Max Murphy pulled off one of the great come from behind finishing moments in Iowa High School XC history to grab the 2019 class 4A state individual title by less than a second over Dowling Catholic’s Sam Hall. Max wasn’t always on the radar for a moment like this. He took some time to answer a few questions to provide insight into how his magical moment come to be.

Bryce Hoppel

Bryce Hoppel

Q1. Favorite track athlete to watch?

A1. My favorite athlete to watch would probably be Bryce Hoppel because he is a great competitor and always finds a way to win or get the job done and is just a great racer.

Q2. Favorite event to run

A2. I really like the long-distance races the best so the 3200 is my favorite event in track in high school but once I’m in college the 5k and 10k will probably be my favorite events.

Q3. What field event would you love to do and why?

A3. I would love to do the high jump because it’s exciting to watch and the crowd is always very involved.

Q4. What got you interested in distance running?

A. In elementary school, I played soccer and I always enjoyed the running part so I did cross country in junior high and had a fun time but freshman year of high school was when I really started to love the sport and train more.

Q5. What were your ultimate goals when you started high school?

A5. I was pretty good in junior high but not super fast so going into freshman year cross country my goal was just to make varsity as a senior. Sophomore year was when I really started to have higher goals.

Murphy racing as a sophomore.

Murphy racing as a sophomore.

Q6. When did you first realize you had the talent to be a state champion?

A6. From freshman to sophomore year I dropped my PR from 18:15 to 16:41 so that year is when I first thought of it as a possibility but it still was a very big goal. However, after the Roy Griak meet this year is when I really realized that I actually had a legit chance to win it.

Q7. What was the deciding factor this fall from other seasons?

A7. I continued to progress my mileage like I have every year but I think the biggest change was probably that this year I started lifting and doing strength exercises which helped a lot with hills and injury resistance so I could handle more training. As well, every year of high school I have grown quite a bit so I think that helped a lot too.

Q8. Take me through the last 300 meters at state after turning the corner at the top of the hill. What was going through your head during that minute?

A8. At about the bridge with about 1k or so to go, Green and Hall both picked the pace up so at that point I was just trying to maintain contact and not fall back too far. Then once we turned the corner we had a downhill and I changed gears and started kicking and at first, I was just focused on trying to pass Green and then once I passed him I was still decently far behind Hall so I just kept kicking to at least give myself a shot at passing him and with about 50 meters left I realized that I actually could catch him and luckily I passed him with about 5-10 meters left and then right after the race I was just in shock.

Q9. What is your favorite memory so far as a high school runner?

A9. My favorite memory so far would definitely be winning state just because I had been dreaming of that moment for years so for it to finally happen was pretty surreal.

Q10. Who have been your biggest inspirations?

A10. My biggest inspirations would probably be past Pleasant Valley runners that have accomplished lots of great things because I want to follow in their footsteps and continue our school’s tradition of success.

Q11. Have you started going through the recruiting process? If so, what has that been like?

A11. I have signed with the University of Iowa, but it was interesting seeing lots of different schools. Ultimately though, I really liked the team and the coaches at Iowa and I really liked the engineering building at Iowa as well so I am excited to go there next year!

Q12. What would you tell your freshman self if you could go back?

A12. I would tell my freshman self to enjoy the team and the journey and have lots of fun and take nothing for granted.

Murphy racing as a freshman.

Murphy racing as a freshman.

Q13. What are your future goals in the sport?

A13. In the future, I just want to continue to improve and to do whatever I can to help my team.

Example Training Week:
From the week of our conference meet:
Monday: Track workout of 1600, 2×8,2×4,2×2 + morning lift
Tuesday: 8 miles easy + strides
Wednesday: 4 miles easy + strides
Thursday: Conference Meet, won in 15:26
Friday: Long Run of 11 miles
Saturday: 4 Mile progressive run starting at 6 flat getting about 15 seconds faster per mile + 5×300 + afternoon lift
Sunday: Day off

Favorite Workout:
My all-time favorite workout happens to be the Monday workout from that week. For the 1600 I went 4:38, 800’s 2:26 and 2:25, the 400’s 69 and 72 and the 200s 32 and 30. The rest was 2-3 minutes between reps. This workout was my favorite workout for multiple reasons. I was very happy running a 1600 so fast and relaxed and then still running quality times the rest of the workout and not going all out. I felt great and relaxed the whole workout, However, it was really my favorite workout because our JV team did a 1600 time trial so I was able to pace one of my teammates to a 4:38 for an almost 10 second PR.

Many thanks to Max for taking the time to provide some insight into his running. Best of luck to him as he prepares for this spring and beyond!

Ben Tilus
Head Performance Coach
XLR8 Performance Lab