Leon Kofoed - "To make the most out of life" - Interview with OCR European Champion 2019
If you're looking for Leon before or after the race, look for a short blond fellow who smiles all the time, talks, gives high-five and there are plenty of people around him. If you are looking for Leon during the race, be quick and watch the top of the race, the most efficient guy on obstacles will be him... and there will be plenty of people... far away after him.
- First of all, let me say that I'm so happy that you agreed for this interview, I imagine that you might be a bit busy :)
- Yeah, these days are way more busy than I expected they would be! I'm enjoying training, but there's also a lot of work to be done. I am planning OCR training events for the fall and also I work in the University, were a lot of things have changed because of COVID19. Exams and also ways of teaching. It's quite demanding.
- Before we move to main questions, tell me what is your first thought when you hear Poland?
- I think of 3 things! Amazing OCR events and obstacles, the 2019 OCREC (sweet feelings) and damn good food.
- Do you remember any names of polish ocr athletes?
- Haha, of course! I love racing these guys at different distances: Jakub Zawistowski and the Sobierajski brothers are amazing at the ninja courses, Piotr Prusak is suuuuper fast and Sebastian Kasprzyk might have the biggest potential of them all. I also enjoy seeing Kacper Kąkol, Jacek Kozicki from OCR Polska, the Barbarian crew and the Biegun guys. Poland is very welcoming to me and I like that. The girls are also very, very nice to me - which sometimes make me blush a bit.
- O'right warm-up phase is done :) I need to start first set of questions, of course, about OCR EC in Gdynia 2019. How do you remember it, what is your general impression?
- I was impressed with the massive setup at the Rugby Stadium, the professional feeling and the excitement to race on a beautiful weekend. I was also very aware of the competition that year, as Albon, Perelygin and Soley wouldn't be there - so who would challenge me?! I was aware Silin was strong, but more names I didn't know would be strong as well.
- What was really, really super and should be part of other big events like Euro or World Champs in your opinion?
- I can answer this simply: A 3k distance should be 3km and not more (*In Gdynia there was Short distance which had 6km). There should be a good balance of different obstacles, with a high density on the short course. The finish should be for public view and with the hard technical obstacles mixed with something highly demanding like a ramp. Poland had almost all of the things I mentioned!
- Your "fight" with Sergey Silin on Short distance was fascinating and full of emotions, do you still remember this?
- I still dream of it! It was intense, raw and painful. I knew I had no chance to breathe and neither did he, so we let it all out. I know most people can relate, because we always race the person who is next to us!
- What went wrong on Ninja Track? You were far from top 10.
- Nothing went wrong, I was just super tired and not motivated to focus on the ninja track. I had decided to try the 15k instead and that left me for dead! But I had so much fun on the ninja track, so I will try it again next year!
- Thx, now let's go to something even more serious - Danish OCR. You are engaged in OCR development as a sport in Denmark. How does it look now and how in 5 years? Do you have National Championships or maybe even two or more?
- This is a very big and interesting question. I am involved in Danish OCR development in 3 ways: 1) Owner of OCR Training Denmark, the biggest training business in Denmark and host of World OCR Coaching Education. 2) As an active athlete with a voice. 3) I participate in the general meeting of the Danish association/union.
So, what will happen? This year we would have first Danish Championships to qualify for the World OCR event in Sochi. But, everything is cancelled, of course. It would be an interesting race though, with 7 organizers coming together with different obstacles through Reborn OCR. We will NOT have more than 1 Danish Championship, it would be too stupid. So, we put all our eggs in 1 basket and move forward, together. Something I'm very excited about! In 5 years we will have a union and 15-20 associations in Denmark, so we can get recognized as a national sport.
- How do you think why Denmark is so good in OCR? For example during EC 2019 you have collected 7 medals in Pro/Elite. It's a knockout for other countries. It's matter of ...?
- I honestly don't have a good answer for this question, although it made me think very hard. It's confusing to me that Denmark is doing well - since none of the people who are doing well comes from a professional running background or something like it.
- I wonder maybe you have high prizes in OCR and this is a magnet for good athletes? So, what is average prize for winning OCR event in Danmark?
- I have never won a big prize purse in OCR. Winning the OCREC 2 years got me EUR 1000 every year, which of course makes it hard to be a full time OCR athlete. But I don't complain about this, I just want to organizers to understand that there might be a relationship between size of prize purse, the level of competitors and also the people watching. OCR has a lot of potential, I hope to see growth in the future as well.
- Talking about Danish OCR events, which of them do you recommend, let's say that I'm able to run in only one, which should I chose?
- I would recommend the organizer called Reborn OCR and their summer event: Ledreborg Castle. It's an 8k trail course with amazing obstacles - some even hard for the Polish athletes. I challenge anyone from Poland to come and kick my ass here! Whoever beats me will get my racing jersey!
- Any recommendation who is worth to follow on Instagram or Facebook?
- Well first off, then I want more Polish OCR athletes to follow my profile! I love Poland and would like to see a growth there. But otherwise I'd recommend Lindsay Webster, Killian Jornet, Ryan Sandes, Jon Albon and Ross Edgley.
- O'right, now it will be more personal :) Are you ok with this?
- Of course! Anyone following me already knows I'm an open book and I think it's important to talk about personal things too.
- Can you tell us how it all started in your case with OCR? What did you do before you started running in OCR and why are you doing OCR at all? :)
- It's a simple but yet colorful story, guys. I've had a very active youth and I've always loved to be more fit than most. I played a lot of soccer growing up and tried many sports like gymnastics, riffle shooting, weight lifting and also a bit of running. Until the age of 20 I was always in descent shape although I was a bit of a party animal who never slept more than 6 hours and also worked hard to be great in school. After being in the military I maintained fitness but with no goals and nothing special about it - until I heard about OCR! I tried my first event in 2012 and the next 2 years I was getting faster - but I was also having a hangover at most races. So in 2015 after half a year in New Orleans for eating, drinking, studying and listening to jazz, I decided it was time to change life lanes. I quit drinking, put energy into my job as an analyst, into my master degree and I started running with a club. That year I went to the OCRWC and finished 37th overall, which was fine. One step lead to another and whoopsie daisy, I'm a totally different person. Better, faster, stronger and more focused than I ever thought I was. That said, then sometimes I miss the social fun and the drinks, I miss playing music on stage and all of those things - but I would never trade back!
- Can we call you a professional OCR athlete? In the sense that you make money for a living from OCRs. If not, when do you think it can happen, what do you need?
- No. I am not far away to being capable of making the jump financially, but with COVID19 raging now I also have to think things over. I currently teach 5 classes at the University (Copenhagen Business School) in Managerial Economics, were I keep my academic strings attached. I graduated with a MSc in Mathematics & Economics in 2018.
- Will you reveal how your preparation for the season looks like, how many strength trainings a week, how many technical, grip, obstacle sessions? How many kilometers do you run?
- Sure, we can talk about this. But please know not the same recipe is good for all and I'm coming back from injury :) Monday: Easy run or bike + grip session
Tuesday: Running workout sub threshold training (like 5k controlled hard)
Wednesday: Core, buttock leg strength session. Then easy run or bike.
Thursday: Something like 10-15 x 400m controlled + easy activities + grip session
Friday: Rest day!
Saturday: Longer intensity speed work in the forest + leg strength session
Sunday: Long run or long bike + core
- Any special diet?
- There's no magic pill, but my diet looks pretty much the same every week. 2 healthy meals a day from Macro (*dietetic catering), yogurt w. granola for breakfast and 2-4 in between snacks. Snacks can be anything, but honestly they're mostly unhealthy. Like a chocolate cookie, biscuits, some candy or anything like that. It's not ideal, but I do enjoy the sweet stuff!
- Except sweets, do you allow yourself some small sins like beer in the evening, pizza once a week? A month?
- Whenever I feel like it, yeah. But I don't consider it a sin. This past month I had a lot of unhealthy snacks, I ate pizza and I've had a beer a week. But my body fat percentage is still 5,0% and I weigh almost the same as before the OCRWC. It's weird.
- In Poland we have a very fast growing popularity of Ninja Warrior style races, so I would like to ask what do you think about such races? What do you prefer: short OCR or Ninja and why?
- I know Poland is very strong in short course Ninja OCR tracks. I want to improve my skills here as it is both very intense and good for TV. But it's not that big many other places, which is relevant to consider in my training. My focus is the 3-5 km courses with technical obstacles. With this training I will be OK at most Ninja tracks, but probably not the best. I can see Poland do very, very well in international Ninja courses! I hope to see Polish TV take on the OCR versions of Ninja too. Or have Poland host the World OCR Ninja Championships.
- In fact, last year we had in Poland first Ninja Warrior season. Have you tried your chances in this TV show? How it went?
- Yes, I have and I would love to do it again! In 2016 I participated in the Danish Team Ninja Warrior and we did OK, but didn't go all the way. I still dream of making the real Ninja Warrior - or to be a part of the one in Poland as a special guest!
- OK, great, just for the end a few very short questions
- Personal best on 5 km?
- That's 16:13!
- How many pull-ups in one series?
- 37 strict
- Your OCR dream?
- To become the best possible athlete I can. I hope that is enough to win the OCRWC - I am confident it is enough to make the podium.
- Your not OCR dream?
- To make the most out of life and spend more days happy than sad!
- Your motto?
- My mottoes are all stolen from SAYSKY, Trip Extreme, Garmin: "Beat Yesterday", "No Miracles" and "Make the most of it".
- Leon, I'm so thankful for this interview, thank you one more time, good luck in every aspect of your life and hopefully soon we will see in Poland e.g. on Barbarian Race.
- I hope to see you in Poland too and at the World OCR, OCRWC and OCREC!
FACTS ABOUT LEON
Age: 28 Country: Denmark Height: 168 CM Weight: 63 KG Favorite obstacle: Low Rig
All photos taken from:
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