Virgin Territory: The Story of America’s Renaissance Runner

The Spirit of a renegade...the soul of a champion

Nearly 40 years ago, Craig Virgin had enough confidence to think he could dominate American distance running in all its forms. For three years, he did. He remains the only U.S. male to win the world cross country title, a feat he accomplished twice. At every stage of his journey to the top in cross country, track and road racing, he hurdled roadblocks which cut short the careers of many contemporaries. Virgin Territory: The Story of America’s Renaissance Runner examines how Craig’s optimism enabled him to make the perilous climb from high school prodigy and collegiate champion to the summit of international competition during the running boom of the 1970s and 1980s. The son of an Illinois farmer, he survived a life-threatening health scare as a youngster. Wider fame has bypassed this three-time Olympian though his results compare favorably to those of Frank Shorter, Bill Rodgers, Alberto Salazar and Steve Prefontaine. Craig would be better known if not for the Olympic boycott of 1980, the year he ran the world’s fastest 10K. Meant to punish the Soviets, the boycott continues to impact Craig in ways his optimistic outlook won’t let him accept.