MURCA is an elite group of ultrarunners that not many have heard of. Yet. This is because we do not currently have big brand sponsorship and are not on the podium at major races. What we do have are some of the toughest individuals in the sport. We make up approximately .00012% of the U.S. population. We are the few, the proud, the Marine UltraRunners Club of America (MURCA). MURCA is an exclusive group of Marine veterans who run ultramarathons. With approximately 400-500 Marine veteran ultrarunners in the U.S. today, almost half of them are members of MURCA (MURCAns), and are a special breed of athletes who know no limits.
Billy Yang recently released a video called “The Why”, in which he explores the most common reasons people run 100-mile ultramarathons. This latest video, adding to his already impressive body of work, surely resonates with runners, athletes in other sports, and even non-runners who wonder why we would put ourselves through such physical and mental suffering. The video poses the oft-asked question…“why am I doing this?” Whether it is during training or during a race, at some point we all must face this question honestly. Not everyone’s answer will be the same. One commonality between MURCAns, is that their time as Marines equipped them with a high level of mental and physical fortitude, making ultrarunning a natural fit. I recently asked a few MURCAns why they run ultras. This is what that had to say.
Frank Bozanich – AUA Ultrarunning Hall of Fame 2013 Inductee
- Frank’s combat experience in Vietnam helped him to discover what he was capable of while dealing with an extreme amount of mental, physical, and emotional stress. He also learned what his body and mind are capable of achieving while undernourished and dehydrated. Combat is a dynamic environment and the ability to improvise, adapt and overcome becomes critical to survive in those situations. Over the course of an ultramarathon, many of these same challenges present. Frank credits his experience in combat with getting him through the toughest races out there.
George Briones – Former Recon Marine and Head of Human Performance at SOFlete.
- George uses running as mental and emotional therapy, to open and clear his mind. He also runs for those who cannot, for fallen and injured comrades, using his passion to help raise money and awareness for important veterans’ causes. George not only completed the toughest special operations training the Marine Corps had to offer, he was a Recon Indoctrination Instructor for three years. He is intimately familiar with the pain cave and continues to train tactical athletes to perform and survive in the face of extreme duress at SOFlete.
Billy “The Tattooed Beast” Richards – Runs with a 45 pound pack while carrying the American Flag.
- The Marine Corps taught Billy to never quit, how to endure pain and how to stay focused on the end result, knowing that pain is temporary and pride is forever. He strives for the enduring reward of knowing that he overcame extreme mental and physical adversity, rather than submitting to temporary discomfort. Billy has over 50 races on his schedule for 2018, including six 100 milers, numerous Tough Mudders and the Infinitus 888K. Even more impressive is that Billy runs all races 50K and below with a 45-pound pack while carrying the American Flag.
Jeff Rock – Member of TheOrder of the Hrimthurs, runs sub-zero ultramarathons.
- Jeff believes the Marine Corps was the perfect breeding ground to become an ultrarunner, believing the improvise, adapt, and overcome mantra that Marines live by has been crucial in his success in ultras. He also finds that MURCA provides the “sadistic camaraderie” that only Marines understand and appreciate. Jeff is a member of The Order of the Hrimthurs, the Ultra Endurance Winter Triple Crown, a prestigious recognition for those who complete the Tuscobia Winter Ultra (160mi), the Arrowhead 135 (135mi), and the Actif Epica (solo), an honor that is bestowed upon incredibly few runners. Jeff has placed 2nd overall in the Tuscobia 160mi and the Actif Epica 100mi.
Darryl Peterson – Has completed four 200 mile ultramarathons, including the 2017 Triple Crown of 200s.
- Darryl believes his time as a Marine opened his eyes to the power of influence. Representing something greater than one’s self is the epitome of being a Marine, yet when coupled with the power to influence beyond the measure of the average Marine, standards and expectations cease to exist and the possibilities are limitless. Ultrarunning lets you challenge your whole being; mind, body and soul. It also offers the opportunity to embrace the unknown that lies beyond perceived limitations. Darryl completed the Okinawa 72hr Crazy Survival Run where he ran 259 miles in 66+ hours. He also completed the Triple Crown of 200s (Bigfoot 200, Tahoe 200 and Moab 200, all within three months’ time.
There are many others in MURCA who have accomplished seemingly insurmountable feats of endurance. Maggie Seymour ran across the country to raise over $45,000 for various veterans causes. Chris Cantrell ran 118 miles on a treadmill to raise money for Alzheimer’s research. Christine Taranto won the Women’s Armed Forces National Marathon Championship and was the Marine Corps Woman Athlete of the Year for 2013 and 2015. Rob Jones is a Paralympian who ran 31 marathons in 31 days on prosthetic legs. These are highlights of only a few “Model MURCAns” and their notable achievements. The group includes many others who are pushing the limits of human performance on a regular basis.
The mission of the Marine UltraRunners Club of America (MURCA) is to lead the charge for veterans’ causes in the ultrarunning community and to unite Marines through their passion for running. MURCA partners with the Semper Fi Fund (semperfifund.org) to raise money and awareness for the needs of post-9/11 veterans. MURCA also partners with several brands popular in ultrarunning including MURCA’s newest partner, Honey Stinger, a brand many MURCAns rely on to provide proper nutrition while crushing extreme feats of endurance.
For more about MURCA, visit: www.marineultrarunners.com and follow us on Instagram @marine_ultrarunners.