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Miles for smiles; Murphree closes in on 300 milestone

By Richard Greene | Published Saturday, March 28, 2015
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When snow and ice canceled the Cowtown Marathon March 1, Patrick Murphree feared that his daughter Jackie’s goal of hitting 300 miles at the Decatur 5K would not happen.

“We signed up for the Cowtown Marathon, and it was part of our mileage to get to 300,” he said. “After Cowtown, we would have needed to pick up one more 5K to hit 300 at the Decatur 5K.”

Raedy to Race

READY TO RACE – Jackie Murphree and her racing team will reach their goal of 300 miles at the Decatur 5K next weekend. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

But Mother Nature forced Murphree, Jackie and the team that pushed her through eight marathons and several other races to come up with Plan B. That turned out to be five races in the past five weeks, including last week’s Rock-N-Roll Half Marathon in Dallas.

“This is the closest thing to a whole running regimen that I’ve had,” said Murphree, who pushed his daughter in a 5K, 10K and part of the half marathon in the past four weeks. He will push her in a 10K in Plano Saturday to get to 297 miles.

“When Cowtown got canceled, we started looking to see if we could make it happen,” he added. “We started looking for races and how we can make it happen. The Plano Pacers 10K will put it where we’ll hit 300 up State Street, 0.2 miles from the finish line at the Decatur 5K.”

Hitting the 300 milestone at the Decatur 5K was important to Murphree. The race benefits the Jackie Murphree Scholarship, which is given to a Decatur graduate going into a medical field.

Murphree also added he wanted to share the milestone with the community and the team at Fit-N-Wise that works with Jackie.

“It’s a tribute to Mike [Bowers] and Fit-N-Wise for all the support of Jackie and working with her,” he said.

Jackie was injured in a car accident Aug. 17, 2007, after her vehicle was struck by a drunken driver in a section of U.S. 380 that was under construction. She was less than a mile from her home. The Decatur graduate and Texas A&M senior slipped into a coma and suffered a traumatic brain injury. She’s been unable to walk or talk since the accident, but during each run, she’s usually wearing a smile.

“To watch her has been phenomenal,” Murphree explains. “Her comfort level is amazing. She becomes a completely different person.”

Bowers, who pushed her during a portion of last week’s half marathon and during many other races, said it’s an amazing experience.

“There’s something about pushing Jackie. It’s a thrill beyond words,” Bowers said. “It’s great to be able to make her day. I feel honored that Pat gives us the ability to do it.”

The recent runs with Jackie come after a rough stretch beginning in late December. After three years without a seizure, she suffered what her father described as a “monster seizure” that lasted nearly 17 hours.

“It was a big setback,” he said. “There were lots of tests and lots of new doctors. She spent five days in the hospital. That’s how she spent her 28th birthday.”

Since December, Murphree said it’s been work to get her strength back up and bring a smile to her face. But the miles still manage to produce smiles.

“At the half, she had a big smile,” Murphree said.

Murphree’s chair for the races is a converted stroller for twins that has been customized with steerable front wheels and a windshield.

“It rolls very easy,” Murphree said.

But up the hills along the Decatur 5K course, which challenge the best runners, it’s a workout pushing 130 to 135 pounds between the chair and Jackie.

Murphree claims he hates running. But he enjoys the opportunity to get out on the streets with Jackie and see her light up.

He hopes to have plenty of company April 4 on the streets of Decatur.

“I’d like to see the Decatur 5K get as big as some other races,” Murphree said.

Three $1,000 scholarships have been awarded two of the last three years, but Murphree would like to give more away.

The one-mile kids fun run and 5K will start at 8 a.m. on the Square. Participants can register at www.decatur5K.com or on race day.

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