‘When COVID happened, of course all races were cancelled. Then I thought, well I’ll just do my own 100 miles.’
— Clinton native Tracy McCullen
Wilmington designer and Clinton native Tracy McCullen will run 100 miles backwards in 100 hours in an effort to raise $100,000 for the Community Boys & Girls Club of Wilmington.
His run will extend from Thursday, Dec. 17, through Sunday, Dec. 20, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day.
The route begins each day at the welcome tent at Wrightsville Beach Town Hall and is a 2.5-mile loop McCullen will complete 10 times per day, running 25 miles per day.
The funds raised by the event, the 100 Ultra 4 Kids, will be used to build a “Track of Optimism and Field of Dreams” that will be an interactive fitness playground for all ages in the Northside community of Wilmington, and will provide a sensory experience while promoting a healthy lifestyle and positive mindset.
According to McCullen, the track and field, slated to open at the end of 2022 for the Community Boys & Girls Club, will also be available to the public. The 400-meter track will boast an interior field with audio and visual effects, an interactive exhibit fostering the pursuit of dreams and entrepreneurialism, as well as an amphitheater — all with the goal of inspiring innovation and success through an active and healthy lifestyle, McCullen stated.
McCullen always tells people that no matter how much of a challenge you may be experiencing in life, there’s no greater joy then to be able to do something for others and to literally see the result of your efforts.
“I’m always looking for ways to give back to the community and just before COVID happened I was looking online to find a 100 Ultra marathon that I could do as my first 100-mile race and I was looking to do this in December,” McCullen explained. “Then when COVID happened, of course all races were cancelled. Then I thought, well I’ll just do my own 100 miles.”
McCullen stated that he did not want to do the run just for himself, so he thought he would turn it into a fundraiser for the kids.
“If you were to just go to the Boys & Girls Club and see the faces of all these young kids, who are so optimistic about life no matter what their circumstances are, it just gives you a strong passion for wanting to do everything you can to help these young kids have a good life and to have more opportunities that they wouldn’t normally have in their current circumstances,” he stated.
McCullen, an experienced marathoner for the last decade, was inspired to create the outdoor space when he was tasked with designing a playground in the Northside community. His combined passion for community service and physical fitness were the motivation in creating the fundraising event, and he hopes it will inspire youth to have confidence, accomplish their goals and ultimately achieve their full potential.
He has run 22 marathons and two of those were backwards. Plus he did a full Ironman in East France. An Ironman Triathlon is one of a series of long-distance triathlon races organized by the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC), consisting of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and a marathon 26.22-mile run, raced in that order.
He ran his first backwards race a year and a half ago in Wrightsville Beach to raise money for the Community Boys & Girls Club in Wilmington. His goal is to raise $100,000, and so far he has raised $40,000.
He will be accompanied for the entire run by his friend and mentor, Charlie Engle, a world-renowned ultra-marathoner and one of three people who have run across the Sahara. In addition to Engle, many have rallied around McCullen and his endeavor, with nearly two dozen supporters planning to volunteer during the event to help him meet his goal.
McCullen was born and raised in Clinton. He went to college in Idaho for two years and then he went to Argentina to serve as a missionary for the Mormon Church for a year. Then he came back to Wilmington to to go the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.
“Clinton has always been my first home,” McCullen stated. “I truly have the most fondest memories of my childhood growing up in Clinton.”
McCullen is a visual artist for outdoor space, designing gardens, swimming pools, water features, and other architectural elements for outdoor living.
Brendaly Vega Davis can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 2588.