Jimmy McMurray Pedalling for World Masters Games glory

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Every week Jimmy McMurray pedals the Waikato country-side, covering between 400 to 450 kilometres.

He turns out of his lifestyle block on the banks of Lake Karapiro and cycles “the quieter roads’’ towards Tokoroa – his daily training regime reaching between 60-70km. In between, he completes sprints and hill work closer to home.

The 56-year-old, an area rep for Sheppard Cycles and Avanti Bikes, is building up for a podium finish at the World Masters Games to be held in Auckland later this month.

“This is a very big event and has a strong following,’’ says Jimmy, the world one hour record holder for his age group. “We are talking 25,000 athletes across all sports. That’s phenomenally huge, bigger than the Olympic Games participation.

“I’m riding faster times now than when I was in my 20s – more than four minutes over a measured course, though technology has changed.

Every year I train harder, I’m fitter and I’m a little quicker. I’m aiming for a minimum top three at the World Masters Games.’’

Jimmy has entered the 55-59 years 20km time trial on the Auckland Waterfront on April 23, and the 70km road race at Ardmore on April 30.

In early September last year he won the 22.6km time trial for the 55-59 age group at the Union Cycling Internationale’s Amateur Road World Championships near Perth – and therefore is a favourite to complete the double as World Masters Games champion.

At Perth he finished ahead of former world champions Dzimitry Buben from Belarus and Michael Pfeil from Germany in a field of 48 representing 15 countries. His winning time of 26 minutes 8 seconds, at an average speed of 44.8kph, was faster than the younger 50-54 age group by more than half a minute.

Jimmy was pipped by half a wheel and settled for the silver medal in the 110km road race which attracted 165 competitors from 25 countries.

In April last year he tested his resolve and will; attempting the one hour record for his age group at the Avantidrome. From a standing start, he pedalled furiously for 47.773km when time was up, more than 2km ahead of the previous record of 45.6kms.

“I wanted to see if I was good enough going up against the world mark.

“The time trial is the `race of truth’ where you are only racing against the clock and there are no outside influences.’’

Jimmy has always been a competitive road cyclist. In his 20s he raced alongside the likes of Graeme Miller, Paul Leitch, Jack Swart and Stephen Cox.

“All these guys were two years older than me and the incumbent Olympic riders. They always went to the Games. But I’m better than them now … because they don’t ride as a competitively.’’

After taking a break from road cycling, he returned 12 years ago.

“I was a bit overweight and not as healthy as I should have been. The training and improving the fitness led to the competition.’’  

He reduced his weight from 94kgs to 73kg and caught the racing bug again riding for the Tokoroa Forestland Wheelers club. On his return, Jimmy has won 11 New Zealand road race and time trial titles in different age groups.

He has been to three world amateur championships and always finished in the top 10 including two seconds and of course the time trial victory at Perth.

“I like to do the very best I can, but also it’s not the end of the world,’’ says Jimmy. “I do it because I enjoy it, and the World Masters Games will be another personal challenge.’’

Backed by his gruelling training regime, he will be ready and will no doubt be one of the New Zealand medallists in Auckland this April.

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