Late in 2017, while making resolutions for our upcoming sojourn in the Pilbara, I was struck by the desire to set a specific goal around my ongoing failure to lose weight. At the same time, Luscious and I stumbled across a documentary about the 2015 CrossFit Games. Apart from developing instant envycrushes on Mat Fraser (and in a subsequent doco, Rich Froning) and three athletes we thought of as ‘The Dottirs’ (Annie Thorisdottir, Sara Sigmundsdottir and Katrin Davidsdottir), we were also introduced to a particularly hellish-looking piece of business known as ‘Murph’.

Murph is a competitive routine named after a US Navy Lieutenant and crossfit enthusiast, Michael Murphy, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2005. It consists of the following elements:

  • 1 mile (approx. 1500 metre) run
  • 100 pull-ups
  • 200 push-ups
  • 300 squats
  • Another 1 mile run

Competitors at the Crossfit Games did all this while wearing a 20lb/14lb vest, because they all have the kind of bodies Marvel have to CGI onto their actors, and have clearly lost the will to live.

However, I have an enormous soft spot for legacy items in sporting and artistic pursuits. I was a keen sportsman in my teen years, and of course I’m a passionate artist now, and there’s something deeply connecting about being part of a lineage that enshrines the Panenka, or the Cruyff turn, or the Mumfan or Asimov’s Laws of Robotics (Lou Gehrig’s Disease and Sadism, not so much…). Not everybody gets a statue.

I decided in an instant: by the time we came to the end of our (initial) 2 years in Karratha, I would be slim enough, and fit enough, to make a serious attempt at a Murph.

There was just one problem: as detailed in a previous post, I was — to put it medically– as fat as fuck. To find out how far this journey really was going to be, I needed to give myself a benchmark.

With that in mind, I took the field early on the morning of January 1 2017, and attempted a Fat Man Murph.

First, I timed how long it took me to walk/jog/stumble/limp 1500 metres. Then I nipped over to the park across the road to record how many pull-ups I could actually do before collapsing. Back to the house to record how many push-ups and squats I could manage in a row. Then out on the road again, to cover the same 1500 metres and record the time. These were my results:

  • 1 mile “run”: 14.07.73
  • Pull-ups: zippola, nada, nyet, farkall, nowt. Nil.
  • Push-ups: 12
  • Squats: 15
  • 1 mile “run”: 15.03.44

So, after a year of exercise and wight loss, my very first act this morning– before breakfast, before playing video games, before lazing about on the couch binge-watching episodes of MASH like a normal person– was to haul myself out onto the road, and see how I stacked up.

With the only caveat being that there nowhere within travelling distance where I can do pull-ups– not that it matters, because I know the answer to that particular question is still zero– here’s how I went.

  • 1 mile “run”: 12.01.41 (-2.06.32)
  • Push-ups: 15 (+3)
  • Squats: 25 (+10)
  • 1 mile “run”: 13.55.54 (-1.07.50)

The only disappointment there, really, is the number of push-ups. I can do roughly 45 in a day, but because my left shoulder is so weak– and no matter what I do, never shows any sign of getting any stronger) — it still gives out on me far too quickly. But, overall, it’s an improvement.

I just wish I’d found an annual tradition that involved custard……



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