If you ever stood on the starting line next to Darren Cox and thought you could beat him because he’s older than you, you would be wrong. Very wrong.
Not only does he have 30 years experience on a mountain bike, but he trains like he’s still eighteen. In fact, when asked how his training has changed since he’s gotten older, he talks about how it’s gotten more intense, not less.
“Today, I got up at five and swam,” says Cox about his day. “Then I rested a bit and did a run. I took another rest and then rode, and afterwards I mowed the lawn.”
When he lived in Williamsburg, Virginia, he worked an additional eight hours a day at Bike Beat, the local bike shop.
“I kept it rolling in the bike shop for eight hours a day,” he admits. “But I don’t think it hurt me any.”
Cox used to work in construction in Florida, but when the construction died out, he became a lifeguard and EMT in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, which is the "Shark Attack Capital of the World."
When asked if he was afraid for his own safety, Cox replies, “When you see someone who needs help, you don't stop and think. You just go.”
You just go might be the three words that sum up Darren Cox’ philosophy on life. He grew up in Florida, but moved to Colorado in the heyday of cross-country racing, in the early 1990’s. He was a fixture at the Iron Horse Classic Bicycle Classic – Cross Country Race (now called a MTB race) and at races in Telluride, Crested Butte, and Durango.
It was this same Live More spirit that introduced Cox to his wife when he moved back to Florida.
“When I moved back from Colorado, I decided I would start running,” he said. “And if you want to learn something, you find the best around right? Well, Helen was one of the best runners in the area, so I asked if I could tag along on her workouts.” Cox pauses and laughs ruefully. “Well, I was so far behind her on interval workouts that she and her friend would wave their hand to let me know I was done.”
Helen Cox is also a formidable triathlete. She was the XTERRA Regional Champ in 2011 and competed in Maui that same year.
“Helen wrote my running workout today,” says Cox. “And I probably won’t ask her to do it again because it was so hard.”
But there is no denying that Cox’ hard work has paid off. He won his age group at XTERRA Jersey Devil, XTERRA Myrtle Beach, XTERRA Oak Mountain, XTERRA Panther Creek, and XTERRA Auburn. He was the fifth amateur at XTERRA Oak Mountain and was fourth overall at XTERRA Panther Creek.
“How cool is it that a 50-year old guy is finishing in the top five consistently?” he asks.
Despite the fact that Cox won his age group in all his races, he lost the XTERRA Regional Champ title to Richard Szymanski in a hard-fought battle until the very last race of the season. Cox lost by only 17 points, but he is the first to congratulate his opponent.
“I’m glad Rich is going to Maui. I’ll see him there and we’ll have a good time,” said Cox.
Last year, Cox also qualified for Maui but broke his hand on a ride and had to sit that one out. If anything, missing the XTERRA World Championships has lit an even bigger fire under Cox.
“You have to watch out for the 50 to 54 age group,” he warns. “We work really hard. You never know what’s going to happen out there.”