How to grow a powerful track and field tache

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US indoor one mile and 3000m champion Will Leer (centre) is perhaps best known for his incredible face furniture. We talk to him about his love affair with the moustache; why our great sport needs more lip ticklers; and how to grow the perfect mo.

So, Will. How did the fascination for facial hair start?

"I first grew a moustache aged 19 or 20. I spent my summer months in Minnesota and it gets really hot. I ran a 10km race on the fourth of July in 33-35°C.

"I went home and thought, as it is the fourth of July [US Independence Day], I’m going to shave off the beard and grow a moustache. The next day I woke up and thought ‘holy crap,’ but then just couldn’t bring myself to shave it off. It then just became my thing."

Why the droopy moustache? Is it a nod to 1970s distance icons like Steve Prefontaine and Dave Bedford?

"No. It is just the kind of the moustache I can grow, although it didn’t hurt that other greats grew a similar lip sweater."

How many weeks does it take to grow the perfect moustache?

"Realistically, to grow a really good one it takes six weeks. To grow an imitation it takes about four. To be powerful, bushy, and prominent on my face: it takes six weeks."

Have you had any moustache disasters?

"I don’t think there is such a thing as a moustache disaster. There are so many different variations on the moustache. If I’m shaving, nick a side, and have to take it down: it just becomes a different beast. It is still a moustache."

Do you have an all-time favourite track and field tache?

"Rick Wohlhuter [1976 Olympic 800m bronze medallist] had a fantastic moustache. It was powerful, and [Dave] Bedford [former world 10,000m record holder] – that was an all-time tache. The difference is: everyone had a moustache back in the 70s."

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Dave Bedford with his “fantastic and powerful” moustache, in 2006.

"Today, there is a total lack of taches in track and field. I’m not going to kid myself: I have popularity because of this ridiculous moustache. Thankfully, nobody who is faster than me has grown a moustache, so I can maintain that status."

What is the worst moustache you’ve seen in track and field?

"Look at the pics [click here –NSFW] from the 2010 US Indoor Championships and you’ll see Nick Symmonds, a good friend of mine. That is a moustache that should never have seen the light of day.

"We were training up at altitude in an apartment full of six guys. No-one was seeing their girlfriend and everyone was growing a beard, but Nick’s beard was a little patchy at best.

"He had this moustache that was horrendous. At the end of the day, he won the US title [in the 800m], so you have to give the moustache credit."

Will Leer’s guide to the perfect lip caterpillar

1. Patience

"It doesn’t happen overnight. There are many different ways to skin a cat. You can shave it down to a moustache from a beard or if you have the balls: grow a moustache from day one."

2. Confidence

"You have to wear a moustache with confidence. It is like wearing a bright coloured shirt with confidence. Many greats before me have grown a great moustache. I’m just continuing the line of great people."

3. Tools of the trade

"To grow a good beard you need the right tools. I go with scissors and a razor. Others might go for a beard trimmer."

4. Maintenance

"The most important element is to maintain the tache. If you don’t maintain, it has a tendency to go over the upper lip and down into the mouth, which is a disaster when eating food. The best advice I could give in this case is to depress the hair to get a full gauge of length and then trim the upper lip.

"The lip has to be clear otherwise you look like a walrus. While women might be attracted to a moustache they might not be attracted to kissing a moustache. It is a skill. I can definitely tell who has a finely manicured moustache versus someone who has a moustache built into scruffy facial hair."

5. Fine tuning

"It is fun for me to grow a moustache as a track and field athlete. My races are generally a week apart, and a little bit like a lawn needs to be trimmed every week, so does the moustache. On race day, when I draw most of my power, I work on the moustache.

"It is a good way to clear my mind. It is part of my pre-race routine. There are those of you out there you want to see the moustache in all its glory. They don’t want to see it in a dishevelled state. In the words of Outkast ‘So fresh, So clean’."