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Culpepper, Keflezighi, Browne qualify for U.S. Olympic Team


Tom Surber
Media Information Manager
USA Track & Field
(317) 713-4690

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Alan Culpepper, Meb Keflezighi and Dan Browne qualified for the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team by finishing 1-2-3 Saturday at the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Men’s Marathon in Birmingham, Alabama. The Trials were presented by USA Track & Field, the Alabama Sports Foundation and Birmingham Marathon, Inc.

Culpepper (Lafayette, Colo.), Keflezighi (Mammoth Lakes, Calif.) and Browne (Portland, Ore.) all passed then leader Brian Sell (Rochester Hills, Mich.) in the 21st mile. Culpepper held a small lead for the next two miles over Keflezighi before winning the race in 2 hours, 11 minutes, 42 seconds, a five-second winning margin over Keflezighi. Browne finished in third place in 2:12:02, with Trent Briney setting a personal best by 8 minutes, 35 seconds, with his fourth place finish in 2:12:35. Culpepper’s performance is the second fastest Trials winning time ever, second only to Tony Sandoval’s Trials record of 2:10:19 in Buffalo, N.Y., on May 24, 1980.

In winning the second marathon of his career and qualifying for his second Olympic team (10,000m in 2000), Culpepper won $60,000 in prize money, with Keflezighi taking home $35,000 and Browne pocketing $25,000 out of a total prize purse of $193,000. For participating in the Olympic marathon in Athens, Culpepper will earn an additional bonus of $25,000, Keflezighi will take home $22,500 and Browne will earn $20,000.

The race began at 9:03 a.m., local time, with 86 entrants answering the starting gun under cloudy skies and a temperature of 35 degrees, with winds averaging 12 m.p.h.

Shortly after the beginning of the race, Peter Clusener (Arcata, Calif.) took a 30-second lead over Teddy Mitchell (Albuquerque, N.M.), who led the main pack. Before the first mile was completed (5:05), Mitchell grabbed the lead from Clusener. Mitchell ran the second mile in 5:00 in extending his lead to 70 meters over Keith Dowling (Reston, Va.), who led the rest of the field.

Mitchell extended his lead to more than 100 meters in the third mile, with Keith Dowling and Jason Lehmkuhle (St. Paul, Minn.) leading the main pack. Mitchell’s lead over the rest of the field was 90 meters after the fourth mile (5:06). Mitchell continued to lead the field after the fifth mile, which was completed in 25:30.

The tide turned during mile six, as the pack moved to within 25 meters of Mitchell, and in mile seven Brian Sell grabbed the lead from Mitchell, though Mitchell remained on his heels. The remainder of the field was 40 meters back. The seventh mile was completed in 35:47.

Sell held a five meter lead over Mitchell at the end of mile eight, which was completed in 40:51. An enthusiastic crowd on both sides of the street cheered Sell during mile nine (45:02) as he extended his lead over Mitchell to 15 meters. At this point, Keith Dowling and Jim Jurcevich (Columbus, Ohio) began to fall off the lead pack. A pack of 12 including Keflezighi, Ryan Shay (East Jordan, Mich.) and Culpepper trailed Sell by 15 seconds at that juncture in the race.

Sell turned in the fastest leader split of the race at that time of 4:52 in mile 10 (50:54), as the chase pack turned in a mile split of 4:49. Sell extended his lead to 200 meters over the rest of the field in mile 11 (55:47) with a split of 4:53. Shay, Culpepper, and hometown hero Scott Strand (Birmingham, Ala.) led the chase pack.

Sell ran a blistering 4:50 split at mile 11 (55:47), and reached the 12th mile in 1:00:43, as Keflezighi, Eddy Hellebuyck (Albuquerque, N.M.), Clint Verran (Rochester Hills, Mich.), Shay, Strand, Josh Cox (Murrieta, Calif.), Dowling and Culpepper trailed in the chase pack.

The halfway split was 1:06:19 as Sell continued to hold the lead in mile 13 following a 5:00 mile split. Sell picked up the pace in the next mile (#14-1:10:45), coming through in 4:58 and holding a one minute lead over the following pack that included 10 competitors. At this point, Sell was running a 2:12 pace.

Sell dropped a 4:50 split on the field in mile 15 (1:15:36), and at this point he held a 57 second lead over the pack. In mile 16 (1:20:28), Sell continued to put the pressure on the rest of the field with a 4:51 split. Sell’s lead dropped to 42 seconds during mile 17 (1:25:38) as Alan Culpepper took a small lead over the trailing pack and Sell slowed down to a mile split of 5:10.

During mile 18 (1:30:30), four athletes comprised the trail back (Dan Browne, Keflezighi, Culpepper and Trent Briney of Rochester Hills, Mich.) as Sell’s lead dwindled to 36 seconds. Sell hit the 19 mile mark in 1:35:35, with Culpepper, Keflezighi and Browne trailing by only 15 seconds. During the 20th mile (1:40:41), Sell still held the lead as Culpepper, Keflezighi and Browne continued to stay together, just 10 seconds behind the leader.

During mile 21 (1:45:46), Culpepper, Keflezighi and Browne passed Sell, who looked to be struggling. Culpepper took the lead by himself in mile 22, followed by Keflezighi and Browne. Culpepper passed the 22 mile mark in 1:50:47, where he held a small lead over Keflezighi, with Browne in third place.

In mile 23 (1:55:38), Culpepper held a lead of a couple of strides over Keflezighi, with Browne 15 meters behind. At this point, Culpepper and Keflezighi were striding easily as snow flurries began to fall. It became a two-man race between Culpepper and Keflezighi at mile 24 (2:00:38) with Browne 10 seconds back and Briney trailing the leaders by 25 leaders.

Culpepper hit the 25 mile mark in 2:05:41, still with a small lead over Keflezighi, and Browne in third place. Culpepper led Keflezighi by five seconds at the finish.

Top 20 Finishers (13 of the 71 finishers in the race set personal bests) 1. Alan Culpepper (Lafayette, Colo.), 2:11:42 2. Meb Keflezighi (Mammoth Lakes, Calif.), 2:11.47 3. Dan Browne (Portland, Ore.), 2:12:02 4. Trent Briney (Rochester Hills, Mich.), 2:12:35 5. Clint Verran (Rochester Hills, Mich.), 2:14:37 6. Scott Larson (Superior, Colo.), 2:15:03 7. Josh Cox (Murrieta, Calif.), 2:15:18 8. Eddy Hellebuyck (Albuquerque, N.M.), 2:15:36 9. Peter Gilmore (Menlo Park, Calif.), 2:15:44 10. Jason Lehmkuhle (St. Paul, Minn.), 2:16:27 11. Keith Dowling (Reston, Va.), 2:16:50 12. Kevin Collins (Albuquerque, N.M.), 2:17:00 13. Brian Sell (Rochester Hills, Mich.), 2:17:20 14. Fred Kieser (Cleveland, Ohio), 2:17:21 15. Scott Strand (Birmingham, Ala.), 2:17:44 16. Steven Moreno (Oakland, Calif.), 2:17:48 17. Corey Creasey (Berkeley, Calif.), 2:17:58 18. Scott Nicholas (Portland, Ore.), 2:18:13 19. Conor Holt (Norman, Oklahoma), 2:18:17 20. Chris Banks (Alexandria, Va.), 2:18:56

2004 U.S. Olympic Men’s Marathon Team

Alan Culpepper: A consistent performer on the U.S. long distance running scene for nearly a decade, Culpepper entered the Trials with a personal best of 2:09:41 at the 2002 LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon. Known for his versatility, Culpepper is the 2002 USA Outdoor 5,000m champion, the 1999 & 2003 U.S. 10,000m champ and the runner-up at 10,000m at the 2000 U.S. Olympic Trials. Also known for his success as a harrier, Culpepper is the 1999 and 2003 U.S. 12 km cross country champ. A 2000 Olympian at 10,000 meters and a 1996 graduate of the University of Colorado, Culpepper, 31, resides in Lafayette, Colo.

Meb Keflezighi: A member of Team USA California, in the last three years, Keflezighi, 28, has established himself as the top U.S. distance runner from 10 to 15 km, winning two U.S. cross country titles, two 10,000m championships and three U.S. 15 km road titles and setting the American record at 10,000m of 27:13.98 in 2001. Born in Eritrea, Keflezighi’s family moved to the U.S. when he was 12 and he became a U.S. citizen in 1998. Despite battling the flu, Keflezighi placed 12th in the men’s 10,000 meters at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. He trains at altitude (7,500 feet) at Mammoth Lakes, Calif., running 80-100 miles a week, and sometimes trains with U.S. women’s distance ace Deena Kastor (formerly Drossin). A 1998 graduate of UCLA, where he was a four-time NCAA champion, Keflezighi’s career best in the marathon is 2:10:03 at Chicago in 2003.

Dan Browne: The 2002 USA Men’s Marathon champion, Browne won the national title at the Twin Cities Marathon in his debut at that distance. Browne won the 26.2-mile race from Minneapolis to St. Paul, Minn., in 2 hours, 11 minutes, 35 seconds, and also won the 2002 USA Running Circuit men’s title. The 1998 USA men’s cross country and 10,000m champion, Browne, and a number of U.S. marathon hopefuls, are part of the Nike Oregon Project under the supervision of American marathon legend Alberto Salazar in Portland, Ore., where they live in high altitudes and train in low altitudes, with some high-tech help. The five-bedroom house the athletes call home is at sea level, but the home features molecular filters inside that remove oxygen, leaving the athletes with the sensation that they are living in the thin air of 12,000 feet. Living at high altitude, which requires a person’s body to adapt to less oxygen in the air, thus increasing their oxygen-carrying efficiency, is believed to improve performance in endurance events. Browne, 28, is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point.


Alan Culpepper: This is what we train our whole lives for and I’m grateful to make another team. I really have to commend Meb Keflezighi. He’s extremely tough and he always brings out the best in me. I’m also really proud of Dan (Browne) for coming through for third place.

About the cold conditions: The wind was very tough and nobody wanted to take the brunt of it. The cold was certainly a factor, and it almost felt like it colder as the race went on and I don’t know if that was just what I was feeling or what, but the weather was definitely a factor and it made your legs feel strange like I never did warm up. It was a very strange dynamic. When I started to sprint at the end it was a weird feeling like my leg muscles were going to snap. It was a tough day.

Has it sunk in yet that you won this race?

It hasn’t yet and it will take a while. I’m just thankful that I was able to put together a good race. I think this is the best team we have to offer and hopefully we can go represent the U.S. well and have a good race in Athens.

Meb Keflezighi: I want to give my respect to Brian Sell for making the race happen. We all tried to get up there and catch up to him. I really respect what he did and he ran a great race. I’m happy it worked out the way it did and I’m happy to be on the team.

About overcoming a recent bout with the flu and tendonitis to make the team:

Around mile 15 I had a little bit of a side ache and that was a problem and I knew I had to push hard to try to make the team. I didn’t break 100 (miles per week) training for this, but I’ve trained for other events like New York and Chicago and I’ve been training for 14 or 15 years and that helped me here. It was tough and now I’m looking forward to Athens.

Dan Browne: Brian Sell ran a gutsy race. The marathon is a long ways, and we’re all fairly new to the event, and we’re all trying to be prudent about the race, and given my two previous experiences I wanted to be a little more conservative during the first half of the race. With 10 miles to go I heard that Sell was way ahead, but I knew that a lot could happen the rest of the way. Once we got together and started working towards a common goal, I knew we’d get it.

I gotta be honest. I ran this race for a purpose, I ran this race to make the team, but I also ran this race to honor my West Point classmates who died over in Iraq. That kept me going when with three miles to go when my body was feeling pretty rough, but I thought of them and I knew I wouldn’t quit.

Leader Mile Splits

1 – 5:05 2 – 5:00 3 – 5:06 4 – 5:06 5 – 5:12 6 – 5:11 7 – 5:05 8 – 5:05 9 – 5:11 10 – 4:52 11 – 4:53 12 – 5:01 13 – 5:00 14 – 4:58 15 – 4:50 16 – 4:51 17 – 5:10 18 – 4:52 19 – 5:08 20 – 5:04 21 – 5:04 22 – 5:02 23 – 4:53 24 – 4:57 25 – 5:02 26 – 5:03

For more information on the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Men’s Marathon, including the complete results, visit

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