Four pullups a minute. Most sailors could do that for a few minutes before getting tired. But Air Traffic Controller 1st Class (AW) Mike McCastle did that for The 28-year-old petty officer wrenched out four pullups every minute — for 24 hours. The pettA Whidbey Island-based petty officer broke a Guinness world Sunday when he busted out 5,804 pullups in just under 24 hours.
It was his second shot at the title, after an attack of rhabdomyolysis sent him to the emergency room 828 reps short of the record last year. This time, Air Traffic Controller 2nd Class (AW) Mike McCastle The 28-year-old petty officer shattered the Guinness Book World Record for most pullups with 5,804 in 24 hours on Sept. 27 at North End Fitness in Oak Harbor, Washington. On this second attempt, he even upped the ante told Navy Times on Tuesday, he upped the ante by wearing a 30-pound pack.
"I wanted to come back from failure and be stronger the next time," he said.
McCastle broke the record set in May bybe Virginia Military Institute alumnus John Bocek, who did 5,801 pullups in 24 hours. It was about 1,700 more pullups than he attempted last August, when he tried to break the previous record of 3,202 set by Chief Special Operator (SEAL) David Goggins in 2013.
Mixing feats of strength with fundraising, McCastle has raised thousands of dollars for the Wounded Warrior Project and other veterans' organizations. This time, he said, he will donate $150 in proceeds to Operation Enduring Warrior, which puts on adaptive sports competitions for wounded veterans.
"I wanted to add the extra pack to represent their burden that they carry," he said. "They don't take that pack off. They carry it with them for the rest of their lives."
McCastle, an endurance athlete and command fitness leader who's based in Whidbey Island, Washington, came up with the idea for his pullup challenge last year, when he was recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus he sustained in 2012 at Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training prep school in Great Lakes, Illinois.
His lower body was still healing, he said, but pullups were doable. He gave himself eight weeks to train and was confident going into the event, which he staged at a public park near Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, but he had to give up 19½ hours in.
This time he took about four months to train, following two more strength challenges: a 29,029-foot rope climb — the elevation of Mount Everest — by scaling a 20-foot rope more than a thousand times, and a 13-mile, 250-pound tire flip last December, to raise money for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research and the Wounded Warrior Project, respectively.
But he wanted to make sure he finished the pullups, he said.
"This became a personal event when I didn't succeed at it," he said.
While training, McCastle worked his way from 50 pullups a day in June 2014 to 1,500 daily by mid-July 2014, putting him at six per minute at his fastest.
During both events, he slowed things down to about four and a half reps per minute to start, then slowed down in the later hours for an overall average
The key this time, he said, was to get back to that pace, but more importantly work on his cardio endurance. Rather than focus on pullup reps, he said, he worked in plenty of long runs and sprints to make sure his body was using oxygen as efficiently as possible.
The 6'1, roughly 200-pound sailor also trained with a 50-pound pack, to make sure he was more than over-prepared for the event.
McCastle had to take several days of leave last year after his hospital stay, but he said his command remained supportive and trusting that he wouldn't hurt himself this time.
"They know me and they know... I wouldn’t intentionally put my body or self in any position where I’m not going to intentionally try to hurt myself," he said.
A friend filmed McCastle during the event for submission to Guinness World Records.
With three feats under his belt, McCastle is continuing on with his "Twelve Labors Project," a series of events aimed at physically challenging himself and raising money for charity. He's mulling ideas, he said, including more strength feats and potentially a water-based event.
"I'm kind of superstitious," he said. "I don't really want to put it out in the universe until I recover and evaluate where my body's at."
Though he's taking a few days of leave to recover, he was in good spirits.
"I feel like a million bucks," he joked. "And I feel like I got hit by a train."
Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.