2017, according to Richard Murray is the year of fun. The triathlete took his performance to the next level recently when within one week finishing in the top five of his first ever 70.3 race, he won the Bundesliga sprint race.
The SA triathlete decided to do things differently in the post-Olympic year by adding many non-traditional races to his calendar.
First on the list, Murray made his first-ever appearance in a 70.3 distance race and finished fifth. This past Saturday, he won the Kraichgau leg of the Bundesliga triathlon in Germany. It was the third time Murray won this race and his fifth victory of the season.
“So the focus of this year is having fun and the plan is to do things I’ve wanted to do for the past few years but just could not fit in the schedule,” said Murray after his race in Slovakia.
“The Championship by Challenge was my first planned 70.3-distance race and I knew that I needed a lot of preparation in order to be successful and have a good first time out on a long course. So I headed to Morgan Hill, California and spent some time in the wind tunnel for aerodynamic testing. This was all part of making sure that I was as fast as possible on the bike and also that my bike setup was comfortable for the 90km ride.”
After preparing well and training hard in the weeks leading up to the race in Slovakia, Murray finally lined up for his Half Ironman debut.
“On race day I believe I was in some of the best form I’ve been all year. I could not have asked for a better swim as I came out of the water in the top five. The 90km ride was the game changer of the event and I knew that I needed to pace myself in order to have a good quality fast run off the bike for my first half-marathon.
“Coming off the bike I was in the top 10, but I lost around 10 minutes to athletes who specialise in this distances. I really struggled to run after I got off the bike, but I have heard that this is a usual thing apparently as the body gets very stiff for the TT position.”
Murray’s plan was do to the run in 1 hour and 5 minutes, but a tricky course and aching body had other ideas. “There was plenty of sand and grass on the route and that slowed the pace. The heat without any wind made for some extreme weather conditions as well. Over the first 10km I went through in a good pace of 35 minutes, but then the suffering really started. The last 3km was brutal and I knew that I had to keep it together if I wanted to cross the finish-line!”
In the end he happily ran a 1:15.“I will never forget my debut!” he said post-race.