This entry is part 24 of 28 in the series Faces at the Races

Cameron McCoy 5Name
Cameron McCoy


West Point, NY

University Professor

Favorite OCR series

Favorite obstacle
Tip of the Spear

Least favorite obstacle
Tip of the Spear

Ideal race distance

2016 OCR goals
Complete the Spartan Ultra Beast

Brief bio
I was born and raised in Washington, D.C. (right in the district, not Virginia or Maryland). I was always athletic growing up as a kid and played soccer, basketball, and football. In middle and high school, I continued playing football and basketball but added wrestling and track and field. By the time I got to college I played football and ran track as a decathlete. I wasn’t elite but excelled in the long jump, placing extremely high in the conference.

After graduating and joining the Marines, life as an organized athlete changed. With the War on Terror taking center stage in my life at the time, I focused more on functional fitness and carried that with me through today. After transitioning to the Marine Reserves, I ran my first obstacle course race with a non-profit I work with (Sheep Dog Impact Assistance) in December 2012. We hosted and ran with a couple of wounded warriors and I was hooked! Although I ran several obstacle course races with wounded warriors and a few with friends, I didn’t run my first competitive heat until September 12, 2015!

Social media
Instagram (@cdm3v)

Cameron McCoy 1Why do you compete in OCR?
I love to compete and meet others who can make me better through completion and camaraderie. I have come to learn more about myself through this sport only third to the Marines and academics.

Have you overcome any significant setbacks, such as injury, personal trauma, etc.?
I can’t say that I have overcome any significant setbacks such as injuries or personal trauma. However, since competing in the OCR platforms, I have found more peace, purpose, and focus in all areas of my life.

How did your life change after joining the Marines?
It led me to more and greater opportunities. I more than likely would not be a college professor had I not joined the Marines.

Looking back on your time in the Marines, what is your proudest moment while serving this country?
Knowing that I had the trust, confidence, and respect of my seniors, peers, and subordinates at all levels.

Do you think the next great OCR athlete is currently in the military?
Too difficult to answer. With the mission and purpose of the military, it is difficult for it to lend itself to pushing many athletes in the direction of such a sport. “Mud runs” have been around for more than 15 years in the military, but I believe with the popularity of the sport one could dedicate themselves to achieving such an endeavor.

Cameron McCoy 4What made you transition from running in the open heats to the competitive heats this past year?
I wanted to compete on a clean course and measure myself against like-minded athletes.

Tell me a little more about your history of racing with wounded warriors.
As a member of the non-profit organization Sheep Dog Impact Assistance, we frequently sponsor and run with Wounded Warriors. Our early runs with Wounded Warriors began during the fall of 2012.

Have you had any embarrassing moments from a race?
Yes! My very first competitive heat race! I accidently wore my winter compression bottoms instead of my summer ones! I was miserable the first three miles. I’ve never made the mistake again!

What sports did you play growing up? What were some of your accomplishments?
I played football, basketball, soccer, track and field. I was fortunate to win multiple MVPs and All-Stars in each sport.

As an accomplished athlete, what makes OCR different from the rest of the sports you’ve played throughout your life?
With OCR, it’s anybody’s race! It also keeps one humble. There are so many areas during the race where one can excel and fail, all at the same time, and still be successful. It is the only sport in which I have learned something before, during, and after the race—whether I have hit the podium or not.

What went through your head the first time you crossed the finish line?
“I want to do that again!”

Cameron McCoy 7Describe your OCR training routine.
Cardio and grip strength is the nucleus of my training. Nevertheless, I keep it fun and mix it up a lot. I swim twice a week and ensure my training focuses on endurance throughout each exercise (i.e., pulling exercises that require grip and shoulder strength). What that means is that I need to ensure I can maintain a strong grip for up to three hours! With regard to running, I focus on interval/tempo training while keeping myself uncomfortable and becoming comfortable with that for at least an hour. With all that said, a solid nutritional plan and recovery are most important.

Did your family undergo a healthy lifestyle makeover after you started to get serious about OCR or were you always a healthy family?
Yes, we have always had a clean diet in our home, but after I got serious I began to use more science in my diet, especially since my wife is a nutritionist. My diet is plant-based and has been for the past 3 years. I have not had red meat in over 4 years.

As a father of three, how do you find the time to balance work, family, and training?
My family is all about maintaining a healthy and fit lifestyle; it’s a family affair. Nevertheless, I typically will do much of my training early in the morning. I have enough equipment at home, which allows me to do a lot of training in my neighborhood and/or nearby schools and playgrounds.

Does your wife also race with you? How can race organizers do a better job at making races more of a fulfilling activity for the family?
Yes, she does. I think races are designed for friends and families. I do not believe the onus is on the race coordinators/directors. It is up to the families and friends on how they want to approach the event. That is why there are so many venues and races distances. I think the kid’s races are fine the way they are established, which is not too serious and fun for the kids.

Cameron McCoy 6I’m amazed at how many highly-educated people there are in the OCR community, including yourself. Do you feel that this is an accurate statement?
Yes! I have been amazed to find how many people have gone to graduate school and a great deal of engineers. I have to admit that I was surprised to meet so many who had attended graduate school. It’s a good release from the rigors of graduate work!

Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
Tough to say, hopefully making decisions that have led me to and placed in a situation to be conducting such an interview and bettering my family and community.

Give me a fact about yourself that would impress most people?
I don’t know if this is necessarily impressive, but I did graduate number one from Officer Candidate School in 2002. Furthermore, I was the first African American to do so, and I was the first student at BYU to do the same.

I’m sure you’ve noticed but there usually isn’t a whole lot of diversity of diversity at OCR events, which is a shame. How do you think you can make the sport more appealing to minorities?
I can’t say I haven’t been surprised by the lack of representation of many African Americans or Asian Americans, but there are very many Latin Americans who race and do an outstanding job in representing the sport.

What is your opinion of OCR TV coverage?
It’s entertaining, but I’m one who finds the competition side much more appealing than the human interest stories, which does not mean they detract from or are bad for, TV. I believe it has increased the visibility of the sport and many people are more aware of this growing sports phenomenon.

Are you pursuing any achievement this year, like a Spartan Trifecta or running one race from each of the major series?
Just the Ultra Beast this year. With my transition as a postdoc fellow and then moving into a full-time faculty position, I have other priorities that take precedence.

Cameron McCoy 2How many medals do you own and what do you do with them after the race? Which one are you most proud of?
I have 22 and I put them in a shoe box. Horrible, I know. I’m most proud of my very first Spartan Beast Medal (2012).

Pretend you’re a race director for a day. Describe the course you would design (including pre- and post-race festivals, if you’d like).
-10-mile course.
-Obstacles every quarter mile! That’s right, 40 obstacles, baby!
-Strategy based obstacles that allow the athlete to choose between obstacle completion or penalty loop.
-The obstacles would be fluid and progressive (i.e., each obstacle is on the course route and moves the athlete forward at all times—very similar to the BattleFrog Relay/College Series and Savagerace)
-No rope climbs, but walls would take the place of the ropes
-More carries (but versatile), such as a weighted backpack carry and through obstacles
-No THROWS! It is not germane to RACING!
-More pulls and hoists obstacles
-Multiple Rigs for sure! And of varying degrees throughout the race
-The course would be designed so that all spectators can see, at a minimum, 5 miles of the course.
-I would have a big screen and multiple drones capturing the race.

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