John Sullivan Did An Incredible 13 Rounds of “Murph”

John Sullivan performed 13 rounds of "Murph" in 24 hours on Memorial Day.

The first time John Sullivan attempted to do “Murph”, he quit. It was 2012 and Sullivan was just a year out of the Navy as a machinist and wanted to give one of the most famous CrossFit Hero WODs a go. He had only recently been introduced to CrossFit, and if you are at all familiar with CrossFit, the workout “Murph” is a WOD you’ve probably heard of, or have done.

Murph” is one of the many CrossFit Hero WODs. Hero WODs are named after fallen soldiers, and “Murph” specifically was named after Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy who passed away in 2005. Murphy was a CrossFit athlete himself, and this workout was one of his favorites. “Murph” is done for time and with a 20lb weighted vest and is performed every year on Memorial Day.

  • 1 Mile Run
  • 100 Pull-Ups
  • 200 Push Ups
  • 300 Squats
  • 1 Mile Run

In Sullivan’s first attempt at “Murph” he only got through 60 percent of it. And even though at the time he felt like he would never be able to complete such a challenging workout, he decided to study the workout and perfect it.

“It bothered me because I don’t view myself as a quitter,” Sullivan told BarBend. “I didn’t know about Michael P Murphy when I first tried it so, in my research on how to get better at “Murph”, I read up on him. It made me feel like sh*t that I had quit on his workout after reading about all he had been through. So I resigned myself to do better.”

A few months later, with the recharged mindset to do better, Sullivan completed “Murph” with no vest. Still, even though an accomplishment, he felt like he wasn’t doing anyone any service by not doing the workout the way it was originally designed to be done.

“It made me feel like sh*t that I had quit on his workout after reading about all he had been through. So I resigned myself to do better.”

“I was gifted a weight vest by my wife which allowed me to set a new goal, full “Murph” with a vest,” Sullivan said. In September, Sullivan did “Murph” for 12-hours straight to see if it would be at all possible to do the workout for a full 24-hour stretch. In 2017, Dave Barry, a 59-year old from Cornwall, United Kingdom did “Murph” for 24-hours and managed to get in 11 full rounds.

Sullivan surely had his work cut out for him, and each year began chipping away at his goal to do “Murph” for 24 hours straight.

“At the time, I completed seven rounds and was completely miserable afterwards,” Sullivan said, recalling back to his training last fall. “My legs locked up for the mile runs during rounds six and seven. I had to manage my nutrition better because my current plan “just go” wasn’t going to hold up if I was going to go for 24-hours.”

Fast forward to Memorial Day, 2019 and Sullivan recently completed “Murph” for 13 rounds in 24-hours. He ran 26.2 miles, did 1,300 pull-ups, 2,600 push-ups, and 3,900 squats all while wearing a 20 lb vest.

When we asked Sullivan what his training was like leading up this day, he told us he did “Murph” — a lot.

“At least once a week. I would do different versions of it to keep it interesting. I’d split the reps differently, with a 40 lb vest, with a 35 lb rucksack, carrying a sandbag, unweighted (for speed), or slowly (at a conversational pace). I struggled with the run, so I incorporated more runs (with the weight vest) into my training at least once per week. My focus was on endurance, so I’d go for 7-10 mile trail runs with my buddies.”

Pull-ups and push-ups weren’t an initial walk in the park for Sullivan either. “I wasn’t great at push-ups when I started so I started working on those right away, too. In addition to push-ups, I did a ton of burpees. Once in 2018 and once in 2019, I did 100 burpees (in addition to my training) every day as soon as I woke up.”

“I worked on my pull-ups by performing a lot of strict pull-ups before I ever started kipping. It was fun to find places to do pull-up’s everywhere: at the playground, on a random I-beam, door frames, scaffolding, etc.”

Sullivan said the day after completing “Murph” he didn’t feel as sore as he thought he would have been.

“I’m very proud of what I accomplished and hope that it inspires others to do “Murph” for 24 hours,” he said. “I think someone will break this unofficial record, and soon. And when they do, I will congratulate them because I do NOT see myself doing this again. I’m looking forward to the next challenge, and I’m not sure what that is yet, but it’ll be fun and difficult.”

Feature image from @earnyourbreak Instagram page.

Celia Balf

Celia Balf

Celia is a Staff News Writer at BarBend. At the BarBend office, you can find Celia writing news stories covering the largest strength sport competitions in the world, in-depth features with world record-holders, big lifts, and everything in-between. Celia also orchestrates and helps create content for the BarBend social media pages. She is a former Division 1 soccer player turned content producer and sports journalist.

4 thoughts on “John Sullivan Did An Incredible 13 Rounds of “Murph””

  1. Unreal especially for a sailor. :)… Hey Sully, Another Sullivan here. 74 year young. Did my first Murph last Saturday. No vest. 53;28. I rowed 3400 meters instead of the runs. My left knee is shot. 24 hours of Murph is unreal. Keep up the great work.
    God Bless
    Strength and Honor
    Semper Fi
    Dr. John USMC

  2. Hi Celia – I’m friends with John and he’s not SEAL, although he was in the Navy. Can you redact the “SEAL” as it completely ruins what he did, portraying him as something he is not. It alludes that he said he was in special operations (which he didn’t say) and John is someone of super high integrity. Many thanks for the quick changes!

    • Hey Michael — We updated right away earlier today after talking to John. Facebook seems to be taking awhile to update, but those changes were made on the backend. Thank you.

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