- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 20, 2006

BOULDER, Colo. — Alan Culpepper has been one of America’s most consistent distance runners for nearly a decade, representing the United States in the 2000 Olympic 10,000 meters and the 2004 Olympic marathon. Between Olympic appearances he nailed top finishes in six major marathons and other races of varying distances.

The date and location of his seventh marathon have become a subject of constant speculation.

During an informal press conference lunch at a restaurant in Boulder last Tuesday, Culpepper turned backed queries about what marathon he will run this fall.

Likewise, New York Road Runners President and CEO Mary Wittenberg, in announcing Culpepper among the elite entrants in the inaugural NYC Half-Marathon on Aug. 27, would not confirm whether Culpepper has committed to the New York City Marathon in November.

“It’s quickly approaching,” Culpepper said when asked about his buildup to the 2008 Olympic marathon trials in New York. “Fall marathon season is almost here. We’re a year out of our Olympic trials. I have no intention of running a marathon from this fall to next fall. How the World Championships [next summer] fit in, I don’t know.”

While he plans to announce within weeks where he will run this fall, in subsequent conversation after lunch, Culpepper did narrow it down to two.

“It will be one of the [World] Marathon Majors in the fall,” said Culpepper, who turns 34 next month.

That leaves just New York or Chicago.

Culpepper has mixed memories of Chicago, where he ran his debut marathon in 2002, clocking in at 2:09:41, which tied Alberto Salazar for the fastest American debut in history. That time still stands as his personal best. In his second running in Chicago in 2005, a week after he took ill, Culpepper finished a disappointing 12th in 2:13:20.

Culpepper has never run the New York marathon, but he was part of its commentating crew last year. It makes perfect sense for him to run there this year, because the men’s Olympic trials will be in New York’s Central Park in November 2007. The races won’t be run on the same course, but running in New York still gives Culpepper an opportunity to preview the criterium-style course while there.

While his focus is on making the Olympic team for 2008 in Beijing, the Nike-sponsored runner has a healthy approach to his marathon career.

“In some capacity, I don’t want to get carried away running too many of these,” said Culpepper, who ran his first marathon at age 30. “I don’t want to lose the intensity. I’m trying to minimize the impact.”

Strangely, Culpepper believes that his best event is not even the marathon. He prefers the 10,000 meters on the track, where he excelled in 1999 after stepping up from the 5,000-meters — an event he won at the NCAA Championships his senior year (1996) at the University of Colorado.

“The marathon is not my best event but it does combine all the things that I am good at,” he said. “You need to be smart, patient, diligent about taking your fluids. All those types of things.”

Culpepper is known around running circles as being extremely disciplined, which is one major reason he has been so successful without having a coach since he left the tutelage of Colorado coach Mark Wetmore.

“I have my wife as a sounding board,” he said.

Shayne Culpepper is a two-time Olympian (1,500 in 2000 and 5,000 in 2004) who is returning to form after giving birth to their second son two months ago.

Alan said the kids are keeping them quite busy at their Lafayette home some eight miles from Boulder. His 4-year-old son, Cruz, already is following in dad’s footsteps — he ran the half-mile race in the popular Pearl Street Mile last week.

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