University of Washington freshman Cruz Culpepper opened his collegiate career in impressive style at the UW Indoor Preview on January 30, running a 3:59.53 mile for the first sub-four-minute result of his young career. With the run, Culpepper becomes the 11th UW runner to break four minutes in the mile, and he also joins his father, former U.S. Olympian Alan Culpepper, on the elite list. Cruz and Alan are the 13th father-son duo in history to have broken the four-minute barrier.
— Bring Back the Mile (@themile) January 31, 2021
Alan ran for the University of Colorado in the 90s, and he won the NCAA outdoor 5,000m crown in 1996. He represented the U.S. on the world stage on multiple occasions, and in 2000, he competed in the 10,000m at the Sydney Olympics. Four years later, he won the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials to secure a spot on the team at the Athens Games, where he ran to a 12th-place finish in 2:15:26. (Alan’s wife and Cruz’s mother, Shayne Culpepper, also ran at the Olympics, competing in the 1,500m in 2000 and 5,000m in 2004.) Alan ran to consecutive top-five results at the Boston Marathon in 2005 and 2006 before retiring a couple of seasons later in 2008.
Alan’s first sub-four mile came in 1998, when he was 26, at a meet in St. Louis. He posted a blazing-fast time of 3:55.12, which he followed up a month later with another four-minute mile in Massachusetts, where he ran 3:58.47.
At just 18 years old (he’ll turn 19 in April), Cruz reached the sub-four milestone eight years earlier than his dad. His result comes just under a year since his last run at the UW track, when he came agonizingly close to breaking four minutes, competing as a high schooler, with a final time of 4:00.10. Cruz literally dove across the line in that race last year, giving everything he had in his attempt to go sub-four, but this year he fared much better, staying on his feet right through to the finish.
“It was fun,” he said after the race. “It’s definitely cool to open up with a sub-four. I felt super comfortable all the way through it. I mean, it was tough, but I knew I could do it. I didn’t have anything slower than sub-four in my head.”
Joining more father-son duos
The website bringbackthemile.com names all 13 father-son duos on this exclusive list of sub-four milers, and it has several names running fans will recognize. Americans Matt Centrowitz Sr. and Matthew Centrowitz Jr. (the latter of whom is the reigning Olympic 1,500m champion) joined the list in 2009, John and Johnny Gregorek were added in 2015 and the Culpeppers are the newest pair to occupy a spot.
For the full list of father-son sub-four miler duos, click here.