Recently, Michael McCastle took on a project he has titled the Twelve Labors Project. As part of this project, he pulled a 2.2-ton truck for 22 miles across Death Valley in the Mojave Desert. His goal is to raise awareness of veteran’s issues, especially suicide prevention. As part of the project, he helped raise funds that benefited Operation Enduring Warrior. We sat down with Michael to get a summary of the event.
Michael has been associated with OEW for a while now. He became aware of our mission through one of our mutual supporters, Frog Fuel. During his attempt to break the world pull-up record (which he did!), he wore a 30lb ruck sack that symbolized the burden of the wounded warrior, as a tribute to our adaptive athletes and the OEW community.
When asked why he is drawn to OEW, he said he was drawn to “how OEW actually empowers our wounded vets through physical challenges. I know when I was injured, the only thing I wanted to do was get back to where I was. I didn’t want to be a burden on anyone. OEW sort of erases that stigma by offering such strong community support while allowing vets the opportunity to take back control of their lives and pursue goals and aspirations they may have felt limited from before.”
Michael has been in the Navy for 11 years. When asked about his time in the Navy, he shared the following:
“The Navy has taught me many lessons. In Naval Special Warfare training I learned how to lead, push myself beyond what I thought my body was capable of, effective goal setting, and I discovered a TEAM can defy odds that individuals fall short of 9 times out of 10…Of all the many lessons I have learned from the Navy over the years, the most valuable asset I’ve come to possess from it all is “Time” and of beauty of controlling something that is fleeting in nature……So now, if I choose to give a person or a cause some of my time, it means that that person or cause is in line with my purpose and therefore has meaning to me. Giving time toward a purpose or goal is what gives it value.”
He got the idea for the Twelve Labors Project while recovering from a severe injury. As he put it, the injury “put me in a dark place mentally. Being someone who was always defined by my physical attributes, it was the first time I had truly felt defeated and like a failure. I needed something to grab onto so I could pull myself out of the pit of depression, self-doubt and despair…..I needed a new purpose–a goal that once accomplished, would prove to myself that failure and defeat are not synonymous and that no matter how many times you fail, you are never defeated unless you give up and quit trying. It needed to be something greater than myself to keep me accountable and motivated. I needed a cause that was stronger than my own pain and suffering–stronger than fear and self-doubt. It essentially had to be in service to others while challenging my mind, body and spirit beyond their limits”
“So I started the Twelve Labors Project as a way for me to express my passion for fitness while being strongly driven by a charitable mission. Based off the mythological Twelve Labors of Hercules, I set out to accomplish my own Twelve Labors in the form of increasingly difficult physical challenges that would test the limits of my body and spirit while drawing attention to causes that I believe in and that I have an intimate understanding of.”
When we asked Michael how the training went, he said he trained relentlessly and that the training leading up to the event was even hard than the event itself. He said the hardest moment of the day was the middle of the day. Imagine being in one of the hottest places in the world and then picture this… “Breaking mental walls as temperatures peaked at 95-98° felt like a literal trial by fire. Keeping pace in that heat was challenging but those were the moments I looked for because that is where I see who I really am. It’s in the brief moments of pain when I have the option to quit at the wall, but instead I find a door and move forward……”
We were curious what his favorite moment of the day was, and the answer is classic: “Pizza. Anytime I was eating pizza was my favorite moment.”
Thank you, Michael, for being such a force of positivity and for representing Operation Enduring Warrior so wonderfully. We can’t wait to see what you do next.
Make sure to follow his journey at his site the Twelve Labors Project.