As the 2014 USA Cross Country Championships in Boulder rapidly approach (9 days and counting), we want to review the marvelous career of the 2007 USA Cross Country Champion Alan Culpepper.
A native of Fort Worth, TX Alan attended the University of Colorado at Boulder where he was a 7 time All American and the 1996 NCAA Champion in the outdoor 5,000m. Post collegiately he earned 7 national championships. He represented the USA twice at the Summer Olympics in 2000 (Sydney) in the 10K and 2004 (Athens) in the marathon. Alan tied Alberto Salazar for the fastest debut marathon (2:09:41) at the 2002 Chicago Marathon. In 2005 he placed 4th at the Boston Marathon which was the highest finish for an American in 20 years.
In 2007 Alan surprised many by winning the 2007 USA Cross Country Championships in Boulder, CO.
Thinking back to the race Alan recounted “I had been to a lot of Cross Country nationals at a lot of great places, it was one of those things, where Race Director Pete Julian worked really hard to get the momentum behind it. The whole course was full of people, it was unlike any other race.”
“At that point in my career I was just happy to be out there, and my expectations were high, but not thinking about the win. In the race, Dathan took off, he got a decent enough lead, and he thought he could solidify this lead by just taking off and get far enough ahead to where people won’t come after him, in his mind, he knew what he was doing: ‘I’ve already committed to this, and I’m going to take it to a new level and see how they respond’. But that didn’t work out Goucher, Torres went, I think Abdi went and there was just enough spacing where they had some contact. I was jut running my own race for the first 2 laps.”
By 5k Alan had caught up and passed the leaders and ran the last 2 laps of the 6 lap course out front.
After the race Alan was quoted,
“This is really special. I almost came to tears down the last straight seeing all the fans. This is where Shayne and I started our marriage, and this is where my running made a big step forward. I felt like I owed it to Boulder to run well today-they’ve been so supportive of Shayne and I. The way this community supports us is truly amazing.”
As for some advise to those who may be running on the 15th, “Something I would encourage you if you are running the event is just to tune in, this is unique to altitude. It’s different at other races where I was at that level and I could go with the leaders, recover and go again, this one I intuitively just didn’t. I just knew having trained at altitude, I knew I couldn’t go any harder than I was going”
“The athletes that do well in cross country, are the ones that recognize, that don’t let the elements, what ever you have to deal with, bother them because everyone has to deal with them.”
“There is a mentality that goes with it. Because not everyone’s natural mechanics do well on road, vs track vs mud. There are really good athletes that do well in all of them and its a matter of approaching the dynamic of ‘I know I am going to be doing this’ (arms flailing) the entire race and you can’t let it frustrate you, you just have to let it go.”
“Pete wanted us to go through this ditch and it turned out to be a mud bog, and there were people loosing their shoes and people scampering up. Every lap you would see people coming out of it shaking their heads – well thats just part of it. I remember going through it and popping right up it was like I was hurdling it and it didn’t bother me at all but when I looked at the video later I was crawling on all fours.”