By Mark Etheridge
Despite two Commonwealth Games medals in his trophy chest, hometown favourite Richard Murray is no less eager to get his hands on another medal as the World Triathlon Series hits Green Point, Cape Town this weekend.
Murray was third in the elite men’s race in Glasgow, Scotland last year and then teamed up with Henri Schoeman, Gill Sanders and the now-retired Kate Roberts to win silver behind England in the team competition a few days later.
There’s no doubting Murray is an even meaner machine this time out for the Discovery World Triathlon Cape Town, having tirelessly worked on improving his swimming discipline to go with an already impressive cycling and running skills set.
To this end he’s been having swim specific training and already this year has a third spot in the season-opening WTS race in Abu Dhabi and a sixth spot in the Gold Coast, Australia leg. In between was a win at the World Cup short-distance event in New Plymouth, New Zealand.
‘I’d be really happy to exit the water after the swim under a minute from the front, a 45-50sec gap would be really great but of course you’ve also got to be realistic about things, there are a lot of top people racing here so we’ve got to be realistic,’ the Capetonian told Road to Rio 2016 this week.
Murray felt the effects of a big effort in the cycle at Gold Coast as it effected his running speed in the final stages. ‘The legs were still a bit tender but these last few days will see them fretting up with some light training.’
At this level one has to be able to tackle all courses and reckons a technical bike would sometimes play in the hands of a breakaway group sometimes. ‘I like the corners and would also have liked a few more hills to break things up.’
Main attraction on Sunday will the presence of 2012 Olympic champion Alistair Brownlee of England. ‘It’s his first WTS race of the season and he’ll be fresh and raring to dish out some pain… and I’m very familiar with that! He doesn’t play around and he’ll be ready to go.’
when it comes to his own chances he says: ‘Obviously I’d like to match my fifth place from last year here or better. I really would love to get on the podium here in South Africa but we’re racing against the very best here. Eight of the top 10 ranked guys are here. It’s a stacked field so top three would be really awesome.
”It’s nice to have four or five of South Africa’s own best triathletes here as well. Henri [Schoeman] and Wian [Sullwald] are both good swimmers so they’ll be in the mix earl on and pushing the pace on the bike. I’m expecting a very strong front group from the swim and the second group on the bike is going to have to put in some proper work to close the gap. It’s really going to be good to watch.’
Competitors are expected to have to put up with the normal chilly Atlantic waters with temperatures around the 14deg Celsius mark. The swim leg involves two laps of 750m from Quay Six in the Waterfront.
Then it’s into T1 for the cycle which involves one lap of 4.1km and another eight laps of 4.5km on a course along Beach Road to the Mouille Point lighthouse and the running leg will have four laps of 2.4km going through the Green Point Athletics Stadium and into the Green POint urban park area before a final 400m circuit to the finish inside the stadium.
Elite women will race at 2.55pm on Saturday, the men go off at the same time on Sunday.
Picture of Murray in Gold Coast action, courtesy of Delly Carr/ITU