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Sailor's world-record attempt will benefit wounded warriors

Jul. 30, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
Air Traffic Controller 2nd Class (AW) Mike McCastle trains to break the Guinness World Record for most pullups in a 24-hour span. He'll perform the feat July 26 near Seattle.
Air Traffic Controller 2nd Class (AW) Mike McCastle trains to break the Guinness World Record for most pullups in a 24-hour span. He'll perform the feat July 26 near Seattle. (Courtesy of AC2 (AW) Mike McCastle)
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AC2 (AW) Mike McCastle (Courtesy of AC2 (AW) Mike McCastle)

A sailor based in Washington state is looking to one-up a world record set by a Navy SEAL and raise money for wounded troops — all through the power of pullups.

Air Traffic Controller 2nd Class (AW) Mike McCastle will attempt to break the Guinness World Record for most pullups completed in 24 hours on July 26, in front of an audience at a public park near Naval Air Station Whidbey Island.

He’ll need to put his chin over the bar more than 4,030 times,a record set in 17 hours by Chief Special Operator (SEAL) David Goggins in 2013. McCastle is giving himself a full 24 hours to complete the challenge, hoping for an average of 4.5 pullups per minute.

McCastle, 27, is collecting donations at the event to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project and the service members it cares for.

“I know I could never do something that would totally equate to what they go through every day, but I figured if I could just show people that you can suffer and you can put yourself through a great deal of pain, and by persistence and setting goals, that it can be done,” he told Navy Times in a July 8 phone interview.

He said he was inspired to break the record earlier this year, when he heard about Goggins’ story, but the decision to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project was a longer time coming.

Back in 2012, McCastle said, he busted his knees in training at the Naval Special Warfare Preparatory School, the precursor to Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training. He tore his left anterior cruciate ligament and right meniscus, crushing his dream of becoming a SEAL.

The lifelong athlete said he had a tough time in recovery.

“Overcoming any injury in itself is a tough period,” McCastle said. “For me, fitness and finding new ways to push myself, overcome those types of goals, was a way for me to cope with what I was going through.”

His recovery was also his first introduction to the wounded warrior community, and he felt an instant kinship, “relating to the mental and physical challenges that those service members go through,” he said.

McCastle is also a distance runner, but he said wanted to go out of his comfort zone for a challenge.

“It would be easy for me to go out there and run a 5K or a marathon,” he said. “That’d be great, I’d raise some money for it. But for me personally, the challenge wouldn’t be there. I went into this wanting to put myself through a degree of pain.”

In a 2013 interview with Military Times, Goggins addressed that issue, saying he had severe burns after setting the record.

“People don’t understand how much pain you go through when you have one contact point on the bar for 17 hours,” he said. “It’s just absolutely horrific, the amount of pain your body goes through.”

With running, he added, you can walk when you need a break, but pullups are the same motion over and over with only your upper body strength. McCastle, a command fitness leader for most of his nine-year career who’s assigned to Whidbey Island’s air traffic control division, laid out a meticulous plan to get his 6-foot-1-inch, 203-pound frame up to thousands of pullups a day.

He started with 50 pullups a day in June, working his way up to 1,500 daily by mid-July, at six per minute. He plans to take it a bit slower on the day of the event, he said, averaging 4˝ per minute for the first six hours. Then he’ll see how he’s feeling and re-evaluate.

“I don’t foresee myself dropping under three to four pullups on the minute or taking a break longer than 20 minutes,” he said. “If you stop, you’re done. My plan is to just keep pushing through and take breaks only when I need to.”

McCastle worked with the parks and recreation department in nearby Oak Harbor to secure an event permit for Fort Nugent Park, beginning at 6 a.m. He’s going to go for 24 hours or 4,031 pullups — whichever comes first.

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