Demery Cox has spent most of his life running five to 10 miles a day. He started the sport at an early age: He participated in his first mile-long running event when he was 4 years old.
Cox, now 37, organizes runs such as 5Ks and marathons with his father, who is an accomplished runner, through their business Cox Racing Services. Together, they help produce 100 running events a year. They operate their business from home.
“When you grow up, everybody wants to be Michael Jordan,” Cox said. “Everybody wants to play basketball. Everybody wants to do certain things, but running really is a lifelong sport.”
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Cox has served on the board of the Fort Worth Runners Club, Heroes for Hope and plans to bring running programs to local schools to motivate young people and develop healthy habits.
“It’s tough to change adults, because adults are already pretty much set in their ways,” Cox said. “But if you can get kids at an early age, they can hope to curb some bad habits.”
Following his father’s footsteps
Cox grew up running, and has an athletic inspiration of his own. His father, Ricky Cox, a three-time winner of the Cowtown Marathon, qualified for the Olympic trials in 1984 and completed the 1983 Boston Marathon with a time of 2:17.
By the time Demery was born in 1985, his father created the Trinity 5000 Summer Series through his part-time racing business. In 2011, Cox, 25 at the time, approached his father to create a full-time racing business, now known as Cox Racing Services, along with Cox Running Club, a nonprofit running group meant to promote running in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Demery Cox’s first race was when he was a 4-year-old at the Trinity 5000 Summer Series, in a one-mile fun run for children. It wasn’t until Cox was older that he realized how natural running felt to him. For most of his life, he said, he ran five to 10 miles a day.
“I didn’t realize how hard it was because it was a lifestyle my whole life,” Cox said. “But now I realize if you run 10 miles a day, it’s pretty impressive. Because you have to be consistent. You have to take care of your body, all kinds of stuff.”
He ran on the track and field team in high school and later attended the University of Texas at Arlington on a track scholarship. A few years later, he dropped out of college when he got married and had children.
During that time he worked various jobs, including as a manager at a Finish Line retail store and as a detention officer at the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Department.
Looking for a run? Here’s a few upcoming events:
What: Why Not Love half-marathon and 5K
When: Saturday, Feb. 18
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What: Cowtown Marathon
When: Feb. 24-26
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While training in the Fort Worth police department, he went through divorce and got custody of his children. That changed life, he said. To make enough money at the department for his family, he would have to work overtime. He didn’t want work to take the time away from family. So, he turned to his father, with a proposal: Take his part-time business and turn it into a full-time job.
“I approached him and I said, ‘Hey, you know what? We’re in this, we should take it to the next level,’” Cox said.
Their business of organizing runs blossomed, he said. In the first year of full-time business, they ramped up the number of races to 30. The next year, they were boosted to 60 races. The year after that, 120.
Tomas Razo, a family friend of Cox, helped fund the business when it was getting started. He said he received a lot of help from the Cox family growing up, and he wanted to return the favor. Plus, he knew the business would take off.
“I knew how successful it could become, and I knew that it was his calling,” Razo said.
Razo said Cox is a good leader because he tries to help the community in whichever way he can. Cox spends a lot of time with younger people and puts on a variety of free programs like group training runs.
Living in Fort Worth, Cox said he has seen the ebb and flow of gang violence in his community over the years. In the third grade, a stray bullet hit his childhood home in East Fort Worth. Now, with gang activity escalating again, Cox believes getting into schools and showing kids how to run could make a difference.
Cox’s father, Ricky, said his son will make a difference in the community by modeling success after growing up in a difficult environment.
“Coming up on (1985, there were) a lot of distractions, a lot of gangs and opportunity to go out, sell drugs and do all that,” Ricky Cox said. “He had the opportunity, but he chose not to take that route. You can be presented with all these peer pressures, but you don’t have to take that route. And that’s what Demery chose not to do.”
Cox said he considers his parents heroes — he watched how hard both of them worked growing up. He also said he learned a lot from his son, Demery Jr., who was born with a rare brain condition and was told by doctors he had three years to live. Raising his son, now 16, has taught him patience and trust in God, he said.
“Whenever I’m stuck in life, stuck in a certain area, I look at my son,” Cox said.
After 20 years, Cox expects to graduate with his bachelor’s degree in political science and a minor in English this year. He said he’s doing it to set an example for his children: starting what you finish.
He’s also starting to set up running programs in 10 to 15 schools in the Kennedale and Fort Worth school districts, and hopes giving kids their first running medal makes an impact.
“Hopefully when they receive their medal, they feel accomplished,” Cox said. “They completed something. So it can springboard them as they get older and they can look forward to races.”
Demery Cox’s bio:
Birthplace: Fort Worth
Family: Father, Ricky Cox; mother Debra Cox; sister Lakeshia Cox Luster; brother Ricky Cox; wife, Eshandra Cox; five children, Taj Davis, Avery Cox, Demery Cox Jr., Brian Cox, and Ashton Cox
Education: Graduated from O.D. Wyatt High School in Fort Worth, in spring 2003. Earning a bachelor’s in political science and minor of English at University of Texas-Arlington – scheduled to graduating this spring
Work experience: 2009 – present, owner, Cox Racing Services. ”My dad and I are the co-owners of Cox Racing Services. Cox Racing Services is an event management and production company. We are hired to work over 100 walks/runs annually. We help produce road races that range from 1 miler to ultra-marathons.”
June 2009-November 2009, police officer trainee, Fort Worth Police Department.”
2007-2009, detention officer, Tarrant County Sheriff Department
2003-2007, manager in training, Finish Line Inc., Started stocking part time while in college part time and worked up to manager in training
2002-2003, Valet, Rivercrest Country Club in Fort Worth during high school
Volunteer experience: Served on the board of the Fort Worth Runners Club. Serves on board for Heroes for Hope. Volunteers with Why Not Love Family Ministries, also started (co-founded Cox Running Club) in 2012.
First job: Valet at River Crest Country Club
Advice for someone learning to be a leader: “You never get too old to be a student of life. As long as you’re willing to learn and adapt, the sky’s the limit.”
Best advice ever received: “Believe in yourself. The way you see yourself is the way you will treat yourself, and the way you treat yourself is what you become.”
Seth Bodine is a business and economic development reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at email@example.com and follow on Twitter at @sbodine120.
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