The King Of SLT Returns – Richard Murray Tells All

Last year, Super League Triathlon (SLT) hit our screens with a bang with Richard Murray coming out on top on the male side. This year he’ll be returning to Jersey basking in the glory of being the reigning champion, but this time the athletes know what to expect in the crazy world of SLT – and the stacked field will be specifically preparing for the demands of this type of racing. Can Richard prove his victories in 2017 were not just one-off affairs?

Does SLT make you think about your training differently?

Yes and no to a certain extent – obviously we do more transitions than we normally do at an SLT race, so I’m trying to train specifically for that. I’m maybe working in more high-end speed work on the runs and worrying less about the endurance side of things; but the fitter you are, the better you’re going to cope with the days of racing.

Thats why I enjoy it – it’s full gas from the start as you know it, and one or two seconds really matters in this type of racing.

Your transitions were quick last year in Jersey, you made up some ground!

Yes I’ve noticed I can be kind of shoddy on the swim and still get right to the front through the transition – in the first race in Jersey, I came stone last out of the water and then we got on the bike – and I was in the middle of the pack! By the time we finished the first lap we had a small breakaway. It’s weird how the race can change so quickly. I have specifically trained my transition speed over the years. Maybe we could just have transition races?

Any tweaks to your set up you’re thinking about for SLT?

Well – you’re going to laugh but I was thinking about flat pedals and putting my running shoes on, then just racing with flat pedals on my road bike! I could go foot out round the corners – maybe elastic your feet into the runners and velcro the shoes onto the pedals! I have also thought about rocking a single chain ring on the bike with a chain guard – I reckon it would look pretty trick.

So, how are you excited to be going back to Jersey as a racing destination and as the reigning series champion?

Yea, yea I am – the only thing is the 16 degree water temperature, it was so cold, especially without a wetsuit! It’s only 300m though so you don’t lose much core temp in that time, and as long as your transitions are ok, then you should be alright. If you lose a few seconds on the swim, then don’t transition well, you’ll find yourself without a pack on the bike and next thing you know you’re out the back. The course is so tight and there is no where to hide – I think disc breaks are going to help as you can break later and not as hard.

One of the things you have mentioned is wanting to use your profile in SLT to engage the younger generation in South Africa to get into triathlon, do you feel there is an uplift following your success?

For sure, coming from South Africa, I am well aware of how the triathlon model works. Kids definitely need to get overseas to get exposure and do some racing and stuff. When I started I was going to Germany at 16 to get some European experience, I was there on my own in a school hostel trying to figure it all out. Hopefully one day we can have something that is more organised so the juniors can platform from South Africa easily.

SLT can help with this as the shorter and punchier the distance, the more the younger guys are performing and I think eventually we will start seeing the younger athletes begin to dominate SLT.

Do you think the SLT weekends are impacting the wider community in the race locations?

I definitely think so, yes – that was one of the main things I liked about the weekend in Jersey. It was awesome to get involved in the community! Even though some of the athletes are not used to outreach like that, I think the more we do it, the more it becomes the standard. That is one of the best things about SLT, not only the racing but widening the engagement and making it the norm. So I think it benefits both the athlete at the event and also the community – it makes the athletes feel more like superstars whilst hopefully inspiring a new generation.

Finally – when the chips are down and you’re gunning for the win at SLT what do you think about to get you through a race?

Pain is inevitable – at some point it’s going to hurt and theres always a moment where I think s*it, can I do this?! Then I realise that in the next hour or so it wont be bad anymore, and I just remind myself that eventually it ends. Live in the moment… when I’m racing everything else is completely blacked out. They say pain is temporary, and glory is forever.

When all is said and done, will Richard still be the champion he is today when the dust has settled on a full season of racing? It’s going to be EPIC finding out!

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