Chris Legh, determination defined

Many people remember Aussie Chris Legh from his heart breaking collapse in the finish line chute at the 1997 Ironman Hawaii. We wanted to know what he is up to these days in terms of racing, training, family and interests.

ST: Chris, can you tell us about your 2007 season?

Chris: 2007 was a good season, certainly not my best, but not my worst and could/should have been a great deal better - a total of 11 races, with 5 wins, 2 seconds, and a 4th.
Starting the year off with a 2nd place at Wildflower was very frustrating after some major intestinal issues throughout the run. Moving onto Eagleman 70.3, I always knew I was in trouble heading into the race with the flu. Fortunately I was able to find the form I knew I had in me with a couple of wins at Buffalo Springs and Lake Steven's 70.3 races. With some racing along the way, my next main focus of the season was Maui Xterra and Clearwater 70.3 Worlds. A 4th place at Maui was an ok result for me, but a little disappointing after a terrible bike ride. Thankfully my legs came good in the run to save the day. With a somewhat dubious drafting call (anyone that knows me, knows I don't draft!), my day in Florida ended reasonably early, which was a devastating end to my season.
Thankfully a week of skiing in Vail was planned straight after Clearwater to numb the pain and annoyance!

ST: What does a typical mid season workout week look like for you?

Chris: As an overall breakdown I generally aim for 25km in the pool, 400-500km on the bike and 70-110km for the run. This obviously all depends on racing, tapering and recovery, but mid season I like to hit the high end of the above numbers.

ST: How do you recover after a Half IM race?

Chris: As I have gotten older and wiser, I base my recovery on feel rather than a structured program. Generally I still attempt to refuel and re-hydrate after the race, then follow that up with an easy ride and swim the following day. I think age has slowly caught up with me in the last year or so, and recovery seems to take a day longer now! A few ice baths and a massage and I can normally get myself back into a good training routine again by 3 days after the race. I also like to travel home the night of the race, so I can enjoy a couple of easier days with my wife and 3 year old daughter, rather than spending it in airports and on planes.

ST: You have a relatively unique sweat rate. Can you share your story with our readers?

Chris: My sweat rate has been an issue for quite a few years now, particularly after my Hawaii collapse back in 1997. For a few years after 97, I was completely guessing my losses then finally after a number of failed efforts and very frustrating races where I had massive leads only to be reduced to a blubbering mess, I decided to take up an offer from Gatorade to have some specific testing done at their Sports Science Institute in Chicago. In hindsight it had to be the best two days I could have applied to my career. Prior to the testing I always knew there were two certainties to my Ironman racing – a right shoe full of pee and a left shoulder covered in vomit. Thankfully since the testing, I have kept that shoulder clean but the shoe has remained full enough.
The testing was conducted in an environmental chamber, set at the temperature and humidity of Kona. Two hours on the bike followed by two hours on the treadmill, countless sweat and blood tests later, I finally got my answers and the Gatorade team was able to formulate an individualized protocol for me to be able to replace the amount of sweat and sodium that I was losing. It is a formula that I have been applying ever since – except for when I occasionally forget, like in Wildflower last year……!!

ST: What are your plans in terms of racing for 2008?

Chris: I'm yet to fully confirm my 2008 schedule, but I can see it following a similar path to 2007. Wildflower will kick start it, there will be a number of 70.3's in the heart of it and then the focus for the end will be Tahoe Xterra, Maui Xterra and Clearwater 70.3. I have a huge inner urge to attempt Ironman again, so you never know where I may decide to quash that…..

ST: Have you had help with your bike fit?

Chris: I have always sought advise on bike setup, but in saying that, I do tinker probably more than most with my bike position. Last year I found myself hitting some better bike form again, and finally felt like I was riding like I used to in the early days. A great deal of thanks must go to a good friend of mine, Chris Bohannan for his advise early in the season.

ST: How are things going for you in terms of sponsorship?

Chris: I have always been very lucky to have had fantastic sponsors over the course of my 15 year Pro career. They have been instrumental in supporting me and have allowed me to focus on my racing and most importantly travel with my family. I owe so much to the likes of Bolle who have been with me my whole career and then it is hard to find a better crew of people to work with than those from Gatorade, American Interbanc, Louis Garneau, Mercedes Benz, Zipp, Profile, and, who have all been with me for countless years. In recent seasons I have also been fortunate enough to gain the support of Progio, Newton running, Sampson, Fizik and Triton swim bench. A new relationship for 2008 is with, a fantastic new and innovative online gear store – check them out, they are awesome!
There have also been specific individuals such as Whitney Lynn and David Vied who have assisted me personally and been great supporters over the years.
My sponsors have always been unbelievable in supporting me through the good and definitely not so good times of my turbulent career. They have been there through many ups and downs and it will be an honor to have their continued support through to the end of my career. Mention must also go to my long time and long suffering agent Murphy Reinschreiber of PCH Sports in California, he has done a great job of managing me for over 10 years now.
I have to say that both Murphy and Paula (Newby-Fraser) serve as my parents away from home. I know if I ever need to be put back into place that they will gladly do it for me!

ST: What is your favorite race and why?

Chris: There are definitely a few races that stand out for me, such as Laguna Phuket, Pucon, the old MSOQ adventure race, and Eagleman, but in terms of a favorite, I'm going to have to say Wildflower. It is a combination of many elements, but personally, I love the toughness of the course, the varying terrain from brutal hills on the bike to gut busting and dusty trails on the run. I think it is one of the only races that is a true test of the athletes. Then there is the overall atmosphere of the weekend, thousands of campers, bands, the expo, amazing race organization and hospitality and overall prestige. What better way is there to kickstart the season?

ST: Tell us a little bit about how you spend the off-season.

Chris: After a long season in the US you will find me downhill skiing in Vail in the early part of my off season (December), then it is time to pack up the house and migrate south to Melbourne, Australia. Once at home it's all about family, golf, camping, fun times down at the beach, great cheese, food and wine and some catch up time in my acre and a half of garden which is usually very overgrown. For my first few days home Sarah usually doesn't see me, as I am out in the garden all day giving everything a "Brazilian" with the clippers and making huge bonfires to get rid of it all!

ST: How is the family doing?

Chris: The family is awesome. We just had Jamieson's 3rd birthday last weekend, so I guess we had better start getting ourselves into gear for a second kid! I have always been lucky enough to have traveled with Sarah and now Jamieson is a part of our team. We made a decision very early on in my career that if we couldn't do it together, we wouldn’t do it at all and even though there were a few tough years in the beginning, it has luckily worked out great.
The only problem now is that I hate being away from the family when it comes to racing and training blocks, so it serves as good motivation to get the job done properly and to make sure the sacrifices count.
Thankfully Sarah has always understood what needs to be done and has been a great supporter and Jamieson seems to be following in her footsteps.

ST: Do you follow any other sports?

Chris: It is hard not to appreciate most sports when that's what your life is all about. I still struggle a little with the US Sports like baseball and football, but I think I am slowly gaining an appreciation for them after 15 years of living there! I would have to say that Aussie Rules Football, cycling, swimming, athletics and golf are my favorites to watch on tv and follow.

ST: Can you share with us some of your food likes and dislikes?

Chris: I love all things good food and wine, it is definitely a passion of mine. I have to admit that I love cooking and love to spend hours preparing an exotic meal for friends. I like almost everything, but find it hard to go past a good medium-rare fillet steak or kangaroo fillet accompanied by a solid salad packed full of surprises like figs, goat’s cheese, nuts and olives. I am not a huge dessert lover; as I probably prefer savory foods like cheese, dips and crackers. But I can't resist a good chunk of Lindt 80% cocoa dark chocolate. I tend to eat most things in moderation, including a glass or two of wine (usually a bottle or two in the off-season!). It is probably rarer for me to get stuck into fast foods like McDonalds very often, although everything has its place!

ST: What about music? What do you like?

Chris: I can appreciate a wide range of music, depending upon the occasion and my mood. When it comes to putting on my game face pre-race, then I will normally turn to AC/DC, Marilyn Manson, Rage Against The Machine or Nine Inch Nails. For day to day training and general listening with friends and a good red wine, it will vary anything from Ben Lee, Jack Johnson, Garbage, Gomez, Radiohead or even Robbie Williams!

ST: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Chris: Unfortunately, I would love to say still racing full time, but more than likely it will be time for Jamieson to go to school, my ankles and hips will have given out and I will be living back home in Australia working a "real" job in the business/finance world!
It is a shame that in Australia the sport and the financial side of the sport are basically non-existent, so there is no way I can remain within triathlon unless I commit to staying in the States, which is not such a bad thing, apart from the fact that we have family in Australia that we are very close to.

ST: I there anything else we should know about you?

Chris: - I had a taste of adventure racing a few years ago and I LOVE it, so if there is anyone out there needing team mates I will be available in a few years!

- I love snow skiing with a passion and after spending many off-season weeks in Vail at the Sonnenalp the shift back to Australia with our 6,000ft mountains and 30cm average snow base is going to kill me!

- I also need some advise from other fathers out there. Jamieson has started to give me the teenage glare, hands on hips and attitude this past week and she is only 3, not quite sure how best to handle it yet!

Here is the famous commercial featuring Chris Legh