Memorial Day is a classic American holiday. Have some friends over, crack some cold drinks, grill some food for loved ones. Always celebrated in the U.S. on the last Monday of the month of May, Memorial Day is a federal holiday that honors the military personnel who have died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. And on Memorial Day, every CrossFitter in the history of CrossFitters does Murph, a hero WOD (Crossfit workout of the day) named after Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy, 29, of Patchogue, N.Y., who was killed in Afghanistan June 28th, 2005.
Murph,originally called “Body Armor,” consists of the following:
*With a 20 lb vest or body armor; movements can be done partitioned or unpartitioned.
The workout was Lieutenant Murphy’s favorite. When it became a hero WOD in his honor, it was renamed Murph. Now, CrossFitters and athletes around the world pay special tribute to Lieutenant Murphy every Memorial Day by joining together and completing Murph all around the world. Despite the great challenges posed by gyms closed due to COVID this year, athletes still got it done.
This year, maybe more than ever, it was important for the team at BUBS Naturals to complete Murph. As a company named after one of those we are honoring on Memorial Day,Glen “BUB” Doherty of which thehero WOD Glen is named after, we don’t skip Murph. “Doing any hero WOD is an absolute honor to remember those that sacrified,” said BUBS co-founder TJ Ferrara. “It affords me the freedom to own and operate a company in the greatest country on earth. I’m forever grateful for that.”
Five of us at BUBS completed Murph this year, and together we have accumulated 40 + years of doing Murph under our belt.
Performance wise and time wise, this was my best Murph yet. A very kind Marine ran in that last section of mile two with me. I stopped the clock on my watch and then quietly walked over to the bushes where a grown-ass woman can be sick to her stomach in peace. But what I have been thinking about most this week was remembering my first time doing Murph. It was in 2015, in Chicago, where I was visiting family. I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to do this “Murph thing” that I kept hearing about, so I dropped in atRPE CrossFit in Deerfield, IL where I knew precisely absolutely no one. Not a one.
I warmed up timidly in the corner and a few people chatted with me. One woman, whose name I still don’t know but whose kindness i’ll not forget, offered to split Murph with me. I didn’t even know what that really meant, but I said yes. So I did a half Murph, doing ring push-ups and box pull-ups, with a total stranger in another state. My game plan was to just do what the woman in front of me was doing.
And isn’t that just the thing?
A woman from California and a woman from Illinois came together and made the active and deliberate decision to do something really hard, together, to complete the same task at hand. Afterwards, as this poor woman slowed her pace to meet mine as I lumbered in, their coaches and teammates cheered me on. At the end of it all, they fed me off their parking lot barbecue grill. They gave me a t-shirt and congratulated me on my effort. I will never forget them - their kindness, their group mindset, their servant leadership and the example they set for me and my experience with hero WODs.
And that first time Murph experience came full circle this year at BUBS. Lorenzo Lietti, our newest member on the team, completed Murph for the first time. “Those damn pull-ups. That’s all I could think about while doing my first Murph. I decided early to break it down to 5 - 10 - 15 reps per move. I am an endurance athlete, so I could get into the mindframe to be patient and get to the end. It took me 51 minutes. I am not sure if that’s good or bad, but that’s not the point of Murph. We all do it to honor those who came before us and gave it all so that we can do Murph.”
But, true to the spirit of the community, Lorenzo didn’t do it alone. He did it with BUBS co-founders Sean Lake and TJ Ferrara. “Doing a hero WOD like Murph has always been a double edged sword for me. On one hand, I’m grateful to get to pay tribute to our nations fallen through dedicated intense effort,” said Lake. “On the other hand, they always make me want to put out and do my best in that effort. You’d think after 12 years of Murph I'd have settled down but these moments are that special and intense to me.”
It was certainly an intense experience for Nathan Morris, who makes our social media here super funny, and also owns an affiliate in Colorado. “I’ve done every variation of Murph up to this year including vest, no vest, partitioned, unpartitioned, and now half-Murph. After having to close my gym for two months, I knew that the majority of my members were not ready for a full Murph,” he said. “They would have still done it but their hands would have been shredded, their legs would be dead, and they’d be out for a couple of days,” he said. “That, coupled with the fact that we can only train three individuals at a time, my staff and I elected to program half-Murph to give as many people as possible the opportunity to complete as safely as possible. It’s different but half-Murph with a vest and in the rain is the hardest I’ve worked out in months. And I’m proud of my effort.”
At BUBS, we hope that for this Memorial Day, you were proud of your effort. That you helped a newcomer. That you took time to evaluate the needs of your community. That you took the time to remember the how and the why of all the ways that you got here, where you are safe at home and healthy enough to complete Murph. For some, that looks like scaling the movements because you’ve been home with no pull-up bar for three months. For others, that looks like going full send because you’ve been doing nothing but training for three months. You are the only one that knows where that line is. But we all know what some gave up when they got to that line themselves.