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The Life Story of Coach Joe I. Vigil

Soulstice Publishing is proud to announce the publication of a long-overdue biography about America’s preeminent distance-running coach, Joe I. Vigil.

Dr. Vigil—known simply as “Coach” to virtually everybody he has ever met—rose from poverty to become a towering figure in the running world. Coach has won 19 national championships and coached 425 All-Americans, 22 Olympians…and an army of “Vigilantes” who seek to emulate his unique blend of compassion, competitive spirit, and commitment to others.

Author and Vigilante Pat Melgares shares Coach Vigil’s tale not just through the consummate storyteller’s own words but also through those of more than 50 family members, friends, former runners, and foes who have been shaped by his presence over a lifetime. As Billy Mills (gold medalist in the 10,000 meters at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics) wrote in the Foreword, “Get ready for an exhilarating story.” (320 pages, paperback, $19.95; now also available as an e-book for Kindle on Amazon for $9.99 US, £7.73 UK, $11.99 AU, and in many other countries)

The new Joe Vigil biography, Chasing Excellence by Pat Melgares, should be required reading for every running coach: youth, high school, college, and beyond. If you coach, you need to read this book. Read the full book review…

Amby Burfoot, writing in Podium Runner

“His new biography is filled with memories from his 90 years of life so far, 65 years of them as a coach, in his words as well as some of the many individuals he’s touched along the way…His words are often the last ones I read before big races, and the first ones that come to mind when things start to get tough.” Read more…

—Becky Wade, Runner’s World  

“Coach Vigil is the ultimate mentor no matter the sport and has the philosophy to ever-learn and ever-share. No matter where you feel you are starting your journey, this book is your gateway to creating purpose and fulfilling your life goals.”

Deena Kastor, Olympic medalist, American record holder in the marathon, New York Times best-selling author

“He’s the coach of every distance runner of my generation. We all have our own coaches, but Coach Vigil is the one we all share.”

Abdi Abdirahman, four-time U.S. Olympian and 2020 Olympic marathon qualifier

“What I admire most about Coach Vigil is the compassion he has to help others with the knowledge he has gathered over the 50 years of coaching. Coach’s life story being brought to life in this book will inspire others to follow in his footsteps.”

Brenda Martinez, Olympian, 2013 World Championships 800m silver medalist

“Coach Joe Vigil’s story and his example are an inspiration to all. This new book will spread his approach and knowledge to many more.”

Amby Burfoot, 1968 Boston Marathon winner, longtime editor, Runner’s World magazine

“Coach Vigil is an inspiration to me, and now others will get the chance to see the passion and compassion of this remarkable man.”

Meb Keflezighi, 2014 Boston Marathon winner, 2009 New York City Marathon winner, Olympic medalist

“Coach Vigil is a sage in our sport who has empowered us all to break through, and Pat Melgares has given all of us the opportunity to better know this amazing man and coach.”

Ryan Hall, U.S. record holder in the half marathon, two-time Olympian

Coach Vigil is driven by a persistent desire to learn, a deep faith in people, and an unwavering loyalty to his hometown of Alamosa, Colorado. His life is an American dream—a must-read for anyone who loves an underdog or seeks to understand the timeless qualities that forge a leader.

“Chasing Excellence” has been Coach Vigil’s mantra for decades, for himself and those he teaches. At age 90, he’s as relentless as ever in that quest.

Order “Chasing Excellence” today! For product details, click the button.


6 thoughts on “The Life Story of Coach Joe I. Vigil”

  1. Pat Melgares hit the nail on the head. Excellent history about Coach Joe Vigil. Reading this book will motivate you to be a better person, spouse, parent, grandparent, athlete and community member.

  2. Was looking forward to learning more about this coaching legend, but gained so much more from this engaging biography. The direct personal recollections of peers, athletes and family members sprinkled throughout along with the insight into his drive and philosophy are truly inspiring. A must read for running and coaching enthusiasts.

  3. I absolutely loved this book! It is very well written. It is very inspiring and I would highly recommend it! I think every long distance cross country coach and runner should read this. Actually, I think anyone could benefit and will be inspired from reading this! The amazing author does a great job capturing the life of such a giving soul! Coach Vigil is truly a living legend! Amazing work Pat Melgares! <3

  4. This is an excellent story about a coaching legend. It is a great read to help anyone get motivated to get better at life. Joe Vigil is a people person first and coach second. He connects with his athletes and students on a personal level and convinces them they can be better than they think they can.

  5. Really like this book. I finished 26th at the 1989 NAIA CC nationals behind Adams States’s Andrew Medina. Adams State always had a good team. Coach Vigil was already a legend back then. My teammates and I were so impressed with Adams State and their coach. Indoors at nationals, if none of our teammates were in the race, we always rooted for Adams State.

  6. Dr. Vigil and Pat Porter were instrumental on my optimum performances post College. Dr. Vigil was a gentle giant in the running world and he and Pat invited to run and train with them in the winter and spring of 1984 for the Olympic Trials. This book is a must read and its in depth content on his wonderful life is amazing on what he accomplished on the National and World tier. Being a former NCAA Two-Time All-American, a National Cadet Champion, (Finished second behind Tony Sandoval) and a Silver Medal Team finish was directly related to Vigil and Porter training methods. To this day, I still hold three Collegiate records since 1980 @ my respective University==42 years later. I knew Pat Porter quite well before he became famous @ Metro-State College as teammates for one year, before he transferred to Adam State, and I joined the United States Navy for a two-year (2) enlistment, and six years (6) Naval Reserves stint. In closing, Dr.Vigil is a fantastic human being, coach, mentor, and an exemplary person of the ultimate highest level. It was an honor and privilege to be in his presence. His result: New Balance, Etonic, and Kangaroo National Racing Teams from 1981 to 1984 as an Elite Athlete!

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