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Bessinger cruises to sixth straight Murph title

Sam Bessinger, front, and Chris Metzgar perform pull-ups during The Murph fitness challenge May 8 in the fitness center gym at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo. Bessinger won the event for the sixth straight year, falling just 18 seconds shy of the base record he set in 2012. The Murph, a workout consisting of a one-mile run, 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups and 300 body squats followed by another one-mile run, was named after Navy Lt. Michael Murphy who created the workout and was later killed in action in Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo | Senior Airman Naomi Griego)

Sam Bessinger, front, and Chris Metzgar perform pull-ups during The Murph fitness challenge May 8 in the fitness center gym at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo. Bessinger won the event for the sixth straight year, falling just 18 seconds shy of the base record he set in 2012. The Murph, a workout consisting of a one-mile run, 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups and 300 body squats followed by another one-mile run, was named after Navy Lt. Michael Murphy who created the workout and was later killed in action in Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo | Senior Airman Naomi Griego)

Jessica Trundy completes one of the two one-mile runs during The Murph fitness challenge May 8 in the fitness center at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo. Trundy finished with the fastest time for females in her first event after arriving at Schriever. The Murph, a workout consisting of a one-mile run, 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups and 300 body squats followed by another one-mile run,  was named after Navy Lt. Michael Murphy, the creator of the workout, who was killed in action in Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Naomi Griego)

Jessica Trundy completes one of the two one-mile runs during The Murph fitness challenge May 8 in the fitness center at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo. Trundy finished with the fastest time for females in her first event after arriving at Schriever. The Murph, a workout consisting of a one-mile run, 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups and 300 body squats followed by another one-mile run, was named after Navy Lt. Michael Murphy, the creator of the workout, who was killed in action in Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Naomi Griego)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Following the closest finish in The Murph in five years last year, questions abounded as to whether Sam Bessinger would be able to retain his title in 2015.

Bessinger emphatically answered all those questions May 8, finishing with a time of 23:29 (just 18 seconds shy of the base record he set in 2012) and more than five minutes in front of Justin Long (28:32) and Chris Metzgar (28:41). Both Long and Metzgar finished within two minutes of Bessinger last year.

"I knew I was in great shape [going into the event]," Bessinger said.

Bessinger and Metzgar ended up with the same start time, giving the competitors a little extra motivation.

"Chris competes in national and international judo and ju-jitsu tournaments and does extremely well in them so any time you go up against someone like that, you want to show them your best," Bessinger said.

The Murph had a bit of change this year as the mile runs were completed on a treadmill instead of a track, due to inclement weather and ongoing renovations at the indoor track.

"Next year, I think the event will be even better with our 'new' venue," said Seth Cannello, Schriever Fitness Center director. "The indoor track is now rubberized and we have an artificial turf field. The indoor track will be the permanent site for future events."

Bessinger said he lost some time on his last mile run due to an input error on the treadmill.

"After I got done with the middle portion of the event I was pretty spent," he said. "I popped up on the treadmill and thought I hit the 'go' button, but I think I started entering my weight and age because it wasn't moving at all. I had a mini freak-out session until it started."

While Bessinger has maintained a stranglehold on the male title, the females again crowned a new champion. Jessica Trundy, who arrived at Schriever less than a month before the competition, finished in 49:54, just over a minute ahead of Heather Klein (50:59).

"I knew [The Murph] would be a difficult challenge, but I believe the only way to determine your limitations is to push yourself until you find them," Trundy said. "Also, coming from sea level, I wasn't fully prepared for the daunting task to simply breathe."

Trundy has a special attachment to The Murph, an event named after U.S. Navy Lt. Michael Murphy, who created the workout, but was later killed in action while serving in Afghanistan in 2005. Her husband is now a member of the unit that attempted to rescue Murphy and his fellow SEAL team members. That unit lost eight Soldiers during the rescue attempt when their helicopter was hit by RPG fire.

"For me, The Murph is much more than an opportunity to push my body physically, it's an opportunity to pay honor to the 19 men who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country," she said. "I feel privileged at every chance to participate in a Murph Challenge. I am grateful and proud that Schriever provides such an opportunity."

Cannello said the best part of this year's event was the fact that not one of the 18 registrants failed to complete the challenge.

"Regardless of how fast they finished, they should all be proud of themselves," Cannello said. "This is an extremely difficult event to complete."

Prior to the event, Bessinger said 2015 would be the best chance for him to be dethroned as he'll shoot for a new base record if he's able to compete again next year. He reiterated that stance again after retaining his title.

"I was being very honest about next year being my best year," he said. "If I'm here next year, I'm competing again and the record won't hold."

For more information about The Murph, or other monthly fitness events, contact the fitness center at 567-6628.

The following are top competitors:

Male:
-- Sam Bessinger, 50th Space Communications Squadron, 23:29

-- Justin Long, 50th Force Support Squadron, 28:32

-- Chris Metzgar, 50 SCS, 28:41

-- Rodrigo Ocampo, 4th Space Operations Squadron, 30:08

-- Jeffrey Wagner, 2nd Space Operations Squadron, 38:04

Female:
-- Jessica Trundy, 4 SOPS, 49:54

-- Heather Klein, 50 SCS, 50:59
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