PETOSKEY — Ben McMurray's second attempt at the Ironman Triathlon World Championships in Kona, Hawaii just over a week ago brought about mixed emotions.
McMurray, a Petoskey resident, improved his overall time — and his time in all three facets of the triathlon — from his performance in 2010. He also had a better overall finish and finished higher in his age group. But McMurray had set lofty goals for himself and had hoped to get a spot on the podium for his age group — which would have required a top five finish.
McMurray ended up completing the world-renowed endurance event in 9 hours, 21 minutes and 3 seconds, an improvement of more than 30 minutes from 2010, earning a 148th-place overall finish and 18th in the 25-29 age group. Last time McMurray was in the 19-24 age group and was 14th within that division and 360th overall.
"With Ironman racing it's just one of those things where you put all the pieces together and in that run sometimes it all works and sometimes it doesn't go quite as planned," said McMurray, who qualified for the World Championships this summer in Lake Placid, N.Y. "I got to about the halfway point of the marathon and it wasn't going how I hoped so that was that. I finished and was happy. It wasn't a disappointment, but it wasn't what I was hoping for. At the same time, you can't expect to have a fantastic, out-of-this-world performance every time you step to the plate."
McMurray completed the swim in 1:04:24, the bike race in 4:54:22 and the run — his strongest part of the event — in 3:16. He improved by three minutes in the swim, 14 minutes in the bike and 13 minutes in the run.
The biggest difference between the first trip and the second was experience, which allowed McMurray to be better prepared for the conditions of Kona, where wind and high 80-degree heat make the triathlon as much a mental challenge as a physical one. He also felt he took better care of himself during the race, getting a proper caloric intake, staying cool at aid stations and keeping hydrated.