Ken Murley - Officially a Legend of the Sport
Earlier this month at the Triathlon Australia annual awards, 8 x World Champion, Ken Murley was presented with the Triathlon Australia Legend of the Sport Award. Since its inception, only 19 athletes have received this award so it is a very high honour to be bestowed and we are so proud of Ken. He was given the opportunity to record an acceptance speech, but it had to be limited to 30 seconds and you can't say very much in that time so he put together the information below to expand a little and provide some background on how he became an official Legend of the sport.....
About 18 months ago I was at home with my leg up in plaster recovering from an operation to fix nerve damage in a broken left ankle. Much to my surprise I received a phone call from Miles Stewart, CEO of Triathlon Australia to advise me I had been approved for the Triathlon Australia Legend of the Sport Award. Due to the virus lockdowns the actual presentation was postponed 2 times until on Monday 29thwhen it finally happened as a virtual event.
When I joined MTC and Fluid Movements late in 2008/9, there was nobody else even close to my age and I felt a bit out of place in those early days. Gradually over the years the age range of members changed to the point where we now have a broad mix of people of various ages. It has been a huge privilege for me to be able to train and race with such an accepting, talented bunch. While I am unable to keep up with most of you, I use your level of performance, particularly at training, as the standard I should be at. It keeps me on top of my game and that makes it more difficult for my competitors at the world level to match me. So, thank you, thank you, from the bottom of my heart for your inspiration, encouragement, and friendship. I am indeed a lucky person to have the benefit of your support.
As is the way with clubs/groups, people come and go. MTC/Fluid Movements is no exception. Over the past 8-10 years there has been what I will call a hard core of members that have consistently turned up to train and race. Most of those will know a bit about me and what I have done to win this award, but others who haven’t been around for as long, or who have come and gone, will know very little. So, I will set out a bit of background about myself and what I have achieved in the sport of triathlon.
Race Record Summary.
While I haven’t kept precise records, I have competed in around 100 triathlons and duathlons since 2008. Of those I have won around 85, including 9 State Championships, 10 Australian Championships, the Gatorade series 6 times and the Xosize series 3 times.
In World Title races I have had the following results:
2009 Gold Coast 1st.Sprint
2010 Budapest 1st Sprint
2011 Beijing 2nd Sprint
2012 New Zealand 1st Sprint
2013 London 4th Sprint
2014 Canada 1st Sprint, 1st Olympic, 1st 70.3
2015 Adelaide (Duathlon Sprint) 1st
2016 Mexico 2nd Sprint, 4th Olympic
2019 Switzerland 1st Sprint, 2nd Olympic
2019 France 1st 70.3
Each of these races has a good story behind them, but those details will have to wait for another day.
In 2014 I won the Victorian Government Sportsman of the Year Award. This award was based on the fact that I had recently added to my existing 3 world titles by winning 3 more that year (Sprint, Olympic and 70.3) in a space of 7 days in Canada. During the presentation I was asked by the MC, Mark “Howie” Howard,“How do you do it?” To be truthful I didn’t have much of an answer because I had never though about it. I just follow my program, train and race the same as all the members of our club and for whatever reason I am lucky enough to regularly win. Since then though I have often turned my mind to that question – how do I do it? The only conclusion I have been able to come to, is that besides having the right program and the support around me to consistently implement it, there is something else that I am unable to explain. My best guess is that early in my life while I was growing up in the country, I developed a particular mindset that was set in stone and has contributed to make me the person I am.
I was born and bred in Daylesford. My family was not well off and if you wanted anything you had to work for it. My first paying job was at age 9, picking up potatoes. From there it went to actually digging potatoes with a fork (no machines in those days), carting hay and cutting wood with an axe (no chainsaws then either).
We lived 5k out of town and not having a car or a bike, meant I had to walk or run to go anywhere. That included going to school, which on week days gave me a 10k round trip, every day from the age of 5. On weekends, even before I was 5, I wandered through the bush, trapped rabbits, fished, chopped down trees, built huts and bonfires and rode horses, plus lots of other fun activities you can do in the bush. I credit all this exercise and the hard physical work I did from that young age, for giving me a base foundation for the endurance needed for triathlons.
At school I did well at all sports, including athletics. In year 9, I raced against year 11 kids in the Central Victorian Schools Cross County Championship and beat them all. I mucked around a lot at school and got expelled twice, but somehow I was elected Head Prefect in year 11. It didn’t help me with my results though. I failed and finished school with no formal qualifications. After I left school I played junior and senior football with Daylesford in the Ballarat League as it was then. At age 16 I left home to make my way in the world.
By age 27 I had made Bendigo my home. I gave up football and got involved with a bunch of professional runners. A few of us, with me as Secretary, set up the Bendigo Athletic Club. It still operates successfully today. That started a 13 year period for me as a professional runner. In the summer I ran track, focusing on 1600m and 3200m races. In the winter it was cross country. It was great fun and there are lots of stories I could tell about what was happening in professional running at that time, but not here. We competed almost every week, year round. Training was hard and it was the norm that repetitions had to be done at, or below 3 minutes per K pace (I can’t do today!!). Although I was pretty average compared to the top athletes, I had a lot of successes. Probably the most notable were running under 4 minutes in winning a 1600m race at the old Olympic Park track (opposite the tennis centre) and being the only person to twice win the Eaglehawk to Bendigo road race (approx. 6.75K).
A Change of Direction
At age 40 I moved back to Melbourne and gave up the running caper and focused on setting up a small farm at Yea, breeding stud cattle. That developed into one of the “best of breed” studs in Australia. In the first 7 years of showing at Royal Shows in Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane I won every major prize, every year. I have many more cattle trophies and sashes than I do for triathlons and running. It was a lot of hard work but a hellava lot of fun. During that period I travelled about 1 million K’s to and from interstate shows.
In 2006 I came down with a bout of cancer. I refused to get any formal treatment, preferring to change my diet, take a few supplements and meditate. Refusing treatment didn’t go down well with my wife and couple of years later the marriage broke up and I moved to the country. The cancer disappeared, which coincided with the divorce and the start of a long drought. Due to the drought I eventually had to sell the farm and all the cattle and move back to the city.
Without the hard physical work I had been accustomed to, I soon started to put on weight, which I didn’t like and decided to do something about it by taking seriously to doing triathlons. By now it was 2008 and with the World Titles due to be held on the Gold Coast in 2009, decided to have a crack at getting there. The rest is history, I got hooked and have tried to compete in the World Titles every year since.
Injuries have often kept me out of competing and because of the interrupted training, slowed me down more than I normally would have. The following is a list of the major issues I have had to cope with, some of which are still a problem:
13 broken ribs – 8 in one go
Snapped all the tendons holding my right shoulder together
Torn posterior ligament and torn meniscus in my knee
Permanent nerve damage in a foot caused by the broken ankle
Failed operation to fix the nerve damage
Torn plantar plates under each foot, which have now become chronic
Stress fracture of the foot
7 days in hospital with suspected strokes – that weren’t.
Knocked unconscious when I went over the edge of bridge and hit my head on the way down
Concussion x 2 from tripping over
To top it all off, cancer came back in 2018 and I again I have refused to get treated. A critical part of my diet is that I have chosen to limit carbs as close to zero as possible. That makes it a bit difficult to get the fuel I need for longer races and training sessions.
There are good stories around each of these injuries, but this is not the time or place to tell them.
To date, I have written off 3 good TT bikes. No wonder I still have to work.
For a bit of additional fun, I compete in criterium and road races with the Southern Masters Cycling Club. I have been lucky enough to win my share and it is a great supplement to my bike training.
Each year I compete in the cycling events at the Masters Games where I have also had a few wins against the pure cyclists.
I also do the Great Victorian Open Water Swim Series each year, but I am usually a long way behind the super fish in those races. Still, I will never stop trying to catch them. It is good fun and good triathlon training.
So, that is it. I couldn’t have successfully competed over the last few years without your support, no matter how much or little you might think you have contributed. Thanks again, and if you ever ask me how I do it, I am still not sure.