UAF student plans to run 50 marathons in memory of brother
Nikki Navio/Sun Star Reporter
Nov. 5, 2013
Chris Redfox is running marathons with a purpose: to carry on the memory of his brother and run a marathon in all 50 states.
Redfox, currently a freshman Electrical Engineering student, grew up in Mountain Village, off the Yukon River in Western Alaska. He loved playing basketball, running, staying active and spending time with his family.
On Jan. 23, 2010, Redfox’s brother, Jerel Redfox was hit on the Nenana Parks Highway by an intoxicated driver. The motorist continued driving after the incident, leaving Jerel wounded until he died. When Redfox heard about the news, he didn’t know how to cope and neither did his family.
“After my brother passed away, I was barely doing anything,” Redfox said. Several months went by after the accident when he decided to attempt the Crow Pass Marathon. “I wasn’t really prepared to run a marathon race but I wanted to challenge myself so I decided to enter the race.” Redfox got to the last 0.2 miles of the race and started hurting. He didn’t know if he would finish the marathon, but he thought about Jerel.
“Thinking about him made me realize that I wanted to finish. He gave me the strength to finish the race,” Redfox said.
It wasn’t until after running his second marathon in Hawaii that Redfox came up with a goal. He would run 50 marathons in all states in memory of his brother. His goal has been an inspiration to many different people, including fellow distance runner Ben Paul Anderson-Agimuk, a Junior from Chevak, Alaska.
“Sometimes people have been hindered by loved ones passing away. Instead of having a death weigh someone down, you can rise above it and that’s what Chris is showing. And just that one thing can change everything.” Redfox has changed the ideas of many people in his family by trying to find peace since his brother’s death. “My family started getting stronger after knowing that I was making a difference. That really helped my family get back to their feet again.”
Redfox’s story has moved other individuals to take initiative and bring control back into their lives. He didn’t realize the scope of impact he was making by sharing his journey until he was out running in Bethel during a layover one day and ran into a man on the street. “The man said to me, ‘you really inspired me to quit drinking and smoking and you really changed my life a lot and I’m started to work out and lead a much healthier life.’ After that, it really touched me inside and made me feel better knowing that I’m being effective not only to my family but to other people in Alaska,” Redfox said.
“We can be successful on whatever we put our mind to. And someone’s doing that for the Yukon Kuskokwim delta. One person can change the attitude from that region and I think that’s something Chris has been slowly doing over time,” Anderson-Agimuk said. So far, Redfox has ran in 8 marathons in five different states. This December, he will run in the Seattle Marathon. He plans to run at least five marathons each year and reach his goal in ten years.
“Running these marathons helps build my spirit. It helps make me stronger as each day passes and makes me look forward to something in the future,” Redfox said.
Correction: Recent information has revealed that the driver in the story was not intoxicated, according to Alaska State Troopers, and immediately sought help for the pedestrian victim.