From medical syringes to running shoes

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Michael Washburn
  • 355th Fighter wing Public Affairs
Most people have a goal - something they wish to achieve or accomplish. Some have the drive and motivation to see that challenge through. For Staff Sgt. Megan Cotter, 355th Medical Group noncommissioned officer in charge of immunizations, the goal of running the New York City marathon, was realized.

"My biggest inspiration is my dad," Cotter said. "He's ran the New York City marathon twice. I'm from New York, so I really wanted to run that marathon."

Sergeant Cotter started running in high school. But she really immersed herself in the activity in college where she ran three hometown races with her father.

While running was something she enjoyed, the idea of completing a marathon was planted in an unusual way.

"I've always been a runner," Cotter said. "While deployed to Afghanistan, I met a master sergeant who was a huge marathon runner. He convinced me to start training for a marathon. He also gave me the idea of running in memory of someone. When he runs marathons, he writes the name of a fallen soldier on his arm."

She began to run on base, doing laps around the nearly two-mile perimeter. When she expressed interest to her father, he said he would try and get her into the marathon he had conquered twice before. He wrote a letter to the NYC marathon offices and within weeks Cotter had a congratulatory letter and entry number that she could wear as a participant.

When the time came to test her mettle in the 26.2 mile race, Sergeant Cotter wore a shirt with the words, 'Never forget ...' on the front. On the back were the names of five fallen Army soldiers and a personal friend that Sergeant Cotter and her team provided medical care for following an improvised explosive device attack in Afghanistan. They help push her through to the finish line and keep her motivated.

"The hardest aspect of running a marathon for me is to keep going," Cotter said. "Your whole body wants to stop. Your knees will lock up, so it's hard to control your body."

Even though Sergeant Cotter enjoys running, she's unsure of her marathon running future. Nevertheless, she has become an inspiration to her co-workers.

"People have come to me when they're thinking about running and other runners talk to me. I'm also helping other people with their running. In February, I'm going to be doing an eight-mile trail race with someone who's never gone that far before."