"Road To The REV3" Kicks Off With The Versatile Leanda Cave!
Leanda Cave has managed to put together quite a resume in triathlon diversity as she has claimed a World Championship at the Olympic distance, 2 top 5 finishes at the Ironman World Championship 70.3 and a top 10 at the Ironman World Championship in Kona. Leanda’s focus extends past triathlon as she has harnessed her drive to succeed in supporting the War on ALS charity. 2009 features Cave traveling to Connecticut for the inaugural REV3 half iron distance race where she will be competing against the world’s best.
June is smack in the middle of the traditional triathlon season. How does the REV3 race play into your plans? Is this a type ‘A’ race for you or just a great training day with your peers?
Every race is an A race. I go out to win them all. The training benefit from racing is an added bonus. As far as the race being in the middle of the season does not play an integral part of my planning. As a professional, it is our job if you like to be in great shape all year round (ok, some of us do have the odd beer gut around New Years!)
What does your 2009 racing season look like?
I want to race more Ironman distance events. I think that is the one disadvantage I have had going into Kona for the past 2 years is my lack of experience. It took me 7 years of racing experience before I won the ITU World Championship back in 2002. I hope it doesn’t take me that long to win Kona, but I feel there is a wealth of knowledge to be gained in racing.
You one of a handful of racers in today’s triathlon circle who can be lethal at almost every distance. How have you managed to retain your quickness for an Olympic distance race, yet also shown your prowess to be a podium threat at the Ironman distance?
I think there is a lot of compounded fitness I have gained over the years I have been in the sport of triathlon (almost 14 years to date, 10 of those as a professional) and I believe that has a lot to do with it. But then again, I am an endurance machine. Always have been (so don’t put your money on me if it comes down to a sprint!!).
You and Chrissie Wellington are both involved with the War on ALS charity fund (a fund started by the first ALS strickened person to complete an Ironman in 2006, who has since passed—learn more at www.waronals.com). What brought your attention to this cause and how will you continue to support its growth?
I was fortunate enough to have met John Blaise who was the founder (along with his parents, Mary and Bob) at the end of 2006, just before he passed away from the disease. Meeting John and also learning about the obstacles he had to overcome just to compete in Kona inspired me and touched my heart. In learning more about ALS, I was quite shocked at how little research there has been done on the disease and how quick ALS can take a life. For this reason, I felt I wanted to raise awareness of ALS as well as the Blazeman Foundation in order to help more sufferers of the disease. This is something I will continue to do throughout 2009 with some other fundraising initiatives.
What sports were you involved in as a kid and what brought you into the sport of triathlon?
After migrating from Great Britain as a 4 year old, I was fortunate enough to be raised in Australia, which is a country where multi-sport is as popular as College Football here in the USA. I was exposed at a young age to swimming surf lifesaving, and saw fellow competitors doing triathlon on TV. My sister did one, then not long after that, I competed in a team for my school. That is when the light bulb went off in my head that told me I should be doing triathlon professionally. It took me a lot longer to earn a living from the sport than I thought. I managed to max out 2 credit cards before I earned enough to pay them back!
If you had to pick and could only pick one, which win would be more satisfying and meaningful to you, winning Kona or an Olympic gold medal on your home soil in 2012?
I think there is a lot of prestige in winning both events. So I’m not going to pick one, but say both.
You grew up in England, but are now in the process of living stateside permanently. What do you like about the US and why the desire to live here?
I guess it comes down to my occupation. Being a professional triathlete doesn’t really go down all that great in the UK. Despite huge numbers of competitors and events, it is a sport that receives very little publicity, and hence, very small sponsorship opportunities. And since we are not earning the prize money of tennis players or golfers, I feel that the USA is the best place to race and earn a living. Once I have retired, I would love to settle down here in the USA one day. I love this country and how kind it has been to me. No wonder the Americans don’t travel abroad all that much.
Of all the races you’ve done, have you ever felt scared of a certain race or distance? If so, how did you overcome it?
I was shaking before Kona last year. It scared me to bits. The worst part I feel was the marathon. I had never run that distance before, and having to think about doing after riding solid for that long was freaking me out before the race. In the end, as much as it hurt, it was possible. I just thought about putting one foot in front on the other and not answering the phone in my head that was ringing and telling me to stop!
During the “off season”, what makes up your day and how do you ensure you enjoy your down time?
I spend most of the 2 weeks of nothing thinking about doing something. Then its time to start training again and that I am quite thankful for. I’m not good at taking time off. I love what I do, so why would I want to stop? To rest my body apparently…per Coach Torsten Abel's instructions. I figure I could do that when I’m dead!! But I have to do what I’m told (my coach is also my boyfriend)!
If you weren’t a full time pro triathlete, what do you think you would be doing?
Before I had hopes of being a professional triathlete, I was in love, and still am, with fashion. I studied a Bachelor of Fashion Design in Australia, and feel that is something I will always go back to. I may even bring out my own sportswear line. But I can only do triathlon at this level while I am young, so that is why I went down this road.
Age: 30 (31 by June next year)
First Triathlon: All Schools Triathlon Teams, Lake Placid, Australia (1994)
Turned Pro: 2001
Family: Parents, Joyce and Gordon (still living in Australia); Brother, Justin (in Finland); Sister, Melissa (in the UK)
Lives: 9 lives I hope...but I split my time between San Francisco, CA and Tucson, AZ
Career at a glance
- 2002 ITU World Champion
- 2002 Commonwealth Silver Medalist (Olympic distance)
- 2002 European Silver Medalist (Olympic distance)
- 2007 ITU Long Distance World Champion
- 8th 2007 Ironman World Championships
- 2007 Ironman 70.3 Bronze Medalist
- 2x Escape from Alcatraz Champion (2007 & 2008)
Thanks for the time, Leanda and we wish you a great season and good luck with your new home in San Francisco!
Interview by Max Wunderle
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