By: Ali Johnson

Memorial Day is just around the corner, and athletes all over the country will be participating in the “Murph”, a WOD (workout of the day) to honor Lt. Michael Murphy who was killed in the line of duty in Afghanistan on June 28, 2005. This workout is typically performed over Memorial Day weekend because it’s known as a “Hero WOD”- a workout designed to honor military and community heroes like Lt. Murphy, and what better time to complete it than over a holiday that’s geared towards honoring and celebrating the men and women who died serving their country?

Who was Lt. Michael Murphy?

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The following is an excerpt from the official Murph Challenge website:

Michael P. Murphy, [a Navy SEAL], was the officer-in-charge of a four-man SEAL element in support of Operation Red Wings, tasked with finding a 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.

Lt. Murphy was able to radio in a call for help, even though he was shot in the back and severely wounded. He sacrificed his own life, but his brave actions saved the life of one of his team members. He was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 2007.

The “Murph” WOD

The Murph WOD is a Crossfit workout formerly known as “Body Armor”. It is the WOD that’s selected to honor Lt. Murphy because it was his favorite workout to do when he was alive. It consists of:

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Who can do the “Murph”?

The simple answer is, anyone! You don’t have to be a Crossfitter in order to complete “Murph”; you don’t even have to be an athlete! While many people use this workout as a benchmark to test their physical fitness levels, the true meaning behind it is to honor Lt. Murphy and to raise money for his foundation. Thus, the workout can be scaled to meet any ability level. You can walk in to any Crossfit box and complete the workout there, or you can do it at home. This WOD doesn’t require any type of special equipment (except for the vest or body armor) so it can be done virtually anywhere.

Potential scales

All Crossfit WODs should be scaled to match an athlete’s individual ability level, and “Murph” is no different. Here is a list of potential scales you can use to complete “Murph”- remember, what matters is that you do it, not how you do it!

  • Don’t wear a weighted vest or body armor
  • Reduce the number of reps (many people choose to complete a “half Murph”)
  • Reduce the distance for the run
  • Walk instead of run
  • Do banded pullups or jumping pullups
  • Pushups can be done on your knees or on an incline, such as off a wall or a box
  • Squat to parallel, or as close to depth as your body allows

If you’re not a regular Crossfitter or don’t exercise routinely, it’s recommended that you do this workout at a Crossfit box so that a coach can help you determine the appropriate scales to prevent injury.

Lt Murphy’s Legacy

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In 2007, Michael’s parents, Dan & Maureen, and his brother Michael created the LT Michael P. Murphy Memorial Scholarship Foundation. According to his family, Michael loved to read and thought education was extremely important. Thus, it made sense to establish a scholarship foundation in his name after he was killed.

Thanks to the donations of all those who complete Murph, the Lt. Michael P. Murphy Memorial Scholarship Foundation is able to give out over 27 scholarships every year to help continue the education of those who don’t have the resources to do it themselves. Lt. Murphy’s father, Dan Murphy, wrote the following letter to all those participating in “Murph” this year:

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For more information on Lt. Michael Murphy, his foundation, and this WOD, check out the official Murph Challenge website. Will you be participating in Murph this year? If you are, when it gets hard (and it will get hard) just remember the sacrifices Lt. Murphy made, and sweat on.

Have you done “Murph” before? Do you have any tips for beginners? We’d love to hear from you! Comment in the section below! And let us know if you’ll be joining the CF3P team as we sweat and suffer for a great cause!




Feature image credit: themurphchallenge.com

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