How to grow a powerful track and field tache


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."


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’."