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One Step at a Time

Mike Murphy will be handcycling in his fifth Team Reeve event in the 2010 ING New York City Marathon.

Mike Murphy will be handcycling in his fifth Team Reeve event in the 2010 ING New York City Marathon.

By: Janelle LoBello

Name: Mike Murphy
Injury: T9
Mechanism of Injury: fall
Date of Injury: April 2007

Three marathons in one year. That's a lot for anyone to handle, let alone someone who is training to become Paralympian and attending graduate school all at the same time.

Meet 25-year-old Mike Murphy. He is a Team Reeve hand cyclist participating in the Boston, Marine Corps, and New York City marathons in 2010. Murphy, who has been living with paraplegia (T9) since a fall during college in 2007, isn't a stranger to marathons. He has previously participated in the Marine Corps Marathon for Team Reeve in 2008 and 2009.

It doesn't come as a surprise that Murphy has the ultimate goal of becoming a Paralympian hand cyclist.

So you wanna' be a Paralympian?
"Whether it takes three years, five years, ten years, I don't really care how long it takes," explains Murphy. "I'm just determined to be a Paralympian."

Despite this impressive aspiration, Murphy doesn't recall when he initially decided to make this a goal. "Maybe it was last winter after I'd done a couple of races when the hand cycling bug hit me," says Murphy. "I'm incredibly competitive, I love to work out. Since my injury, hand cycling has become a great outlet."

Aside from enjoying competition, Murphy wants to be the best. "I've always liked to set goals for myself," explains Murphy, "and it's good to set long-term lofty goals for yourself. If you're going to set the bar, might as well set the bar high. I feel like I have enough motivation, willpower, and determination to make sacrifices and do what it takes to reach that level."

Murphy and friends joke about his sacrifice. "It's funny, all my friends kind of know where I stand on weekends," jokes Murphy. "They know I'm the designated driver come every Friday and Saturday. I have to make sacrifices, and going out and partying is one thing I'm fine with sacrificing."

Unlike many other sports, a young age is not the key factor. "The top hand cyclists in the world are in their 30s and 40s," explains Murphy of his sport. "One of top hand cyclists in the U.S. right now is 51-years-old. I just turned 25, so I still have a lot of time ahead of me. I'm really young for my sport. It's reassuring that I'm racing up against guys who are grown men.

Mike Murphy

Murphy is training to be a Paralympian hand cyclist


Making the grade
In the midst of his marathon and Paralympian training, Murphy is also attending graduate school at George Mason University hoping to obtain his master's degree in American History with his focus on military history.

"My sister calls me and says, ‘You're such a loser, you're either doing homework or working out!,'" jokes Murphy. "And I say, ‘Yea, well now that's my life!'"

"I was never really much for academics until my freshman and sophomore years in college," says Murphy who will be half-way done with obtaining his master's by December 2010. "I became a huge nerd as my whole family would say!"

Still, Murphy wasn't entirely sure what he wanted to do post-college. "I knew I had wanted to join the Marines, but after my accident, I kind of had to change my plans," explains Murphy. "I eventually wanted to go to grad school, so I figured I'd get as much education as possible, it will be beneficial down the road."

Juggling act
If Murphy had to give one piece of advice to anyone thinking they can't do something, he would tell everyone the motto he has tattooed on his arm in Greek. "I'll throw out the whole, ‘Never give up' motto which is a big motto for me. Never give up! That's one thing I would say even though it sounds cliché."

Even with everything Murphy has to do, he takes it one day at a time.

"This applies to being in a marathon, whether running, walking, hand cycling, or having a s*** ton of work to do. Cross out that s*** by the way," laughs Murphy. "Take one step at a time, one day at a time. Don't think you have to do it all at once."

Read more about Mike.

Read about his success in the 2008 Marine Corps Marathon

Want to learn more about some of our Team Reeve athletes? Click here.

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Continue Christopher Reeve's LegacyPhoto by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders