There is a Swedish saying ”många är kallade men få är utvalda” – roughly it means, ”many hear a calling but few are chosen”. I have had the privilege to meet many of the Legendary Ironman Triathletes over the years who are extremely hard training, talented and dedicated and whom selflessly share their experience and knowledge. Among these top triathletes there is one that is exceptional for so many reasons, one that I see as Âa chosen oneÂ – I like to tell you about one of my best friends Jean Moureau, the original ”Muscles from Brussels” – the Chuck Norris of Triathlon.
Jean defies the stereotype view of the triathlon sport and triathlete in so many aspects and is an inspiration for any athlete – in many ways.
If we start with the physical aspects – he really doesn’t have a triathlete’s skinny body composition, he doesn’t act as a triathlete measuring everything he does, eats and he has no real background in endurance sports but rather sprint sports (and windsurfing) – but through shear decisiveness, power and passion he managed to raise to the top and to place 8:th over all in Ironman Hawaii twice in his career (1994 & 1996).
Jean was the guy who was always tested for doping as he was built more like Tarzan than a long distance runner. When I asked him if he never tried to loose muscle/weight to get faster on the run leg he said – ”why should I, I can still run a 2;57 Marathon in Hawaii – it’s not too bad”.
Before triathlon Jean did some track & field for a few years and had a severe accident on the hurdles, so severe that the whole hamstring was ripped into two pieces. This injury has created a scar in the muscle that is bulging out and shortening the hamstring. This compromises Jean’s running (gate) severely and puts an uneven load on the knees. Once I asked Jean how many Ironman he has done with that injury and he said, ”I have no clue how many Ironman races I have done – I know I have done Hawaii eight times, but I never kept count of the total number of Ironman Races I have done”.
While all other pros worked very little or not at all, Jean always had a full time job as an accountant and managed to work 40hr/week and train close to 40hr/week. Starting to train together with Jean was a hard awakening for me who had trained decent with 10-12hrs per week only to find that my weekly program previous to getting to know Jean was now what I was supposed to do every weekend. I could withstand that for 3 years – Jean had this weekly routine for more than 15 years.
The standard program for every weekend was:
Bike 100km Intervals
Run 24-30km (good pace)
Classic Jean Moureau Expressions:
- 53 -11,12,13 are the gears you use – the rest is for decoration.
At the Lanzarote Ironman 1997, Jean had some problems with his gears and rode the whole 180km on the big ring and ended up fourth overall. In the TV clips from the race you see Jean standing pushing the big plate in every image he is present in.
- ”The day before a race I only drink one beer, or two”.
Coming from Sweden with a complete different culture with regards to having a beer after training was a positive experience. After most swim sessions we would meet up in the cafeteria and have a few beers before going home or going for a run.
- ”When I sleep I sleep”.
One year when a whole group of athletes from Europe shared an apartment in Hawaii there was a sick child that cried all night in the apartment just underneath us. We didn’t get any sleep the night before the race – but Jean did.
- ”Stress doesn’t exist, it’s an emotion that we create”.
Jean chose not to get stressed up about anything, anywhere at anytime. He has arrived to race starts without running shoes, water bottles, cycling shoes, etc, etc, just to laugh when he realizes it and solve the issue in one way or the other without loosing his temper or race focus.
- ”I don’t really train anymore, I only swim 3-4 times per week, run 3 times 15km and ride twice per week with the pro-cycling team at Bouval”.
Retiring from the sport means different things to different people. Jean still trains more than most ”elite age-groupers” and I am sure that he would easily do 8:30 again now at the age of 53 – if he would race again.
- ”I’m the most tested triathlete in Ironman – it doesn’t matter if I am 8th or 15th – they always test me”.
Jean trained and raced clean but has the genetics of a race horse. In the Ironman races they typically always test #1-2 and then pick a random person among the pros – and it was always Jean that had to take the random test.
Jean is an amazing person for the sport in Belgium and is now coaching kids and adults in NATO triathlon club in the evenings and still working full time during daytime as an accountant.
Hopefully, he will come back and race Hawaii one more time in 2023 when he turns 60 and I look forward to, once again, race together and to run in Speedos down Alli Drive speaking German in the week leading up to the race. We need to make sure that the Americans continue to think that it’s the Germans that visually pollute their vacation in Kona – it’s a tradition!