Richard Murray takes on his first half-distance race

He's one of the world's best standard-distance racers. On Saturday Richard Murray will compete in his first half at the Challenge Championship in Samorin, Slovakia.

| June 2, 2017 | PERSONALITY

Photo >Kevin Mackinnon

South Africa’s Richard Murray is well known as one of the world’s top standard-distance racers. This weekend he’s taking on his first half-distance race at the Challenge Championship event. He says he’s got three simple goals for his first go at this length of a triathlon: he wants to “get things right – don’t get a penalty, get my nutrition right, then pacing.”

Murray has no intention of giving up on WTS racing, but is looking forward to this new race distance as something he can look forward to pursuing more in the future.

“This race is a gateway to doing longer stuff,” he says. “I noticed that a lot more training needs to be done to be able to do a race like this. You can’t just come in and not have done the mileage. I like to race a lot – (I’ll do) between 15 and 20 races this year. If I throw in a long course race, then I can only do 16 races versus 20, which is not awesome. Hopefully when I get older I will get a bit more robust and handle more long races as Javier (Gomez) has done the last few years.”

Fully aware that his first go at a longer distance might have him a bit sore next week, Murray is skipping the ITU event in Leeds next weekend and will race a lower-key Bundesliga event in Germany for his team there.

While he’s never raced in Slovakia before, Murray pointed out that the first time he ever raced Alistair Brownlee was at the world duathlon championships held in Hungary 10 years ago – that event took place just 40 km from Samorin. When asked who would win if it came down to a sprint between he and his long-time rival Brownlee, he made no bones about his strategy:

“I wouldn’t allow it to come down to that,” he says. “I would go before that. It’s going to be like the Olympics, but longer. Richard (Varga) was asking about a lead kayak for the race – I think he’s going to be the lead kayak for the race. It’s going to be interesting how the race pans out. The course being so flat, the bigger guys with bigger horsepower are going to benefit from this. They’re going to bike over 45 km/ h, I would assume. For lighter guys, they’re going to have to work a bit more. I thought the run was going to be pan flat, I was wanting to run a 1:05 or 1:06 off the bike, but seeing the run course, that’s not going to happen. I like cross country, so the deeper the sand and the softer the grass, all the better.”

For the fun-loving Murray, tomorrow’s race fits very much into his “fun-loving” approach to the sport. He’s enjoyed the experience of working on his time trial position (he spent time in a wind tunnel earlier this year) and relishes the opportunity to try something new.

“I come from farm-style living. I grew up as a farm kid. I was throwing hay bails into trucks during the week and mountain biking and running on gravel roads, barefoot. I did all kinds of wild things growing up.  One thing important that people need to look past is “are you having fun?” At the end of the day you have to look back and say “did I have fun doing what I did, or was it a job?” Going out and training every day is what I love to do and racing comes from that. I do my best to strike a good balance.”