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Saturday, May 25, 2024

INTERESTING FOLKS: Will Murray of Blair Places 2nd in High-Altitude Race

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Downtown Blairstown sits at about 400 feet above sea level. About 1,800 miles to the west, in Colorado, Downtown Leadville is perched at 10,200, and it’s where Will Murray of Blairstown finished 2nd overall in the Silver Rush 50, a grueling 50-mile in some of thinnest air in the United States on July 8th.

Murray, who teaches math and coaches baseball and indoor track at Blair Academy, said he was drawn to the physical challenge of the race.

“It’s really a challenge of endurance,” Murray said. “I felt fine during the race, it was the rest of the time that was tough sometimes.”

Leadville is at the highest elevation of any incorporated municipality in the United States. Full-time residents have few problems with the thin air at that height, but visitors usually have to take a few days—or even weeks—to acclimate to the surroundings.

Murray arrived the day before the race, yet he still managed to claim second place. But before and after, he was not immune to the air.

“Some routine stuff like climbing up stairs can cause shortness of breath,” Murray said.

And 10,200 feet was the start and finish. The 50-mile course wound its way up and down an additional 8,000. Murray covered the distance with a time of 7:02:32, just 53 seconds behind the winner, coming in second among 628 runners.

“We were going back and forth for first place all through the race,” Murray said. “He started to pull ahead toward the end. I thought he was at least three minutes ahead.”

But Murray said he had given the race all he had, so he was satisfied he did his best.

“As I got toward the finish, people were telling me he was not very far ahead,” Murray said. “I just didn’t have another 53 seconds in me.”

Murray’s brother Luke, also a runner, served as his assistant throughout the race.
“It was really good to have my brother there,” Murray said. “He took care of the logistics, kept me hydrated.”

Looking toward next year, Murray said he plans to enter the 100-mile event at the Leadville Race Series, a race that elite runners can finish in 16 to 17 hours. But this time he plans to arrive several weeks ahead of the race instead of one day.

“I want to give myself plenty of time,” Murray said.

Despite its name, Leadville was built around the discovery of silver in the surrounding mountains in the mid-1800s. The resulting population boom brought about Leadville’s legendary and colorful past as one of the most lawless towns in the old west, known for its gamblers and gunfighters; a place where a sheriff rarely lasted a week.

Joe Phalon
Joe Phalon, Contributing Writer
Contributing Writer

Joe was lured out of retirement by the opportunity to be a part of the Ridge View Echo. During a decades-long career in publishing and journalism, he has covered government on many levels from local school boards to the United States Supreme Court.

Along the way, Joe has worked at American Lawyer Magazine, The National Law Journal and The Record among other publications, and as the Press Officer of Columbia Law School. His work has been recognized with several first place awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and the New Jersey Press Association.

Being part of the Ridge View Echo brings Joe back to his roots and the kind of news coverage he loves: Telling the stories of people and local communities as well as keeping an eye on how their money is spent by their government officials.

Joe lives in Blairstown with his wife Rose, the founder of Quilting for a Cause, and their two wiener dogs. He is an artist in his spare time.