The race was Fultons third trip to Nationals and the most successful of the three. Fulton was unable to finish as a first-year due to extreme heat, and finished in 95th place at the National race at St. Olaf last year. Coming into this year, Fulton was hoping for some big improvements.
That was my goal for the season, to be an All-American, Fulton said.
He realized that there was some stiff competition awaiting him at the National meet that would make his goal difficult to achieve.
My goal was to finish top-35, Fulton said. But I knew the competition was going to pretty tough especially with everyone running so fast at Regionals.
Fulton ran a smarter, more conservative race than many of his competitors.
My strategy was to run within myself and not go out too fast, Fulton said. Out of a field of 240, I was 220th at the mile mark. The leaders went out in 4:40 and I went out in 5:05 and from there I just started picking people off.
Fultons strategy worked nearly to perfection as he was able to pass many runners who had gone out too hard, eventually working himself up into contention for an All-American spot.
Fulton benefited from a high-mileage summer and a chance to practice more extensively with the team this season. In past years, Fulton had band practice every day, which often caused him to miss running practice and have to run all of the workouts on his own. This year Fulton is traveling abroad for second semester so he was not able to participate in band during the fall semester, enabling him to practice with the team every day.
Fulton will have a chance next year to achieve the rare feat of qualifying for Nationals all four years of his collegiate cross country running career and will be shooting for an even higher finish.
Hopefully his teammates will be able to run alongside him at Nationals next year instead of cheering him on from afar.