Interview with Richard Murphy, Accomplished Ultra Runner

Hey y’all,
Philip here. Y’all have been reading my rambling stories for quite some time now. So I thought it’d be really fun to bring you the stories of one of our most loyal members. Richard Murphy is an accomplished trail runner that regularly includes ultra distances on his calendar, including 100 milers. He’s got a job that keeps him busy as well as two teenagers, and yet he’s able to keep himself consistently in racing shape! I’m jealous of his ability to time manage. I shot him some questions a week or so ago, and here’s some of his responses. Hope you enjoy them!

Interview with Richard Murphy, ATRC Member and Accomplished Ultra Runner

1. (Philip Graves): Why do you run trails? How did you get started? 

(Richard Murphy): I have always loved the outdoors. I grew up in Flagstaff, AZ and spent most of my time in the forests and mountains throughout my formative years. I have done a variety of outdoor sports and activities that ended up leading me to trail running, I was running on trails long before I ever knew it was a “thing”. I love running trails because it is the only thing I have ever found that completely satisfies my spirit. It gives me peace, challenge and community. As I stated earlier, I ran on trails from an early age. I heard rumors about trail running as a sport here and there but never found out anything until I moved to Texas, which is funny since Flagstaff is now a trail running mecca! It was very easy to get in touch with the trail running scene in Austin – all the people are so open and friendly. My first trail race was a Capt’n Karl’s 30k and I have never stopped.

2. (PG): Have you ran a race that was particularly rewarding? Which one and why?

(RM): This is a very tough question to answer.  I have run so many great races that were rewarding for so many different reasons. I guess if I have to pick just one, UTE 100 was a very rewarding experience for me. I say this even though I timed out by twelve minutes at mile 70. The journey to UTE was six months of great times, great races, and awesome people. I met lots of new friends, spent time in the mountains of New Mexico and Utah with old friends, and got in some stellar training. That’s one of the best things about ultra-trail running – it’s seldom a solitary endeavor. Taking on a huge challenge is best done with support from friends. So even though UTE 100 got the better of me on the first try, I felt really good about the life experience I was gifted by signing up for it. I wasn’t even too disappointed in not finishing – I ran well and was definitely not out of my league, just little things adding up that made me 12 minutes too late. I learned so much from that race.

3. (PG): What would you say is the biggest challenge that you experience while trail running? 

(RM): My biggest challenge is probably getting in my daily training runs at times. I have two teenage girls that keep me busy, and on top of that I work construction! I start work too early to do my runs in the morning, so during the week I have to do them after work, usually while my youngest daughter is in ballet class. After working hard outside all day it can be tough to get out and run, especially when it’s hot outside. My brain sometimes thinks I’m too tired to run! My brain is usually wrong though. By the time I get a mile or two into the run I almost always feel better and am glad I got out to run. Through the years it has become a lot easier to disregard the voice in my head that tells me to skip my run, experience has given me a louder voice that says, “The run will be great, just go!”

4. (PG): Have you had any interesting encounters with wildlife while trail running or in the outdoors in general?

(RM): Ha ha, yes, I have had a few! While actually trail running, I have only had one that really stands out from the normal wildlife a person sees while trail running, such as snakes, hogs, deer etc. – oh wait, I forgot about the terrified deer that tried to run me over at Dinosaur Valley 50k this past year, so two interesting encounters while actually running! The other run-in happened while I was running up in Vail, Colo. I was running this beautiful single track and ran around a tight corner and came face to face with a bear. We both followed recommended protocol – we took three slow steps back in a very non-threatening manner and then turned around and hauled butt! I’m just glad I elicited the flight response from the bear instead of the fight response. I tried to be a good Samaritan and tell a father and his 5 yr old son that I saw a bear and to be careful. The little kid shrugged and said “Yeah, we see them all the time. No big deal.” I left feeling like a scaredy cat tourist while the Father laughed at me.
5. (PG): You’ve actually built up a lot of the store, carpentry-wise, from the shoe wall to the inventory shelves, and even the apparel fixtures. How did you first meet Pam and get involved with the store?

(RM): I first met her when she and I were working the start/finish aid station at Rocky Raccoon 100. We started talking and Pam told me about her starting to build out a space for a store. I told her that I was a contractor and I could come by and look at it. I came by, gave her advice when needed, and did some work. I really enjoy working on the store, it is a very special place, and we are lucky to have it in our city.  Pam is great and we’ve been friends since the Rocky aid station.

(Our beautiful shoe wall, courtesy of Mr. Murphy!)

6. (PG): What’s your best story from your time spent in the outdoors?

(RM): My best story is probably my mountain lion story! When I was still living in Arizona, I took a woman that I was dating at the time night fishing way out in the desert on the back side of Lake Pleasant. We were camped out on a big point and were hanging around the camp fire and fishing. We were listening to the wild mules braying, and the other night sounds of the desert when all of a sudden the night became eerily quiet. I instantly thought something was wrong and started getting the creeps. Time passed, nothing happened and I began to relax. I left the fire and was casting an ultra-light pole while walking the bank of the point. I thought I heard something and got the creeps again real bad so I started walking back towards the fire. All of a sudden the girl I was with screamed and came running over to me saying she heard something growl. I shined the flashlight all around and was about to say I didn’t see anything when the light caught two eyes in its light. The eyes were about 20ft away and yellow, they were also very far apart from each other. I thought, “What the hell is that?! Those aren’t coyote eyes!”  Then it opened its mouth and hissed at me. “Oh crap – it’s a mountain lion!” The girl screeched and jumped all the way over me and was hanging on my back. The cat was low to the ground and had quite obviously been stalking us. The cat was between us and my truck, with the lake about 10 feet behind us. I thought very quickly, “If we run from it into the lake it is going to get one of us for sure. I can’t let it eat my girlfriend and not get hurt – I’m going to have to be the one that gets got. Best bet is for me to go straight at it and have her run around to the truck.” These thoughts went through my head in a split second but it seemed seemed like an eternity. I got my girlfriend off my back and told her to run around to the truck and jump in the far side door. I then ran straight at the mountain lion and slapped it across the face with my little fishing pole. At this point I figured I was dead. Slapping it with the fishing pole reminded me of that poster with the mouse flipping off the eagle coming down to scoop it up. The caption on that particular poster reads: “The last great act of defiance”. I started laughing at the ridiculousness of slapping it with the tiny fishing pole, rather maniacally I’m sure. It just sat there and looked at me with a funny look on its face so I ran past it toward the truck. I kept waiting for it to jump on my back, but made it to the truck unscathed. I reached in the truck and turned on the headlights and the cat was still just sitting there looking kinda perplexed. I jumped across the seat and started the truck to turn and shine the lights directly on it, but by the time I looked up it was gone. I tell this story as if it was funny, but it really wasn’t. Turns out I probably should’ve let it eat the girl. Ha ha, just kidding!(sort of).

7. (PG): You’ve had a lot of success consistently trail running ultra distances. What advice would you give to other people with busy schedules who might want to do what you do?  

(RM): If you want to do it badly enough there’s always time to train. It might just mean losing some sleep. The most important thing to remember about training in my opinion is Bruce Lee. He said; “Consistency trumps intensity every time”.  In my experience if you have consistency you will have success in your goals.

Thanks so much to Richard for giving us this interview! Our members are what make our store great. In the future we’ll be highlighting some more members and sharing their stories. In the meantime, thanks for reading!



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