By Scott Prater
Angelia Sanders had already completed 11 cycles when she pulled her chin over the bar for the 56th time.
By that point, her plan had begun to unravel and the reality of what she was attempting reared its ugly head. She had 44 more chin ups to do, and the clock inside the fitness center weight room seemed to be ticking faster.
“At that point it’s hard to tell what hurts more, your muscles or your lungs,” Ms. Sanders said. “But, even though I felt like I was resting too much, I wasn’t worried. I knew I’d finish.”
Eleven competitors fought through pain and persevered through adversity during Schriever’s third annual “The Murph” competition Dec. 10 at the main fitness center. And true to her goal, Ms. Sanders did finish. She even beat the minimum-time standard, completing “the Murph” in 59 minutes, 15 seconds.
Named in honor of Lt. Michael Murphy, a Navy SEAL who was killed in action June 28, 2005 in Afghanistan, “The Murph” challenges competitors to complete a one-mile run, perform 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups and 300 body squats, then finish with another one-mile run.
Lieutenant Murphy invented the workout, which he called “Body Armor,” and performed the routine regularly while wearing a 20-pound vest.
Schriever’s athletes weren’t required to wear the vest, but the competition proved punishing nonetheless.
Dan Sanders, Angelia’s husband, had less than a10th of a mile to go on his second run when he succumbed to, uh … stomach illness.
Chad Bowman competed in his third straight Murph and was surprised to find out he’d finished 10 minutes slower than his time of two years ago.
“Of all the three years I’ve done the Murph, I put the most training in this year,” he said. “It’s hard to understand, but I suppose it’s age. I don’t mind much, this event is more than just a sporting event anyway, it’s more symbolic of an individual’s integrity and drive.”
Schriever Sports and Fitness Manager Seth Cannello directed the event and said this year’s group of competitors were some of the best he’s seen in the Murph.
“Sam Bessinger set the all-time Schriever Murph record with a time of 29:05, beating the old mark by almost 90 seconds,” he said. “I was really impressed with Angelia Sanders too. One hundred pull ups is an awful lot for a guy, but for women it’s really impressive.
Brenda Lewis competed in her third Murph, as well, and finished fifth overall in 48:14. Casey Fletcher snagged runner up honors in 34:02. Stephen Toth was third in 38:39 and Dan Sanders took fourth despite his late illness in 43:18.
Bessinger and Fletcher attacked the Murph in similar fashion, rolling through 5 pull ups, 10 push ups and 15 body squats in cyclical succession.
“When Sam (Bessinger) was on set 17 I figured he’d slow down, you know, get tired, but he never did,” Mr. Cannello said.
At one point, Bessinger leaned over, rested his hands on his knees, and took a couple of deep breaths, but that was his only pause.
Mr. Cannello figured Fletcher was just as proficient with the exercises, but Bessinger proved faster on the runs.
“I think Sam was running a seven or eight-minute pace,” Mr. Cannello said. “I think that’s the only thing that separated them.”
1st Sam Bessinger — 29:05
2nd Casey Fletcher — 34:02
3rd Stephen Toth — 38:39
4th Dan Sanders — 43:18
5th Brenda Lewis — 48:14
6th Chad Bowman — 50:29
7th Teddy Vargas — 52:49
8th Harold Hoang — 53:11
9th Bill Larkin — 58:40
10th Paul Aldrich — 55:58
11th Angelia Sanders — 59:15