I missed this piece during my preparations for the 2013 FootLocker Cross Country Championships. Kara and Adam Goucher are, I must admit, one of my favorite running couples. I enjoyed watching Adam develop into a world class athlete and admired him for surviving a plethora of surgeries and his drive to return to elite racing. Kara Goucher took a bronze medal in the 2007 World Championships in the 10,000 meters, and became one of the most popular athletes in our sport.
(12-Dec) — After nine years of living and training in Portland, Ore., under coaches Alberto Salazar and Jerry Schumacher, two-time Olympian Kara Goucher has decided to move back to Boulder, Colo., where she will train under her college coaches, Mark Wetmore and Heather Burroughs, at the University of Colorado. Goucher, 35, revealed her plans in a blog entry posted this morning.
“‘Follow your heart’ is one of my favorite sayings,” Goucher wrote. “I’ve trusted my instincts a lot in my life, and it has gotten me pretty far.” She continued: “My heart hasn’t let me down.”
Goucher, who won the bronze medal at 10,000m at the 2007 IAAF World Championships in Osaka, moved to Oregon in 2004 with husband Adam to be coached by Salazar. Under Salazar, Goucher enjoyed excellent progress, making her first Olympic team in 2008, in both the 5000m and 10,000m; lowering her 5000m and 10,000m personal bests to 14:55.02 and 30:55.16, respectively; and running the fastest marathon debut ever by an American woman in 2008, 2:25:53, at the New York City Marathon. She also ran a spectacular 1:06:57 at the 2007 Great North Run half-marathon in Newcastle, England; she is still the only American woman to win that prestigious race in its 33-year history.
In 2011, she made an emotionally-charged change to part with Salazar and join Schumacher’s group, where her primary training partner became Shalane Flanagan. Under Schumacher, Goucher was also successful, taking fifth at the 2011 Boston Marathon, finishing third at the 2012 USA Olympic Marathon Trials, and placing 11th at the 2012 Olympic Marathon in London.
“And so here I am, 35 years old, 12 1/2 years into a professional career, and I am following my heart again,” Goucher continued. “Adam, Colt, and I are moving back to Boulder, Colo. I am returning to finish out my elite career under the program in which I started. Mark Wetmore and Heather Burroughs are my new/old coaches. I could not feel better or more confident about this decision.”
Wetmore, whose collegiate men’s team just won the NCAA Division I Cross Country title last month, already coaches two professional athletes, both Colorado alumni like Goucher: two-time world championships medalist Jenny Simpson and Olympic steeplechase finalist Emma Coburn.
Goucher was predictably circumspect when giving her reasons for leaving Schumacher’s group. She said that she simply “needed something different” for her family, which now includes three year-old son, Colt, born in September, 2010.
“I reached out to Mark and Heather and they were kind enough to welcome me back,” Goucher wrote. “Their other post-collegiate athletes were kind enough to welcome me as well. Jerry Schumacher and Pascal Dobert, my current coaches, are sad to see me go but very supportive of my decision. My teammates have been very supportive as well, especially Shalane Flanagan and Emily Infeld.”
Flanagan, who became good friends with Goucher, tweeted this morning, “going to miss the endless chatter and giggles over all the miles,” attaching a photo of the two women hugging before the start of the Boston Marathon.
Since finishing fifth over 10,000m at the USA Outdoor Championships in Des Moines last June, Goucher has only competed in low-key races, like the Stumptown Cross Country Race Series in Portland, in October and November, where she competed twice. She had planned to run the TCS New York City Marathon last November, but withdrew from the race at the end of August because a foot injury had been slow to heal.
Goucher underscored in her blog post that she was not done with running at a high level, and dismissed the inevitable speculation that always accompanies coaching changes for top athletes.
“There is no dramatic story here, I just need something different,” she concluded. “I have had to be brave many times before, and I’m being brave again. I have found the courage to trust my instincts and to follow my heart. After nine great years in Oregon I am headed back to the place and the coaches who helped me begin this journey. It feels right and I’m excited about the future. 2014 is going to be an exciting year. I feel like my future is limitless.”