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Sailor attempts pullups record, ends up in hospital

Aug. 9, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
Navy Air Traffic Controller 2nd Class Mike McCastle tried to break the world record for pullups. He made it to more than 3,200 — just 828 shy.
Navy Air Traffic Controller 2nd Class Mike McCastle tried to break the world record for pullups. He made it to more than 3,200 — just 828 shy. (Photo courtesy AC2 Mike McCastle)
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A Washington-based sailor who made an attempt at the Guinness World Record for pullups ended up in the hospital recently, but he said he plans to make another go at it in the near future.

Air Traffic Controller 2nd Class (AW) Mike McCastle made it to 3,202 pullups on July 26, just 828 shy of the current record, before health concerns forced him to get down from the bar and head to the emergency room.

He lasted 19½ of the allotted 24 hours, but although he didn’t break the record, he still raised almost $10,000 for the Wounded Warrior Project. As of July 31, he said he had collected $9,600, with donations continuing to trickle in. McCastle wanted the event to benefit the service members the organization cares for.

“The main goal was always to bring awareness, and to beat my fundraising goal for the Wounded Warrior Project,” he said. “Obviously, I wish I would have reached the event goal, but I’m happy and very humbled by the support everyone’s given to me during the experience.”

McCastle set out 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. The sailor gave himself a full 24 hours to complete the challenge, hoping for an average of 4.5 pullups per minute.

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, a distance runner and a command fitness leader assigned to Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington, trained for two months in preparation for the challenge. 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.”

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 took it a bit slower on the day of the event, he said, averaging 4½ per minute for the first six hours.

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