Emotional return to New York for Olympian Kara Goucher
Kara Goucher competes in her first marathon Sunday. (Photo by Getty)
Kara Goucher fought back tears at a news conference this week when she talked about her connection with her native New York City.
Its just as a little girl, you want your family to be together, said Goucher, 30. And this is where my family was together.
Days before her 4th birthday, Gouchers family was torn apart when her father, Mirko Grgas of Queens, was killed in a car accident by a drunken driver. Shortly after, Gouchers family moved to Duluth, Minn., where she grew up.
Twenty-six years later, Goucher a top-10 finisher in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters in Beijing this summer will make an emotional return to the Big Apple for her 26.2-mile debut in Sundays New York City Marathon.Im going to think of my dad when Im running here. I dont want it to be a distraction, Goucher said. But I think that those moments during the race where I have those moments of weakness and doubt that I feel my dad is going to be there, and hes going to help me fight through those moments.
Goucher is attempting to become the first New Yorker, man or woman, since the marathon expanded to all five boroughs in 1976 to win the race. No American woman has won since Miki Gorman in 1977.
Coincidentally, the last American man to win in New York, Alberto Salazar in 1982, a three-time champ, is Gouchers coach. Because of her muscular frame and mental toughness, Salazar says he believes Gouchers future is in marathons.
Im not lying when I say that the last five weeks has been the most Ive ever enjoyed running, said Goucher, who took a week off from training after the Olympics, but was soon running 110 miles per week.
No matter what happens on Sunday, this will not be my last marathon.