minutes.A total number of 2,700 athletes from across 70 countries took part in the Ironman triathlon this year.Speaking to IANS from Cologne, France, where he is on a vacation after the gruelling competition, Dogra said that the swimming event that had been organised in Lake Alster was the most difficult of all three loops."The lake was not clean. The water was full of algae and almost black in appearance. There were pieces of algae floating all around. Lot of athletes lost their way in the first loop itself. The cycling event was equally challenging as it was a hot day with a windspeed of around 40 kmph. We had to pedal against the wind most of the time through the circuitous route," said Dogra.
The Hamburg triathlon was tougher than the event that had been held in Austria last year. The time limit set upon athletes for completing the triathlon in Austria in 2018 was 17 hours. In Hamburg this year it was 15 hours and 50 minutes."The running event in Hamburg was the most well organised amongst the three loops. It was in a shaded area," he said.Dogra said preparation for the triathlon this year was mostly indoors due to the high level of pollution, heat and traffic in the national capital where he lives. He went for outdoor cycling only on six occasions wherein he used the Noida-Greater Noida expressway. Running activities were mostly undertaken in the Nehru Park in central Delhi.During his 37 years of service in the Indian Army, Dogra has been an avid sportsperson, who indulged in various outdoor games like badminton and squash. He was introduced to the triathlon in the year 2013 when a private company organised a beginner's version of the event for the first time in NCR in Faridabad. He subsequently switched to more challenging versions of the event.Dogra was commissioned into the Poona Horse regiment of the Armoured Corps of Indian Army in the year 1981 after completing his training at the National Defence Academy. He had won the Sword of Honour and the President's Gold Medal after being judged the Gentleman Cadet at the end of a one-year programme at the Indian Military Academy in 1981.