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    Paddle, pedal, breathe: Marine continues to compete in triathlons

    Paddle, pedal, breathe: Marine continues to compete in triathlons

    Courtesy Photo | Gunnery Sgt. Bryan Cox, the maintenance control chief with Marine Heavy Helicopter...... read more read more



    Story by Pfc. Maxwell Pennington 

    Marine Corps Air Station Miramar

    MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. -- Triathletes can be characterized as having the strength to do a certain task, having the endurance to go the distance, and having the wisdom to know it’s a very long race and to set a pace.

    Gunnery Sgt. Bryan K. Cox, the maintenance control chief with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 361 and a Louisville, Ky., native, came to realize his love for triathlons at the age of 30 – six years later he is still running strong.

    Cox was an instructor at the Naval Aircrew Candidate School in Pensacola, Fla., when he first began testing his mind and body.
    “I was not in the best shape, so I figured that if I’m going to be the first crew chief these guys see, I need to be in shape, so, I started running,” said Cox.

    Marines who worked at the aircrew school with Cox suggested he sign up for a triathlon because of his abilities to run, swim and bike.

    “I signed up and did my first one and liked it so much that I signed up for one twice the distance the next week,” said Cox.

    Cox has competed in a number of marathons and races, but focuses on triathlons.

    “The biggest [triathlon] I’ve done is the Ironman Louisville,” said Cox. “It’s a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a 26.2-mile run. It took me 11 hours and 20 minutes. I finished 376th out of 2,500.”

    The course consisted of scenic routes and took the competitors across flat land, over hills and through the Ohio River.

    “Crossing that finish line and hearing them say I’m an iron man was really cool,” said Cox. “You’re competing against yourself. Although you may not win or beat the guy next to you, if you did better than the race before, that’s a win.”

    Cox found time to run even while on a deployment in Afghanistan. The diverse climate made it a struggle for Cox, but he still pushed himself to run everyday.

    “The first time I ran over there I was barely able to run three miles because of the heat and the elevation,” he said.

    Not only was the heat a factor for him, but the cold winter of Afghanistan made it a struggle. Despite the climate, Cox kept running every day and even motivated a friend to accompany him.

    “I knew he was a great runner. I wanted to better myself, so when he would go out and run I would tag along,” said Capt. Wade L. Swanson, a maintenance control officer with HMH-361 and a Washington D.C., native.

    “We were averaging anywhere from seven to 11 miles a day,” said Cox.
    Cox ran 1,107 miles during his seven-month deployment.

    Endurance training in the diverse climate of Afghanistan made running much easier upon returning, explained Cox.

    “I ran my fastest [physical fitness test] ever,” said Cox, referring to his 17:07 run time.

    Along with Cox setting a personal record for his PFT, he also helped Swanson develop a love for running.

    “I completed my first marathon following the deployment,” said Swanson. “I would bet at least $1,000 that I would have never ran a marathon prior to training with Gunny Cox in Afghanistan.”
    Swanson plans to continue his training routine with Cox, and plans to run in more marathons.

    “Not only has it increased my PFT score, but because I’ve been training with Gunny Cox I have really fallen in love with long distance running.”

    Swanson is not the only Marine Cox hopes to impact by his endurance.

    “As I’m getting older, I feel like I have something to prove,” said Cox. “I want to show the younger [Marines] that if I’m out here doing this then they can too.”

    Cox is currently training five days a week for three upcoming events: the Soma 70.3 in Tempe, Ariz., the Silver Strand Half Marathon in Coronado, Calif., and the Carlsbad Half Marathon in Carlsbad, Calif.



    Date Taken: 10.19.2011
    Date Posted: 10.20.2011 17:01
    Story ID: 78785

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