Richard Murray is the name that every triathlon fan is talking about at the moment. It’s actually the name that everyone has been talking about since he burst onto the elite triathlon scene back in 2012.
It’s only March, but 2017 has already been a standout year in the multisport athlete’s career. The last three months have seen him win the Cape Town leg of the Triathlon World Cup, take his second title at the South African XTERRA Championship, and become the first ever champion of the Super League Triathlon in Australia. Discover more about his Super League experience and his ‘secret’ recipe for his recent success.
What was it about Super League that made it the ‘most amazing race’ of your career so far?
It was live and apparently 50-60 million people watched it in eight countries. The feedback I got after the event was that it was the most professional thing that they had seen, both broadcast-wise and character-wise from the athletes. That’s super cool! And then the enjoyment from the athlete’s side in just being there was a massive thing. To compete in a very exclusive part of the world, Hamilton Island, is something that not every athlete gets to do. It was also the biggest prize money that I’ve ever made!
What was your approach to the Super League format of racing compared to what you have previously experienced?
The more years you race triathlon, the more you realise how much you need to prepare for things better, focus on things better and execute every day in the best way that you can. Having done the Island House Triathlon in November last year and the year before, it gave me a little insight on what type of preparation recovery-wise, before and after, I needed to do each day. It really played in my favour to walk away with the best performance each day.
Which day did you have to dig the deepest and why?
It was definitely on the third day on the bike. The guys were really bashing going up the hill, and I think the power-weight ratio for some of the guys was definitely a benefit. The heavier guys like myself were paying for it on the uphill!
Where do you draw all your strength from when you need to push through those tougher moments that you face as a triathlete?
There are obviously a few very difficult moments that you experience as a triathlete, and you need to know how to get through those. The moment I experienced on the bike at Super League is a good example of that, where I am put under a lot of stress. I realise that all I need to do is get through that specific moment until I get back to something that I can sustain. There’s a reassurance that comes with knowing that tough moment is not going to continue forever, and you learn that as you build your experience up as a triathlete.
This has been a stand-out year in your career and it’s only March! What do you attribute this on-going 2017 success to?
The approach this year of being more relaxed, having some fun, doing the things that I want to do and being in the right environment has definitely paid dividends to this success. The more fun you have, the more you enjoy what you’re doing. I think that a lot of the times athletes get too serious and focused these days, and they lose the enjoyment side of the sport. In January, going to altitude and joining the Dutch national team in Windhoek was also a big contribution. We went on safaris and stuff, it was a lot of fun and all those little things really take your mind off what you’re doing.
You took a major blow last year when you broke your collarbone and were kept from competing at the Olympics. How did you ultimately use that to come back stronger this year?
It depends what type of character you have, but often experiencing a lot of bad times you become more motivated. I realised that the whole thing was my mistake and something I could have controlled better. But sometimes bad things happen – it’s not always sunshine and roses. I am kind of glad it happened because it taught me to control myself better and not to go all-out. Even if I’m skilled, I need to be careful on the bike at certain moments. It’s all about getting through and running the best that I can. After the injury, I was still glad about how things turned out and landed up having one the best ends to the season.
You’ve traveled quite a lot this year. Does all the moving around ever take its toll on you?
[laughs] Of course! We are human after all. I plan to come home every couple of months, just to be grounded a bit and see my family and friends. And just forget about triathlon for a couple of days at least! Luckily, I have a really good travel companion and the love of my life, Rachel Klamer. It’s very nice to have her along with the ride. I think it’s a lot more difficult to do it on your own. When tough times get tough and you’re on your own, they get that much tougher. When I broke my collarbone it would have been a lot more depressing.
Most memorable place you’ve traveled to this year?
I’m really into nature and being out there. So it’s a close call between Windhoek in Namibia and Hamilton Island. I went to see the Great Barrier Reef by helicopter there, and that was always on my bucket this.
Regarding your training regime at the moment…
Your approach to rest and recovery?
At the moment I’m pretty much surviving between races really and trying to recover. I’m try regulate things and do a bit of turn-over speed before the next event. It’s pretty crazy at this time of year, flat-out racing and traveling.
What do you find yourself working on the most, and what do you find yourself strongest at the moment as a triathlete?
My strengths definitely lie in the running and being on the bike. I started late as a swimmer, but I’ve found that as the years have gone on my resilience in the swimming has improved a little bit, and the speed has slowly increased too. I focus my training the most around swimming. The cycling is kind of a general thing for me that just needs to get done, but I enjoy the cycling the most out of all three disciplines. I enjoy swimming on the days I feel strong, and hate swimming on the days that I don’t. But I think everyone’s in the same boat.
Has starting the year off on such a high impacted your confidence in any way, especially as you set your sights on other events?
So the confidence thing… yes and no. I believe in my abilities and what I can achieve, but also always find that there’s something that I can do better or improve on. I try not take too much confidence out of any race that I’ve done. One thing that I’ve noticed is that the more confidence that you have, then the greater the fall from being confident. I make sure that I do everything that I can to the best that I can, and have fun while I’m doing it. Some would say that that’s the winning formula. We’ll just see how it goes. The year is still long , and there’s a good couple of fun races ahead. It’s my first 70.3, which will probably be a tough day out. But looking forward to those things.
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