If you have ever been fortunate enough to travel to Australia or any other Asia Pacific country to compete in an Ironman or Ironman 70.3 you will have heard his energy that he delivers on the microphone pre-race and on the finish line on race day. None other than the voice of Ironman in Australia Peter Murray. He puts in a tremendous amount of effort into each and every Ironman and 70.3 event as an announcer to make that event experience just that much more awesome. He’s on the mic from the early hours in the morning at swim start until midnight at the party that is the Ironman finish line and he gives it 110 percent every time he is behind the mic. I caught up with him recently to find out more about the voice of Ironman in Australia.
How did you start off commentating at Ironman events?
My commentary journey started in my home town of Port Macquarie (NSW) in 2005 when Port held the Aussie Long Course Championships and in those days was run by IMG .I was due to race but leading into race week I suffered some severe pneumonia. As a result, my great mate and lead commentator at the time, Pete Beckerleg invited me to work on the microphone with him. Being a primary school teacher naturally I could talk and with 13 Ironman races under my belt I pretended I knew what I was talking about. It must have worked as after the event, Dallas Obrien (IMG) commented on my work and how I he thought it was informative and professional and invited me to join the Ironman Western Australia Commentary team to play second fiddle to Simon Beaumont (WA) and Don Ryder (Canada). From that race I was invited to other races by race directors I met including some of the best in Kerry Stubbs and Ken Baggs. Lisa Pringle and the USM team also gave me the first opportunity to be part of the large multisport festivals Noosa and Mooloolaba. This trend continued over the years and before I knew it my race commentary schedule was pretty packed with Aussie events and in particular the Ironman /Ironman 70.3 events throughout Australia.
The Ironman brand to this day has been a part of my blood for over 25years since I started racing in 1992 and now commentating. I absolutely love the Ironman brand, thanks primarily to the athletes that experience swim, bike, run through one of the toughest sports in the world.
How many Ironman events do you attend each year?
Ironman has given so many opportunities to do a job I absolutely love being part. Starting in Australia with Ironman I have seen it grow not only here in Aussie but also throughout the Oceania and Asia regions plus the rest of the world.
Each year my commitment to Ironman races alone has grown and this year I am up around 23 Ironman races and with Ironman expanding into new ventures It possibly may grow further in the number of races I am part of. On top of the Ironman races I do work closely with some other major events throughout the year.
The new Ironman Oceania and Asia races are my major Ironman events. All the Aussie races plus in Asia Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan, Korea, Japan are all on the radar plus new races in Colombo Sri Lanka. To
add to those races I am now part of the world championship event commentary team with Mike Reilly and Paul Kaye, which means this year, I will be in Chattanooga, (IM70.3 World Champs) plus Hawaii and in 2018 South Africa And Hawaii. So, the portfolio with Ironman grows.
I also venture numerous times to Hamilton Island for their Endurance Series each year, Townsville for their Tri Festival.
Which event is your favourite and why?
Too tough to nominate just one race.
It might sound a bit of a cliché but each race offers its own unique aspect. Whether it be destination, country, course, crowds, championship events they all are attractive for the athletes in different ways.
To me personally, however, my Ironman journey and association with Ironman began in Ironman Australia, Forster (the spiritual home of Ironman in OZ) in 1992 and becoming a “legend” (10x finisher) their holds special memories for me. Also, the two times in Hawaii puts Hawaii in the same category as a great race for me to be part of. Plus, now the opportunity to commentate at both races just adds to the favouritism.
Oceania and Asia races are all amazingly run races regardless of where they are located. Courses and destinations really play a huge factor, so athletes are certain to put it out there at these races.
What has been your most memorable moment at an ironman?
My position as Ironman commentator enables me to witness amazing feats of athleticism, endurance, dedication and commitment from the absolute best professionals in the world to the tens of thousands age groupers who juggle work, family life and training to get to the start lines. Those athletes that have their own personal obstacles or setbacks in their lives but still overcome these to become an Ironman and show the true spirit of Ironman racing.
I definitely get the best seat in the house at every event including the Holy Grail finish line where you have to earn the opportunity to come down that chute to the MDot finish line. The emotion, passion and excitement at the finish line is something that cannot be described
totally in words but something that everyone single athlete has to experience for themselves.
However, a few highlights would have to be calling my first sub 8-hour victory in Luke McKenzie at Ironman Western Australia 2015 with a 7.55. The performance was outstanding and the crowds were pumping. Then the following year to be on hand again to see Terenzo Bozzone (NZ) claim the victory with a 7.51 and Andy Potts (USA) an 8.54 to break Luke’s record as well. That was three sub 8 hours in one year. Awesome racing by the best.
So many memories and so many more to come.
Other than commenting are you involved in triathlon in other ways?
Yes, I am involved in different ways with triathlon.
Over the past year I have been attending Triathlon club presentations / fundraisers as MC/guest Speaker. I honestly enjoy doing these events as it gives myself the opportunity to see athletes out of the lycra and into the “suits” and really relax and let their hair down. The events are always a blast and awesome nights.
A couple of years ago I dabbled in some tri coaching both on at the Port local scene and also via email. However, it really got a bit too much with all the travelling to races plus still juggling a bit of teaching, then planning programs for athletes. I
Was a hands-on coach and absolutely loved getting out with the troops each morning I was home but when it started to get a chore for me I made the correct choice in just focusing on one aspect of triathlon and that was my commentary. I need time away from the sport when I am not working events and when coaching I was not getting that.
My kids are the most important things in my life and I cannot damage that relationship in anyway and I felt that I was giving more time to others than my own family. That was not good.
Now I train when I can as a much as possible when I am at home with a great mate and when I am at races try to sneak in some running and
swimming if possible with a mate from the Ironman Crew in Chris Price.
I feel 100% better for making that decision both physically and mentally and having time away from job in triathlon.
Who is your favourite professional athlete to commentate on and why?
Too Tough to call. Over my 12 years on the mic I have witnessed some of the fittest athletes on the planet as races all over the world and to pinpoint one is impossible. Our sport is filled with superstars both past and present and over the next few years I am sure we will witness a new era of Ironman champions.
If I really had to name a few then I would go with the “old school lives forever” team in Crowie and Cam Brown. I have a lot of opportunities not only to witness them on the racecourse as athletes but also the chance to travel with them extensively. There professionalism off the course is something to see. They are two of the most down to earth people who love the sport and still get out there and kick “new school “arse. That’s special.
Tim Van Berkel and I go a long way back and to have the privilege to call him in his first Ironman win at Ironman Western Australia 2008 was definitely one of my highlights. Still have the photo of him and I in the finish chute embracing on the wall and also signed by him with the quote “Thanks for believing in me Muz”. A very special day.
I love watching Tim Reed racing in 70.3’s and obviously calling him to the Worlds Championship win in Mooloolaba was special. Then to see him also transition to Ironman Australia earlier last win and be there awesome.
Over the time on the mic, female racing has got so much more competitive and the racing from Chris Wellington in the early days of IM Australia Port Macquarie, Daniela Ryf in Hawaii certainly up there
How do you prepare and get through 17 hours on the mic at an Ironman?
Race day usually comes after a lot of commitments throughout race week. Expo interviews and sponsor commitments, Pro Panels, Welcome Function, Support events (Swims/ Runs), Ironkids plus meetings for all. So, it is pretty full on. I usually get on site the Wednesday before race day to start work Thursday.
The day before the race I usually try to finish early. Catch up with commentary mates and have a quite beer with them and then an early night. I get myself organized and run through where I need to be for each aspect of the race. I really find it hard to sleep as I am pumped to get into it and jump on that start line. Same goes when I finish I am still on a high. We get Ironman team together and have a quiet beer to “debrief” then back to hotel in the early hours. Shower, sleep then up for Ironman World Championship Roll down Ceremony and Awards.
All in a long weekend of work.
Race day starts around 4.30am to be on site with the mic sparking up usually around 5am in T! leading up to race start. With the 17hour cut off usually work through to around 12.30am Monday morning.
Thank you for chatting with Trimax Hebdo Magazine and we will see you an another Ironman Race in the Asia Pacific Region soon.
Interview and Photo by Paul Healy -Trimax Australia