Written and media by Andrew Sharp.
In the life of every runner comes a time when they must lace their running shoes for the very last time. This moment can be soon and thus very bittersweet or it could be a long time coming. The athlete must make that decision of when to hang it up. For most runners, this moment comes directly after a race so that they have something to remember the sport by and give it one last hoorah! Today we will be learning first hand what it is like to be finished with a running career and what happens after you untie the laces.
Brianna Cox is a runner from Carlinville, Illinois who recently retired from the sport after five years of hitting the track. Cox was an Honor Roll athlete, boasted a 3.80 GPA, and was a department honors graduate at Greenville. Cox also was a McAllaster Scholars graduate, being in the program for the duration of her time at Greenville. With a reputation like this one, she was still able to manage class time and athletics the same. Cox was able to take the hours of studying along with the hours of training and publish a book at the same time all during her senior year.
After Cox’s first two years playing volleyball at Greenville, she decided to chase a forgotten dream and become a runner again. Cox had not been a runner since middle school, when she began playing volleyball and first decided to give her shoes a rest. After taking six years off from running, she was back in the saddle and ready to go again! She was a very dedicated runner and athlete, having put in more than three hours daily for running and countless hours of studying to go along with it. After the short adjustment period from volleyball to running, she was back and stronger than ever. Cox became the Panthers number seven runner and held up the final spot for scoring in the regionals.
For Cox running was a way for her to release stress and keep her mind busy while going through the tough times of her senior year in college. She completed her senior year of cross country and track with S.L.I.A.C. All-Conference Team Honors as well as a championship win for her cross country season.
After just two short years and four seasons of running, it was finally time for Cox to hang up the jersey once and for all. As most retired runners do, she gave one final goodbye to competitive running with a last race at the regional meet in Oshkosh. After the race was over, she united her shoes and began to walk back to the bus with a quick glance over her shoulder and a tear rolling down her cheek. It was then when she said goodbye to competition forever.
Where is Cox now? She now spends her days at SIUE pursuing the nurse anesthetist program by getting her second bachelor’s degree. From time to time, she will take part in a 5K going on around campus just to put the shoes back on. Cox may have given up the sport, but she will always be a runner at heart.