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Olympian Murray grabs Grabouw victory

Richard Murray surprised all and sundry, including himself, when he won Sunday’s Totalsports Xterra South African Championships in Grabouw. This is Murray’s first ever national title.

The Cape Town based Olympic triathlete won the event, staged over a 1.5 kilometre swim, 27km mountain bike and 11km trail run in 2hr 23min 2sec. Dan Hugo and Nico Pfitzenmaier joined him on the winner’s podium.

ÔÇ£Today is a special day. My first South African title!ÔÇØ said an extremely happy Murray. ÔÇ£I was planning to do my little jump of happiness at the finish line, but the girl was holding the banner really tight and I couldn’t! Maybe next timeÔǪÔÇØ

Murray said that it was only in the final metres that he finally believed that he would win. ÔÇ£I tend to be a prophet of doom. In sport anything can happen. I was chasing the four-time world champion Conrad Stoltz on the down hills, but I realised that I needed to go at my own pace because crashing won’t only mean the end of my title contention but it also might have ruined my season.ÔÇØ

Murray was the first individual out of the water and on to his mountain bike. ÔÇ£Conrad only passed me in the last 17km or so. I really thought he would have opened a gap of five minutes on me by then!ÔÇØ He passed Stolts again with 4km to go on the trail run. ÔÇ£I was cramping really bad by then, but I just put my head down and kept going.ÔÇØ

This was Murray’s biggest victory on South African soil. ÔÇ£I think that in Xterra it is the strongest athlete that wins. It is fun and risky and I really wanted to be part of it. I think this mountain bike course is one of the most challenging in the world adding to the class of the field of competitors, I think this is one of the most challenging events in the world.ÔÇØ

He also learnt something about his Specialized Epic 29’er. ÔÇ£Before today I didn’t believe that a 29’er of full suspension could make such a big difference. The Specialized Epic 29’er is the world’s leading bike though and it was perfect today. For this course ÔÇô loose sand, lots of rocks ÔÇô it was tailor-made.ÔÇØ

Murray leaves for America on Tuesday. His next event is the Pan American Sprint Cup.


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