From being overweight to finishing a triathlon: This is “Ironwoman” Payal’s story

Updated on:6 March 2020, 14:27pm IST
For Payal, running was never part of the plan. But a six-kilometre run changed her outlook towards the sport and propelled her to compete in the Ironman 70.3 distance event.
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Meet Payal who ran her first triathlon in 7 hours 50 minutes. Image courtesy: Payal Kapoor

Hi, I am Payal Kapoor. On 16th February 2020, I finished my first Ironman 70.3 distance event. For the uninitiated, this entails a 1.9 km swim, 90 km cycling, and 21.1 km run. This total of 113 kilometres needs to be completed in one go with sectional cut-offs within nine hours. I finished it all in 7 hours and 50 minutes, with an overall rank of 13th amongst 48 participants (46 of them were men).

To some, this may seem a little unimpressive–after all the man who finished first did everything in six hours. If it was 2015, I would have been unimpressed too. Because back then I was 85 kilos and had never run more than ten meters in my life. Not even as a child, not even in school.

ironman 70.3
Image courtesy: Payal Kapoor

I spent most physical education periods finding excuses to while away my time in the shade. Up until 2015, I had no idea what it takes to be an Ironman let alone becoming one.

But then, I fell in love with running
I ran the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon in 2015, where along with my husband, I finished the Dream Run of 6 kilometres, huffing and puffing. I have come a long way from them to now.

By now I have finished countless half marathons, a couple of full marathons and many triathlons–earning a few awards along the way. Yet, the sweet sense of achievement that I got on finishing that first 6 kilometres is unbeatable. This was the first time I had challenged my body and mind into doing something I could never dream of doing–running.

ironman 70.3
Image courtesy: Payal Kapoor

Five years later, weight loss is just one of the many good things that have happened. Sure I have been able to lose 25 kilos and keep them from coming back–but that’s hardly the focus now. These five years of running and gradually participating in smaller distance triathlons to Ironman 70.3 have been fulfilling.

In all these years, I have never quit a single race. Many times my body has tried to revolt–but then my mind took over. 

Also, read: Taking on triathlon, part IV: This is what race day looked like at Ironman 70.3 Goa

The 7 hours and 50 minutes it took me to complete Ironman 70.3 would not have been possible without my regimental training schedule which entails waking up daily at 4 AM. I don’t remember the last time I slept in on a Sunday–and I love it.

ironman 70.3
Image courtesy: Payal Kapoor

Honestly, I don’t even check my weight anymore–the last time I climbed atop a weighing machine was a year ago. But I know I am okay because my mind is engaged, happy, and calm. From being a person who couldn’t run 10 meters to completing 113 kilometres–I have come a long way and gained so much. A fitter body is just one of them.


  1. Dear Payal, your story is very inspirational for all of us, wish you the best for your future adventures!

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