US Navy SEAL Lt. Michael Patrick Murphy was a United States Navy SEAL officer who was awarded the U.S. military’s highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions during the War in …
ORANGE PARK - Memorial Day cross-fitters gathered at Orange Park’s BlackFin Cross Fit gym to take on one of the more daunting tasks in endurance sports with the annual Lt. Michael Murphy “Murph” Challenge bringing nearly 60 athletes to pay the price in sweat equity.
“I think the CrossFit community has embraced the ‘Murph which is a tough day in the gym, but has become a symbol of the bravery of our armed forces overseas,” said Black Fin gym owner Marc Hoffman, who has run the BlackFin Crossfit Gym for 13 years. “The Murph is so taxing that I did it in 2008 and I told myself i would never do that again. It’s tough, but the people here love it.”
For the challenges, athletes must run a mile, reenter the gym and complete a set of 100 pullups, 200 pushups and 300 squats, and then, with legs burning and arms swoll to uselessness, run a final mile.
“It’s a question of mental toughness to, A., just walk into the gym to say I want to do this,” said Brian Kirk, a local distance runner and frequent cross fit guy at BlackFin. “B., what it stands for means a lot and, because of it, you don’t want to let yourself quit because of what created the Murph.”
The Murph comes from the daily workout by U.S. Navy Seal Lt. Michael Murphy who was on a patrol in Afghanistan that got ambushed killing Murphy. Murphy, though, was responsible for reaching a high ridge to radio in for air support despite numerous broken bones and bullets in his body, before being killed by Taliban forces. The scenario is the basis of the book and movie The Lone Survivor. The book is written by Murphy’s SEAL team partner Marcus Littrell who was the one survivor of the ordeal.
In the gym were ages from high schoolers including Fleming Island High weightlifting state champion Autumn Leviston, former St. Johns Country Day School track and weightlifter Evelyn Hanson and Middleburg High boys state weightlifting medalist Gabe Harp.
“I don’t know what keeps bringing me back,” said Hanson. “It’s tough, but it’s a good tough. That last mile killed me, my arms felt like they were up by my ears.”
In the final run, Taylor Blanco, 26, a south Florida engineer, was the unofficial first finisher in about 44 minutes.
“Man, that last run was brutal,” said Blanco. “In the past few years, I’ve been doing okay in here, in the gym, so I’ve been working on getting through that six minutes of work for the mile. I trained by taking a five-second break between sets so I could have some gas in the final run. I passed a guy after the turnaround and just ran the last 400 as hard as I could.”
Blanco said the Murph is a means to suffer a little.
“We all know why this event was created,” said Blanco.
US Navy SEAL Lt. Michael Patrick Murphy was a United States Navy SEAL officer who was awarded the U.S. military’s highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions during the War in Afghanistan. He was the first member of the United States Navy to receive the award since the Vietnam War.
Murphy was killed in a firefight on an Afghanistan mountaintop and his story was made into a movie, “ The Lone Survivor.”
On Memorial Day, crossfit gyms across America replicate Murphy’s daily exercise routine in honor of the fallen patriot.
BlackFin Crossfit Gym in Orange Park has staged “The Murph” for nearly a decade.