The image of Max Longrée devouring a huge hamburger at the finish line of Ironman Louisville made quite an impression on people who followed the race on Ironmanlive.com. We talked to the Ironman Louisville champion from Germany.
ST: Max, congrats on your win at Ironman Louisville. You seemed absolutely happy.
Max: Thanks! I'm more than happy. I imagined for this happen, but you never know. The closest people in my life believe more in my abilities than I do. It was a fantastic race with a swim, which couldn't have been worse. The biking was like I planned to do it and the running was good. It was my advantage we had so hot conditions. I love it if it's hot on race day.
ST: Is this race your best result to date or is there a race that means more to you?
Max: Of course an Ironman victory is absolutely great. Emotionally there was the Kona race last year, which was my first time to race there without my big brother. I had a year of much trouble and at the end I got in the top 20. My first big victory over the IM distance was 2006 at the Almere classic. It's the oldest race over IM distance in Europe. It's a classic race like I think Wildflower is here in the states. My third place in IM Austria was also nice for me and gave me a lot of self-confidence.
ST: After you wolfed down that big burger on Ironmanlive.com, should we expect a burger sponsorship logo on you tri-suit next year?
Max: I hope so. It's a question if I get it managed. I think this would be more authentic for me than a beer sponsor. That wasn't a marketing trick or what ever. That is what I really love to eat after long course triathlons. After all this sweet stuff during the competition it's the greatest to get something salty and fatty. ;) That's how my mind is working. I was thinking the whole time of that moment and ordered the real American burger 3 miles before the finish line. There was a motorcycle TV team and I placed my order via phone to the race director. We were joking around if bloody, medium or well done. Which sauce on it and so on… After the order I got back to focus on the task at hand because the race ends after crossing the line and a lot of things could happen on the last miles.
ST: You accepted the Hawaii slot and we want to know what your goal for Kona is?
Max: Yes, I decided to take the slot. It's hard to handle what to do between training and recovery in this short window. The only reason why I go to the biggest race in our sports is to get more experience. My whole carrier I worked like this. Step-by-step. This won't be my Kona race. I just put one more lava pain in my legs. :)
I'm dreaming of the day when I arrive with the chase pack and all the great runners at the pier in T2. And then we have a big battle, which the best one will win...
ST: You had an amazingly fast run in Hawaii before. How fast of a run is possible for you there?
Max: You never know if you have a good day on the highway. It depends on the weather conditions. I don't talk too much about times. I hope to be one of the best runners the next years also. What I mean is giving us the hardest, hottest and most windy conditions we ever had and I run relatively fast. It doesn't matter if I run 3h hours or 2:45 hours, I have to run faster than the other guys. With conditions like last year without getting no energy at the two stations after the energy lab and a good recovery from IM Loo I think it's possible to run a 2:42h marathon. However, that's all speculative.
ST: What is your athletic background and who or what inspired you to race triathlons?
Max: You'll never believe this, but I used to do swimming races in my childhood and youth. After some time I didn't want to spend the weekends in warm in stinky halls with a pool in the center. I like it to be outside especially in the sun. My big brother Sebastian started triathlon in 1994 after an injury to his knee. Like it is as the younger brother, I wanted to do what he did. Soon I begun with sprint distance races and I got to join the national junior triathlon team. But my brother did long distance and in 1997 I was on the Big Island to coach my brother. I was motivated by that event over the years and I'm still into it. It's still a long way to go but I'm full of hope that I’ll reach my goal in this race. My first Ironman was in Zurich in 2004. I was 12th with a flat in the race (I have to say that because otherwise I would had finished in the top 10 in my first IM):) I was totally happy with that.
ST: Sebastian was a pretty good triathlete too, is that correct?
Max: My brother could have had the same result or success I have. But he decided to go a a different way. That means, university stuff was always a bit more important to him than the sports career. I had the luck to have him as a mentor and I learned so much from him. He had to quit racing because of his job at a big law firm. The two seasons not racing and traveling with him were the hardest I ever had. Now it's like this. The days before my big races he can't sleep like I used to. In the races he's always in my mind and he's more nervous than me. There's something special between us and I'm so grateful to have him. He will take part like NOONE else part in all the success I had and maybe will have!
ST: Please describe a typical hard training week for us.
Max: A typical hard week isn't based on a calendar week. Normally, I train 3 days and rest the fourth day. First day starts with a run in the morning. An easy jog (like the mist runs I do) about an hour, then I go for 5 hours on the bike at a moderate pace. Right after that I go for a swim not longer than an hour. Next day starts with biking 4 to 5 hours with some intervals and a small run after. Third day I try to kill myself. So 4 hours biking plus a run in a moderate increasing speed about 10miles. In the evening I go swimming. I always want to go for a longer easy swim on 4th day but normally I'm so tired and lazy that day I can't do that and swim short and easy. On 4th day I cannot imagine to train the next days...but mostly I do it again:)
ST: What do you do to overcome a disappointing race?
Max: I always try to find something good in every situation in my life. So a bad race could convert to a great experience in the future. I learn from mistakes. I think an athlete who does not fail can never become a complete athlete. You have to handle such situations to get tougher next time. At the end everybody is responsible for what happens in our lives. That's how Kona is for me this year. It's a big adventure to do Kona so close to IM KY. It would have been easier to rest and then go to Florida or whatever and to qualify asap for Kona 2009. However, I'm going to Kona with the knowledge that I may not be recovered enough and going to possibly have a bad experience. But a bad Kona experience is better than no further Kona experience. Look at Chris McCormack. He had a lot of bad experiences, but he learned from that and has now won the race.
ST: How are things going for you in terms of sponsorship?
Max: I'm still waiting for the call of McDonald, KFC, Wendy's or Burger King etc. ☺
I have worked for several years with Carnipure, a producer of pure l-carnitine that helps you to burn more fat and to improve your fat burning capacity. This year I also had a contract with Multipower a European supplement producer. Plus I get material for swimming from blueseventy. No contracts for next year yet and hopefully that’ll change soon. We'll see what happens next season. Maybe a sponsorship for all you can eat everyday at Kentucky Fried Chicken. ☺
ST: Is there anything you’d like to change about the sport of triathlon?
Max: Please make the swim distance shorter, allow wetsuit in Kona and make a minimum temperature of 80 degrees mandatory...no just kidding. It's hard to make any suggestions regarding drafting or what ever. Because it's really difficult for the race directors and marshals to handle the drafting situations with such a big crowd of athletes in IM races. However, I hope that we get it worked that the pro races are always fair and the marshals have a good hand and being tough against drafting. The worst thing could happen is that the IM distance ends like the Olympic distance. I like the connection between amateurs and pros in our sport. There's no other sport where amateurs and pros meeting every morning for a swim training in the morning of race week. There's no other sport where amateurs and pros race together. That's great and it's more like a family. I feel that especially in the States.
ST: How do you typically spend the off-season?
Max: Surfing, running, partying and so on. I was freezing the last years in Germany and haven't done a lot of trainings camps in the winter and spring. So I did a lot athletic training in the gym. Up to now I had an off-season every year and did less training just for fun. Take my time for friends and family. But now I'm at a point to start a “real professional lifestyle.” There's no real off-season. You can race the whole year. You can stay in the sun and give your self more time (what I didn't have in Germany) to get step-by-step in shape. You can use the lower training period to deal with business, such as working with sponsors.
ST: Do you follow any other sports?
Max: No there's no time to for that and I think no other pro can do this. Training takes so much time and after that you have to recover. Maybe it's possible to play Playstation;)
ST: Tell us about your food likes and dislikes?
Max: I like the most food. I eat nearly everything. I like the cottage cheese, bread and quark the most. Quark is like sour cream but a little bit different. I'm the founder of the facebook group ' Quark addicted'. There's a description what it is. Unfortunately only Chrissie Wellington is a member of this group. The reason for that may be that Americans do not know quark :)
I like to eat a lot of salad and finger food in preparation for races and love nothing more than eating fast food and CostCo muffins the two weeks after a big race!!!
ST: What about your music taste?
Max: I hear nearly every genre icluding hip hop. On the way to the Kona '07 race I heard Eminem's 8mile. In quiet situations like an easy run, I enjoy easy listening. However, I have techno on my mp3 player too for faster running sessions. Country or the easy listening when I'm cruising in a car in CA is great as well. Then I just hear West Coast radio stations.
ST: What was the last book you read?
Max: I prefer to read autobiographies like the two books of Lance Armstrong. It's nice to read about thoughts of famous and successful personalities. Lance Armstrong fascinates me because he gave so many people hope and helps with his foundations. It's fantastic to see how you can give something back. And not just being a super hero and doing a life in luxury without caring about others.
ST: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Max: I do everything step-by-step and try to stay realistic like the whole years in my sports life. I had the plan to get on podium on the IM circuit the last two years. I've done that. Next year there's the plan of another IM victory anywhere in the world. I also planned to get in the top 10 in Kona by 2010. That's my biggest goal in my sports carrier. If I will have done that I'm happy and will never look back with a tear in my eyes when I'm 80 years old. What will happen after 2010 depends on how I feel at that time. In 5 years I'm 32 and I will be in the best age of triathlon. Until that point I want to make a lot of experiences even bad ones. I hope to become so successful that I can give something back of course in a smaller way but like Armstrong does. I think it's a MUST for famous athletes to help poor people or to help people in difficult situations. I could imagine doing something to get our youth involved in a healthier life style. Furthermore, I hope to live the next years in a nice apartment on the West Coast of the States. Doing my sports and enjoying the American way of life. I like being in the US.
ST: Is there anything else we should know about you?
Max: I can tell you a secret about me. If you want to beat me in a race tell me that all the fast food restaurants are closed for today or even two weeks. You’ll take all my motivation to run as fast as possible... because I'm running for (fast) food. ☺
The website of Max Longrée is maxlongree.de