Duluth to Beijing via Oregon

  • Article by: RACHEL BLOUNT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 28, 2008 - 11:44 PM

Kara Goucher won state track titles but had doubts she'd ever compete in an Olympics. A second place in the 10,000 got her there.


Kara Goucher, left, and Amy Begley celebrated making the Olympic team after finishing second and third in the 10,000 meters Saturday night.

Photo: Michael Goulding, Mct

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

EUGENE, ORE. — Through all the years of self-doubt, of injuries and insecurities and poor results, Kara Goucher persevered. But in 2004, when she failed to advance to the finals of the 5,000-meter run at the Olympic trials, she wondered whether she would ever achieve all the things she dreamed of as a young runner in Duluth.

Goucher and her husband, who was enduring his own struggles on the track, decided to give themselves one more shot with a move to Portland, Ore., and coach Alberto Salazar. "There was always a little hope in me, which is why I didn't quit," she recalled. "Then, in my first year with Alberto, it was like, 'Yeah. There's still a fast girl in here.' "

Friday night, the fast girl ran all the way to the Beijing Games. Goucher, 29, earned her first Olympic berth with a second-place finish in the women's 10,000 meters at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials. The girl who won multiple Minnesota state titles in cross-country and track has matured into one of the world's premier female distance runners, finally outrunning the hardships that nearly caused her to stop.

"I've wanted to be an Olympian for so long,'' said Goucher, who went by her maiden name of Kara Grgas-Wheeler when she graduated from Duluth East in 1996. "This is the childhood dream. I don't mind talking about [her struggles]. That makes me who I am; I had to go through that. I learned to appreciate running so much more because of it."

Many members of Goucher's family still live in Duluth, including mom Patty and sister Kelly, an assistant women's soccer coach at Minnesota Duluth. They were at Eugene's Hayward Field to cheer her on in the state she now calls home.

Goucher came to Oregon after the 2004 trials with her husband, Adam Goucher, as they sought relief from their frustrations. Kara had helped Duluth East win several state cross-country titles in the early 1990s and was a three-time NCAA champ for the University of Colorado in 2000. As she and Adam continued their running careers, both battled nagging injuries, and the self-doubt that Kara had wrestled with throughout her life had grown louder.

Salazar believed both could turn things around. He started Kara on a core-strengthening program, and she began working with a sports psychiatrist. By 2006, she had set personal records at four distances; a year later, she won the bronze medal in the 10,000 at the world championships, becoming the first American to medal in that event.

"The medal proved to me I could compete with anybody on any given day," Goucher said. "But now, I'm an Olympian. This is better."

The 10,000 started at 11:20 p.m. Central time Friday on a hot Oregon night, and Goucher was content to race in fourth place in the early going. She plans to run the 5,000 in these trials as well, and did not want to expend any more energy than necessary.

With about 14 laps remaining, Goucher, training partner Amy Begley and U.S. record holder Shalane Flanagan began to separate from the pack. Goucher and Flanagan took over with three laps left, and after Goucher took a brief lead, Flanagan sprinted away to win in 31 minutes, 34.81 seconds. Goucher finished in 31:37.72, with Begley third in an Olympic A standard time of 31:43.60.

As Goucher gathered a U.S. flag and niece Kailie Martinez in her arms for a victory lap, another Minnesotan felt acute disappointment. Katie McGregor, a Team USA Minnesota distance runner who lives in St. Louis Park, had already achieved the A standard; her fourth-place finish would have put her on the Olympic team ahead of Begley, who did not have the required time. But Begley secured the spot by finishing third and meeting the standard of 31:45.

McGregor also finished fourth in the 10,000 at the 2004 Olympic trials. "In '04, I cried a lot, but I came back and had a great year in '05," she said. "I have a better perspective this time. I'd love to have 'Olympian' next to my name, because that's how people validate your career, but I'm proud of what I've done."

Now that Goucher does hold that designation, she can hardly believe it. "I feel amazing," she said. "I'm psyched. I am so excited that U.S. women's running is at the height that it is."

  • related content

  • Jamaica's top crop might be sprinters

    Saturday June 28, 2008

    The small Caribbean country produces many elite sprinters, and it's no accident because of an excellent feeder program.

  • Phelps, Hoff head up fierce competition

    Saturday June 28, 2008

    More than 1,200 athletes will participate in the eight-day meet that will decide which swimmers will represent the U.S. at the Beijing Olympics.

  • Trials at a glance

    Saturday June 28, 2008

    Members of the U.S. Olympic team in the women's 100 meters, the heptathlon and the men's shot put were decided Saturday at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore., as the Olympic...

  • TRACK & FIELD Eugene, Ore. • TV: 6 p.m., Ch. 11

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Los Angeles 6 Top 3rd Inning
Chicago Cubs 1
Detroit 1 Bottom 4th Inning
Kansas City 0
Philadelphia - J. Williams 3:05 PM
Oakland - D. Pomeranz
Toronto - M. Stroman 3:05 PM
NY Yankees - C. Capuano
Arizona - T. Cahill 3:10 PM
Colorado - E. Butler
Boston - R. De La Rosa 6:05 PM
Baltimore - C. Tillman
Milwaukee - M. Garza 6:05 PM
Pittsburgh - E. Volquez
Washington - J. Zimmermann 6:10 PM
Miami - J. Cosart
NY Mets - J. Niese 6:10 PM
Atlanta - M. Minor
Chicago WSox - H. Noesi 6:10 PM
Tampa Bay - C. Archer
Cleveland - T. House 6:10 PM
Minnesota - T. May
Seattle - C. Young 6:10 PM
Houston - D. Keuchel
Cincinnati - M. Leake 6:15 PM
St. Louis - M. Wacha
San Francisco - Y. Petit 7:40 PM
San Diego - A. Cashner
Texas - C. Lewis 8:05 PM
LA Angels - J. Weaver
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Green Bay 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Oakland 9/21/14 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 9/21/14 3:05 PM
Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Connecticut 14 FINAL
So Florida 17
Old Dominion 35 3rd Qtr 9:39
Rice 14
Troy 0 3rd Qtr 6:11
(13) Georgia 52
Georgia Tech 10 3rd Qtr 10:25
Virginia Tech 16
Eastern Mich 0 3rd Qtr 8:50
(11) Michigan State 56
Iowa 14 3rd Qtr 2:57
Pittsburgh 20
Bowling Green 10 3rd Qtr 15:00
(19) Wisconsin 41
Tulane 7 3rd Qtr
Duke 19
Maryland 31 2nd Qtr 0:00
Syracuse 13
Hawaii 0 1st Qtr 12:10
Colorado 0
Marshall 0 1st Qtr 12:21
Akron 0
North Carolina 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 2:30 PM
Rutgers 2:30 PM
Central Mich 2:30 PM
Utah 2:30 PM
Florida 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 2:30 PM
Fla Atlantic 3:00 PM
Indiana 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 3:00 PM
Texas State 3:00 PM
Massachusetts 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 5:00 PM
Appalachian St 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 6:00 PM
Middle Tennessee 6:00 PM
Utah State 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 6:00 PM
Idaho 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 6:00 PM
(14) So Carolina 6:30 PM
(4) Oklahoma 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 7:00 PM
(22) Clemson 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9:00 PM
Louisiana 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:00 AM
NC State
Duke 9/27/14 2:00 AM
North Carolina 9/27/14 2:00 AM
(22) Clemson
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(20) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(23) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
(18) Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(14) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(8) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
(9) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(17) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Vancouver FC 4:00 PM
Houston 6:00 PM
New England 6:30 PM
San Jose 6:30 PM
Seattle 6:30 PM
Red Bull New York
D.C. 7:30 PM
FC Dallas 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 6:00 PM
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM


Golden Gavel by Star Tribune

Countdown to great deals

Bid Sept. 21-29




question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings and Gophers do this weekend?

Weekly Question


Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters