Chris Fox Biography
Martinsburg High School / (Class of 1977) Martinsburg, WV
Classification: AAA Boys
Auburn University / (Class of 1983) Auburn, Alabama
Christopher John Fox (born 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 too 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. When he started running in the seventh grade, he was just 4-foot-10 and weighed 80 pounds.
In junior high, Fox could run the Mile in under 5 minutes.
Fox is a 1977 graduate of Martinsburg High School. During his years at 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).
At the 1974 West Virginia State Cross Country Meet, St. Albans High School made history by winning its third consecutive state championship. Martinsburg would claim the runner-up team honor with 81 points, while John Marshall was third with 102 points. Montcalm’s Kenny Hensley, a senior, shattered the 2.3-mile Cato Park municipal golf course record in winning the individual title and leading the parade of 10 All-State runners. Hensley outdueled Martinsburg’s Chris fox over the last 440-yards to cap an effort of 11 minutes, 44 seconds – 15 seconds better than the course record he established the week before in winning Region IV. Fox, a sophomore who only weighed 85 pounds, was on Hensley’s back in 11:45.
Team Standings: St. Albans (74), Martinsburg (81), John Marshall (102), Huntington East (107), Brooke County (132), Athens (133), Huntington (138), Oak Hill (148), Fairmont West (179), Greenbrier East (243)
Individual Top 10: 1, Kenny Hensley, Montcalm (11:44, course record); 2, Chris Fox, Martinsburg (11:45); 3, Steve Carnohan, Huntington (11:46); 4, David "Jo-Jo" Dean, Ceredo-Kenova (11:47); 5, David Bowman, Duval (11:48); 6, Steve Worrell, Athens (11:49); 7, Damon Clark, wheeling (11:50); 8, Tony Skolik, Huntington East (11:53); 9, Kevin Schwing, John Marshall (11:55); 10, Jim Vargo, Oak Hill (11:56)
At the 1975 Class AAA West Virginia State Track Meet, St. Albans appeared to have the title clinched, leading Stonewall 34-27 after Dave Cline’s record-setting 9:44 run in the two-mile. But he was disqualified for a first lap bump, enabling Stonewall to win with two points in the Mile Relay. St. Albans legendary coach Stan Smith argued vehemently but to no avail. Martinsburg High’s Chris Fox would end up placing fifth in 10:17.1, while earning All-State honors.
At the 1975 West Virginia State Cross Country Meet, Duval's David Bowman outclassed a field and Martinsburg ended St. Albans' domination in the state high school cross country meet. Bowman was the top individual finisher in 11:32 over the Cato Park course, which measured between 2.2 and 2.3 miles. He was among the leaders from the start and became the front runner about one mile into the run. Bowman eclipsed Kenny Hensley's course record by 12 seconds and opening a 14-second win over Martinsburg's Chris Fox, who was described as "90 pounds of heart." Martinsburg placed five of the top 11 runners to take the team title with 23 points.
Team Standings: 1, Martinsburg (23); 2, St. Albans (66); 3, John Marshall (119); 4, DuPont (120); 5, Athens (153); 6, Keyser (157); 7, Princeton (163); 8, Parkersburg (172); 9, Huntington East (204); 10, Brooke (228)
Individual Top 10: 1, Dave Bowman (11:32 – course record); 2, Chris Fox (11:46); 3, Brian Engle, Martinsburg (11:50); 4, Steve Carnohan, Huntington (11:58); 5, John Dotson, DuPont (12:00); 6, Bill Posey, St. Albans (12:01); 7, Tim Koon, Fairmont West (12:02); 8, Larry Printz, Martinsburg (12:03): 9, Dave Wilson, DuPont (12.06); 10, Rick Dawson, Martinsburg (12:06)
At the 1976 Class AAA West Virginia State Track Meet, Chris Fox set the Two-Mile record in 9:34.2, while St. Albans John Frazier was runner-up in 9:42.0.
At the 1976 West Virginia State Cross Country Meet, St. Albans, thanks to Bill Posey's first-place finish and four runners in the top 10, recaptured the state cross country title at Cato Park in Charleston. Posey ran the 2.3-mile course in 11:25, bettering by seven seconds the record set last year by Duval's Dave Bowman. Posey, DuPont's David Wilson and Chris Fox of Martinsburg led the pack from the start. Wilson finished second in 11:30 (also breaking the record) and Fox, second last year, wound up third in 11:34. St. Albans had won the championship three straight years before Martinsburg won last year. The Red Dragons recaptured the honor by placing its runners first, fourth, fifth, tenth, and twelfth.
Team Standings: 1, St. Albans (28); 2, Martinsburg (57); 3, Sissonville (114); 4, Princeton (123); 5, Keyser (147); 6, Elkins and Wheeling Park (160), 8, John Marshall (176); 9, Greenbrier East (189); 10, Barboursville (236); 11, Fairmont Senior (237); 12, Huntington East (291)
Individual Top 10: 1, Bill Posey, St. Albans (11:25); 2, David Wilson, DuPont (11:30); 3, Chris Fox, Martinsburg (11:34); 4, John Frazier, St. Albans (11:40); 5, Ron Peggs, St. Albans (12:03); 6, Jimmy Via, Princeton (12:06); 7, Neville Leonard, Martinsburg (12:09); 8, Fred Riley, Keyser (12:10); 9, Chuck Hess, Martinsburg (12:11); 10, Tom Austin, St. Albans (12:11)
On March 20th, 1977, Fox was a member of the 1977 World Cross Country Championships USA Junior team which won the Gold Medal with 36 points, while individually he finished in 18th place with a time of 24.19 for 7.5 kilometers.
At the 1977 Class AAA West Virginia State Track Meet, Chris Fox set the Two-Mile record by sixteen seconds with a time of 9:18.0. His nearest competitor was Ron Peggs of St. Albans who was 38.9 seconds back. He ran a leg on the Tigers fifth-place 2-Mile Relay team (8:15.4).
During his senior track season, Fox ran the Mile in 4:17.4 for the fourth best time ever, while he ran two miles in 9:01.5 for the best time ever, a figure no one else came within 20 seconds of.
During the summer, Fox ran for the Washington, D.C., Striders Track Club competing in AAU meets in the east and south, before heading to the University of Virginia on a track scholarship.
He was also a member of the USA national track team. He got to run against the Soviets.
Chris Fox was inducted into the Martinsburg High School's Athletic Hall of Fame in 2009.
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, Fox’s weekly mileage went from high to minimal, in the 50s and 60s per week. But the quality went up. 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 of 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 Fox married Kristy Johnston on December 28, 1998. Chris and his wife, Kristy, have a daughter, McKenzie, and a son, Patterson. Fox’s wife was also an elite distance runner. She’s from Coos Bay, Oregon and went to the same high school as Steve Prefontaine.
Chris Fox’s 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 credits David Ambrose, his high school coach, with his development as a runner.
Chris Fox biography compiled by Mike McMillion (updated 3/26/18)