Sparkman’s John Murray Earns All-American Status In Duathlon
HARVEST- Compared to most triathletes John Murray, Jr. is more or less a beginner in the world of triathlons. After all, he’s been in the three-skill competition for a mere 18 months, but has already distinguished himself to be among the best in his age group.
The 16-year old Sparkman High junior spends much of his free time as a trombone player for the school’s marching band and has somehow found the time to dive head first into the sport of triathlons and duathlons. In May, Murray participated in the USA Triathlon Duathlon National Championships and finished fourth in the Male 15-19 age group with a time of 1-hour, 17-minutes, and 53-seconds in the duathlon event thus earning USA All-American status for finishing among the top 10.
“The heat index was pushing 105-degrees so I decided to pace myself in the first of two run events so I would save my energy for the second run of the event that follows the bike ride,” said Murray of his performance in the title event held in Tuscaloosa. ”The bike ride was fun as the course had one hill. In the second run I was hot and tired. As I came to the last tenth of a mile I sprinted to the finish line. The run was pretty along the nearby waterway.”
The National Championships were held in the Tennessee River Walk along the Black Warrior River. The event featured a 5K run, a 16-mile bike ride finishing with a second run of 2 miles. Overall there were over 200 participants in the race with 10 of those in the age group that Murray partook, as he was one of the youngest in his division.
The son of John and Ingrid Murray did not begin his quest of greatness in the sport until March 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic was in the midst of beginning. The father of one his best friends, William Davidson who attends James Clemens High and is on the school’s cross country team, was participating in a triathlon and the two friends agreed to begin training in the sport along the streets of their neighborhood. Murray soon joined the local cycling club and began weekly bike rides of at least 80-miles. Murray added, “I have an indoor trainer and I hook up my bike to the device and I’m able to ride even more indoors. For my swimming training I go to the Wellness Center at Madison Hospital about once a week for no less than 1,000 yards of workouts.”
Murray also runs in 5K and 10K races and just recently won his age group at the 2021 Cotton Row Run in Huntsville. When time permits he also attends bike races as part of the Southern Velo Cycling Team. The 100-member organization is based in nearby Chattanooga, Tenn. As for triathlons, the 5-foot-8, 120-pound has participated in seven three-skill races and likes the competitiveness of each of the triathlons and duathlons races. The sporting events are a far fetch from the sports of both baseball and flag football he once played, and with his recent success within his new sport of choice his continued training and possible additional success will carry him to heights he never dreamed of.
His path to success has included some pitfalls like the one he suffered on June 13 in Panama City, Fla. While on a bike ride he hit some heavy sand and toppled to the ground suffering injuries to his side and hip. Recovery lasted three weeks.
“I was happy with my overall race experience in Tuscaloosa and I know I could have done better,” said Murray who carries a 4.0 grade point average. “I plan on going back next year and being faster.”
Murray is a two-time All-District horn player for the Sparkman band. With the addition of the athletic recognition he feels confident in whatever he puts forth his efforts.