Whitsunday ultra-distance runner Chris Murphy
Whitsunday ultra-distance runner Chris Murphy

BORN TO RUN: How Whitsunday man trains for 140km race

HE MIGHT not make it to Europe to compete, but one Whitsunday athlete is still powering through in his training for one of the world’s most gruelling pastimes – ultra-marathons.

Strathdickie resident Chris Murphy is the first to admit he never expected to be a runner, let alone one who could spend up to 14 hours pounding the pavement and dirt.

A health scare in 2016 was the kick he needed to take his fitness seriously and it “snowballed from there”.

“Running just became the thing that fit in with my life and I kept pushing myself further and further,” he said.

“I used to look at the people who kept running for more distance after the 5km parkrun on Saturday morning and think they’re crazy – now I run the 17km from my home in Strathdickie, the 5km parkrun, a bit further again and then back home!”

Having competed in ultra-marathon events in Australia, Mr Murphy was gearing up for his first international event – the Europe based 145km, 9000m elevation Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc – before coronavirus restrictions stopped him in his tracks.

Strathdickie resident Chris Murphy has been continuing to train for ultra-marathons despite coronavirus. Pictured is him doing four laps of Honeyeater Lookout and taking a photo at the summit each time.
Strathdickie resident Chris Murphy has been continuing to train for ultra-marathons despite coronavirus. Pictured is him doing four laps of Honeyeater Lookout and taking a photo at the summit each time.

However, that hasn’t stopped him from using the Whitsunday region as his training ground as he challenged himself to push further.

“There’s no way to really train yourself except a lot of consistent running and focusing on specific things like elevation training,” he said.

“About now I would have been focusing on vertical climb training, so I’ve been tackling Honeyeater Lookout multiple times during a run for the elevation change, and the Great Whitsunday Trail track as well.”

The committed runner said, apart from cancelled events, the coronavirus pandemic hadn’t stopped him training at all and had possibly made him more dedicated.

“I’ve really just enjoyed training for the sake of training. It keeps your mind busy and gives you something to do,” Mr Murphy said.

“You have to break it up into stages when you’re out there and you’re just thinking of getting to that next checkpoint. It clears your mind.

“Europe might not happen, but there’s so many other events in Australia and even Queensland that I can focus on, so I’m just going to keep training as if I was going.

“I just like to keep it lighthearted otherwise you lose the best part of running, which is the fun.”

Mr Murphy is a part of the Whitsunday Running Club, where he cheekily said he “recruited people from” to become ultra-marathon runners with him.

“We’re a little different, that’s for sure, but it’s such a rewarding moment when you cross that finish line,” he said.

“Your best times when you run is with someone who is pushing you along, so it’s a positive to see the sport gaining more traction in the Whitsundays.”

He said no matter how crazy people thought he was running such distances, there was one group of athletes he looked up to and admired himself.

“Triathlon athletes are the real deal, they’re the guys who make me go ‘wow’,” Mr Murphy said.

“I did a small triathlon once and I was so tired I had to walk some of the run. They’re true athletes.”


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