Hungry and in Pursuit...Once Again

author : trilover
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Interview with three-time Ironman World Champion Peter Reid

By Trilover

The author with Peter Reid

In 1997, a young and determined Peter Reid dominated a stunned field at Ironman Australia that included previous year’s winner, Jurgen Zach and Thomas “Hell on Wheels” Hellreigel. Returning one year later to Australia, Reid and hometown favorite, Chris Legh exchanged leads and mental blows throughout the race - the equivalent of an eight hour physical chess match. Heading towards the tape, Legh extended a marginal lead over the Canadian to the applause and cheers of onlookers. Without notice, Reid shot left and passed Legh with a devastating kick. As he broke tape, Reid made a gesture bringing both arms and hands up with a haughty smile as if to ask, “What happened, Chris?”

Reid went on to establish himself in the Ironman community with multiple wins including, Australia, Lanzarote, Canada, and Hawaii 1999 and 2000.

There is a black and white picture a photographer shot with which Peter is familiar. He is walking on the side of the road in the early miles of the marathon at Hawaii 2001, arms by his side, hat backwards with sunken shoulders that emitted an aura of dejection. Lothar Leder is running past him as Peter looks into the distance, oblivious to the spectators cheering.

As NBC captured the moment on video, he continued to walk and turned around, peeking a glance at an approaching competitor. Reid made the same gesture with both arms and hands as he did previously at Ironman Australia, only now sullenly shaking his head and throwing his arms up by his sides as if asking himself and no one else, “What’s happening?” The confidence this time was replaced with anxiety.

He continued to walk and the defending World Champion dropped out.

Months later, Reid attempted Ironman Australia, eventually pulling out during the bike leg.

A year earlier, after winning Hawaii 2000, Reid’s two minute margin over runner-up Tim Deboom was too small in Reid’s mind.

“The beginning of the end,” as Reid had put it.

Post win, he didn’t afford himself celebration nor break and began punishing his body with severe 30 hour training weeks, determined to dominate the next year. He soon became mentally exhausted and burned from the sport that had defined him.

As reported, Reid’s problems were not solely mental. But deep within his body as his mind attempted to recover, his white blood cell count and hematocrit had dipped extremely low. He had no energy. Doctors suspected a virus at work and Peter endured weeks of medical tests. As critics dismissed him as a champion encroaching into the lurking shadows, Reid teetered ominously between hope and fear. He removed himself from the sport and all things related to it.

A short time thereafter, his energy levels soon returned to normal, along with the passion and drive recently amiss.

Peter’s defining career moment was not “the perfect race” with his first win in Hawaii 1998. It occurred in a personal moment away from camera crews or spectators wherein he traded his motorcycle that he had ridden for weeks along his old cycling routes, finding solace by his home, for his bike and running shoes in the spring of 2002. His friend encouraged him to give Hawaii one more chance to finish his career with dignity and not with a DNF.

Bob Babbit who wrote for Competitor Magazine commented on his physical condition, Peter’s “belly was bigger then it has ever been.”

Armed with a beginner program written by Mark Allen entitled, “18 weeks To Your First Ironman,” Reid embarked on his journey to Hawaii 2002.

Commenting on his earlier days, Peter said, “That was one phase of my career; I’m now into the mature part of my career.”

With only 15 weeks of training, Reid accomplished the “second biggest highlight of my career.” Although eventual winner, Tim Deboom, separated himself from Reid on the turn-around during the marathon, Reid smiled all the way as he finished in 2nd place. As he crossed the tape, he bent down and placed his hand on the finishing mat as if paying homage.

Reid had found himself again that day, as many often do.

Perched atop the side mountain of Mona Kea at 6,000 feet, Reid once again sequestered himself this past September as he did before reclaiming his title of World Champion in Hawaii 2003; a so-to-speak, “secret training camp.” No friends, no television, no media, no phone calls. The three-time Ironman World Champion reduced himself to the most basic elements of the sport: mental awareness and physical prowess.

Driving himself down the mountain each morning to train and back up in the late evening only in solitude - could Peter reflect on himself, his career and the search for answers one is asked on the scorching barren roads of the Big Island come race day.

He brought along a training partner this time around, Swedish Uber Cyclist Bjorn “Mr. Andersson” Andersson (as pro/friend Gordo Byrn affectionately refers him). Reid, unable to find keel with Andersson’s cycling capacity after the first workouts together, heeded Coach Mark Allen’s advice and returned to solitary training.

There was no magical ending this year.  Unable to encourage a bike-pack to assist in chasing down this year’s winner, Norman Staddler, Reid began the marathon 24 minutes behind the leader...and in 11th place. His blistering 2:46 marathon split was fastest of the day and good enough for a remarkable 2nd place.

Peter at a local cyclo-cross.

Many are unaware that Reid sustained serious injuries in the critical weeks leading up to the race. He admits he was least fit this past year in Kona compared to other Hawaii races, however he relied on mental strength cultivated in Huichol Shamanistic sessions with Shaman Brant in California a la Mark Allen in the ‘90s.

As the professionals prepare to lay the foundation for their upcoming racing season, the spotlight is now slightly off him. Many wonder if this is how he would prefer it - hungry and in pursuit for the World Championship, his raison d'etre.

For Peter, the legendary stalking has begun.

Q1:  In 2002, a friend/chiropractor - Rob Hasegawa, passed along a training program designed for the IM newbie, "18 weeks to Your First Ironman" by Mark Allen. He encouraged you to finish Hawaii and not let your career end with your 2001 DNF. A few weeks into using the program, you and Mark Allen worked together as well as in 2003 and 2004. You have recently indicated that you plan on working more extensively with Mark beginning in February towards your march to Kona. Can you talk a bit about your relationship with the Grip?

When I got into the sport of triathlon in 1989, Mark was the guy. I would cross him a few times at races, but I only really got to know him in 1996. I went to dinner at his house because Lori was training with Julie Moss at the time. I don't think I said much at that dinner because I was too nervous. But at least from that point on we would talk when we would run into one another at events. When I won in 1998, I ran into him at a private party after the awards banquet. He walked up to me and didn't say anything. We just looked at one another then gave me a huge hug. It was pretty weird because all of a sudden there was a connection that was made between us. Throughout the years we became friends and he would always be there when things weren't going well. Eventually I would start calling him for advice and now he is my coach. I look forward to following his training plan. Plus, I am starting to work a little more with Shamanism as well.

Q2:  What many people don't realize is that you lost your passion for the sport due to physical and mental exhaustion in 2001 and early 2002. After your Hawaii win in 2000, you felt that the margin of difference between you and runner-up ,Tim Deboom, was too small. When you returned back home, no celebration, it was back to training. That was the "beginning of the end," as you have put it. How long do you allow your body and mind to recover now from Hawaii?

I race Xterra pretty hard the week after Ironman. I love the race and I have won “The Double” a bunch of times. Unfortunately, that race really beats me up. I do a few races after Xterra but I am just going through the motions. My season officially ends at the end of November but in my mind it is done when I cross the line at Xterra. Most of December I become pretty lazy which is important so that I can recharge for the next season. The December of 2000, I was training 30 hours a week. I thought I was going to be stronger than everyone because I was training so hard so early, yet I burnt out by the time the race season began.

Q3:  This past summer, you worked with Mark on ancient Huichol Shamanism. Did that help with your clarity and focus on racing?

It was an amazing experience. I raced Hawaii this year with the least amount of fitness but I was so strong mentally which had everything to do with working with a Shaman.

Q4:  You broke through in 1997 with a big win at IM Australia, keeping at bay a strong field that included previous year's winner, Jurgen Zack, along with Thomas Hellreigel and Chris Legh. You followed Australia with another win at IM Lanzarote a few months afterwards. One year later at IM Australia '98, you noted that the race "was yours to lose" against the field including hometown favorite, Legh. This was a visible marked difference in confidence, as if internally you knew you had arrived on the IM circuit. Would you agree?

Yeah, there was a shift in mindset in 1998. I had an amazing streak from 1997-2000. I race differently now. I don't have that same mindset which has allowed me now to enjoy life a little more.

Q5:  In 1997, you trained with the Canadian National Cycling Team. Did this bring your cycling to another level?

I didn't become a stronger rider but I became a lot more efficient on the bike. I started to run a lot better during my Ironmans because I was using less energy on the bike going the same speed.

Q6:  How many cups of café Americano do you, really, drink each day?

Three: Two before swimming and one late morning.

Q7:  Peter, your career has brought you to a variety of beautiful countries. If you could take a year off and travel, where would you go?

I have always wanted to check out Nepal.

Q8:  There was a recent question on the message board of TriNewbiesOnline regarding training camps. You have one called  in Tucson, Arizona in March. The program is separated into two separate week/options; one for athletes training for IM and in search of appropriate volume, and the 2nd week for beginner/intermediate athletes. Could you give us your thoughts on the camp?

The camps are geared for people that want to escape the winter of the northern States and Canada and get some nice miles in there legs. Training in Tucson in March is the best place in the USA.

Q9:  What is a typical training day for Peter Reid?

Right now I only do one to two sports per day at a very low heart rate. January to March I lay the foundation for the year and put in some major hours at an aerobic capacity (130 bpm - 150 bpm). I never go over 150 bpm during this phase which takes a lot of discipline.

Q10:  What is a training day like 8 weeks out from Kona?

Five to ten hours per day, six days a week.

Q11:  Do you use a heart rate monitor in training?


Q12:  Peter, could you give us an exclusive? What's one thing you do or eat that would surprise age-groupers?

When I am training in Kona and I run out of my Powerbars I eat an ice cream sandwich bar.

Q13:  You've mentioned in previous interviews that you typically ride three different bikes during your week: fixed, cyclo-cross, and your TT bike. Is that still the case? After IM Germany, you felt as if you didn't have proper time to get acclimated with your new bike Specialized made for you. Will you be spending more time with your TT this year?

Yes, I am still riding three bikes, but four weeks out from an Ironman I do all my rides on my TT bike.

Q14:  What do you do in your spare time?

Surf the internet and meet friends for a coffee at the local Starbucks.

Q15:  You have been with Reebok and Specialized for years. What's your relationship like with them? Specialized, in fact, built you a new bike specifically for 2004.

I have been with Reebok for eleven years, PowerBar and Oakley for ten years, and Specialized for six years. I have been extremely lucky to stay with the same companies for such a long time. Then again, they make the best products and there is no way that I would leave them. I made a mistake a few years ago when I was lured away from Specialized for some big bucks which turned out to be a huge mistake. Specialized welcomed me back on board and I won't ever leave them again. The part that I love about Specialized is that they love getting feedback from me. They listen to what I have to say and they make changes to the products.

Q16:  Peter, the women want to know, are you single?


Q17:  What is your diet like? i.e., Paleo? Do you take supplements?

I work a lot with a Naturopath. I am always tweaking my supplements and I am pretty strict with my diet eight weeks out from my two biggest races of the year (Ironman Germany and Hawaii). Right now, I am gaining a bit of weight, going out late on the weekends and not paying attention to what I eat. I start to watch what I eat in February. It takes a lot of work for me to lean out to race weight.

Q18:  In Kona 2004, you were the marked man and a pack on the bike surrounded you without much concern for Norman. Will it be different next year? Will you be going, with or without help from the pack, if there is another major break away?

I think next year there are going to be a lot of guys that will go for it on the bike. I will be ready. I use to be among the top three bike splits, but I have now focused more on my run the past few years. It's time to get my cycling back to what it used to be.

Q19:  Peter, a lot of your fans wonder what goes through your mind on the marathon? Do you reaffirm the physical pain with positive thoughts? Or are you just focused on playing pac-man and your mind is quiet?

In 2004, I just focused on the next guy up the road. I did that until two miles to go. It was a cool way to run a marathon.

Q20:  What many don't realize is that at IM Germany '04, you've said that you had the positioning to fight for 3rd. However, during the run, you actually had to hold yourself back from, "digging deep" and that you can only dig deep once a year for Hawaii. In essence, you make conscious decisions to hold back and not reach that level of intensity and focus that you reserve solely for Hawaii. Any thoughts?

This is true. I was having a hard time with the time change last year in Frankfurt. I was really suffering on the bike and worse on the run. I gave it my best shot until 25 km on the marathon when I started to feel that my body was shutting down. I could have fought through this but I knew it would take a long time to recover from that kind of race day effort. I backed off! None of the guys that did well in Frankfurt did well in Kona. Interesting!

Q21:  What's on CD rotation at the Reid pad?

54-40 and The Tea Party - great Canadian bands. I also like blasting some RAVE music from the digital channel before I head out for runs.

Q22:  Do you train solo on your rides and runs?

I hardly ever ride or run with people.

Q23:  We recently interviewed Tim Deboom and he mentioned that you guys had incredible rides and epic training together before and after your 1st Ironman Hawaii win in 1998. He mentioned that you guys would most likely be riding on your motorcycles the next epic time around. A lot of triathletes aren't aware that you and your brother cheered for Tim on the side of Palani road after you pulled out of Ironman Hawaii in 2001. Can you talk about the strong mutual respect and friendship you have with Tim?

Tim and I use to be a lot closer than we are today. I think if we lived in the same town we would do a lot more training together. He is the only triathlete that I enjoy riding or running with. Plus, we both like fast cars and bikes.

Q24:  Peter, was there one defining moment in your amateur career in which something clicked and you just knew the potential was there as a professional IM athlete?

When I was third at Nice, which use to be a huge long distance triathlon in Europe in 1995. After that race I knew I could do well at the long stuff.

Q25:  Favorite Beer?

Herman's Dark Lager - local beer in Victoria, BC.

Q26:  If you had unlimited ingredients at your disposal, what is the ultimate "Reid dinner?"

My favorite meal is a homemade healthy pizza: whole wheat crust, feta cheese, spinach, black olives, chicken, green onions and some shitake mushrooms. Plus a glass of red wine if a friend is over.

Q27:  Peter, your secret training camp in Kona at large is no longer a secret, but the workouts, volume and other factors are. Will you keep the same time-frame with the camp? You've noted that in previous years, you spent too much time training in Kona and would arrive at the race a bit stale.

Three weeks in Kona during September then two weeks back in Victoria and then I fly back to Kona five days prior to race day. It's an expensive way to get ready for Kona, but it works for me.

Q28:  Could you give your fans a cycling and running tip?

Run: do run drills once or twice a week.  Cycling: one leg drills on a trainer once a week.

Q29:  Do you train a lot on a trainer/treadmill during the cold, snowy, days?

I use to own a treadmill but I gave it to Lori. She likes running on it a lot more than I do. I ride the trainer every Friday.

Q30:  Peter, any advice to the age-grouper that has to balance a career, family and children along with training?

That's a hard one to answer because I don't know how age-groupers can do it. Triathlon training is hard and takes a lot of energy. I am blown away by people that do it while working and having a family. I have a huge amount of respect for those who do!

Q31:  What's in store for Peter Reid after triathlon? Working for Specialized, PowerBar or Reebok?

I hope!

Q32:  Any words to all of your fans reading this?

See you at the races!

The author would like to thank Peter Reid for taking the time out of his busy schedule to interview-Lu

Peter Reid offers an exclusive training camp in Tucson, Arizona. Separating Ironman athletes and beginners/intermediates, Reid and the camp offer proper instruction, training, mental instruction, and lessons on taking your training and racing to the next level. Tucson is the perfect destination with beautiful weather, roads and scenery for training. Please visit  for more information.



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date: December 27, 2004


endurance sports, politics, reading, organic foods, coffee shops, great friends, good food, great drinks.


endurance sports, politics, reading, organic foods, coffee shops, great friends, good food, great drinks.

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