When Allen Howlett took over the athletic director position at Fairview High School, he said the remaining coaching vacancies would be filled by some big names. One of those big names will take over the cross country program starting this fall.
Howlett confirmed to BoCoPreps on Monday that Alan Culpepper, a former All-American distance runner at the University of Colorado who went on to compete in multiple world championships and the Olympic Games in 2000 and 2004, would take over as the head coach for the Fairview cross country team.
“It feels great,” Culpepper said. “I’m really excited about it. It’s a combination of my life-long commitment and passion of running working with that high school experience, and to do it at Fairview is an honor.”
Culpepper has achieved great success in his running career, starting with competing at the national level in high school. He would become a seven-time All-American at the University of Colorado in college – he still holds the school’s record in the 1,500 meter run with a time of 3:39.77 that he set in 1996 – and was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame in 2012. The success continued as he became a seven-time U.S. Champion and competed for Team USA in the Olympics in both the 10K and marathon.
His pedigree is so good, he is one of 25 people known to break a four-minute mile and run a marathon in less than 2 hours, 10 minutes. For all of his accomplishments in his professional career, Culpepper was inducted into the Colorado Running Hall of Fame in 2009.
Culpepper knew that someday he would take on a coaching role with the sport. He coached himself to run at the highest level and has worked with other people with racing backgrounds for 10 years. This will be his first head coaching position at the high school level.
“I’ve been coaching for about 10 years through an online platform, and prior to that I coached myself for 10 years at an elite level,” Culpepper said. “I’ve been surrounded by running since I was 12. It’s in my DNA. I’ve been helping at various levels, including the high school level.”
The thing that pushed him to get into the high school coaching realm was seeing his children running in the sport and having success. His oldest son, Cruz, is a top runner for the Niwot Cougars cross country and track teams. He was named the BoCoPreps.com boys runner of the year in track during the last spring season.
“It’s been a journey for (Cruz). I’m really excited he’s been able to find his way in the sport and discover his talent,” Culpepper said. “Our goal is for our kids to discover their talents and use them. It’s been fun to be a part of the journey for me to see him blossom in high school. That motivated me to get involved in the high school coaching level to ensure that all kids out there aren’t missing out on their opportunity.”
Now the work begins with the Fairview program. Due to the late hiring, Culpepper has not had the chance to work with his team yet as the first official practice for the sport is less than two weeks away. The Knights are coming off qualifying as a team for the Colorado State Cross Country Championships last fall, where the boys team finished fifth and the girls placed seventh in the team standings.
It will be a fast process this fall to develop the culture for the program, but it’s something Culpepper says he feels can get done at Fairview.
“We have to start at the foundation and re-establish some baseline commitments,” Culpepper said. “That will take some time to win the trust of the kids and parents. It’s really a matter of being consistent. I want our entire team to see that all of their goals are important, not just the varsity team. We will work hard.”