BOZEMAN — In the first ever cross country race at Cottonwood Hills Golf Course, runners from Bozeman High, Bozeman Gallatin, West Yellowstone, Manhattan Christian and Butte waited at the starting line in a moment of silence to honor the memory of Bozeman High educator and former Hawks cross country coach Kelly Fulton, who died Monday after sustaining injuries last week when he was struck by a vehicle while riding his bike.
Pinned on the running bibs of many the runners were blue and gold ribbons representing the colors of the college programs Fulton ran for, including Montana State. Gallatin head coach Graydon Curry ran with Fulton for a year at MSU, and saw up close how Fulton was quick to help others.
“He was just an incredible mentor; always had others before himself,” Curry said. “The we before me mentality … he definitely had it.”
Beyond the sport of running, Fulton embodied that mentality in all aspects of his life.
“He really did things for other people,” Current Bozeman head coach Casey Jermyn said. “He really was kind of a team player and put other people first. He kind of had a great way of bringing the best of you out of yourself.”
His presence in the running community was well-known and impactful beyond the classroom where he taught mathematics. He was a part of the coaching staff at Bozeman High that won a cross country national championship in 2016.
“They had national powerhouse teams for a lot of years that he was involved in,” Jermyn acknowledged. “Knowledge and passion would be the two things that really kind of stuck out.”
The inaugural meet at Cottonwood Hills, also known as the Raptor Throwdown, was the first time the course had been run on and it was only fitting that Bozeman and the surrounding schools got to do it in honor of Fulton, who if you knew him, would’ve loved to have been there to see it or even run it.
“I think he would have liked the course,” Jermyn said smiling. “I think he would have been a fan in Bozeman.”