A super-fit athlete and an incredibly fast runner, Romil Barthwal is not the usual IIT graduate you will meet. A software engineer by profession, he works with the government but on Sundays, you will find him running the longest distance run happening around him.
But then again, Romil is not just a long-distance runner. The 43-year-old takes a keen interest in trekking, mountaineering expeditions, cycling, rafting, travelling among other things. In fact, he recently achieved the highest frontier of mountaineering — Mount Everest, scaling the Himalayan heights along with his 14-member team earlier this year.
Romil has completed many half, full and ultra-marathons and even finished on the podium in an ironman event. The Bridge caught up with the IIT Kharagpur alumnus, following are excerpts:
1. How did your passion for ultra-running evolve? Where you always interested in sports?
I wanted my life to have a good portion of physical activity in it. What started as an activity to stay fit and not to gain weight soon turned out to be an addiction and slowly one thing lead to another and I was running marathons. So once runs became an integral part of my life I started having tremendous fun and slowly searched for getting a higher adrenaline rush and realised ultra marathon was my calling and I participated in ultras...
2. What does your daily training schedule look like?
Daily training mostly consists of fun runs or cycling etc. It is based on the event, I am targeting to participate and then i follow a strict training regimen. So it could be a rest day or easy/hard run. Usually 45 mins to 1h.
3. You have undertaken multiple expeditions, which has been your favourite and why?
Have done lots of expeditions and every one of them has taught me something new always.
4. Growing up, how did you balance academics and passion for sports?
During school days I used to love playing football but academics was always a priority. Later on, call it mid-life crisis sports took over and I got into running and cycling followed it up with mountaineering.
5. Did you face any challenges in your journey as a runner?
Oh yes, there were challenges at each and every step. I would get injured or reached a point of stagnation and improvements were not happening. The guidance from running coach and friends helped to sail the tough times. Above all God was kind and things started improving.
6. As an athlete, you certainly have to be very disciplined. What is your biggest advice?
Few things you can never compromise as an athlete are passion, hard work, perseverance and discipline. All these things are important and make a complete package. Having faith that if you do all things will make everything right is important to achieve results and pass through tough times.
7. What do you do when you are not running?
I do a lot of other fun activities like treks, cycling, travelling etc. I strongly feel the best way to learn is to travel.it really changes your perspective to life.
8. What do you think about the Inter-IIT? How is it important from an Indian Sports perspective?
Inter IIT is the best platform to showcase your talent. Sports are an important aspect for mental well being and easiest way to de-stress. Indian sports, unfortunately, doesn't focus much on University level competitions and thus unlike foreign universities real talent doesn't emerge from college sports so the onus lies on us to make the change and get the best talent to reach higher levels.
9. Any message for the participating players at this year's edition (for all players, as well as KGP)?
To all the players and students I would wish all the best. Keep the sporting spirit alive. Get engaged in sports at all levels and raise the bar every time you do that. In a healthy body resides a healthy mind. Having a sportsman mindset will stand you apart from others. All the best and rock the event.