The dynamic Inspector General of Police from Maharashtra Krishna Prakash, who had earlier become the first uniformed service officer in military, naval, air-force and paramilitary forces to win the ‘Ultraman’ title in Australia, now has yet another record to his credit. He has become the first Indian national to finish the US Race Across the West (RAW), a 1500 km cycle race which starts in California and crosses four states in the country, exploring a diversity of terrain and climates.
"Competitors had to finish the RAW race in 92 hours but I did it in 88 hours," said Prakash, adding, "I went into the event hoping to become the first ever Indian to finish the cycling race. I never imagined I would get a ranking." The open category had competitors of age 18 to 50 years, which meant Prakash was competing with men much younger to him.
"This is considered the world's toughest cycling course. Like any endurance event, physical fitness is a must, but it also needs vast reserves of mental strength. It begins in California and then it’s nearly four days on the road. After leaving the beach of Oceanside, I climbed the coastal range and dropped into the scorching, arid and bone-dry desert of Arizona-Utah, where temperatures ranged from 48 to 50 degrees Celsius," said Prakash.
RAW has been promoted as one of the toughest cycle races in the world, and rightly so. It tests the endurance of the participants like no other. Krishna Prakash had completed the Deccan Cliffhanger, a 646 km race from Pune to Goa, in 31 hours and 51 minutes. However, as one of the top-ranked officials in the Indian Police Services, Krishna Prakash had a mere tenth of this mileage. Asked how he managed to practise and prepare despite his demanding job, he said “Every day I started my practice at 3 am for five hours before I went to work. I made use of public holidays and my weekly days off for overnight long-distance cycling practice”, says Krishna Prakash.
Speaking about his support team, Prakash said, "I couldn't have completed this without them. I used to sleep for a few hours on the road. I would unfurl my sleeping bag near a gas station or somewhere else and catch up on some sleep through the course. The first day I cycled 495 km, the second day I fell short and did 315 km. I had fleeting doubts if I would finish the race, but then I told myself never to quit. I increased my cycling speed to make up for it. On Day 3 I was sleep deprived. I had no clue that I was in line for a ranking. I actually got off my bike and slept on the side of the road for an hour as I was nearing the finishing line. I wanted to rest. If I knew that I could have made it to the third place, then I would have carried on cycling."
Prakash said several foods and drinks gave him the necessary fuel. "Plenty of Electral in the desert-like conditions of Arizona-Utah. I also drank Ensure, a calorie-dense food, and also had oranges, strawberries, bananas and watermelon. I also ate a sweet potato and regular potato. One of my power foods was coffee-flavoured Lindt chocolate."