Coming of Age
We have so few opportunities to share our story, our journey as runners, that it’s often difficult to articulate once we are finally afforded the chance to do so — here’s a bit of mine.
I spent the earlier years of my youth consumed with the typical concerns of adolescence; obviously very engrossed in myself and my personal qualms with life. As a racially ambiguous kid insecure about my identity and cultural attachment to my previous life — I was adopted at the age of 3 from Odessa, Ukraine — I grew up often feeling outcast from society.
That sentiment began to change positively when I started running.
Joining the high school cross country team in my freshman year was a big step, but it proved to be an important one in establishing my credibility as a runner. I ran through those four years and trained hard through sun, rain, snow and hail.
I learned to sacrifice for myself and my team, something that would benefit me for years to come.
However, after a devastating last 4×800 meter race at the state championship my senior year, my confidence was shattered as a runner. I was heartbroken from this unfortunate final ending to my journey. I decided at that point that I had more left to give, that I would refuse to go out with anything less than a fantastic display of effort on the track.
So I began to train once again, and this time I held nothing back.
“It can’t end like this…”
I joined the Duke Club team when I matriculated to college. I spent the ensuing two years grinding on the track with the intention of walking on to the varsity team as an 800 meter runner.
I met Ethan Ready & Nico Coleman along the way — both of whom had similar aspirations as myself. Both of them aided in supporting my dream of running again with stakes under a team, but most importantly, with a purpose.
Matt Wisner was another key player in my transition from club to varsity — Oops! Spoiler alert! I made it onto the varsity team as a junior! — and provided me with the embodiment of the vision that I wanted to see realized.
He would later become my rival, all the while being someone I respected greatly.
Although I would never come to achieve this goal due to unforeseen circumstances, the thought of beating him of all people in the 800 meter event at the championship level encouraged me greatly.
After running a 1:54 800 meter race — my previous PR was 1:56 from high school — my sophomore year at the Duke Invite in 2018, I finally felt confident enough to approach Norm Ogilvie, the head track coach at Duke.
And yet, I was not yet offered a spot on the team. That next fall I came out alongside Nico Coleman and we each successfully earned our middle-distance stripes respectfully — my two years of training had paid off!
At that point, running for Duke was one of the best things that had ever happened to me, and receiving the opportunity to run again whilst representing a school — my school — was exhilarating.
During the indoor season of my junior year I would set numerous PRs, ranging from the 600 meter race, to the 800 meter race and 1000 meter race. I even earned All-ACC 2nd Honors in the DMR relay. The success culminated to just barely missing the ACC Outdoor 800m Finals by time with a 1:52.1 performance.
I was on top of the world…
“I did it for them”
Senior year held even more training potential for me. In terms of upping both mileage and intensity, I came into the closing leg of my journey at Duke hungrier than ever. While I never fully realized my dreams on the track — my final seasons were cut short due to injury and the notorious COVID-19 — I have not yet reached my other aspirations.
I plan on continuing full throttle into my future career as a prosthetist, armed with a bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering.
I attribute most of the accomplishments in my life thus far to running. It saved me from a potentially darker path that I may have traversed as opposed to the one that I am currently on. With the lessons it has provided me, I believe that I am a more grounded person, focused primarily on the people that surround me in life, otherwise known as “my team.”
For that, I’ll continue to grind, sweat and suffer, so that things may be easier for them.
After all, that is a part of my identity, regardless of if I have yet to fully realize certain other aspects of it.
So, for now I’ll keep my shoes tied and I’ll keep my head high — occasionally glancing behind for my past — but I’ll never stop running. For my friends, family, and everything I believe in.
“I’ll never stop running.”
NICK COX — DUKE UNIVERSITY
600 Meter Run — 1:22.01
800 Meter Run — 1:52:10
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