The Journal Gazette
Sunday, June 30, 2019 1:00 am

Family takes up running

Local club president convinced siblings, dad they'd love it


Running wasn't a big part of Frank Murphy's life until 2013, when he was a contestant in Fort Wayne's Smallest Winner, a weight-loss program in the city.

During the process, Murphy shed a lot of weight, and after he ran the Fort4Fitness half marathon, he thought he could go further.

After completing the program, Murphy became a certified running coach and as of January, took on being president of the Fort Wayne Running Club.

It was only natural for him to try and get his family involved.

The opportunity came in 2017 when Murphy attended the 59th Road Runners Club of America's annual convention in Detroit.

The club provides resources to those wanting to start their own running club in their community, and at the end of the three-day event, a silent auction is held with different races and items up for bid.

During the auction, two entries for the Houston Half Marathon were announced, catching Murphy's attention.

“I have family down in that area, and I thought, 'If I get it, that's great. If I don't, money went to a good cause,' and I would talk to my family down there and would see if they'd actually pick it up and do it,” Murphy said.

To his surprise, Murphy won the bid. The real challenge was getting his father, sister and brother to run, or even walk, the race. They weren't exactly thrilled.

“It was like giving someone a Christmas present that they never asked for,” Murphy said.

But after Murphy's sister, LaVonne Schepis, agreed to participate, his father, Fred, jumped on board.

If Murphy's father was going to be in a 10k, he had to see it for himself, so he booked a plane ticket and entered his name into the race. Not wanting to be left out, his brother, Michael, also signed up.

In October 2017, Murphy's family would be able to see why he had fallen in love with the activity.

For Murphy, who is used to his Fort Wayne running trails, Houston was like another world.

“Everything just looks different and exotic to me,” Murphy said. “When they close a road down in Houston, they close down four-lane highways to let 7,000 runners go.”

While his family didn't do much running during the race, emotions still ran high as they crossed the finish line.

His sister, who had never received a medal before, was suddenly having one draped around her neck as she crossed the finish line.

“My sister, in particular, was never an athletic person growing up,” Murphy said. “For her to get a medal draped around her neck and for her name to be called on the loud speakers, she crossed the finish line with people cheering her on.”

His father, on the other hand, who finished third in his 80-and-older age group, couldn't help but notice some runners were receiving a bigger medal than him.

In typical Texas fashion, Murphy said both were large, but those running the half marathon earned the larger one.

“I told him, 'Well, they ran further dad,' ” Murphy said. “He was like, 'I want the big one.'”

It would become a goal for all of the family to earn the bigger medal, and after he got home, Murphy created training plans for everyone.

“The plans are all different for my dad, sister and brother, because they're all at different places in their running,” Murphy said. “It's appropriate for their experience and fitness level, and that's where we go from.”

Since the first race, more family members have joined in, including Murphy's nieces and nephews. His brother even tries to schedule races when he's traveling for work.

The group plans to go to another race in either August or September.

“The running bug has bitten hard, and it's been really cool to see them progressing,” Murphy said.

The Fort Wayne Running Club has a few signature runs coming up, including the 25th annual Runners on Parade 5k.

Part of the Three Rivers Festival, the race is scheduled for July 13 at Headwaters Park, and attracts between 800 and 1,000 runners.

Run for Riley, a five-mile run/walk and 5-kilometer fitness walk, will take place on Oct. 13 and will include an auction.

Murphy encourages families around the city to get involved in the activity, no matter what level they're at.

“What I've discovered is, wherever you're at, someone else is at the same spot. When you start running, you're not running alone,” Murphy said. “If you can find a community of runners, you'll find someone who's running your pace and distance.”

If you go

Runners on Parade

Where: Headwaters Park

When: 8 a.m. July 13


Run for Riley

Where: 426 Union Chapel Road

When: 2 p.m. Oct. 13


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