Chris Legh's Tips on Avoiding an Ironman Bonk

It's one of the most famous bonks in the history of triathlon.

Chris Legh was 50 meters from the finish line of the 1997 Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. He was in fifth place, but obviously struggling. He could barely stand, and clumsily staggered from side to side as he tried to reach the finish line on Alii Drive.

He never made it. Legh collapsed near the fence on one side of the chute. Three attempts to get up and keep going were futile. He couldn't even crawl. After 140.5 miles of racing, Legh was carried off on a stretcher without finishing.

It was more than just an empty tank. Legh, then 24, was so dehydrated that part of his large intestine effectively died and had to be surgically removed. It nearly cost him his life.

More: 13 Things That Surprised Me in Kona

"When you get to the front of the Ironman, you're not going to stop," Legh recalls. "Leading into that race, I had a couple of issues where I'd collapse and need an IV and need a week to recover. The year before that I was disqualified very early in the race, so I had the motivation to make sure to finish this time. If I did collapse, then I'd just go to the medical tent and have an IV and be fine.

"It gets to a point where you can't comprehend anything. There was no way I was going to stop, but when you run into a brick wall like that, you stop in a hurry."

After recovering, Legh was invited by Gatorade to go to their Sports Science Institute in Chicago to undergo testing that would determine what may be causing his issues. The Kona collapse and Legh's subsequent partnership with Gatorade soon was immortalized in a widely aired television commercial.

It wasn't just good TV, though. Legh picked up valuable nutrition tips from that testing in Chicago.

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