Trident Athletics of Tacoma will be hosting the Murph Challenge on Memorial Day, May 30th, 2016. Known simply as “Murph” in the CrossFit community, athletes across the nation are challenged to wear a 20 pound plate carrier while they run one mile, do 100 pullups, 200 pushups, 300 air squats, and do another one mile run.
To Trident Athletics, however, the challenge represents much more than a workout. Zach Rynders, the Director of Training at Trident Athletics, has been coaching for five and a half years now. He has been CrossFitting since 2006 and has done the challenge every year.
“Our gym is home to a lot of military. We have active duty members who are stationed at JBLM as well as veterans, who make a vast part [of] our membership.”
The workout is named in honor of Navy SEAL Lt. Michael P. Murphy, who was killed in action during Operation Redwing in June 2005. Lt. Murphy was the leader of a four-man SEAL reconnaissance unit that secretly infiltrated the Hindu-Kush mountains.
On June 28th, 2005, their team was ambushed and overwhelmed by Taliban forces. Lt. Murphy climbed into open high ground to make a rescue call. He was wounded during his endeavor, but continued to fight. His actions allowed one of his squad members to escape, before he himself was killed.
Lt. Murphy was awarded the Medal of Honor on October 27th, 2007. He was only the third service member at the time to be awarded the nation’s highest honor since President Bush sent U.S. military forces into Afghanistan in 2001.
Owner and head coach of Trident Athletics, Jeff Serven, served as a Navy SEAL for 10 years, enlisting after the 9/11 attacks. The gym name drew its inspiration from the Special Warfare insignia, better known as the SEAL Trident.
Zach Rynders says, “This event means a lot to us, especially with Jeff being a former SEAL and personally knowing Lt. Murphy. It symbolizes commitment and strengthens our community. Jeff shared with us how Lt. Murphy did this WOD [workout of the day] every day.”
He also says, “It’s inspiring and really shows why we shouldn’t quit. We want to educate members of our community on the significance of the event. It’s not just a WOD. That’s not what it’s about. It’s about strengthening the community we love and bringing an awareness of the sacrifices that the men and women of country have made.”
The Murph Challenge is the official annual fundraiser for the Lt. Michael P. Murphy Memorial Scholarship Foundation. The Memorial Scholarship Foundation was started in 2007 by Michael’s parents, Dan and Maureen, and Michael’s brother John.
On the official Memorial Scholarship Foundation site, his parents shared how Michael was an avid reader. In fact, his favorite saying was, “Education will set you free.” It is why the Murphy family used their own money to start the foundation.
Thanks in part to the success of the annual fundraiser, they have raised nearly $400,000 over the last two years. It has allowed for an additional three scholarships. The Memorial Foundation is now able to provide the opportunity to award 21 or more scholarships each year.
“It is a core fundraiser,” Zach Rynders says. “What I would say to people who think it looks hard or may not appeal to them, is just do it. There are scaling options. This is about accomplishing more than you thought you could.”
He also says, “The beauty of this is seeing the community coming together. The athletes who finish the workout first, join the people who get to the run last and run with them until they are finished. No one is done until everyone is done.”