Keith Murray takes on Kona!
Our North England & Scotland Sales Manager Keith Murray doesn’t just have the gift of the gab. Turns out his experience is as authentic as it comes, and especially so when it comes to the road.
After performing outstandingly on triathlon and Ironman events over the past few years, Keith is soon to embark on a plane – direction: Kona, Hawaii – to compete in the Ironman World Championships, no less. We caught up with him as he starts preparing for the biggest event of his life.
Windwave: Hey Keith! Let’s start by saying a big congrats on embarking on such a big undertaking.
The Kona ironman is quite comfortably THE most famous Ironman event in the world, and I imagine one of the toughest ones too… Since you joined us at Windwave, your ambition to continue pursuing Ironman and triathlon events was always clear, and we’re stoked to see you take it to the elite over in Hawaii.
We understand there are a several routes to the World Championship. Can you let us know how you qualified and in what age group?
Keith: I raced ironman Wales in 2019 finishing 7th in my then 40-44 age group. There were qualifying slots for the Top 6, so I missed out by one place.
I knew my form was pretty good, so I decided to race the next event I could realistically get recovered and fit for, which was iM Argentina in Mara de Plate, 200m south of Buenos Aires in December 2019*. That time, I won my age group and took my Kona Slot!
*The Kona slot was originally for 2020, but it was twice postponed due to the pandemic and now set to return this October.
WW: How many triathlons and ironman events have you competed in this year alone?
K: Too many haha, so far two full races (Austria & Copenhagen) and several half-distance races as well as a couple of sprint races!
WW: Amazing. Let’s wind back a little. What drew you to long distance events in the first place? And what keeps you going?
K: After a pretty successful stint racing TT’s and Cyclocross, I needed a change! In 2017 I attended a triathlon training camp in Lanzarote as a bike coach. Seeing the dedication of the athletes training across three disciplines kind of inspired me to learn to swim and run…
Now racing in new places is the appeal, I want to race abroad in the sun as much as possible, so combining racing with travel is a new passion. That’s a real motivator to get a session done when I come home from work, or when the alarm goes off early to go to the pool!
WW: What’s your typical training routine coming up to an event? And did you change any of it ahead of Kona?
K: I have a pretty solid weekly routine of 10km swimming a week, 30 miles running and then the rest biking. Usually this is approximately 12 hours a week, with an increase to 15-17 in the lead up to a Full Distance Race. I can’t do any more than that, and if I did I simply wouldn’t recover nor have the time with work!
For Kona – in the last two weeks before I go, I will add in some turbo sessions in a heated room and saunas post training to help with heat adaptation!
WW: We all know nutrition is super important for long distance events. How do you approach this ahead of, and during the event?
K: A balanced diet works for me, nothing fancy and a bit of everything in moderation! During a race, I pretty much got it dialled through trial and error.
I have a strategy that works during races, whereby I consume almost 1,800 calories whilst on the bike. I was once told the bike is a picnic for the run, and it’s true!
For marathons, I take as much fluid as I can – anything on the aid stations, water, isotonic drinks and coke, the only thing I really avoid is Red Bull!
WW: What’s come first in terms of nutrition?
K: No.1 for me: it has to be easy on the stomach.
WW: Can you tell us about your bike? What extra components have you added to gain that all-important advantage?
K: I ride an Argon18 E119Tri Disc that Argon gave me last year. It’s far from standard spec, as I have a custom-made cockpit from Uniquo Custom Bike Parts in Spain. It is really comfortable and helps me hold an aerodynamic position.
SRAM eTap is essential for traveling as it is wireless and easy to set up; CeramicSpeed features heavily with an Aero OSPW, UFO Chain and Coated Ceramic wheel bearings. ISM have also helped me for years, so a PN1.1 saddle is my go-to.
Wheels can vary on the course. I use a Vision Disc and Tri Spoke on calm days and Reynolds Aero 80’s from our friends at UPGRADE! For Kona you can’t use a disc wheel so I will probably use 60mm deep wheels.
28mm Hutchinson Fusion Tires are a great blend of performance and reliability, so far so good!
WW: What would you say to someone who is thinking about taking on triathlon training?
K: It’s definitely a commitment, but it’s worth it. Start little and build. You don’t need to have all the top gear from day one.
I think one of the best things about Tri is the community and the people I have met, from swimming at the pool to running at the track! Regardless of distance from a pool sprint to an ironman I have found it really inclusive and made many friends across the world.