For more than 20 years, Nancy McCoy has been running long-distance events, including marathons.
Her desire to train for long distances in 1999 wasn’t about fulfilling a dream or, by 2019, being the only Soldier who helped Fort McCoy earn two Army Ten-Miler championships.
“I started running right after I had my first child in 1999, as a means for weight loss,” said the 52-year-old McCoy, an Army Reserve lieutenant colonel with the 353rd Civil Affairs Command of Staten Island, N.Y., and government civilian Equal Employment Opportunity specialist with the Army Reserve in building 2187 at Fort McCoy.
McCoy — who is not in any way related to the post’s founder, Maj. Gen. Robert B. McCoy — ran her first marathon a year after her son was born, and she has completed many others since, including the Green Bay (Wis.) Cellcom Marathon, Twin Cities Marathon, and the Marine Corps Marathon.
“I have also qualified for and ran the Boston Marathon three times,” McCoy said.
In 2007, Fort McCoy put together an all-female Army Ten-Miler team to compete. There were four members on the team — then-Maj. McCoy, Capt. Monica Radtke, Sgt. 1st Class Leslie Guttenberg, and Master Sgt. Misty Brown.
“It was the first all-female team that Fort McCoy put together, to my understanding, and we won, which was great,” McCoy said. “It was very bare-bones. There were only the four of us, and no alternate was funded, so if one of us was hurt, injured, came up sick, or otherwise could not compete, we would have been disqualified.
But despite some limitations, the 2007 team made Fort McCoy history — first team comprising of all women and winning the post’s first Army Ten-Miler championship.
“In 2007, it was great being part of that team,” McCoy said. “On the downside, we were pretty much left to ourselves and not provided the number of participants we should have had to field a strong team. We were fortunate to have Misty and Leslie, as they were both very strong runners.”
2019 championship team
McCoy hadn’t been a part of an Army Ten-Miler team since 2007 until she joined the 2019 squad. And this time, there was a big difference.
“In 2019, there was such a big group that the camaraderie was fantastic,” McCoy said. “We did some fun runs together — even on the weekends — and pushed each other so well when we had some very difficult and long 6 a.m. Saturday morning runs.
“The leadership we got from (coach) Tony Steinhoff this year was fantastic,” she said. “We wanted to get him the win, and he led us to it.”
McCoy said the support of the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation (DFMWR) was also a big help for the 2019 team to do well.
“The support from DFMWR is, of course, much stronger than it was 12 years ago, which makes everything easier and allows you to focus on getting faster,” McCoy said.
Steinhoff said McCoy and her experience really served as an inspiration to the 2019 team.
“Having Nancy on Team Fort McCoy this past year was phenomenal,” Steinhoff said. “She has a drive and determination about her that is infectious and inspired other team members to perform at their very highest level. She was often one of the first ones to practice and rarely missed one. The experience she brought to the team was paramount to our success.
“She was always upbeat about training and asking team members questions about their goals, training regimen, stretching, and nutrition,” the coach said. “Through that interaction with the team, she was demonstrating that there is more to the Army Ten-Miler than just getting together and running. It’s a process having meaningful goals, training effectively, and staying healthy through stretching and eating right.”
Staying fit, reflections
Though she has only participated in the Army Ten-Miler team at Fort McCoy twice, McCoy said she has always stayed fit and ready for running competition because of the opportunities to do so at the installation.
“DFMWR has so much to offer everyone at Fort McCoy,” McCoy said. “I was especially excited when they opened up (Rumpel Fitness Center) 24/7. There really is no excuse to stay out of shape with all the opportunities here. I used to work in the private sector, and folks would have given a lot to have a gym available to utilize. That, and everything else DFMWR has to stay in shape, made it possible for me to continue to stay fit as I age.”
McCoy said Fort McCoy is a long part of her history, and she appreciates everything she’s been a part of since she has been at the post.
“I really like my place in the running history of Fort McCoy, but I also appreciate everything Fort McCoy has given me,” McCoy said. “I have served in active- and reserve-component positions and as a civilian employee at Fort McCoy since 2004. My children used the day care and after-school services with (DFMWR) Child and Youth Services. They took piano lessons back when they were offered here, and we have participated in the winter and summer sports and activities available here.
“This installation has been very good to me and my family,” she said.
And if someone looks at McCoy’s accomplishments with the Army Ten-Miler teams, it’s also probably safe to say she has been very good to the installation.
“There is no doubt in my mind that Nancy’s contributions to the team were unparalleled, and I couldn’t be more happy and proud that she was a part of it,” Steinhoff said.
Other Army Ten-Miler teams have done well at the installation competing in the Reserve Mixed category in past years in addition to the 2007 and 2019 championship teams. In 2008, 2009, 2017, and 2018, Fort McCoy teams earned second-place finishes in the competition.
Trophies and plaques from the winning and placing teams can be found at Rumpel Fitness Center at Fort McCoy. McCoy is a resident of Tomah, Wis.