Monday, August 3, 2009

Kara Goucher wins overall half-marathon in Chicago

Kara Goucher did what she planned Sunday: use the inaugural Rock ’n’ Roll Chicago Half-Marathon as a significantly hard workout and push hard over the final three miles — to victory. She followed coach Alberto Salazar’s plan to a T and was the outright winner, leading all men and women in a field of 14,400, in 1 hour, 8 minutes, 5 seconds. It was her third half-marathon win in three tries, and the first in the U.S.

Goucher, 31, a Duluthian now residing in Portland, Ore., had run a U.S. record 1:06:57 in England in 2007 and 1:08:30 in March in Lisbon, Portugal. She’s preparing for the World Championships women’s marathon on Aug. 23 in Berlin.

“I believe I wouldn’t be running the marathon [in Berlin] if I didn’t have a shot,” she told the Oregonian newspaper Sunday. “If I run fully committed, I do have a shot.”

Goucher stayed conservative early, running behind designated pacer Mike Donnelly, and then made a push over the closing miles. She ran 5:09 for the 10th mile and 5:05 for the 11th. Chad Ware, 24, of Chicago was second overall, and the first man, in 1:08:24, while Connie Abbott was the second woman in 1:21:50.

Goucher took the overall lead with more than two miles remaining in the

13.1-mile race.

As the only elite runner in the field, she was followed throughout on a Webcast by on what was dubbed “Kara Cam.”

“I felt I could run in the 67- 68-minute range,” Goucher told Competitor. “The race was great, better than my preparations for [the Boston Marathon in April]. It was awesome to be the first finisher and I wanted to enjoy the crowd. I really liked how the course changed up, there was never a stretch where it was dull, and you are going through the city, going over bridges and along the water. I really liked the course.”

Goucher and her husband, Adam, were due to fly to Europe later Sunday and arrive in St. Moritz, Switzerland, for 15 days of final marathon preparations.

Ware, who beat his personal best by more than a minute, ran cross country and track at Butler University. He was runner up at 10,000 meters in the 2007 Horizon League Championships.

“It was cool. It was different being right there with a woman,” said Ware, the runner-up in May’s Green Bay Marathon in 2:20:56. “I was right on the pace I was hoping to run and having Kara there definitely helped me get my PR.”

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