Runners' Profile - Tom McCoy

Tommy McCoy started as a baseball player. At the age of 39, a friend talked him into trying running. He added a little distance each day and eventually learned speed work. After joining other local runners he began his racing career. Tom ran the Boston Marathon 8 times and 22 marathons total. His best marathon time was 2 hours 52 minutes at the Cape Cod Marathon and his best Boston Marathon was 2 hours 56 minutes. Other races included the Blessing of the Fleet, Block Island, Sneekers, Elks, and the Larry Hirsh run. He ran the 10 mile Blessing of the Fleet in 59 minutes 29 seconds for a 5 minute 57 pace to achieve his goals of under 6 minutes per mile for 10 miles and under 3 hours for a marathon.

Tom was one of the pioneers of the Westerly Track Club and has served on the board. In 1975 he started the summer fun runs, which are now in their 31st year. They began at the Weekapaug Breechway and later moved to St.Clare's Church. They are now run from the Pleasant View Inn. There were also alternate weeks in Stonington, but the beach was more popular in the summer. The runs are 3 miles with a 1 and 2 mile loop for walkers and runners. Very important is the ½ mile kids run which gets our younger runners involved. The run is one of the largest fun runs in the region or anywhere most likely. It draws over 100 people which is more than many sponsored races. One year a relay was added for 2 of the weeks and over 200 people were involved.

In 1995 Tom took over the Stonington High School Cross Country Team. He had previously worked as a volunteer assistant coach for the track team for 15 years. He also promoted middle school races and the present day Middle School Challenge is the result of this work. Both his coaching and his other works were rewarded by bringing the Stonington program to a respected level. In the year 2000 they were 2nd in the state and in 2001 they won the state championship. In 2002 they were the ECC Champions. He has now retired from the coaching but still stops by to help now and then.

As good as his running career was, Tom's best achievement was getting others involved in running at all levels. But, Tommy will forever be remembered for his work with the fun runs.

(written by Buddy Grills (July 2006))

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