He joined his high school cross-country team after losing a bet and initially gave the sport little effort. Today, Cory Miles runs on the Wright State cross-country team and recently set the bar for the university in the 6K run.
And the junior liberal studies major dreams of using his dogged determination to make it to the Olympics.
“I’m serious about that, but my dream seems so far away,” Miles said. “If I just don’t give up, hopefully I can make it to that level.”
Miles grew up in Chillicothe, Ohio, and attended Zane Trace High School, where he and his football-playing buddies would poke fun at the cross-country runners.
But Miles himself was pushed into joining the cross-country team after losing a bet to a friend in a card game. He showed up on the first day of practice in basketball shorts and gym shoes.
“Everyone else was not huffing and puffing like I was,” he recalled. “I was thinking, ‘Man, this is going to be tough.’”
But Miles decided to stick with cross-country, in part because his teammates were friendly, welcoming and a close-knit group.
The following summer, Miles began training in a serious way. He pushed hard, running loop after loop around the high school track and occasionally tackling the rugged hills and challenging trails of Great Seal State Park.
Fueling his efforts was a dream about qualifying for the state championships as an individual runner and getting his name on the Zane Trace record board, a who’s who of achievers. By his senior season, Miles was the team’s top runner.
Miles was attracted to Wright State by its strong cross-country program. And he was moved when the Wright State coach came to see him at a high school meet in Chillicothe when Miles broke the school record for the mile, running it in four minutes, 30 seconds.
Miles missed much of his freshman season at Wright State after he suffered a stress fracture in his calf. But he came back strong his sophomore year.
When Miles trains, he often loses himself in music, which he calls his “engine.” The music of Pink Floyd is a favorite for long runs. And he tries to put himself in a happy frame of mind before races.
“I can’t run when I’m mad,” he said. “Whenever I have a tranquil state of mind, I seem to do better.”
On Sept. 5, at the Queen City Invitational cross-country meet in Mason, Miles established the Wright State record for the men’s 6K with a time of 19 minutes, 42 seconds. It was the first time Wright State had competed in a 6K (the team usually runs 8Ks instead), so the fastest Raider runner would set the mark.
“I was thinking in my head, ‘I have an opportunity here. I’m going to try to seize this,’” Miles recalled. “I pulled out as much as I could of myself.”
He put a “mental latch” on teammate Andrew Lake, sticking with him and drafting behind him and then passing him going downhill as the finish line approached.
In the classroom, Miles plans to transition from liberal studies to mass communication. He hopes to go into the broadcast industry as a producer.
Miles is not sure he will continuing running competitively after graduation. He says it is so exhausting and time-consuming that it requires a person to make it a lifestyle. But there is still that Olympics dream.
“My secret is that I don’t give up,” he said.