SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — Push-ups and pull-ups, not picnics, were part of the Memorial Day activities for nearly 100 people in Sioux Falls Monday.

They took part in the Murph Challenge, a nationwide event that’s held in memory of a Navy SEAL named Michael Murphy, who started this fitness challenge, but died in Afghanistan in 2005. The local athletes were pushing themselves to their physical and mental limits, while honoring the fallen.

A pre-workout pep-talk filled the Fit Body Boot Camp with plenty of Memorial Day motivation.

“What we do today is we get to remember all of those who have given their all so that we can live the life that we live today.”

An intense workout doesn’t take the holiday off for participants like Beth Hart.

“A personal challenge. Just to prove to myself that I can do it and to honor everybody that died, fighting for us,” Hart said.

Perry Groten: Is it hard?
Beth Hart: Yes.

The Murph Challenge is a national competition to honor fallen military members. Many of the athletes have family ties to the military.

“My husband was in the Marines for four years and there’s a lot of sacrifice that goes into that,” Jennifer Espinosa of Sioux Falls said.

Competing in this challenge is as much a mental grind as it is a physical one.

“It’s a lot of mind over your body. Just kind of telling yourself I’ve done hard things, I can continue to do this. When I start to get tired, you kind of hit that barrier and then you just keep going and at the end, you’re like wow! I really pushed through that,” Espinosa said.

Some of the more hardcore athletes will wear a 20-pound camo vest just to make their workout all the more challenging.

“It just feels like you’ve got this weight on you that’s hugging you, that’s just making life more challenging. But then you take it off, and you feel like you’ve conquered the world,” Fit Body Boot Camp owner C.J. Wehrkamp said.

The athletes say the strain of each each pull-up, each sit-up, and each squat is a small price to pay compared to the ultimate sacrifices paid by those who served their country.

The Fit Body Boot Camp paid a fee to host the Murph Challenge with the money going to a scholarship foundation in Murphy’s memory.