Chris Legh Continues His Comeback

6720-medium_LeghTimberman09Chris Legh continues to solidify his reputation triathlon’s “comeback kid” and one of the sport’s most indomitable spirits.  This weekend he continued down the comeback trail with an impressive 2nd place finish at the Ironman 70.3 Augusta.

Many of you probably knows Chris from his dramatic collapse at the 1997 Ironman Worlds, made famous in this popular Gatorade commercial.  What many people don’t know is that was just the first of three incredible setbacks for Chris in the past 10 years.

This is from a recent interview with Chris on

Chris Legh made one of the sport’s great comebacks when he recovered from a dehydration-induced bowel shutdown at Ironman Hawaii in 1997. After surgeons cut out 12 inches of his colon, Legh was back the very next year in an epic duel with Peter Reid at Ironman Australia, losing a finish line sprint. Legh also engaged Reid in another classic duel at Ironman Australia the very next year, and turned the trick at to win Ironman California in 2000.

Things went well for one of the most talented men in the sport until 2003, when Legh faced a second showdown with his body. Racing exposed a congenital defect – a tiny hole in the wall of his heart — which struck around the 5 hour mark of a triathlon. After carefully adapting his hydration and nutrition, Legh managed to finesse his way around the problem with an amazing win at Ironman Coeur d’Alene in 2004 — headlined by a famous Gatorade ad. But this second comeback was not to last. For the next two years, the syndrome shut him down like clockwork at 120km into an Ironman bike.

Finally, the new Ironman 70.3 series provided a proper competitive outlet for one of the most talented men in triathlon history. In three years, Legh scored nine Ironman 70.3 wins. The only thing lacking was a podium solution for the Ironman 70.3 World Championship at Clearwater. Legh got a 4th there and was coming closer in training to the strategy – until he was faced with a third medical challenge late last year. An inflamed area around his pubic bone put one of the swiftest legs in the game out of action for eight months.

A week ago (interviewed on August 28), Legh faced his first test in eight months at the Timberman 70.3. His 5th place finish was not to his standards – 10 minutes 34 seconds behind Andy Potts. His swim was 5 minutes back of Potts. His 2:12:45 bike was better, 2:40 behind Potts. And his run, usually his ace in the hole but now the most susceptible to his injury, was a third-best 1:19:10, 3 minutes behind Potts.

Given he had only had six weeks of training, not a bad start to another comeback. Legh spoke to Slowtwitch as he was planning the rest of his 2009 campaign.

Read the rest of the interview here.

Chris is local Boulder superstar and a terrific friend to Newton. We’re incredibly proud of his season so far this year and wish him the best as he sets his sights on the Ironman 70.3 Championships in Clearwater on Nov. 14.