In November 2002, as an Elite Road racer with an offer from a cycling team in Northern France on the table for the following season, I entered Dave Wardle's Autumn Duathlon at the Hillingdon circuit for some end of season training. To my surprise, I won, and not just that but I actually seemed to enjoy the running. In the coming weeks I began to run much much more and so the seed that had been planted began to grow. The French team were offering an apartment to live in with 3 other riders and a full programme of decent races as well as a (very) basic wage.
Of course, logic would have dictated that I go with the cycling option and do some Duathlon for fun on my return but that's not my way. I prayed about it and waited for an answer and the answer was clear: Stay in the UK and give Duathlon a go whilst building a new life for myself. 6 months later I had fully converted to being a run-biker and had met and moreover was engaged to the beautiful Leda Ray. by this stage I had heard all about the sticky endings for said French team which had folded and sent the riders home having (as always in cycling) run out of money. Meanwhile I was enjoying the freedom of running and not having to drag masses of bike kit everywhere with me and if anything, as marriage went on, I had more and more time to train and look for improvements as Leda was away racing in far flung parts of the world for most of the first 8 years of our marriage. All these years later Duathlon has given me so many incredible memories and I have made many great friends through it. I'm pleased to say I have never made a penny from it but what I have gained money cannot buy. I'm now loving putting something back as the GB team manager and I'm also heavily involved with many of the countries best Duathletes and events through my own company, howgoodcouldibe.com.
Sunday's race was a great event where I really felt all the hard work of my recent training coming together. It was a new one to me, the Walden Duathlon in Essex and although I had a great race and could actually feel the results of all my hill training in Stanborough park finally paying out I did also manage to achieve a new first as I reached the milestone of my 70th win in 9 yaesr of competition: My first race penalty! As GB national team manager and a coach this is, of course highly embarrassing as I'm always saying there is no excuse for getting penalties and so as such I wont offer any. I threw my Maxifuel bottle towards my camper as I rode past at the end of lap one and this is classed in the rules as littering. As such I received a 2 minute penalty and was just lucky enough that I had won by 2 mins 17 seconds and so I hung on by the skin of my teeth. So I'll make no excuses........ But I would like to offer a supposition: Suppose this, if you will : Next time, I throw my bottle on top of my camper, or even better, I throw it in through the open skylight in the roof and it lands neatly in my bottle holder. Is that littering!? I hear what you're saying: leave it Cox, leave it.
I had my camper with me because the night before I had been a guest of British Triathlon at their Awards dinner where we celebrated a great year for the sport. I was on a table with some of the other GB team managers and it was a fascinating night swapping stories of how we deal with the little 'issues' that come up with athletes in far flung places on the world circuit. It was also great to see our Olympians being honored and all this before catching 4 hrs sleep in the car park outside where the temperature was -2 degrees which is, it seems, the perfect preparation for racing!