Navy Capt. Nancy Lacore knows valor has no gender. She recently completed a grueling 160 mile run in seven days to honor the 160 US servicewomen who died in Iraq and Afghanistan.
That’s one mile for each women who sacrificed her life for her country. Lacore, who served in Afghanistan, wanted to do something to raise awareness of the women who died in service.
Lacore would run 25 miles a day from Chesapeake, Virginia, to Washington, D.C., at twice the pace she’d ever run before, pushing herself to the limit. Always in her mind, the women who did not make it home.
“I do start out by thinking of the women we lost," she said.
Lacore ran three legs each day, starting each one by reading the names of the women who died.
By day six the run was taking its toll on her body. “I'm just exhausted,” she said. “I got up and put the wrong shoes on this morning.” Lacore put on a different running shoe on each foot.
She went through four pairs the week of the Valor Run. But she never gave up. Lacore is a 46-year-old Navy reservist, wife and mother of six.
“It's not about me running,” she said. “It's about the people coming together and recognizing all the women who have died.”
One of those women has special meaning for Lacore.
“I'll be carrying the picture of Megan McClung,” she said. “She was a Marine, she was a runner, and her mother said I'm sure Megan's going to be running right along with you."
By the time she was lacing up for the final leg, Lacore was feeling great. On a beautiful day in Washington, supporters by her side, the last 10 miles became the easiest.
Her time in Afghanistan was hard on her family, Lacore said. “I came home. There's so many families who don't get to say that, and so the sacrifices we made for that time were minimal to the sacrifices that so many have made.”
For the women who made the ultimate sacrifice, 160 people carrying 160 tribute ribbons walked the last steps to the Women's Memorial at Arlington Cemetery.
“It's really emotional and moving and rewarding in a way,” Lacore said. “I'm recognizing all the faces and I'm remembering the stories. It's pretty cool."
One by one, supporters placed the ribbons holding pictures of the fallen women on the marble walls of the memorial. And then it was Lacore’s turn to remember Maj. Megan McClung, the first female Marine officer killed in Iraq.
“They died for us,” Lacore said. “They died serving our country and sustaining our freedoms.”
The Valor Run raised over $30,000 for the Women’s Memorial and for Wounded Wear, a charity that provides special clothing for wounded warriors.