Ben Murphy ’00 From out of shape to ultra-marathoner

By Tom Rivers ’96

page37-1Ben Murphy ’00 was busy in his 20s. He was married, with three kids and a full-time job. He didn’t have time to exercise or do much home cooking. He had quick meals — a lot of fast food. At night, he was exhausted, but couldn’t peel himself away from the TV.

He was an athlete in high school, playing soccer and running track in rural Pennsylvania. He hiked and biked.

“With the time crunches of parenthood,” he said, “all that fell by the wayside.”

Murphy had gained weight gradually, a few pounds each year. He bought bigger clothes. At age 32, he peaked at 217 pounds on his 5’10’’ frame. A decade earlier, he had graduated from Roberts weighing 155 pounds.

His wife, Lisa, started to run in mid-2009, and Ben tried to follow her example. He couldn’t go a mile back then.

“It was hard work,” he said. “It’s not fun, and it hurts. It was small, incremental changes.”

page37-2Murphy, now 35, kept at it, running, biking and being more conscious about eating well and avoiding late-night TV.

He has dropped 70 pounds in the past four years, and is now an ultra-marathoner, a weekly columnist about healthy living, and a far more energetic father and husband. Besides his weekly column, “The Parent Athlete,” which is run in 20 publications, he keeps updated regularly. He shares exercise, health and wellness tips, and advice on how to juggle family life, a career and fitness.

A grant writer for Roberts Wesleyan, Murphy makes a quick change into running clothes on many of his lunch breaks and runs around campus and the school’s all-weather track. He now weighs 147 pounds and completes 40-mile trail runs, the equivalent of a marathon, plus another half marathon — all on rough terrain.

He has swum Honeoye Lake end to end, a 4.5-mile trek that took 3½ hours. He has completed a half Ironman competition, running 13.1 miles, swimming 1.2 miles and biking 56.

“Mentally, we set our own limits,” Murphy said. “An ultra-marathon, I didn’t know I was capable of that. You can do whatever you set your mind to.”

Murphy doesn’t see himself as a super-athlete. He makes a daily commitment to exercise, and he is conscious about eating well. He praises his wife, who also has completed a half marathon, for her support. They often make exercise a family outing by using a jogging stroller and a bike trailer to bring their children along.

“Everyone says they don’t have time,” Murphy said. “But I make time. You can cut out the TV, get up earlier or exercise on your lunch breaks. You really need to look at how you spend your time.”

Murphy enjoys the personal challenges of running, biking and swimming, and the excitement in crossing a milestone by going farther than before or completing a distance faster.

“It doesn’t happen overnight,” he said. “But it makes you understand what’s possible.”