Not long before Mike McGrail died of cancer last year at the age of 56, he asked one of his closest friends, Jonathan Carafoli of Bourne, to carry on his legacy.
This week, Jonathan and 12 of his teammates on One More Rep – including Mike’s brother Tim who is flying in from St. Louis – will do just that as they participate in their first Ruck4HIT. It’s a race that Mike ran several times, including the first year it came to Cape Cod in 2017.
“He is one of the people who got us into fitness and into CrossFit and on our fitness journeys,” said Chris O’Brien of Bourne, the co-captain of One More Rep.
The team’s name is an ode to Mike’s mantra — one more rep. Keep pushing. Give it your all. These were words of motivation that Mike, who owned Upper Cape CrossFit, would use to encourage clients at his gym.
And it’s a philosophy that Mike, who ran the Boston Marathon and multiple Falmouth Road Races, embraced in his own life.
Through the toughest battle of his life, Mike remained positive. He didn’t quit. And he inspired friends and family alike. “Even with cancer, it was one more day. One more rep. Keep pushing through the grit,” Chris said. “He was really an inspirational guy.”
When Jonathan, Chris, Tim, and their teammates are running this weekend, Mike won’t be far from their thoughts. In their van, they plan to have Mike’s rucksack he wore when he ran the Ruck4HIT as a reminder of why they are doing this — and who they are rucking for.
“We might grab his name patch to keep us focused when it starts to get gritty at 2 in the morning,” Chris said. “We get to do this race. He doesn’t.”
They will also be thinking of the family Mike left behind – his wife of 18 years, Eleni, and their children Alison, Laura, Tassia, and Michael.
“He was super genuine, and motivating,” Chris shared. “He was such a nice guy, the type who would give you the shirt off his back.”
In a race that is inherently full of emotions, this Ruck4HIT will be especially moving for One More Rep. The majority of the team, Chris said, “are not traditional runners so this is kind of a challenge for us.”
It’s a challenge that they readily accepted because of who they are doing it for. To see the community rally around them – the team has raised just shy of $30,000 as of Thursday evening – has been heartwarming.
“Mike touched a lot of people,” Chris said.
With each step they take this weekend, Chris and his teammates will be fulfilling one of Mike’s last wishes. With each step they take, they will be carrying on Mike McGrail’s legacy.