With Kara Goucher in town to run the Rock 'n' Roll Half-Marathon on the lakefront Sunday morning, we have a real "made-in-America" superstar running what was called the Chicago Distance Classic until this year. My first thought after hearing that Goucher was coming was that back in 1977, we had an even bigger name here for the first Classic. Frank Shorter had won gold in the Olympic marathon at Berlin in 1972 and silver at Montreal in 1976 (probably should have been gold again because of drug use by the winner from East Germany, but that's another story). Much of the running movement resulted because of Shorter, the American hero who was running and winning Chicago's race that year, when the event debuted as a 20K. It will be fun to see how Goucher does. Off the track, she has chosen to try for great performances on the hilly marathon courses in New York and Boston. She has done extremely well, and now we get to see what she can do on a flat course in Chicago as she fine-tunes for the World Championship (IAAF) marathon on Aug. 23 in Berlin, which is also flat. It also will be interesting to see how many men can beat her on Sunday!
For those of you in the city, Kara will be at Fleet Feet Sports-Pipers Alley, at 6:30 p.m. Friday.
The press release about Goucher running here on Sunday follows.
KARA GOUCHER TO MAKE U.S. HALF MARATHON DEBUT AT ROCK 'N' ROLL CHICAGO
Race will be broadcast live on Competitor.com
Chicago, Ill - Fresh off her second U.S. 5,000m track title, Kara Goucher will return to the roads to make her U.S. half-marathon debut at the inaugural Rock 'n' Roll Chicago Half Marathon on Sunday, August 2. The race webcast can be seen live on Competitor.com beginning at 6:30 a.m. CT.
Less than a year ago, Goucher amazed U.S. road racing fans with an inspiring third place debut at the 2008 ING New York City Marathon, the first time in 14 years that an American woman had placed in the top three. Her second marathon in Boston earlier this year saw her place third in a tight finish on the home stretch. Her performance was the best finish by a U.S. woman at the Boston Marathon since 1993.
"I'm excited to be part of the first Rock 'n' Roll Chicago Half Marathon. I'm grateful for the opportunity to race as part of my preparations for the World Championships here on home soil, in one of the true great sporting cities." said Goucher, who will use the race in preparation to run the marathon at the IAAF World Track and Field Championships August 23 in Berlin. "I'm very happy about the way my preparations have gone. I ran the trials in June and now it's time to get back on the roads. I'm hoping to run well in Chicago and take that confidence into Berlin and give a good account of myself on the world stage."
Goucher's marathon prospects at the World Championships are rooted in previous wins this year over 3,000m at the Reebok Boston Indoor Games and 5,000m at the USA Track & Field Championships. The 5,000m victory in 15 minutes, 20.94 seconds was her second U.S. track title, the other being the 2008 Olympic Trials which preceded her ninth place 5,000m finish at the Beijing Olympics last summer.
Unbeaten in her career at the half-marathon distance, Goucher captured her first title in 2007 in spectacular fashion when she out-dueled marathon world record-holder Paula Radcliffe, winning the Great North Run in 1:06:57, the fastest woman's half-marathon time of the year. The sub 1:07 performance set a new American best time for the distance.
"It's great to have Kara competing at the inaugural Rock 'n' Roll Chicago," said Matt Turnbull, Athlete Coordinator for the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series, who was on hand for the 2007 Great North Run, Goucher's first competitive race longer than 10k. "She is the best female distance runner in America right now and the race fits perfectly into her schedule for this summer's World Championships. There is no better ambassador for the sport of running in the United States so it's great to have her in Chicago."
Goucher owns a marathon PR of 2:25:53, which was the fastest marathon debut ever by an American woman. She holds two of the seven fastest U.S. women's marathon times in history, and has won both half-marathons she has finished, including the 2009 Lisbon Half Marathon in 1:08:30.