Cigarettes to cycling: A lawyer's transformation

by Hannah Norton03 Jun 2015
When most people are still rousing, Minter Ellison Rudd Watts partner Neil Millar is getting into a pool.

The corporate and commercial specialist is training between 10 and 14 hours a week in preparation for the amateur triathlon World Championships in Chicago in September, where he is competing in the 40-45 age group.

“At quarter to six in the morning before swim squad, I feel like I want to do anything else in the world except go to swim squad. At 7.30, when I’ve come out of the swim squad, I feel so much better about the day ahead. It pumps me up,” he told NZLawyer.

But things weren’t always that way for Millar.

When asked if he was a runner or cyclist before delving into the world of triathlons, Millar laughed: “No, mainly I was just fat.”

“I arrived [from London] in 2003 and I was 100kgs, and I was smoking a lot of cigarettes and drinking a lot of alcohol.”

He started initially running half marathons, but got stress fractures in both his tibias [shinbones].

Someone suggested he do triathlons to avoid doing too much in any one sport. That was 10 years ago. He’s ramped up his training in the last five to six years, and is now down to a lean 75kgs – and all the more better for it at work.

“For me, if I wasn’t doing training in a week, I would not be anywhere near as effective as I am when I do train.

“You start to thrive on it. I don’t drink as much as I used to and I certainly don’t smoke any more. I feel energised.”

Chapman Tripp corporate partner John Strowger also believes exercise “significantly” affects works ability.

“Your ability to concentrate, your whole mental attitude, your energy levels, your enjoyment of life, and therefore, what you do in the office - I can’t imagine practicing without it."

He’s just completed the Cork City Marathon in Ireland.

Speaking to NZLawyer last week before the 42km run, Strowger said it was an activity he’s enjoyed since he was 18 –  “regrettably 35 years ago” – but only really taken seriously in the last five to ten years.

“It doesn’t mean I am a health freak. But if you haven’t got your health, what have you got?”

Bell Gully marketing and communications manager Nikki Langford said the firm had a number of athletes in its stable.

“We have lots of very keen runners, cyclists, iron man participants, boxers, Sky Tower stair climbers etcetera, but the majority of it is aligned with our pro-bono and charitable events,” she said.