About Jon

Jon Francis had an awesome running career!  Competitive running was a significant contributor to Jon’s strong character and a source of many of our fondest memories.  The Jon Francis Race is intended to bring together runners, the community and Jon’s friends to celebrate his life, ministry and athletic achievements.

Jon was raised in Stillwater, Minnesota.  He was a 3 sport athlete, a 4 time state champion, a national champion runner and team captain at Stillwater High School. Jon was a Bible Camp Counselor in Idaho, a youth minister in Utah, a mountain climber and a remarkable athlete and human being.  Jon’s heart and legs would carry him to state and national titles, All-American honors and mountain peaks.

“In ninth grade, Jon was drafted for varsity track. Scott Christianson was an outstanding high school coach who nurtured Jon’s natural talent and work ethic. He told us that genetics plays an important role in running ability. It’s how people are wired, and Jon was wired to run. At five foot, four inches, his running looked effortless with an efficient, classic stride. He ran outdoors throughout Minnesota’s daunting winters.

As a fifteen-year-old high school sophomore, Jon earned a top spot on the high school’s varsity boys cross country team and helped lead it to a state and national championship.

The 1997 Stillwater High School Boys Cross Country Team went undefeated. They were Conference, Section, and State Champions and voted by the sports’ writers (USA Today/Harrier’s) as National Champions (Ranked first out of 23,000 high school boys teams). Jon finished eighth at the Sectional, completing the 5K course in 16:18, and qualifying for his first Minnesota State Meet.

At the Minnesota State High School Cross Country Running Meet at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Jon was the fifteenth. competitor and the fourth Stillwater runner to cross the finish line.

Jon earned All Conference and All State honors that year. This was a “three-peat” for Stillwater – their third consecutive Boys Cross Country Championship. Local sports writers dubbed them

‘The Magnificent Seven.’  Jostens created a ‘super bowl style’ championship ring for the team.”

Bringing Jon Home, Chapter 8 - Jonathan David Francis 

While in high school, Jon qualified for 7 State Meets, was a 4 time State Champion and a member of the Stillwater High School Boy’s Varsity Track Team which won State in 1996, 1997 and 1998 and True Team in 1997 and 2000.

Jon attended Augustana College, in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, was elected captain of his College Track and Cross Country Teams and competed in Division II athletics for 5 years.  He graduated from Augustana in 2005 earning three majors – Religion, Spanish and International Studies. 

After college Jon moved to Ogden, Utah to serve as Director of Youth Ministry at Ascension Lutheran Church.

He was on his way to seminary to pursue ordination in the Lutheran Church. Tragically, Jon never completed his journey. At age 24, Jon Francis died in a mountain climbing accident in the rugged Sawtooth Mountains in Central, Idaho, on July 15, 2006.   The Jon Francis Foundation was created in 2007 to honor his life and ministry and to pass on Jon’s legacy of service to others and to his community.

Come out on September 22 to participate in this exciting event designed to raise community awareness to the Jon Francis Foundation and raise funds to support its important mission.   All profits from the Jon Francis Race will be dedicated to funding the mission of the Jon Francis Foundation.


The mission of The Jon Francis Foundation (JFF) is to reduce incidents of loss through

wilderness safety education and to improve the public response to missing adults.