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Craig Virgin

3-time Track & Field Olympian &

2-time World Cross Country Champion

"The untold story of a skinny Midwestern farm boy, born with a life-threatening disability, who became one of America's greatest running legends."

It was exciting!  Got nervous reading about the races.  I winced when Craig started running again after surgeries, and I was inspired by his resilience.  I even went for a run tonight!

Vinny F.

HS Teacher & Coach


Craig remains the only U.S. male to win the
World Cross Country title, a feat he accomplished twice.

“I came to Paris to beat the American record and to prove I would have had something to say in Moscow.”  ~ Craig Virgin

Above video footage was filmed in Paris, France, at the Hippodrome de Longchamp on March 9, 1980.

Footnote:  Video footage has yet to be found of Craig's World Cross Country win held in Barcelona, Spain, at the Hippodromo de la Zarzuela on March 28, 1981.

About Craig Virgin

An American distance runner who is the only American male to be on three Olympic teams in the 10,000 meters (1976, 1980, 1984), and the only American male to win the IAAF World Cross Country Championships...and did it twice.  His victories came in Paris, France (1980) and Madrid, Spain (1981).


Born August 2, 1955 in Belleville, Illinois with a life threatening congenital urological disease and raised on a family farm near Lebanon, Illinois.  Through many years of surgeries and doctors, Craig's childhood was far from normal where he endured tremendous pain fighting the disease.  In the 8th grade a doctor performed reconstructive surgery which gave him the ability to start normal physically functioning. He began his running career his freshman year of high school but soon realized that running was not as fun as playing basketball but quickly discovered sitting on the bench was not fun so returned to running.  From there Craig realized that he was talented and wanted to be the best.


 In 1997, Virgin survived a near fatal head-on car collision with a wrong way driver, which prematurely ended his competitive masters career.  



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Virgin is a legend in Illinois high school track and cross country circles, where he held the 2-mile record for many years.  His time of 8:40.9 still stands as the second fastest time ever recorded in an all high school race, and broke the late Steve Prefontaine's National High School record.  He still holds the Illinois State High School Cross Country 3-mile record of 13:50.6 since 1973 at Detweiller Park.  

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College Accomplishments

At the University of Illinois, Virgin was a 9-time Big 10 individual champion, NCAA Cross Country Champion, and 2nd at the 1976 USA Olympic Track & Field Trials in the 10,000 meters behind Frank Shorter to make his first Olympic team. He was a 9-time NCAA All-American.


Post-College Accomplishments

The 1980 U.S. Olympic boycott denied Craig the opportunity to compete in Moscow, when he possessed the fastest 10,000 meter time in the world and won the World Cross Country Championships earlier that year. Virgin ran the 10,000 meters in 27:29.2 in Paris in 1980, the second fastest time in history behind Henry Rono's 1978 world record of 27:22.47. Weeks later, the winning time at the 1980 Olympics was only 27:42.69.

Craig set seven U.S. national records in both track and road events. He competed in only four marathons, but finished 2nd at the 1981 Boston Marathon with a time of 2:10.26. Chronic knee problems prevented him from further developing in the marathon.


High School Accomplishments

Contact to book Craig for your next event.

Motivational Speaker

Improvise. Assess. Adapt. Overcome

Throughout his life, Craig called upon himself to produce results and achieve goals despite many daunting obstacles, including reconstructive childhood surgery, an upbringing with modest financial resources, limited athletic facilities/equipment, and later on, a traumatic head-on car accident.  He believes that ideal conditions or circumstances are not always necessary to be the best... but that the right attitude and a strong inner drive will always take you further!


Craig's life story---his ability to identify and commit to his dreams, persistence in the face of adversity and knack for reaching his goals some way or somehow. will make you examine your own attitude, as well as your own self-imposed limits and boundaries.  Craig Virgin will show you that we are all truly capable of surviving or achieving far more than we think.  


Let him take you on a journey you'll never forget... and better prepare you for your very own!


Book Craig for your next event!

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Appearance Inquiry

To book Craig for an appearance, speaking engagement, or other promotion opportunities, please contact Craig at:

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"I refuse to set limits.  The ones you have... are the ones you impose upon yourself!"  ~Craig Virgin

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