Kiwi freeride skier Craig Murray isn’t a stranger to crazy and unbelievable challenges. But what better way to step outside his comfort zone than at the Ironman 70.3 Race in Taupō.
Murray has made a name for himself on the Freeride World Tour, claiming victories at Freeride World Tour events in Austria and Canada, along with a number of podium finishes at events around the globe.
But after making the tough decision to not compete internationally this year due to Covid, Murray has set his sights on a new challenge.
The 22-year-old will take on a 1.9km swim, 90km ride and 21km run, with the Ironman 70.3 race running alongside Ironman New Zealand.
“I’m feeling good, I’m not really sure what to expect, my preparation has been tricky but I think overall I’m just excited for the event and to check out the whole Ironman and triathlon scenes,” said Murray.
“I’ve only done a kids triathlon when I was younger, 15 years ago maybe.
“I can’t wait, it’s going to be really cool to get to the start line and hopefully to the finish line.
"It’s been amazing doing different training as well, that’s something that keeps it interesting and keeps me motivated, especially with the postponed date."
The postponed date may prove to be a blessing in disguise for Murray, providing a chance to fit in some additional training given his short lead up to his first Ironman 70.3.
“I signed up originally with nine days' notice so I was doing some quick bricks to get ready for it,” he said.
“I got in the pool with a friend who helped me out with some swimming technique because swimming is definitely my weakness. We got into the lake as well and she was really helpful and got me swimming up to 2km straight away which was amazing, I wasn’t expecting to be able to do that. I’ve been doing a bit of swimming here in Lake Wanaka which is great and doing a bit of road biking and running but recently have gone back to mountain biking and mountain running in this last week.
“It definitely gave me a little bit more time to prepare and get the gear organised and get myself ready for what it’s going to be like with transition, riding with aero bars.
“Training wise it’s still quite a short timeframe but it was nice to have a few more weeks to get the body ready for the event.
“Mentally I think the postponement made it a little bit harder, having the event drawn out, just with thinking about it so much more.
“But at the end of the day having the event going ahead, and having the opportunity to race, is amazing. I was a bit worried that we weren’t going to get to race and I would miss out on the opportunity to do a race like this because usually I’m overseas at this time of the year.”
While the event will be Murray’s first foray into the world of triathlon he’ll be drawing on a wealth of experience competing at the highest level.
“I think there’s a lot of aspects that I’ll draw from the past events that I’ve done,” he said.
“I’m really lucky to have that endurance, multisport and adventure sport background because it definitely helps with the mental preparation and toughness aspects of the race.”
Murray has also had help from Ironman champion Braden Currie as well as Coast to Coast winner Dougal Allan.
“I'd think it was crazy if it was anyone else but the Murrays are pretty crazy people but they’re crazy because they’re just so talented” says Allan.
Murray’s parents Keith and Andrea happen to be multi sport legends -both holding course records for the Coast to Coast.
Craig not only has family standards to live up to but he’s also raising money for the charity Boys Alive.