Coconut water — it’s a superstitious thing. Without it, this track and field superhero would not be able to use her powers to save the world and lead the Utes to victory. Okay, she’s not exactly a superhero, but she’s pretty close. Her name is Grayson Murphy.
Murphy is a distance track star and junior at the University of Utah. Before every meet, she has a set routine. The night before competing she eats a simple meal that won’t upset her stomach, like fish and potatoes. Secondly, she drinks the largest store-bought coconut water she can get. The coconut water is important. If Murphy doesn’t have her special drink she feels as if her whole day of running is off.
“The only thing I’m superstitious about is the coconut water,” Murphy said. “I’ve had my coaches leave at 9 o’clock at night because I still hadn’t had it yet.”
Another thing Murphy does in preparation for the meet is wearing a hair bow. However, she’s not superstitious about that — she just enjoys wearing one.
Murphy hasn’t always had this routine. In fact, her freshman year of college she went to Sweet Briar College in Virginia to play soccer. After becoming burned out from a sport she loved playing, Murphy had a plan.
“I just wasn’t having fun anymore, because [soccer] wasn’t what it used to be for me,” Murphy said. “I decided to switch schools, switch sports, and just start completely new. Running was the only other sport that I could think of that I could be decent at, so might as well give it a shot.”
Murphy transferred from Sweet Briar College all the way to Santa Clara University where she would compete in two seasons as a part of its outdoor track and cross country team. After starting a new school and new sport, Murphy didn’t truly become passionate about running until the second year she was running in college.
“I think the first year I was just trying out a new sport, and I was sick of soccer,” Murphy said. “I think it took like a whole year for me to realize it was something I actually enjoyed doing, not just a time filling kind of thing.”
In 2015, Murphy finished 15th West Coast Conference Cross Country Championships, and she earned honorable mention All-WCC honors. Murphy also ran in the NCAA West Region Championships where she finished 64th.
In 2016, while in Santa Clara, Murphy raced in the NCAA West Preliminary in the 3,000 steeplechase where she placed 19th with not only a personal-best but also a school-record with a time of 10:23.22. She won the 3,000 steeplechase at the Stanislaus Invitational, and she set a school record in the 1,500 with a time of 4:27.67.
After spending two seasons with Santa Clara, Murphy is officially a Ute back in her hometown to finish out her college career. When it comes to training in California versus Salt Lake, Murphy had to make a few adjustments.
“The big thing is the altitude, I definitely noticed that at the beginning, but now I’m used to it,” Murphy said. “It’s been an interesting adjustment to not having perfect running weather all year. I think also being home and having my family around is nice in a way, but also it’s a little distracting because it doesn’t really fit in well with a hardcore training life.”
Not only does Murphy have a rigorous training schedule, but she also has a time consuming major — civil engineering. Murphy is able to fit track and field, civil engineering, family, and friends all into her busy schedule. This requires a lot of time management skills and sacrifices,
“Over the three years, I’ve come to terms with a big social sacrifice so it’s not an issue anymore,” Murphy said. “At the beginning, it was kind of tough giving up going out, or having fun, or staying up late just so I can sleep in so I can train better.”
Murphy has loved competing as a Ute. Her teammates inspire her every day because they are dedicated to doing something they love. One of her favorite memories with the Utes was when they competed at nationals together.
“At the end of the race everyone dog piled on top of each other and we were all just so happy,” Murphy said. “Remembering how that felt because everyone was there and there was so much heart. Everyone just ran with their heart on their sleeve, and that was a fun thing to be a part of.”
With this track and field season getting in full swing Murphy has a few specific time goals she hopes to accomplish in the steeple and 5k. Another goal of hers is to make it to the second round of nationals. And Murphy is also determined to run a 10k this year. However, in order for her to do so she had to make an agreement with her coaches — she has to qualify for steeple and 5k.
“My goal is to let my coaches let me run the 10k — to bother my coaches enough to make them let me,” Murphy said.