Memorial Day Murph

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May 25th is Memorial Day, and that means one thing and one thing only…Murph. Murph is CrossFit’s way of showing appreciation for, not only the man himself, but for service men and women everywhere, past and present. How fitting is it that this year’s California Regional, of which I had the honor of attending, once again fell on Memorial Day weekend? With the first day consisting of two Hero workouts (Randy & Tommy V), it’s got me, and I’m sure many others, feeling extra patriotic, super grateful, and forever thankful for the sacrifices made by our military.

Hero workouts

For those still relatively new to CrossFit, Hero workouts have always been part of the culture of the program. Created and named after fallen military and first responders, Hero workouts are the easiest way to pay tribute to those fighting every day to help protect our country. Regular CrossFit workouts are tough; Hero Workouts are on an entirely different level. They force people to go places, mentally and physically, they never realized they could. They help put into perspective (what little any non-serving civilian could possibly have) the sacrifices others have made to ensure global freedom stays intact.

Murph: The Man

Murph is widely recognized, and accepted, as the toughest of all CrossFit workouts. It’s easy to understand where inspiration for the workout came from, though, when you hear the heroics of one Leutenant Michael P. Murphy.

“On June 28, 2005, Lt. Murphy was the officer-in-charge of a four-man SEAL element in support of Operation Red Wing tasked with finding key anti-coalition militia commander near Asadabad, Afghanistan. Shortly after inserting into the objective area, the SEALs were spotted by three goat herders who were initially detained and then released. It is believed the goat herders immediately reported the SEALs’ presence to Taliban fighters.

A fierce gun battle ensued on the steep face of the mountain between the SEALs and a much larger enemy force. Despite the intensity of the firefight and suffering grave gunshot wounds himself, Murphy is credited with risking his own life to save the lives of his teammates. Murphy, intent on making contact with headquarters, but realizing this would be impossible in the extreme terrain where they were fighting, unhesitatingly and with complete disregard for his own life moved into the open, where he could gain a better position to transmit a call to get help for his men.

Moving away from the protective mountain rocks, he knowingly exposed himself to increased enemy gunfire.  This deliberate and heroic act deprived him of cover and made him a target for the enemy.  While continuing to be fired upon, Murphy made contact with the SOF Quick Reaction Force at Bagram Air Base and requested assistance. He calmly provided his unit’s location and the size of the enemy force while requesting immediate support for his team. At one point, he was shot in the back causing him to drop the transmitter. Murphy picked it back up, completed the call and continued firing at the enemy who was closing in.  Severely wounded, Lt. Murphy returned to his cover position with his men and continued the battle.

As a result of Murphy’s call, an MH-47 Chinook helicopter, with eight additional SEALs and eight Army Night Stalkers aboard, was sent in as part of the QRF to extract the four embattled SEALs. As the Chinook drew nearer to the fight, a rocket-propelled grenade hit the helicopter, causing it to crash and killing all 16 men aboard.

On the ground and nearly out of ammunition, the four SEALs, continued to fight.  By the end of a two-hour gunfight that careened through the hills and over cliffs, Murphy, Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class (SEAL) Danny Dietz and Sonar Technician 2nd Class (SEAL) Matthew Axelson had fallen. An estimated 35 Taliban were also dead.  The fourth SEAL, Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class (SEAL) Marcus Luttrell, was blasted over a ridge by a rocket-propelled grenade and knocked unconscious. Though severely wounded, the fourth SEAL and sole survivor, Luttrell, was able to evade the enemy for nearly a day; after which local nationals came to his aide, carrying him to a nearby village where they kept him for three more days. Luttrell was rescued by U.S. Forces on July 2, 2005.” – http://www.murphmovie.com/lt-michael-murphy/

The legend of Murph, though, didn’t start solely because of his actions on the battlefield. Instead, they began forming long before his time in the military.

“Murphy was known to his friends as “Murph”, and he was known as “The Protector” in his high school years. In 8th grade, he protected a special needs child who was being shoved into a locker by a group of boys, this was the only time the principal of the school had called his parents, they couldn’t have been prouder. He also protected a homeless man, who was being attacked while collecting cans. He chased away the attackers and helped the man pick up his cans.” – Wikipedia

Murphy attended Penn State University, where he was an exceptional all-around athlete and student, excelling at ice hockey and graduating with honors. He was an avid reader; his reading tastes ranged from the Greek historian Herodotus to Tolstoy’s “War and Peace.” Murphy’s favorite book was Steven Pressfield’s “Gates of Fire,” about the Spartan stand at Thermopylae. In 1998, he graduated with a pair of Bachelor of Arts degrees from Penn State — in political science and psychology. Following graduation, he was accepted to several law schools.” – http://www.murphmovie.com/lt-michael-murphy/

Murph: The Workout

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Murph is one of the tougher CrossFit workouts, but it isn’t the the movements that make it difficult. In fact, it has a 38 difficulty rating, meaning 38% of participants have to modify it. BTWB boasts a bunch of workouts with difficulty ratings of 70 and higher. Instead, it is Murph’s volume that provides the mental challenge few are willing to put themselves through.

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For the average CrossFitter (50th percentile), the better part of an hour (45-50 min) is spent in pure exhaustion.  Even the top 1% of BTWB users are taking 30 minutes to complete Murph. Wondering what kind of score you might be able to put up on Murph? Look no further than your Cindy score. Because the pull-ups, push-ups, and air squats can be partitioned to the liking of the athlete, most opt to go with a 5-10-15 Cindy style rep scheme which should help to keep the arms and legs from red lining for as long as possible. 20 rounds of the 5-10-15 rep scheme will get you your 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, and 300 air squats. If you don’t have a 2o round Cindy score, expect to finish somewhere between the 45-60 min range. It’s going to be hard, but that’s exactly the point.

Murph Giveaway

Anyone looking to give back this Memorial Day can donate to the LT Michael P. Murphy Scholarship Foundation set up by Michael’s parents in his honor. The link can be found here.

In addition, we’ll be holding our own giveaway for those with the courage to take on Murph on May 25th. We’ll be picking one male and one female, randomly, from our participating users. Simply do Murph, then log your score for it here. The winners will receive a Dan Bailey, Julie Foucher, and BTWB shirt. The top two gyms with the most Murph posts will receive a Hyper Vest Pro.