In part one of our interview we learned who Murph is and what he is up to, in Part 2 we discuss his future and where he plans to be and what he plans to do.
Roxii: is it just my perception that the Asian athletes don’t seem as fussed on stepping up to “iron distance” racing so quick many, of them seem to be quite satisfied with the Olympic and 70.3 style of racing?
MM: People have been doing triathlons on a small scale in Asia for years but as wider participation event it’s really a new phenomenon. So it is still a relatively young sport but is being picked up by the right sort of people with celebrities and the upper class getting involved. The average working class person in Asia is not there yet and but plenty of the upper-class are saying “let’s get a bike and let’s have a go at triathlon”. So I think that’s why the focus is not on Ironman distance racing yet as it is still a relatively young sport.
Roxii: I noticed your voice on a video promoting one of the Challenge races, are you more aligned with Challenge these days?
MM: I try and stay quite neutral. I raced Challenge in the Philippines earlier this year and they looked after me very well. I haven’t been looked after by Ironman at all. The guys that run Challenge in the Philippines are keen to get the best athletes but they are also keen to get younger athletes like myself over there and give us a go. It makes for good racing and we get to learn, whereas Ironman only seem to look after a select few athletes.
I have just found the Challenge are very easy to deal with and I’ve developed a good relationship with them, I like the way they support every Pro regardless of your ranking, we all got a place to stay a driver and got very well looked after and I feel like it is something I want to be a part of. And we can’t forget that triathlon is one of those great sports when the pros and age groupers still get to participate together yet with the Ironman races it seems like it’s just becoming the age groupers so it will lose that magic, so for me at the moment it’s a no-brainer. I mean Challenge is still a business and they still have to make money but from my perspective they seem to look after the athlete better so that’s where I’m prioritising at the moment.
Roxii: I saw some information about you setting up a camp at Subic Bay what’s the story with that?
MM: We are looking at doing a few different things in the Philippines some linked with Challenge and some linked with Phililab. We are going to run a Challenge camp a few weeks out from the Challenge races and also about six weeks out which will be more just going through the basics. Then we will have a look and see if it’s kicking off well and if it is getting good we might look at doing camps every fortnight. Maybe have some small elite groups and in the following weeks have some beginners. The biggest thing I could bring across is my knowledge from my years of training in Cronulla with Chris and Crowie. I’ve been lucky to have some good mentors and coaches and I’d like to pass that on. There are already good coaches in the Philippines but I’m not looking to take over from them I’d rather help them out, but if there are triathletes that want to come down to Subic Bay and spend some quality time at the camp and learn a bit, get faster and achieve their goals then hopefully it’s something we can definitely develop there. So yes there will be two platforms there, one stream will be linked with Challenge and one will be linked with Energy Lab Nutrition, Phililab and Indiba Active who are a company offering recovery technologies.
Roxii: So what is the plan, are you going to move to the Philippines full time?
MM: Well it depends on the girls there!!! (Laughs) Ever since I raced my first race there I kind of fell in love with the place. It’s got a great vibe, the people are great the triathlon participation is growing and I saw an opportunity and thought this is the right time to go there and base there. I’d like to be a part of the growth of the sport and it coincided with me doing some races with Challenge there this year and they have some interesting things they want to do with grassroots development and getting kids into the sport so it was a great opportunity for me to set myself up as a pro athlete and then meeting up with the CEO from Phililab it all started to fall into place. He wanted to know what it was going to take to keep me there and keep me racing there. He also enjoyed watching me race, the other athletes seem to like me, I enjoy hanging out with them after the races, so that’s when I came back to him with the proposal. He came on board but it was based on me staying in the Philippines for three years. I will still try and come home and race in the Australian summer but the majority of my racing now will be in Southeast Asia. So I will be based in the Philippines but from there I can still race Malaysia and all around Asia and I can still pick one or two races in America to do.
Roxii: Checking out your Facebook stuff you seem very popular with the locals over there, does that help the image?
MM: Yeah it feels like an old school vibe over there, my dad did the very first Nepean many years ago, he did the race and had a few beers with his mates after, so for me that’s how I’d like to be, like an old school professional, race like one but I still want to enjoy the after party and have a bit of fun. Racing in the Philippines is really about the whole weekend experience, which seems to have died a bit here in Australia, and they really go out of their way to make the whole weekend a great experience. That may be partly because labour is quite cheap over there so they can afford to have lots of people looking after every little detail which isn’t quite possible here anymore. But the athletes that I have modelled myself on, the Crowies, the Maccas is the Welchys you always see them out after the race enjoying themselves with the punters, apart from relaxing it’s also good PR which in turn is good for the sponsors. The age groupers get to see you as a real person, one night after a major race is not going hurt you and it also makes for good networking in a country like the Philippines where as I said before a lot of the upper class are into the sport.
Roxii: So will three years in the Phillipines give you some solid training and a good springboard into a possible Ironman career?
MM: I will be based in Subic Bay, the reason I like the Philippines and Subic Bay so much is a great place for training, it’s an old US base, it’s a bit like a big gated community, there is very little traffic on the road, there is a 50 m pool and 25 m pool all within a 5 km radius. There is really good running and riding around there, so yeah that should give me a solid base for three years and again because labour is cheap, I’m able to eat well, get lots of massages have myself looked after well and it’s also a great climate to springboard into Ironman racing for me. I use the heat a bit like altitude training where it’s just an extra resistance so hopefully I can come out the other end a lot stronger. So the plan is after three years of my contract I should be looking at qualifying for Hawaii when I’m about 29.
Roxii: Who else has been a big influence on you?
MM: Mark Newton from Jet Cycles in Sydney. Mark actually sponsors me, so my Specialized that I ride is a sponsorship through Mark and Jet Cycles, not through Specialized. But I have always been linked with Mark he has been a great mentor for me, he has coached Robbo to world titles, he is a very smart guy and he helps me stay competitive but still ensures I have some fun and stay relaxed.
Roxii: I would like to thank Michael Murphy for his time and wish him all the best in his future endeavours in Asia and with his racing and business career.