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Sun 23rd Feb 2020
Interview: Lee Piercy
Posted by: Annie Emmerson
Posted on: Friday 27th March 2009

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This week's interviewee, Lee Piercy, admits that he hasn't had the best of starts to his 2009 season, but he certainly can be forgiven for that. He unfortunately got sent the wrong way on the first lap of a two-lap bike course at Clumber Park (European qualifier), and a serious stomach bug forced several unscheduled stops at the recent spring Ballbuster, but taking those two fairly major mishaps into consideration he still managed to finish a very commendable second in both races. Annie Emmerson caught up with Lee to find out more about one of Great Britain's leading male duathletes.

AE Lee it's great to catch up with you, I can't believe we haven't yet had the privilege of interviewing you. Obviously things have been quiet on the racing front, but as spring approaches you've not doubt got some big races lined-up?

LP Hey Annie, I have had a solid and consistent winter of base so am really looking forward to the start of the duathlon season which is just round the corner. Planning to do a few of the National series races including Clumber, Steyning and Milton Keynes. Main focus for the season will be Powerman races, Antwerp Half Ironman and if I qualify, the World Championships in Clearwater.

AE For our readers who don't already know about you tell us about your sports background and how you got involved in racing duathlons?

LP I was an enthusiastic runner at school and competed for Dorset in 1500m, 3000m and X-country as a junior but never really excelled amongst quality national competition. At college and University I discovered a passion for racket sports and this was my main sports focus until my late twenties. I competed in a few international racketlon (tennis, table tennis, squash, badminton) competitions including the World Racketlon Champs in 2005, but I never progressed to the closing stages of any big events. I definitely prefer multi-discipline sports as the variety of training and competition keeps me interested.

AE You have achieved an endless amount of fantastic results in the UK - including victory at the Steyning Duathlon, the Big Cow 2008 National Duathlon Championships, Ballbuster and you won the 2008 Mazda National Duathlon Ranking series, to name just a few - but which would you consider your greatest performance to date?

LP Probably winning the World Long Course Duathlon Age Group Champs in 2007 (a time which put me 17th in the elite race), was my highlight as my expectations were not very high. I was training much less than I do now so it was a complete shock to win. A close second would be L’Etape du Tour (the people's stage of the tour de france) last year as I managed a top 100 finish when starting near the back of the field and having to fight my way through the masses and numerous bottlenecks.

AE You seem to focus mainly on duathlon do you have any thoughts of competing in triathlons?

LP I started out doing triathlons and really enjoyed them. My most enjoyable multi-sport event ever was the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon in 2003. However as work became more and more hectic I decided to drop the swimming so I would not spread my limited hours of training too thinly. I am now considering getting back into triathlons and planning to do a couple of Half Ironman races later in the year.

AE You're life seems very hectic with lots of travel and work, how many hours a week do you get to spend training?

LP My life is incredibly busy. An average week at work would be 60 hours (sometimes well in excess of this) and I travel to US every couple of months. I also own a few properties which I rent out and manage myself which can take a lot of my free time up. I also live in Bournemouth but work in Swindon so am commuting a fair amount each week. In the last two years I have increased my training to an average of about ten hours a week (just running and biking) although this fluctuates drastically (for instance I went on a training camp three weeks ago and did 20 hours) depending on the time of year and how busy work is.

AE Internationally you've performed really well at age-group level. As you mentioned above in 2007 you won a gold medal at the World Long Course Duathlon Age Group Champs, clocking a time to put you well inside the top 20 of the men's elite race. Following some great early season results you were hoping for an elite place at the 2008 World Championships, you did get a spot on the team but, a controversial decision was made that meant you were forced to pay your own way, how did you feel about that decision?

LP To be honest I was just pleased to be selected to race for Great Britain. It was a real honour and I didn't mind having to pay my way as the BTF said I would be reimbursed if I made the top 12 (unfortunately I punctured but don't think I would have made the top 12 anyway on that day). I have to say Oli Mott put in an incredible performance to finish ninth in such world class competition.

AE Talking about the Long Course Duathlon World Championships this year; the ITU have rather surreptitiously scrapped this event, this must be very disappointing for you and other duathletes that race over this distance?

LP This is incredibly disappointing as it was going to be my key focus race for the season. This would never have happened in triathlon, so again it reinforces the secondary status of duathlon.

AE At the moment duathlon as a sport is very much under the ITU banner, yet little is being done to help the sport in the way of races, exposure, prize money etc, how would you like to see the management of the sport improved?

LP I am not sure why duathlon is less attractive to sponsors as I think it can be as entertaining and exciting as triathlon and the quality of the few duathlete purists is comparable to the top triathletes in the world.

Definitely the sport needs more marketing and some mainstream television coverage of the key international races to increase its profile and attract sponsorship of big events. This would in turn increase the prize money and encourage some of the multi sports newcomers to focus on duathlon as a sport in its own right. One day it would be amazing to see duathlon in the Olympics; this would change the profile of the sport overnight.

AE If you could invite anyone from the duathlon/triathlon world for dinner who would it be and why?

LP Does an ex-triathlete qualify? I admire and respect Armstrong more than any other athlete, he is an inspiration to so many people. I think he is a very interesting character so it would be great to spend an evening with him and hear some of his stories.

AE Which duathlete/triathlete in the world do you most admire and why?

LP The late Benny Vansteelant is a legend; a phenomenal runner, biker and duathlete. The best athlete to have graced the sport of duathlon. I remember when he lapped me on the last run of a Powerman race beating me by about ten minutes.

AE If you could chose any race and win it before you retire, which would one would it be and why?

LP I would love to win a Powerman race one day, however the quality is so high a bunch of the world’s best would have to be absent.

AE Talking of retirement where do you see yourself in ten-years time? Will you still be racing multisport events or kicking back on a sun drenched beach enjoying a few cocktails with your racing flats packed away reminiscing about the good old days?

LP I would hope I would still be competing in a few bike events to keep me amused, most likely time trialling, as I know some very old chaps doing exceptionally well. There is a guy in my local cycling club who is over 70 and still does 23 mins for a 10mile TT on a pretty slow course! I would also like to be involved in coaching youngsters in both racket sports and endurance sports. I would also like to be working less and skiing/snowboarding more!

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