Murph: The Story Behind CrossFit's HERO

Murph is a Hero WOD in honor of U.S. Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy, killed at the age of 29 in Afghanistan on June 28, 2005. The military officer was awarded a medal of honor after his death.

This training appeared first published on the CrossFit website on August 18, 2005. and was one of Michael's favorites. At the time, he called it body armor que in Spanish means armor

Michael's favorite workout turned into a Hero WOD. These types of wods were created by CrossFit in honor of the men and women who have fallen in defense of their country..

murph crossfit date

What is Murph?

1 mile Run - 1600 meters
100 Pull-Ups - pull-ups 
200 Push-Ups
300 Air Squats - air squats
1 mile Run - 1600 meters
*With a 20 lb / 9 kg Vest or Body Armor - if possible, perform with a weighted vest.

When is the Murph performed?

The last Monday of May day is celebrated in memory of the military who serve and have served the nation. At CrossFit, it is customary to do the "Murph" workout to pay tribute to Navy Lieutenant Murphy. It is a way to share in community effort, and raise awareness of the suffering.

Why is Murph performed on this date?

It is curious that since 2005, every year Murph has been held, considering that there are more Hero Wods such as  J.T.MichaelRandy and Nate, Chad. Therefore, there is something about Murphy's story that makes it more impactful above the others.

As noted, Murphy exposed in front of Taliban bullets so that he could make a call to the base for reinforcements. This act of bravery cost him his life and is a source of pride and inspiration to many Americans.

murph crossfit games

So it is felt that after an act of such generosity, in which the serviceman consciously sacrificed his own life for the good of his fellow soldiers, what less can crossfitters do on Memorial Day in the USA to honor Michael!

How to manage and scale the wod?

First of all, the vest is available to only a few. It is designed for elite athletes and perhaps from some of the best crossfitters in our box, but most people perform this wod without ballast because it has such a high volume of work.

Hero Wods are always difficult wods.

murph crossfit climbing

If you need to scale the wod, you have many options. For example, you can do smaller series while maintaining the same volume of work:

Climbing version

1600 meters
20 rounds of: 5 pull ups + 10 push ups + 15 air squats
1600 meters
Or if push ups resist you, you can still fragment them further 
1600 meters
20 rounds of: 5 pull ups + 5 push ups + 15 air squats + 5 push ups
1600 meters

This way you can give your muscles some rest by changing exercises in small sets. The feeling is quite different from performing 100 - 200 - 300 repetitions.

From here, you can scale also in volume:

3/4 of Murph

1200 m race
75 pull-ups
150 push-ups
225 squats
1200 m race

And each of the exercises can be performed with all of the following relevant modifications: rubber band pull-ups, ring rows, push-ups on knees, squats on a box, etc.... Once again, the spirit of the community seeks to bring together as many people as possible, so there are endless options to make it as inclusive as possible.

Murph confined

On our Discord channel someone shared a version of this workout with no running and no pull-ups:

1000 skipping runs ahead
100 double dumbbell bent over row
200 push ups
300 squats
1000 skipping run from behind

The time limit is usually around 60 minutes. It is advisable to climb when necessary so that all participants share the same sense of demand at their level.

Why do the Murph?

Because it is a great challenge

Even if you don't quite share the American patriotism, this wod is still a GREAT wod for test you in many ways. It is a long, physically and psychologically painful long wod. It's the kind of wods that help you gain confidence to face other wods during the year, "if I did the Murph, this I can do too".

Because it is a repeatable benchmark

In addition, the fact that it is a recurring wod helps you in some way to to be able to compare the results of previous years and thus have a motivation to improve it.

Because you want to create community

And of course, the reason that makes CrossFit truly what it is, the community.. This is just one more occasion to train with your teammates, to share sacrifices that will make you increase the feeling of togetherness in the box.

Who has the best Murph time?

Record in official competition:
38:36 from Icelandic Björgvin Karl Guðmundsson (Games 2015)
39:10 of the Inglesa Samantha Briggs (Games 2015)
Record without competition:
34:30 of the American Hunter McIntyre 2020

For many crossfitters, especially non-American crossfitters, Murph became known in 2015 when it appeared in the tenth edition of the Games.

Several athletes had serious trouble finishing the wod in the midday heat in California. Specifically, Annie Thorisdottir had to withdraw from the competition due to heat stroke and Kara Webb fainted and needed medical assistance.

Murph at the Games

In 2015 Josh Bridges was unable to participate in the CrossFit Games.. The athlete himself said that this wod was made for him. Josh also had an extra feeling about the rest of his teammates, since he is in the military.

Murph 2015 Results

1.- Samantha Briggs 39:10.14
2.- Alethea Boon 40:33.65
3.- Kristin Holte 40:39.82

1.- Bjorgvin Karl Gudmundsson 38:36.21
2.- Mathew Fraser 39:20.93
3.- Noah Ohlsen 39:33.74

Murph 2015 Results

It seems that in 2016 Castro wanted to give the athletes another chance. This time, he made some adjustments such as moving up the time of the race to avoid the midday heat peak, and splitting the wod in 5 rounds of 20 pull ups - 40 push ups - 60 air squats.

Kari Pearce was that year's winner with a time of 36:42while the SEAL Josh Bridges gained over time 34:38. We all have in our minds the images of Josh very excited celebrating the victory in that wod.

Out-of-competition record

May 2020, Hunter McIntyre an experienced steeplechase runner, decided to break Murph's record in unofficial competition.

With time to 34 minutes and 30 seconds, Hunter shaved 4 minutes off the time set by Bjorgvin Karl Gudmundsson.. In this comparison, it must be taken into account that the weather conditions in Games 2015 were harsher.

Hunter is well known in the crossfit world for having been a Wild Card (invited) to CrossFit Games 2019.

16 Murphs in 24 hours

Also in May 2020, the U.S. military athlete Lee Davis, who broke the record of 15 murphs held by Pete Koopmans of Belgium..

Completed 16 murphs without splitting them, the first 10 in 12 hours. The last Murph was completed in 1 hour 23 minutes. Ran a total of 8 hours and 11 minutes.

If you thought that doing a Murph was fipante... Imagine 16! If the coach finds out, he'll never let us complain again.