Petoskey's McMurray preps for his second Ironman World Championship
Ben McMurray, a 2005 Petoskey High School graduate, will compete in his second Ironman World Championship triathlon Oct. 12 in Hawaii. McMurray also qualified for the iconic event iin 2009. (September 19, 2013)
From throughout the state of Michigan to Colorado, New York and Hawaii, McMurray has been driven to compete.
A 2005 Petoskey High School graduate, he’s worked his way up from high school races and college meets to competitive triathlons and Ironmans.
In 2010, McMurray competed in the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii, one of the highest honors of competitive endurance racing.
This October, McMurray will look to conquer the 140 mile course in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, once again, as his competitive drive brings him back to the Ironman World Championship Saturday, Oct. 12, for the second time in four years.
“There’s definitely a little bit of anticipation, but it’s nice to know what I’m getting myself into,” McMurray said. “Now that I kind of know what it feels like, I’ll be doing a little bit different preparation. Knowing what to expect helps a lot. It’s the same course every time.”
The World Championship consists of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride and 26.2 mile run through temperatures of 95 degrees plus and 45 mile per hour wind gusts sweeping the black lava rock island.
Living in Petoskey full time as he runs and operates his own business, B-Nuts Trail Mix, McMurray, 27, competed in the Lake Placid Triathlon on July 28, qualifying for the World Championship with a first place finish in the 25-29 age group, finishing with a time of 9 hours, 25 minutes and eight seconds.
“I hadn’t done an Ironman in two years. I was coming off of an injury, so there was lots leading up to it,” said McMurray. “I was excited about it and my training was going well but I wasn’t quite sure. When you haven’t raced in quite a while it’s just a different kind of feel. It was perfect weather, great day, everything just went as good as it could.”
While the goal was to qualify for the Championship, having not raced competitively in some time McMurray was a bit surprised by his numbers.
“The top three guys in each age group qualified so that was my goal going in and you just never really know where you are in relation to who’s going to show up and how it’s going to go that day,” he said. “It was nice.”
Since Lake Placid, McMurray’s training has picked up and kept him pushing for Hawaii.
Having done it before and know what to expect, he’s relied on past knowledge rather than a rigorous planned schedule to train.
“I don’t really follow a real schedule and I don’t have a coach, I just kind of go by feel,” he said. “I have some set workouts I enjoy doing of different intensity. Mostly since Lake Placid, I’ve been doing some shorter, more intensity things, rather than the longer. I already have my base and everything.”
There are parts, particularly salt water and the heat, McMurray can’t prepare himself for, but bad tasting water is the least of his competitive concerns.
“Besides the fact that you have salt water in your mouth, I can’t really say there’s a difference,” he said. “Obviously I prefer swimming in fresh water.”
Facing some of the toughest competition and fittest athletes in the world in Hawaii, McMurray has set a goal for himself in the race, one that may not be out of reach after his Lake Placid surprise.
“I would be ecstatic if I was top five in my age group,” said McMurray. “Everything would have to go as planned and a little better. We’ll see. Based on times in the last five years, I’d have to go in the nine, 10 or under range.”
While he’ll be 3,000 miles from Petoskey in a race few get to participate in, McMurray won’t be the only Petoskey native in the race, as ‘96 Petoskey graduate Nick Tierney will also be competing after previously winning a Kona Inspired contest.
And while McMurray has not met Tierney, he’s not throwing out the notion they’ll run into one another come race day amongst the 1,800 athletes.
“We’ll see, it’s always funny how you run into people from Petoskey when you’re in other places.”