Srinivas Gokulnath and two Amit Samarath became the first Indians to complete the Race Across America on Sunday, one of the most excruciating and toughest cycling events in the world. Gokulanth, competing in the 18-59 age category, was the first solo finisher from the country, finishing in the seventh place overall, followed by Samarath in the eighth spot.

Gokulnath, a doctor who is currently working as an aerospace medicine specialist with the Indian Army in Nashik, finished the distance of 4941 km in 11 days and 18 hours while Samarath, a doctor as well, took 11 days and 21 hours to finish the race. Another Indian rider Samim Rizvi withdrew from the race after 805 kilometres.

Unlike a stage race like the famous Tour de France, the clock is constantly running during the RAAM as cyclists have to pedal over 400 km a day to finish the race within 12 days. They can only rest for a couple of hours at best. Extreme fatigue, sleeplessness and hallucinations are common among participants during this endurance event.

“I am relieved...that is the feeling I am going through right now,” said Lt Colonel Gokulnath, according to PTI.

In more than its three-decade history, only three Indians had attempted RAAM’s solo run, but no one could finish. Rizvi was the first Indian to attempt the race. Apart from Rizvi and Gokulnath, Sumit Patil from Alibag was the only one to have attempted the race in the past. For Samarth, he finished the race in his maiden attempt.