Craig Virgin
Virgin at the 1984 Summer Olympics
Personal information
Born (1955-08-02) August 2, 1955 (age 68)
Belleville, Illinois
SportCross country, track
Event(s)5000 meters, 10,000 meters
College teamUniversity of Illinois
Achievements and titles
Personal best(s)3000 meters: 7:48.2[1]
2-mile: 8:22.0[1]
5000 meters: 13:19.1[1]
10,000 meters: 27:29.16[1]
Marathon: 2:10:26[1]
Medal record
Men's athletics
Representing  United States
World Cross Country Championships
Gold medal – first place 1980 Paris Long Race
Gold medal – first place 1981 Madrid Long Race
Silver medal – second place 1981 Madrid Team Long Race
Silver medal – second place 1984 East Rutherford Team Long Race
Bronze medal – third place 1985 Lisbon Team Long Race
Bronze medal – third place 1986 Colombier Team Long Race

Craig Steven Virgin (born August 2, 1955) is an American distance runner. He was born in Belleville, Illinois, and grew up near Lebanon, Illinois. While in high school, Virgin won 5 state championships (two in cross country and three in track) as well as setting the national outdoor high school 2-mile record of 8:40.9 (beating Steve Prefontaine's mark of 8:41.5, though slightly short of Gerry Lindgren's 8:40.0 indoor record from 1964). Additionally, Virgin held the Illinois Boys Cross Country all-time state championship record for 47 years, running a 13:50.6 in 1972, a record that stood until November 9, 2019, when Josh Methner of John Hersey High School ran a 13:49.86. Virgin was Track and Field News "High School Athlete of the Year" in 1973.[2]

Running career

While attending the University of Illinois, he won nine Big Ten Conference championships, nine All American awards as well as the 1975 NCAA Cross Country championship. He was a three-time Olympic qualifier at 10,000 meters, and the only American male to qualify three times in the event until Galen Rupp (2008, 2012, 2016).[3] He was a seven-time American record holder in road and track events, including a 27:39.4 in the 10,000 meters in 1979 (breaking Prefontaine's American record) and a 27:29.16 in 1980 that was the second fastest 10,000 meters in history at the time.

Virgin enjoyed success in cross country, road racing, and track. He was the winner of the 1979 Falmouth Road Race in a course record 32:20, was the two-time winner (1980 & 1981) of the 12 km Bay to Breakers race in San Francisco, was a three-time winner of the 10K Peachtree Road Race (1979–1981) in Atlanta, and twice ran the fastest American 10 km road efforts (on point to point courses) with a 28:06 2nd place at the 1981 Crescent City Classic in New Orleans and later a 28:04 win at Peachtree that year. He enjoyed success in the few marathons he ran, his fastest time coming in a 2nd-place finish in the 1981 Boston Marathon (2:10:26). On the track he was a three-time national champion in the 10,000 meters at the U.S. National Track & Field Championships (1978, 1979, and 1982) and the winner of the 1980 Olympic Trials 10,000 meters. In cross country he was a nine-time member of the U.S. squad at the World Cross Country Championships. His biggest international accomplishment was being the first (and still the only) American man to win the IAAF World Cross Country Championships; which he did twice, in 1980 and 1981. He retired from competitive racing in 1992. In 2001, he was inducted into the National Distance Running Hall of Fame, and in 2011 inducted into the St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame. Also in 2011, he was inducted into the National USA Track & Field Hall of Fame, after being selected in 2010. Virgin deferred his induction for one year so he could be inducted at the USATF General Meeting that was held in St. Louis in 2011. Most recently in 2020, inducted into the National High School Track & Field Hall of Fame. During his professional career he ran for the Saint Louis Track Club.

Olympic success eluded Virgin. He was eliminated in the 10,000-metre heats at both the 1976 Montreal Summer Olympics and the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics (see, for example, Matti Hannus, ed., "Montreal Olympic Book" / Montreal Olympiakirja, Helsinki: "Runner" / Juoksija magazine, 1976; "The Big Olympic Book" / Suuri Olympiateos, volume 4, published in Finland in 1984). In 1980, ten days before the Olympics began, he ran the second fastest 10,000 meter race in history, but due to the U.S. boycott was not allowed to participate in the games. He did receive one of 461 Congressional Gold Medals created especially for the spurned athletes.[4]

Competition record

Cross Country

Year Competition Venue Position Notes
Representing the  United States
1978 World Cross-Country Championships Glasgow, Scotland 6th 39:54
1979 World Cross-Country Championships Limerick, Ireland 33rd 38:05
1980 USA Cross Country Trials Eugene, Oregon 1st 36:43.7
World Cross-Country Championships Paris, France 1st 35:01
1981 USA Cross Country Trials Louisville, Kentucky 1st 36:09.8
World Cross-Country Championships Madrid, Spain 1st 35:05
1982 USA Cross Country Trials Pocatello, Idaho 3rd 37:09.0
1983 USA Cross Country Trials Edwardsville, Illinois 2nd 36:50
World Cross-Country Championships Gateshead, UK 42nd 38:06
1984 USA Cross Country Trials East Rutherford, New Jersey 3rd 35:18
World Cross-Country Championships East Rutherford NJ, US 17th 34:07
1985 USA Cross Country Trials Waco, Texas 5th 37:03
World Cross-Country Championships Lisbon, Portugal 19th 34:12
1986 USA Cross Country Trials Waco, Texas 5th 35:32.9
World Cross-Country Championships Colombier, Neuchâtel, Switzerland 81st 37:26
1988 USA Cross Country Trials Dallas, Texas 6th 38:47
World Cross-Country Championships Auckland, New Zealand 102nd 37:40

Track and field - US Olympic Trials

Year Competition Venue Position Event Notes
1976 US Olympic Trials Eugene, Oregon 2nd 10,000 m 27:59.43
1980 US Olympic Trials Eugene, Oregon 1st 10,000 m 27:45.61
1984 US Olympic Trials Los Angeles, California 2nd 10,000 m 28:02.07


Year Competition Venue Position Notes
1979 Mission Bay Marathon San Diego, California 1st 2:14:40[5]
Fukuoka Marathon Fukuoka, Japan 2:16:59
1981 Boston Marathon Boston, United States 2nd 2:10:26[6]
1982 Chicago Marathon Chicago, Illinois 2:17:29

US National Championships

Year Competition Venue Position Event Notes
1975 AAU Track and Field Championships Eugene, Oregon 4th 5000 m 13:35.2
1978 AAU Track and Field Championships Westwood, California 1st 10,000 m 28:15.0
1979 AAU Track and Field Championships Walnut, California 1st 10,000 m 27:39.4
1980 AAU Track and Field Championships Walnut, California 3rd 5000 m 13:35.65
1981 AAU Track and Field Championships Sacramento, California 2nd 5000 m 13:31.64
1982 AAU Track and Field Championships Knoxville, Tennessee 1st 10,000 m 28:33.02
1983 AAU Track and Field Championships Indianapolis, Indiana 2nd 10,000 m 28:13.06

NCAA cross country

Year Competition Venue Position Notes
Representing University of Illinois
1973 NCAA Cross Country Championships Pullman, Washington 10th 28:47.8
1974 NCAA Cross Country Championships Bloomington, Indiana 12th 30:15.84
1975 NCAA Cross Country Championships State College, Pennsylvania 1st 28:23.3
1976 NCAA Cross Country Championships Denton, Texas 3rd 28:26.53

Personal bests

Event Time
5000 m 13:19.1
10,000 m 27:29
Marathon 2:10:26

Post-athletic career

In 1992, Virgin was the Democratic candidate for a seat in the Illinois Senate against incumbent Republican Senator Frank Watson. Watson was victorious.[7]

After the 2019 Chicago Public Schools Strike, Virgin came out against the Illinois High School Association's decision to bar runners from Chicago Public Schools from competing at the 2019 state championship.[8]

See also


Hall of Fame
  1. ^ a b c d e All-Athletics. "Profile of Craig Virgin".
  2. ^ "Track & Field News - the Bible of the Sport Since 1948". Archived from the original on August 18, 2016. Retrieved November 24, 2015.
  3. ^ "Galen Rupp". Nike Oregon Project. Retrieved July 14, 2018.
  4. ^ Caroccioli, Tom; Caroccioli, Jerry (2008). Boycott: Stolen Dreams of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games. Highland Park, IL: New Chapter Press. pp. 243–253. ISBN 978-0942257403.
  5. ^ "Carlsbad Marathon".
  6. ^ "Seko Clocks A Boston Record". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. AP. April 21, 1981. p. 19. Retrieved January 13, 2011.
  7. ^ Steinbacher-Kemp, Bill. "Republicans push for majority in Senate, House". Illinois Issues. Sangamon State University. 18 (10): 27–31. Retrieved February 17, 2020.
  8. ^ Miller, Rich (November 7, 2019). "IHSA trying to keep CPS runners out of state championship". Capitol Fax. Retrieved November 7, 2019.
Awards Preceded byCraig Brigham Track & Field News High School Boys Athlete of the Year 1973 Succeeded byWillie Smith