An Obstacle Course Racing Champ Will Try to Break the Murph World Record

The Murph world record was always in the back of Hunter McIntyre’s mind.

But back in 2011, before he became an obstacle course racing champ, the infamous CrossFit Memorial Day workout—and CrossFit itself—was just another part of his varied conditioning program. Could he run it faster than any man, ever? Probably, he thought.

On Saturday, May 23, near Fort Bragg, North Carolina, at 6:30 a.m. sharp (EST), the 31-year-old will find out if his high aspirations were on the mark. McIntyre is aiming to achieve a world-best time in one of the most notorious workouts in the CrossFit cannon.

The Murph’s namesake was Lieutenant Michael “Murph” Murphy, a Navy SEAL whose valor was depicted in the book and film Lone Survivor. Originally dubbed “body armor,” because of the gear Murphy used to load the workout while deployed, the routine became one of CrossFit’s revered Hero WODs, an annual event among CrossFit members each Memorial Day, and a baptism by fire for the CrossFit-curious. After a mile run, you crank out 100 pullups, 200 pushups, and 300 air squats before finishing with another mile run. Oh, and the “Rx,” or prescribed format, requires a 20-pound vest to be worn.

McIntyre was a month into altitude conditioning in Boulder, Colorado, when he discovered his whole season, from races abroad to the CrossFit Games themselves, were scrapped due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Everyone had aspirations, and this stopped everything,” he says, “so I decided it wasn’t going to be the end of me and picked up Murph instead.”

McIntyre had eight weeks for his pre-Murph prep, which he programmed into two four-week blocks. The first focused on strength, including bench press and squats, which built the power it takes to push a weighted vest around a few hundred times. For the second, endurance: Monster 10-minute every minute on the minute (EMOM) sessions for each of the exercises, along with track work to cut his mile time to the bone. His mileage swelled to 40 miles per week, a third of which he ran weighted.

Beyond workouts, McIntyre reached out to those who had run fast Murphs, multiple Murphs back to back, or Murphs weekly for a year. His best opportunity for the record, he learned, is cutting minutes from the miles and then suffering through the calisthenics: “The battle is sandwiched between two perfect runs,” he says.

The current verified record for the Murph was set at the 2016 CrossFit Games by Josh Bridges in 34 minutes and 38.83 seconds. McIntyre believes he’s trained to run under 30—a feat akin to LeBron sinking 115 points in a night, Brady passing for 637 yards, or Usain Bolt sprinting an 8.1 100 meter dash. Add to this fundraising efforts for the veterans group Team Red, White & Blue, and the pressure is high.

“I won’t be able to relax until it’s all said and done,” he says. But after, with the record secure, “I want to kick back, put my cell phone away, and drink some beer.”

Want to watch the attempt? Check out McIntyre’s Intagram account on Saturday for updates.

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