‘I thought this may be it’: 50-year-old Lowcountry Spartan Race runner talks COVID-19 battle

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BEAUFORT, S.C. (WSAV) – The numbers only tell part of the story. These are people like Will McCullough dealing with the virus every day.

The Beaufort man says his journey with the disease started July 1.

“I started feeling a little bit and the best word for it is under the weather,” said McCullough, “and by the next day I wasn’t fine.”

The 50-year-old Marine veteran, athlete and Spartan Race runner had to fight to get over the obstacle that is COVID-19. Though he said his case was easy to disregard in the beginning.

“For a lot of people its nothing and for others, it is whatever,” said McCullough. “I would have assumed out of personal life experience and who I am, I didn’t think I would be on that side of things. But it really picked me up and put me down hard.”

He said he got tested on a Monday and through the course of the week, he spiraled downward.

“All of the stereotypical symptoms that you read about, from fever to dry cough, to lost my sense of smell,” explains McCullough. “It wasn’t just the flu. I was really really sick and getting worse.”

It was about a week into his condition that McCullough got the scare of his life.

“I just started getting super light headed and I got extremely dizzy, couldn’t see much of anything but black, seeing yellow stars everywhere,” he remembers. “(I was) nauseous and this episode lasted five minutes straight. I read experiences when somebody had it they were fine then someone finds them in the room passed on. I’m not one to make a mountain out of a molehill when it comes to those topics but I thought this may be it.”

McCullough said for about five minutes or so, he thought: “I might not make it through this.”

That’s when he called his wife and told her he needed to go to the emergency room. McCullough spent the day there on oxygen, getting a battery of tests.

He was able to walk out that night, feeling lucky he was going home at all. He credits the staff at Beaufort Memorial Hospital for helping him make it through.

“I’m not sure without my level of fitness wasn’t what it was or if I didn’t go to the ER I’m not being dramatic to say I’m not sure how this would have ended up,” McCullough says.

Now, he is sharing his story to show that it’s not just the elderly, not just the frail, but anyone who can get, and be taken down by COVID-19.

“For 50-year-old men — not to sound egotistical and arrogant — but I believe I am as fit as they can be and it definitely chewed me up and spit me out,” McCullough says.

“No matter what the first moment you feel under the weather stop, get yourself away from everybody else, and take a couple of days and see what’s going on,” he advises.

McCullough believes that at the end of the pandemic, most everyone will have some sort of encounter with the disease.

“No matter how many hoses you drank from as a kid, or how much dirt you ate as a kid, or how great your immune system is, this is unique,” he says. “Our bodies have not experienced this before, or anybody else in our species, so it’s going to and hopefully you will come out on the better side.

“Definitely take it seriously.”

McCullough said more than a week after his hospital, visit he’s still dealing with viral pneumonia. He still feels short of breath at times but is on the road to recovery.

His goal is to get back on the course sometime soon and show that COVID-19 isn’t going to beat him.

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