“As iron sharpens iron, one man sharpens another. There’s strength in the pack,” Cox says of his Mammoth training group. “Having the world’s top athletes training together brings out the best in all of us. Terrence cultivates a great team environment and having the group makes all the difference. Terrence guides our work and serves not only as coach, but also as our daily motivator, he makes the tough stuff fun.”
A devout Christian, Cox isn’t afraid to share his faith with others. He prides himself on the work he’s done raising money for the Christian charity Team World Vision. At the 2010 Comrades Marathon, Cox collected a million dollars in donations for impoverished children in South Africa. He speaks and writes often about the need to help others. “I want to help the helpless, serve my sponsors, serve my friends, serve my community, and be faithful with the gifts and platform God has granted,” he says. “This isn’t about times, teams, magazine covers, and sponsor ads. I’ve never put too much stock in what folks say about me, I’m not as good as they say and not as bad, either. I run for an audience of One, if He’s pleased, then so am I.”
After his world-record attempt this weekend, Cox wants to focus his 2011 efforts on the 2012 Olympic Trials, set to take place next year in Houston. Cox lowered his personal best to 2:13:51 at the 2009 California International Marathon, and says that his 2010 goal was to win the grueling Comrades Marathon in South Africa, but intestinal problems led to a disappointing 168th place finish. “I learned I should only drink out of my personal bottles, and nothing else,” he says of the experience.
Despite his frustrations in South Africa, however, Cox finished off the year with a win at the Zappos.com Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon, where he ran a 2:25:05, negative splitting the second half of the race. When recalling that effort, Cox says he had to pitch the idea of running it to his coach, who instructed him not to run faster than 75 minutes for the first half. “Because it was a controlled effort, I was back running a 17-miler with the guys three days later. Long efforts like that really catapult the fitness,” he recalls.
If clocking a 2:25 marathon win is nothing more than a “long effort” for Cox, and if his training has been as stellar as it appears on paper, then there’s a good chance Mugwana’s world record will fall this weekend. But Cox himself says it will ultimately come down to willpower.
“In the marathon the race begins at 20 miles,” Cox says. “You hit the 20 mile mark in the 50k and there’s still 11 more to go; the real racing starts after the marathon is finished. Ultras are largely an act of will rather than skill.”
Duncan Larkin is a freelance journalist who’s been covering the sport of running for over five years. He’s run 2:32 in the marathon and won the Himalayan 100-Mile Stage Race in 2007. His first book, Oxygen Debt, was recently released.