Adam Fogg is his country’s 40th fastest 1500m runner of all-time. 68th in the current world rankings. Unfortunately for the 24-year-old he is also from Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Seven British men have run faster 1500m times this year than the 3:35.70 Fogg clocked in winning the Merck Laufgala in Pfungstadt, Germany in June 2023.
One of those even ran 3.30 and didn’t make a World Championship team.
Fogg’s simple aim? Improve upon that ranking in 2024 and give himself a chance of an Olympic spot in Paris.
“I definitely think I’m capable of running a qualifier, and then at British Champs, if I can put myself in a good spot, anything can happen.”
Learning Fogg’s story, of incremental progression often on his own timeline, you wouldn’t bet against that happening.
If Fogg’s a name you’ve only picked up in recent years, there’s ample reason:
“We moved to Australia when I was seven for dad’s work. We were meant to be there two years, ended up staying 15.”
Settling in the Brisbane area, Fogg found his way to an athletics track.
He made Australian national finals at U17 and U20 level over 1500m. 4:01 as a 16-year-old, he had run 3.59 by the time he left high school.
Happy to have broken four, Fogg had seen multiple Australians head to the USA and improve strongly. That, he decided was his path too.
Recruiting profile setup, Fogg embarked on the usual process of hoping a college bites. Initial excitement tempered as the week’s passed.
By Fogg’s own admission he was a good not great junior runner. At that time in 2016 it would seem colleges agreed. They decided their money was better spent elsewhere. Another 3:59 in a sea of applicants.
The American door closed.
Fogg instead settled into life as a student at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, living at home as most do in the country.
A psychology undergraduate he originally intended to specialise in sports psychology but was denied by GPA requirements. A difficult setback at a challenging time for any adolescent.
Athletics in the background, Fogg chipped away at his time that year to 3:54.
2017 came and went. 2018 did too. Fogg took seven more seconds off his 1500m best.
Sydney Track Classic
At the start of 2019 Fogg started the process of changing university and course in Australia. If he was there for the long-term he might as well find a better fit.
The Sydney Track Classic changed all that. In February 2019 Fogg took part in the strongest field he had raced to date.
Ryan Gregson, the first Australian in an Olympic 1500m final for 40 years, won the contest. Melbourne Track Club teammates Matt Ramsden and Rory Hunter hot on his heels.
Less heralded the man in sixth. Without knowing it then, Fogg had changed the trajectory of his life.
A 3:45 man, all of a sudden for Fogg interest came quick, that college recruiting profile waking up from a two-year slumber.
One of the first to reach out was Jay Koloseus, then the assistant coach at Drake University. Messaging him on Instagram, Koloseus sold the vision of the Des Moines-based institution. A European Indoor champion in Mark Carroll as head coach, Fogg didn’t need convincing.
By September Fogg was an Iowa resident. He arrived at the school in even better shape. In a trip back to the UK the summer immediately before, Fogg ran 3:40 for fifth in a Watford BMC A Race.
Fogg’s time in the USA, much of which is documented on his YouTube channel the FOGDOG Exclusive, can be seen as nothing but an unequivocal success.
Spending much of his first year at home in Australia due to the pandemic he returned in 2021 a stronger athlete. Fourth in the NCAA Division One Indoor Mile, he won Conference Championships in the 1500, 5000 and 10,000m all in the space of three days.
Although he didn’t improve on that showing in his final year, by the time of his graduation he was a 3:56 miler with a 3:38 1500m best.
Unlike his high school days, Fogg left Drake with options. Instead of straight psychology versus sports psychology – Fogg studied Business majoring in marketing at Drake – the then 23-year-old had the chance to turn pro.
“I think the NCAA is the way to go if you want to make a living out of running to be honest. Like there aren’t many groups outside of America where athletes are getting by purely as runners. I feel like everywhere else you’ve got to have a job on the side.”
Under Armour Mission Run Baltimore Distance
In summer 2022 Fogg joined Mission Run Baltimore Distance Group, a new group based out of the Under Armour Headquarters. They’re led by Cory Leslie who’s own career included Pan-American bronze in the 3000m Steeplechase.
Looking back Fogg is pleased with his pro efforts, albeit with some takeaways for 2024.
“I think it’s been a really good first year. I think the team overall outperformed Under Armour’s expectations for having a new group based in Baltimore.”
Fogg began the season by improving his 3000m indoor best by seven seconds to 7:44, before quickly taking to his outdoor season.
Late May saw him dominate a strong domestic field to take the Emsley Carr Mile Title in 3:55.70. Notable former winners include Seb Coe, Steve Ovett, Hicham El Guerrouj and Jake Wightman.
“That’s something I’ll forever have my name on. I don’t underestimate how much it means to win.”
In Copenhagen in June he took half a second off his 1500m best to win the race. Two weeks later a further two seconds followed in his Pfungstadt win.
“I was quite happy with how I raced. But then kind of looking back on it, where I ran 3:35 the first time in Germany, we should have attacked a bit more and really pushed a bit harder to try and run a little bit quicker.”
Where 3:35 at the time satisfied him, Fogg now knows that in order to force his way into faster races, and in turn perhaps structure a season more perfectly, more is required.
“Trying to get into a Diamond League now as a 3:35 guy, you just have no hope. Even having a good manager, having a good support team behind you, 3:35 just doesn’t cut it unless you’re from the host country.”
Examples to follow
It’s a tough ask for British runners right now but Fogg does have an example to follow. One that indicates that its entirely possible that it’s timing rather than talent that will determine his Olympic prospects.
When Fogg ran 3:40 in Watford prior to joining Drake, George Mills was another athlete having a breakthrough. The third fastest British miler ever also ran 3:40 for the first time that same race.
Like Fogg, Mills has struggled to get in the fastest fields. Now a 3:30 man, he can only say that because he was given a last-minute lane at the Zurich Diamond League. He finished fourth ahead of many of the World Championship contenders.
Fogg’s been impressed:
“He’s had an incredible year, just unbelievable. 3:30 and 3:47 and then also showing good strength over 5k. But I feel like over the next couple of years, if I can continue to train well and continue to get stronger and stronger with the Under Armour group I feel like it’s just a matter of time and getting in the right races.
My PB race wasn’t a Diamond League. It was some tiny little meet in Germany. I ran 3:35 for the win and the prize money was a six pack of beers.
So in the next couple of years, if I can just keep progressing hopefully some wins will come, the fast times hopefully, and then more opportunities open up.”
Making teams indoors
Fogg’s immediate plans look set to see him compete indoors with half an eye on the World Indoor Champs in Glasgow over 3000. 7:34 is the standard:
“Now that I’ve run 7:44, I think going into next year, I should be targeting in the right race, mid 7:30s. I feel that isn’t out of reach.”
There’ll likely be a mile or 1500m race in there too.
Fogg continues to progress, one step short of the sport’s brightest limelight. Fifth in the UK Champs this year, others may see stronger claimants for a stacked 1500m Paris place.
But he’s been here before. Once more the underdog looking on with envious glances, another year of improvement could see Fogg force the issue.
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Featured image courtesy of Mark Hookway