TSR's Profiles of Greatness - Chris Fox
By: Mike Mcmillion
This Profile of Greatness provided by Coach Mike McMillion.
Christopher John Fox (born on October 22nd, 1958) is a college cross country/track coach and a former American distance runner. He was born in Washington DC, but grew up in Martinsburg, which is a city in the Eastern Panhandle region of West Virginia. Like most thirteen year olds he wanted to be a baseball player or basketball player. While participating in basketball, he soon realized he was to small and stunk at it. Fox then began his running career in the seventh grade while attending South Martinsburg Junior High School, under the direction of David Ambrose, who was a former runner at WVU. Ambrose would coach Fox for the next six years.
Fox is a 1976 graduate of Martinsburg High School. During his years a MHS, he was extremely accomplished in Cross Country and Track and Field. Some of his achievements while at MHS include: undefeated in dual meets for 3 years, placed 2nd at the West Virginia State Cross Country meet in 1974 (behind Kenny Hensley of Montcalm HS) and 1975 (behind David Bowman of Duval HS), a Tri-State Champion and a member of the 1975 Cross Country State Championship team. In 1976 he was Tri-State, CVAL and Regional Champion. In his senior year, Chris placed 17th in US Track and Field Federation Eastern Cross County Championship in which he was the only high school runner, placed 6th in American Athletic Union Junior Cross Country trial to qualify for USA Junior team (19 years old or younger) and placed 18th (4th for U.S.) in Junior American Athletic Union International Cross Country Championship in Dusseldorf, West Germany. Chris is a two time All-American in Cross Country. Also in his senior year, he held the 5th fastest prep 2-mile time in the country, even though he had only run the event twice that year. His 5-mile time of 24:12 was probably the fastest in the country for high school runners. A parade was held in Fox’s honor in Martinsburg in 1976.
Fox said, “From tenth grade on I averaged 75 to 100 miles per week. I would do a lot of long tempos and a lot of hard runs. I had some colleges in the area who didn’t recruit me even though I ran an 8:57 two-mile and 14:21 for 5k, because they thought we ran too much. But it worked for me and I learned a lot from it.” His personal records (PR’s) in high school were: 2 Mile - 8:57; 5,000m - 14:21 (on track); 10,000m - 30:30 (on track).
Fox was a member of the 1977 World Cross Country Championships USA Junior team which won the Gold Medal, while individually he finished 17th place in the world meet. He was also a member of the USA national track team. He got to run against the Soviets.
Upon graduation from MHS, Chris went to the University of Virginia for a year. Fox said, “It wasn’t my thing and didn’t work out for me. I wanted to run on a little bit better team.” He knew John Tuttle and Tom Graves, so through those guys he contacted Auburn University and transferred.
While at Auburn, he averaged 70 to 100 miles per week. The 1983 Auburn University graduate was a six-time All-American. As a sophomore, at the 1979 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships in Bethlehem, Pa. he placed 11th (29:29.3) and as a junior, at the 1980 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships in Wichita, Kansas he placed 26th (30:00.2) to earn All-American status. He was a two-time All-American in the indoor 2-Mile in 1981 (6th place) and 1982 (second place). Chris was a three-time SEC indoor champion: 1980 (3 Miles - 13:37.0); 1981 (2 Miles - 8:50.58); 1982 (3000 meters - 7:59.1).
He holds Auburn’s Track and Field men’s top indoor marks for 3,000m with the 4th fastest time of 7:58.57 (1982), 5,000m fastest time of 13:44.73 (1980), and the Distance Medley Relay (Herzog, Benjamin, James, Fox) 4th fastest time of 9:42.00 (1982).
He holds Auburn’s Track and Field men’s top outdoor marks for 1,500m with 7th fastest time of 3:43.64 (1982), 5,000m fastest time of 13:35.14 (1982), 10,000m with 6th fastest time of 29:17.94 (1981), Distance Medley Relay (Jones, Brooks, Oaxaca, Fox) Fastest time of 9:31.75 (1982), and the 4X1500m Relay (L. Brooks, Oaxaca, Fox, Jones) with 2nd fastest time of 15:06.90 (1982).
He still holds Auburn records for the 5,000 meters, both indoors (1980 - 13:44.73) and outdoors (1982 - 13:35.14). In college his times were: Mile - 4:00; 3,000m - 7:57 (Indoor); 5,000m - 13:34. He was on several USA teams and Pan Am Games.
After graduating from Auburn in 1983 with a degree in psychology, Fox served as the head cross country and distance coach at North Carolina for three seasons. He led the Tar Heels men’s cross country team to the 1985 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) title and a fifth-place performance at the NCAA Championship. For his efforts, Fox was named the ACC Coach of the Year, along with coach Dennis Craddock.
From 1987 to 1994, Fox pursued a professional running career as a member of the Nike-Athletics West Team. He competed in five U.S. Olympic Trials from 1980 to 1996, with top finishes of fifth on the track and seventh in the marathon. He also competed at the national and world level with Brooks Sports from 1995 to 1998. In those stints, Fox ran the mile in 3:59.10, the 5,000m in 13:21, the 10,000m in 27:53 and the marathon in 2:13.40. During his 18-year professional running career his victories included the 1983 Cherry Hill (NJ) 10-miler, 1989 and 1990 Shamrock 8k, 1990 Cherry Blossom 10-miler, and the 1991 and 1994 Huntington (WV) 10-miler.
Fox also spent one season at George Washington as the head coach of the cross country team in 1994-95 before competing for Brooks Sports. Fox spent four seasons 2001-2005, as the head cross country coach and assistant track & field coach at his alma mater, Auburn. During his tenure, the Tigers produced two Academic All-Americans, two cross country All-Americans, 14 NCAA track and field All-Americans, two Southeastern Conference (SEC) cross country individual champions, and three SEC track & field individual champions. He also served as the NCAA Regional Championship Meet Director in 2004.
In 2005, Chris Fox assumed the Cross Country and Track and Field head coaching positions of Syracuse University’s men’s and women’s programs, which competes within the Atlantic Coast Conference. Since Coach Fox’s arrival both the men’s and women’s teams have had great success.
In November, 2015 the men won their first NCAA Cross Country title since 1951. In the past seven seasons the Orange men have won six conference crowns in cross country. The Syracuse men’s and women’s track and field teams combined for four indoor and outdoor ACC titles in 2015. Chris is a multiple time ACC Coach of the Year.
Chris and his wife, Kristy (Johnston), have a daughter, McKenzie, and a son, Patterson.
His personal best times include: 1,500 meters – 3:41; mile – 3:59; 2,000m – 5:04; 3,000m – 7:47; 2-mile – 8:28; 5,000m - 13:21; 10k - 27:53; 15k – 43:48; 10 miles – 46:51; 20k – 1:00:33; half marathon – 1:03:23 and marathon - 2:13:43.
Personal Bests Performances:
Type – Distance – Time – Site – Date
Road - 5 km - 13:47 - Allentown PA/USA - 13 Mar 1988
Road - 10 km - 28:34 - Washington DC/USA - 30 Apr 1995
Road - 15 km - 43:48 - Jacksonville FL/USA - 11 Mar 1995
Road - 10 mi - 46:51 - Washington DC/USA - 02 Apr 1989
Road - 20 km - 1:00:33 - New Haven CT/USA - 02 Sep 1991
Road - Half Marathon - 1:03:23 - Orlando FL/USA - 09 Dec 1995
Road - Marathon - 2:13:43 - Columbus OH/USA - 12 Nov 1989
Olympic Trials - 3 km - 7:47.18 - London ENG - 13 Jul 1984
Olympic Trials - 5 km - 13:21.60 - Oslo NOR - 28 Jun 1983
Olympic Trials - 10 km - 27:53.0 - Montreal PQ/CAN - 10 Jul 1995
Indoor Track - 3 km - 7:59.83 - East Rutherford NJ/USA - 11 Feb 1984
Indoor Track - 2 mi - 8:28.17 - Boston MA/USA - 23 Jan 1983
Indoor Track - 5 km - 13:41.17 - New York NY/USA - 28 Jan 1983
Source ARRS (Association of Road Racing Statisticians)
U.S. Rankings — Men’s 5000:
1982 – Chris Fox – Ranked 8th
1983 – Chris Fox – Ranked 5th
1984 – Chris Fox – Ranked 5th
U.S. Rankings — Men’s 10,000:
1988 – Chris Fox – Ranked 5th
1994 – Chris Fox – Ranked 3rd
1995 – Chris Fox – Ranked 2nd
U.S. Rankings — Men’s Marathon:
1991 – Chris Fox – Ranked 5th
1995 – Chris Fox – Ranked 9th
Noteworthy: Chris Fox became the 126th U.S. Miler who broke 4:00 in the Mile (3:59.0 Indoors - Johnson City on January 15, 1983)
Chris Fox biography compiled by Mike McMillion