Marion athletes honor vets, first responders with Memorial Day workouts

Marion athletes honor vets, first responders with Memorial Day workouts

The Zone Health & Fitness gym in Ocala hosted a “12 Hours of Heroes” CrossFit event on Memorial Day, during which dozens of people honored fallen heroes with more than words.

Participants of all ages, levels of training and occupations paid tribute to 12 heroes with sweat and hard work by performing any or all of a dozen different workout regimens named after members of the armed services and first responders who gave their lives while serving.

Biographies of the 12 people memorialized were posted on a wall in the gym. The biographies also listed the workout exercises for the particular regimen.

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Neil Alexander, left, gets encouragement in doing push-ups from Jasmine Jackson, right, during the “Murph” tribute workout on Memorial Day at Zone Health & Fitness in Ocala.

So many ways to work out

The 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. event kicked off with the “Abbate” workout named after U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Matthew Abbate, 26, of Honolulu, who died in combat in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, leaving behind a wife and son.

The “Murph,” the fourth workout, started around 9 a.m. with about 100 participants. The set included a one-mile opening run, 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, 300 air squats and a closing one-mile run – all performed while wearing a 20-pound weighted vest.

Marine Lance Cpl. Troy Kaastra, left, and Quentin Boone, right, an RN with Ocala Regional Medical Center, perform pull-ups during the “Murph” Hero Workout on Monday at Zone Health & Fitness. The "Murph" is one of 12 workouts to honor 12 fallen military and first responders heroes.

Ben Marciano, co-owner of Zone with his wife, Danielle, said the workout guidelines can be modified for the participant.

The “Murph” was named in honor of U.S. Navy Lt. Michael P. Murphy, 29, a Medal of Honor recipient from Patchogue, New York. He was killed in Afghanistan on June 28, 2005, in combat, after he moved to a clear area – open to enemy fire – to get better radio transmission and call for help for his greatly outnumbered team. 

Why they do it

Among those taking on the “Murph” on Monday was German Aristizabal, 29, who actually carried a military style backpack estimated to weigh over 40 pounds during the “Murph” mile run.

“(The fallen heroes) sacrifice means a lot,” he said. 

Dorothy Hughes does pull-ups on Monday during the “Murph” workout at Zone Health & Fitness in Ocala.

Jasmine Jackson, 30, on staff at Fessenden Elementary School, honored the fallen as well as her father’s military service. 

“This (workout) was very difficult (but) my dad, Donald Elton Jackson, he’s 69 now, served three tours in the jungles of Vietnam,” she said.

Quentin Boone, 36, an RN with Ocala Regional Medical Center, worked at push-ups during the “Murph” while Dorothy Hughes, 32, and “JT” Carpenter, 33, performed pull-ups.