The Sunday Telegraph - Sunday

‘Training is my release, I’d be lost without it’

Gordon Ramsay is swapping his chef whites for Lycra, he tells Laura Silverman


Gordon Ramsay is telling me how he is going to win his next triathlon. “I need all the participan­ts kicking my a--[before the race] and secretly, while they’re sleeping, I’ll be training.” The television chef, 47, doesn’t just like competitio­n; he can’t live without it. “I’m useless unless I’m under pressure,” he says. “With pressure, commitment is healthy. When I don’t have pressure, I’m unhealthy. That’s the way I drive.” During our interview at Bread Street Kitchen, his restaurant in the City, I find that Ramsay has a love-hate relationsh­ip with pressure. He needs it to focus, but too much can push him into profanitie­s and the search for a release. As well as the restaurant­s, the TV shows and the family trips out with the Beckhams in Los Angeles, Ramsay is an amateur but serious athlete. He has raced in 15 marathons, three ultramarat­hons, three half-Ironmans (a triathlon ending in a half-marathon) and the world’s toughest Ironman competitio­n in Hawaii. He is now preparing for another half-Ironman in Staffordsh­ire next June, and is asking 100 members of the public to compete with him. Members of GR100, Ramsay’s team, pay a fee and receive training days and kit. The money raised will go to charities, including Cancer Research and Scottish Spina Bifida Associatio­n. Ramsay already has his first participan­t: his wife. “Tana wants to beat me. She doesn’t have much time on her hands, but she’s dedicated. You’ll see her in Richmond Park on a Sunday morning, running, with all the kids [they have four] behind on their bikes. She’s seriously discipline­d.” Ramsay won’t train with her because she is competitio­n. “She said last week, ‘I’m so excited about the 70.3 [the halfIronma­n]. Could we do the bike on a tandem?’ I said, ‘Are you kidding me? We are not doing a tri-tandem. It’s not happening. No chance.’” There’s no doubt that Ramsay is strong willed and driven, but today he does not come across as the fierce, impatient ogre you might expect from Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares. Instead, he is charming and open, proud of his children, passionate about cooking. He talks fast, as if racing to keep up with his thoughts. He is funny, selfdeprec­ating and an engaging storytelle­r. He rarely swears (by his standards). At 6ft 2in, with his shock of blond hair (the result of an impressive £30,000 hair transplant) and black biker jacket, he has an imposing presence. Ramsay worries he currently looks like “a bodybuilde­r” because he has been doing so much weight training. He has had to give the bike and the running a rest after pulling his hamstring. “Tana keeps saying to me, ‘You’ve got to start wearing baggy T-shirts because you look like you’re going through a midlife crisis.’ It’s not me. It’s just the training.” Without the training, Ramsay fears he would be a wreck. “I’ve seen so many The Gordon Ramsay Foundation is offering Telegraph readers the chance to race in the newIronman 70.3 Staffordsh­ire 2015. Members of the GR100, an exclusive club led by the chef, will benefit fromtraini­ng days with experts, meetings with Olympic triathlete­s and top-of-the-range kit. While this is hardly for the faint-hearted, Ramsay is not looking for seasoned athletes, but dedicated, passionate and driven people whowant to take on a lifechangi­ng challenge. There is a £2,500 fee if you are successful. Youwill be expected to raise a further £2,500. To become part of the team, go to gordonrams­ chefs crash and burn,” he says. “Training is my release. I would be lost without it. It gives me a reason to pull myself out [of the restaurant­s]. It’s given me time to myself.” Ramsay recalls being in the water at Kailua-Kona, at the Ironman World Championsh­ip in Hawaii last year. “I thought, ‘S--- this is extraordin­ary. It’s 5.15am. We are about to swim 3.8k. I look under the water and it’s like Finding Nemo: there is this amazing array of fish. I knew then that if I was going to continue to run all these restaurant­s, I needed to stay fit. This was the way to do it.” Ramsay was born in Johnstone, Renfrewshi­re, and grew up in Stratford upon Avon. Sport, rather than cooking, was his first love and he dreamt of becoming a footballer. Such was his desire, he even once claimed he had played for Glasgow Rangers, before getting an injury. He was actually a trialist. Football was a way to escape – and impress – his violent, alcoholic father, a Rangers fan: “I focused on it to block out the s---storm going on at home.” His ability to focus was his way of coping with a tough childhood. “I don’t get depressed,” he says. “I can avoid it. I’ve got that instinct.” Ramsay ran his first marathon in 2001. “My father-in-law [Chris Hutcheson] told me I was putting on weight. He was right. I ran the London Marathon that year in 4.57. After the finish line, he said, ‘You did well. It wasn’t a good time, but it wasn’t a bad time.’ I like that tough love. I took it as a challenge.” Ramsay has been running marathons ever since. In 2004, he missed the sub-3.30 mark by 14 seconds. “I put that down to stopping

 ??  ?? On track: Gordon Ramsay is ready to tackle the half-Ironman in Staffordsh­ire, having already competed in the Kailua-Kona, above right, and the London Marathon, far right
On track: Gordon Ramsay is ready to tackle the half-Ironman in Staffordsh­ire, having already competed in the Kailua-Kona, above right, and the London Marathon, far right

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