Cox makes Rocket City win a reality

Sunday, December 14, 2008

By BILL BRYANT

Times Sports Staff bill.bryant@htimes.com

Ex-'Bachelorette' cast member is fast on his feet

Four years ago, reality for Josh Cox was answering a knock on his door while shirtless.

On Saturday, reality for Josh Cox was discarding a shirt four miles into the Rocket City Marathon.

"Forgetting" to cover up didn't help the Mammoth Lakes, Calif., resident win "The Bachelorette" in early 2005, but ridding himself of some clothing 20 minutes after the race's chilly start freed him up as he crushed the rest of the field and won the 32nd annual race.

The 33-year-old, who won $1,000, finished in 2:21.23, a good two minutes faster than Troy's Michael Green (2:23.49). Birmingham's Daniel Ellis (2:24.12) took third, 2007 winner Sammy Nyamongo finished fourth (2:27.12) and former Bob Jones High and Auburn standout David Riddle (2:27.27) was fifth.

"Two days ago (when it was sleeting) I was like 'Oh man, this is going to be a nightmare,' " Cox said. "But 40 degrees is ideal marathon weather. I had a throwaway shirt, wore it for like four miles and then tossed and felt great. It was an awesome experience out there."

Back in the fall of 2004, Cox had an experience of a different sort when he was one of 25 bachelors vying for the affection of Jen Schefft on the aforementioned ABC reality show. Someone - he doesn't know who - nominated him to be on the show, although at the time he was far more concerned with trying to make the U.S. Olympic team at the Trials in Birmingham.

"I got an e-mail from ABC saying they wanted me to make a video," said Cox, who has qualified for three Olympic Trials. "I thought it was a joke, so I didn't even reply. They sent me another one, so I thought maybe it was legit, but I said my whole life was getting ready for the Olympic Trials.

"I finished seventh (which didn't qualify) and when I got home I had an e-mail that said 'You didn't make the team, why don't you make us a video?' I told my sisters and they're like 'Oh my gosh, you've gotta make a video,' so I made the video. The next thing I knew I was on the show."

Filming took place in the fall of 2004 and the show aired during the winter of '05. He made the first couple of cuts before failing to get the coveted rose when the field was reduced from eight to six.

"I finished seventh, just like I did at the Trials," Cox joked.

He said he enjoyed being part of the show and made some good friends but added, "It's very contrived and very staged. Reality isn't so much reality. Thank goodness I didn't get a rose that day - it was definitely my time to go."

During his nearly four-week stay in New York, Cox couldn't go much of anywhere. That included not being able to train, at least until he struck a deal.

"Initially, I told them I needed an hour (to run) in the morning and hour in the evening - and they just laughed at me," Cox said. "Then one day one of the producers comes in right after I get out of the shower and she tells me Jen's coming over. She said the other producers want you to answer the door - I say 'No problem, I can do that' - and then she says 'with your shirt off.'

"I said 'I'm not answering door with my shirt off.' Then she said 'If you do it we'll give you 90 minutes to go run in the mornings. I said 'OK.' It was a small price to pay to get in some training."

Cox treated Saturday's race as just that: training. He is preparing to run in P.F. Chang's Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Marathon a month from now and he entered Rocket City to maintain his routine.

He didn't break from the lead pack of five until the 18 1/2-mile mark. But when Cox broke, he broke quickly.

"I knew it was going to happen," Riddle said. "He's run a 2:13 before and he's out there for a training run.

"He had been toying with us for a little while - surging and backing off, surging and backing off - and I was staying with him. It was only a matter of time before he took off."

Early on, Cox figured he'd make his move at about the 16-mile mark. Instead he "chickened out a little bit" and bided his time.

In the last half-mile of No. 18, though, he ran about a 2:20 to take control.

"From then on out it was a solo effort," Cox said.

Well, at least professionally speaking. Personally speaking, Cox is no longer searching for his bachelorette.

He's married to Carrie now.