Australian Chris Legh made world headlines in 1997 when he famously collapsed just 50 meters from the finishline at the World Ironman Championships in Kona.
Chris’s body had shut down completely and he could not finish.
Fast forward and the team from the Gatorade Institute decided to bring Chris to their testing facility and try to work out how.
Chris last raced here in 2004 with a less than desired result. It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that the desire to return came back. Then there were a couple of steps such as Melbourne which made him realise he could get through them. He then raced Ironman Coeur d’Alene but had breathing problems. It was then time to settle down, go in a different direct and he realised that he could qualify by doing some 70.3s.
“The whole year has evolved around this is a good time to slow things down race wise and for it to knot be my profession going forward. I didn’t want to finish off with Calgary 70.3, even thought it is a great race, I did that to get here to Kona.”
We saw some good form from Chris last year with a win at Lake Stevens 70.3 and a very fast 1:14 run time. “Form is on and off now at my age. Dealing with injuries etc but form is always there at some level.”
Racing Melbourne this year was an enjoyable race for Chris. “I backed off a little on the bike and wanted to leave some for the run and have a crack. I had a crack at trying to get up to 3rd but went through a bad patch and Jordon Rapp got me.”
“I blew up, started walking, then started laughing and picked myself back up again and continued. It was kind of funny but I was enjoying the race all the way.”
Looking back to 1997 at what Chris was doing then to now things were overly complicated back then according to him. “It actually took me a couple of years to go and see Gatorade. Like most people you read to much and listen to too much advice. I think even back then you didn’t have brands like Gatorade that were producing a full range of products. You grabbed one thing from here, one from there. I started racing in 1989 and there was about ten years where you were just guessing. I think that is why I screwed up in 1997. It was just too complicated. Going to the GSSI it was just a matter of working out my requirements and sorting out a protocol.”
Since then Chris’s racing has been much more consistent. “Since 2003-2004 when I did my testing Gatorade has expanded their range and I can achieve my nutrition needs through them.”
Chris’s approach to nutrition has simplified now and he keeps things much more simple. “Once you get your hands on the products that work for you just stick with them.”
Chris approaches training differently these days as well. “If I can have four good days training each week then that is a good week. A big run day, to bike days and another big run day. I make sure I am not fatigued these days and have backed off a lot of the junk miles now.”
“Since I have meet up with MIO Watches I have gone back to running with heartrate. Like I used to do years ago before GPS watches came on the scene. I am finding it much more enjoyable. So many people are wrapped up in the minutes per kilometers that they are missing the enjoyable part of training. They know how many minutes they want to do in a race and try to do that from day one. They aren’t going through this whole process in training.”
Training to a heartrate instead of a pace is what Chris bases his training on now. “Rather than stressing about a pace and how far you ran on Sunday you are aiming at an end goal and let the fitness and the pace come. It could be years for some but for me it is a 12 week training program. Being patient and doing your threshold session is what is about. Then you can back up the next day.”
Kona Chris is off to have a great holiday with his family. They’ll move back to Colorado then back to Australia. An RV in Europe with the kids in on the cards.
We wish Chris all the best for tomorrow.