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Murray races to million-buck payday in Australia

Murray

By Mark Etheridge

Call him the Million Rand man… South Africa’s Richard Murray is on top of the world after sealing the lucrative Super League Hamilton Island triathlon in Australia on Sunday.

The two-time Olympian (fourth in Rio last year behind compatriot Henri Schoeman) was crowned after three days of red-hot racing on the spectacular Great Barrier Reef island to take home the winner’s prize of $100,000.

Formats of the race varied over the three days, with the orders of swim/bike/run being swopped frequently and taking the world’s best athletes out of their comfort zones. Distances were 300 metres of swimming, 6km of biking and 2km of running. There was also an individual cycling time trial thrown in on day two.

Sunday’s final day saw three races with the first 15 in race one going through to the penultimate race which saw only the top 10 making the final.

The first race saw Schoeman end eighth and Murray 13th. After the second race the two consolidated with positions of fourth (Murray) and fifth ensuring their spot in the  grand final.

After two days of racing and duking it out for points, Murray was left in the comfortable position of knowing a top seven finish in the final race would see him lifting the $100,000 bounty.

But true to form Murray was leaving nothing to chance. ‘It’s a numbers game now, but don’t want to leave anything to chance. It’ll be big gear/no fear in this last race. It’s going to be flat out… 2min 50sec a kilometre.’

The final race saw super swimmer Richard Varga of Slovakia out of the water once again with Schoeman out third and Murray fifth.

The bike started off tactically with Murray content to be watchful and no-one brave enough to break before Aussie Ryan Fisher went up the road.

The run saw Schoeman start in fourth and Murray in seventh as Fisher fled for the finish line. Murray hit the front with up and coming Tasmanian Jake Birkwhistle and world champion Maria Mola of Spain.

The final push for the line saw Murray surprisingly found wanting as Birtwhistle took the line honours ahead of Mola after 20min 05sec of racing, Mola was eight seconds back and Murray a further five seconds back.

’I was just sticking in,’ said Murray afterward. ‘On the last two laps on the bike, I was just thinking “don’t crash, don’t crash”.

‘On the run I tried to respond when the guys surged, but didn’t have anything left. I would have liked another win, but I’m happy for third spot and the overall win.

‘This is such a great event, media coverage is huge and I think there’ll be a lot more Super League racing in the future.’

The final points standings saw Murray topping the table with 56 points, seven ahead of Mola while Murray’s countryman Henri Schoeman took 11th with 25 points.

In his defence, the fact that he had suffered a medical scare in Abu Dhabi a few weeks back when tests revealed his heart enzymes were up, could well have played on his mind and he can still be satisfied with his return over three tough days of racing.

Murray meanwhile will be able to spend the long trip home working out what to do with the R1.27-million that will show up in his bank account after his efforts over the last three-days.

Picture of Murray and Schoeman starting the bike leg courtesy of Delly Carr


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