Goucher returns home to take on a new course at Grandma’s Marathon

“This year instead of just being a fan and cheering people on and watching to see if my record falls, I get to be a part of the action.”
Published: Jun. 15, 2023 at 8:51 PM CDT
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DULUTH, MN. (Northern News Now) - We are only a few days away from Duluth’s biggest event of the year.

In this year’s race, a familiar face is joining the Grandma’s Marathon crew in a different setting.

Two-time Olympian, DECC Hall of Famer, New York Times Best-Selling Author, and NBC Sports analyst Kara Goucher is making her way back to Duluth.

Goucher originally found her stride on the track at Duluth East High School and is excited to return to the course that built her.

“I grew up seeing what running could do for a community. Like I grew up seeing how running could bring all of these people together and I don’t think everybody has that,” said Goucher.

After setting records in high school and at the University of Colorado Boulder, Goucher moved on to the Olympics, competing in 2008 in Beijing and 2012 in London.

After competing on sports’ most prestigious stage she came back and competed in the 2012 Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon, winning the event and setting the record with a time of 1:09:46.

The event is pinned as a world-class event with small-town charm, welcoming more than 20,000 participants to the Canal Park Area.

“The power of the community that surrounds Grandma’s Marathon really strikes me every time I am here for that and then also like I think that was the beginning of who I became,” said Goucher and added, “It’s just a part of the community. Like everybody on Grandma’s Marathon weekend wants to know where you’re going to be cheering. Everybody has their spot.”

Goucher is included in that community and has been, from handing out water, cheering, competing, and this year she will be taking on a new role.

“This year instead of just being a fan and cheering people on and watching to see if my record falls, I get to be a part of the action.”

Just another piece to the resume for Goucher, who will be joining the broadcast team for the race she grew up watching.

“Zach Schnieder actually reached out and I said I doubt it’s going to work it’s usually the same weekend as USA’s and I remember writing back and saying I don’t know if you’re still interested in me helping but it’s not a conflict.”

It won’t be her first time on the call as she has helped in calling races in a different setting, USA’s Track and Field Championships.

“I do feel like I’m a little rusty. The last race I called was the indoor USATF Championship and the longest race we called there was a mile. This is a little different, but this is the event I know so well and this is the event that was my baby, so I’ll be able to transition into marathoning.”

Goucher’s life has had a wonderful way of coming full circle for her too, calling this year’s marathon with people who have always been by her side.

Carrie Tollefson and I raced each other since the moment I started racing, She is a broadcaster so I see her all of the time and then Chad Samela is the person who basically taught me how to ski and of course, Dick Beardsley is just a legend.”

For Goucher making the move off the track and into the booth wasn’t an easy one, after being diagnosed with a rare neurological movement disorder that takes control away from the body called Dystonia in 2021.

So far she has stayed the course, on pace for a new adventure with dreams of setting up the next generation of athletes along the way.

“No dream is too big. I really believe that. Like if I can make it anyone can make it, but you’re from this amazing community that is going to support you whether you get to the top or not,” said Goucher.

You can bet there’s no distance Goucher won’t go if it means witnessing more dreams come to life right beside the shores of Lake Superior, always answering the call for the place that started it all.

Goucher said she will never race again but her next steps include one dream she hasn’t conquered, coaching at the high school level.

For now, she will continue to lend her voice to other racing events including the 2024 Paris Olympics on NBC Sports.

Friday she will be selling and signing copies of her New York Times-bestselling book, “The Longest Race” from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the DECC during the Essentia Health Fitness Expo.

For more information on the fitness expo and all of the weekend events, click here to visit the Grandma’s Marathon website.

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