For the last six years, Blake Murdock had been able to count the competitors ahead of him at the end of the Ridgefield Triathlon.

So even though he’s a bit fuzzy about specifics at the finish line on Sunday — “I was right at my pain threshold and don’t remember too much,” he said — Murdock was certain about one detail: He was there first.

Following a six-year string of top-10 finishes, Murdock, a 50-year-old Ridgefield resident, finally broke through. His time of one hour, five minutes and 27.20 seconds gave him a decisive victory at the 11th annual Ridgefield Triathlon, which included a half-mile swim in Great Pond, a 12.75-mile bike ride, and a 3.1-mile run.

“I had a terrific swim for me and was first out of the water,” said Murdock. “I was out of the first transition stage before anyone else came in.”

Murdock protected his advantage through the biking and running stages, beating David Smith, 46, of New Milford by nearly two minutes.

“The early lead allowed me to stay in my comfort zone,” said Murdock. “I’m not great in any of the three disciplines, so it was nice to not need a comeback to catch anyone.”

A swimmer in high school and through his first few years of college, Murdock first competed in the Ridgefield Triathlon back in 2010, placing 26th overall. “The registration opens Jan. 1, and I was at a New Year’s Eve party and a few people were saying, ‘We’re signing up for the triathlon!’ ” said Murdock. “I went along and signed up with them.”

Except for the swim portion of the race, Murdock was slightly underprepared for his first attempt. “I had recently bought a bike and started riding, and then I went out and bought a pair of running shoes about a week before the triathlon and did one three-mile run.

“I was in abject pain at the end of the triathlon and vowed not to do another one,” continued Murdock. “But then some time went by and New Year’s Eve came around and I was back signing up.”

Murdock has intensified his training program since that first triathlon. He now swims three weekday mornings with the masters program at the Ridgefield Aquatic Center, and runs the other two mornings with a group that meets at the Ridgefield High track. Saturdays, he goes for a long run; Sundays, he joins a group for a three-hour plus bike ride.

“It takes dedication, but the benefit is that I’m in the best shape of my adult life,” said Murdock.

Another payoff is also apparent: Murdock is now a champion, not a contender.

Notes: For a complete list of finishers and their times, click here.