Bodies covered in sweat, muscles burning, those working out Saturday morning at Southwind Crossfit pushed their bodies to keep going.
As much as they might have hurt, however, they all knew their pain was a fraction of that suffered by Lt. Michael Murphy and others who gave their lives for their country.
Nearly 40 people turned out in two classes Saturday to participate in the Murph Challenge, begun in 2014 to honor Murphy, a Navy SEAL who died in 2005 in Afghanistan.
Already wounded after his team came under fire by the Taliban in mountainous terrain, Murphy moved to open territory where he could get a signal on a satellite phone to request a rescue, exposing himself to fire from the Taliban. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, and his story was told in the movie “Lone Survivor.”
“Our temporary discomfort and sweat of working out is nothing compared to the sacrifice they made,” said Tucker Mall, co-owner with his wife, Jill, of Southwind Crossfit.
It’s not unusual for Crossfit to honor the service of others through “Hero WODs” — workout of the day — named for a fallen soldier or law enforcement officer, Mall said.
“They’re usually two to 10 times harder than a typical workout,” he said.
The Murph Challenge started with a one-mile run followed by 100 pull-ups, 200 pushups, 300 squats and another one-mile run. Participants could scale the workout to their fitness level, but most performed the full workout. Some even wore weighted vests — 20 pounds for men, 14 for women — for the entire hour-long challenge.
Southward Crossfit has participated in the challenge every year, Mall said.
The challenge is not just physical, said the gym’s third co-owner, Josh Bieker.
Half an hour into the 10:30 a.m. challenge, participants were breathing hard, stopping to catch their breath and wipe sweat off their hands before another round of pull-ups.
“Now is where the mental kicks in. They’re going to have to mentally become strong. And it’s hot as hell in here, so that doesn’t make it any better,” Bieker said.
He and his fellow co-owners had already been through the 8 a.m. challenge.
“This is minimal compared to what anyone in the service goes through to keep us free. It’s just pushing through knowing that my legs burning is nothing,” he said.
Several of the participants agreed.
“No matter what pain I’m going through, it’s not near what some people put themselves through every day,” said Paul Cuellar, Hays.
He said thoughts of his grandfather, who served in the Coast Guard, and a friend in the National Guard who might be called up soon to Iraq, kept him going through the challenge.
Becky Meagher, Hays, said the challenge left her feeling “rough but accomplished.” She joined the challenge because she said she thinks the reasons for Memorial Day are not often talked about enough. The challenge gave her the opportunity to memorialize those who died with people she considers family.
“It’s very important to remember where our freedoms come from,” she said.
Lamar Leon, Great Bend, said that family atmosphere brings him back for special events like the Murph Challenge. He started working out at Southwnd Crossfit several years ago when he played football for Fort Hays State University.
“I feel like if I can sacrifice 60 or 70 minutes of my day, it just means a lot,” he said.