By: Madison Hunt ‘20 business administration
Tyler Campbell ‘18 found his passion at a young age and ran with it. His appreciation for running started in the eighth grade. After not making the basketball team, his friends encouraged him to join the cross-country team. Campbell never thought that this decision to join cross-country would impact him for the rest of his life.
“I wasn’t naturally talented at running. I still don’t think I am, but I’ve stuck with it long enough to where I’ve developed the muscle memory for knowing what to do and run to where it pays off,” said Campbell. His talent developed in high school as a competitive runner and followed him to NC State when he joined the cross-country and track club during his first year. Campbell made sure to continue to feed his passion by running in as many races a year as he could.
As a devoted runner, Campbell has always lived an active lifestyle. When looking for a job, Wellness and Recreation appealed to him. He started out as a facility operations assistant and due to his commitment to the position he was promoted quickly to program assistant. The program assistant position is the highest student employee position. Campbell proved himself to be a leader among his peers and always searched for a new challenge.
Working with Wellness and Recreation taught Campbell many life lessons, such as to continue challenging himself, being the best version of himself and much more. He learned a lot of these lessons through Stephen Tucci, the assistant director of facilities and operations at the time. As a program assistant, Campbell became quite close with Tucci and saw him as a mentor. “The position was a launch pad for being a professional outside of college and really setting me up for knowing how to interview, how to be in the position itself and hold myself to a certain level of professionalism. Stephen was always a great role model for that,” said Campbell.
He was always searching for a challenge when it came to his running career, so he ran whenever he could. Whether it was jogging through the trails of Lake Johnson or running past the Belltower after eating a dozen doughnuts in the Krispy Kreme Challenge.
Looking to test himself further, Campbell decided to run his first marathon in 2016. He ran in the All-American Marathon held on Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, North Carolina. He set a goal for himself to run under three hours and thirty minutes. Being consistent in his training, he accomplished this goal by completing the race in three hours and twenty-three minutes.
Campbell set his sights on much larger and major races, including the World Marathon Majors. These marathons include New York City, Boston, Chicago, Tokyo, Berlin and London. He’s applied to run in the Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) New York City Marathon but unfortunately has never been selected in the three years he has applied. Not giving up and being persistent, after graduation, Campbell decided to try his luck through entering every World Marathon Major.
When researching World Marathon Majors, he stumbled upon the registration for the London Marathon. With more than 400,000 applicants and a 5% chance of being selected, Tyler did not think he had a chance. This was the largest number of applicants that any World Marathon Major. Out of all the applicants, only 40,000 were accepted to run and 5,000 of those were international runners.
To his surprise, a few months after applying he received an email that he was accepted to run in the race, but was hesitant. With a full-time job at North Carolina Football Club and a son, he worried about having the time to train and travel for the race.
He knew this was a once in a lifetime opportunity. As Tucci strongly expressed to him before, “Every day you wake up, you should be grateful for what you have, you never know when it will be taken away from you.” Campbell was grateful to have a mentor who instilled this ideology in him. This motivated him to take advantage of any opportunity that came his way and made the decision to accept the offer to run in the London Marathon.
Running through the streets of London didn’t go as smoothly as you might’ve imagined for Campbell. Even though he has run marathons before, he knew this race would not be an easy feat. With life out of college being even more hectic with a sales job and his son getting older, he could not train as often as he would’ve liked. The thought of knowing he could’ve trained more was weighing on him before the race even began.
The big race was finally here, he was feeling a bit anxious but determined to complete this race. The race started off great and all the way up to mile 15 just seemed to fly by, but passing mile 15 began to push his limits as a runner. He tried to distract himself with the large crowds around him and all the snacks and drinks being passed out, but the thought of stopping consistently came to mind. Campbell forced himself to push past these thoughts for as long as his body could possibly bear it.
Passing mile 20 felt like his breaking point. “It was like getting hit by a truck and then that truck following me the entire time, threatening to run me over one more time,” he said. Becoming so mentally and physically exhausted, the “truck” finally hit him and he had to stop five or six times during the last miles. Never having felt this pain before in his life, he had to make the decision to stop running or continue his journey to the finish line.
Despite these struggles, Campbell never once believed that he wouldn’t finish the race. He explains, “Picking back up and starting was mentally exhausting, but I knew I was going to finish that was never a question.” Not only did he finish the race, he also found the joy in the moments throughout the race. Even though the race itself was a battle to finish, if he had never challenged himself, he wouldn’t have gained this opportunity and accomplishment.
Crossing the finish line marked an achievement that few in the world get to say they’ve done. Even through the pain and struggle, Campbell will say that was the best race he’s ever ran in. He left that race with an experience he will never forget. This isn’t the end for Campbell, he plans to continue to run in more World Marathon Majors. Most importantly though, he will never let his love for running die out and continue to conquer any challenge that comes his way.