Kara Goucher is coming home.
The Duluth native and member of the USA's Olympic marathon team this summer in London will race in the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon, which serves as the USA Half Marathon Championships for men and women this year. Race officials announced that Goucher and fellow Olympian Abdi Abdirahman will headline the fields for the June 16 event.
Goucher grew up in Duluth and graduated from Duluth East High School in 1996. Now residing in Portland, Oregon, Goucher competed in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games in both the 5000 and 10,000-meters, placing ninth and tenth, respectively.
Goucher and Abdirahman earned have both spots on the 2012 Team USA marathon squad by placing in the top three at the Olympic Marathon Trials in Houston. Both placed third – Goucher in 2 hours, 26 minutes, 6 seconds and Abdirahman in 2:09:47, his fastest marathon since a 2006 personal best of 2:08:56.
Minnesota has been kind to Abdirahman, he's a two-time winner and course-record-holder at the Medtronic TC 10 Mile. The London Games will be the fourth Olympic appearance for the 35-year-old Abdirahman, who resides in Tucson, Arizona He raced in the 10,000-meters in 2000, 2004 and 2008.
“We are extremely honored to have Kara and Abdi as part of the elite group coming to Duluth for this event. With the Olympic marathon races set for August, the timing is ideal,” Scott Keenan, executive director of Grandma’s Marathon, said in a media release. “We expect to add many more quality runners in the coming weeks.”
There are currently 158 American athletes signed up to compete in the championships with a May 15 deadline to register. They will be competing for a prize purse of $82,000, including first-place awards of $12,000 for the men’s and women’s champions.
Duluth’s history of hosting national championship road racing events includes the 2003 and 2004 USA Women’s Half Marathon Championships. The 2003 race was won by Colleen De Reuck in a course record one hour, ten minutes – a mark that remains the fastest women’s time on the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon course.
The city also hosted the 1987, 1990 and 1994 USA Women’s Marathon Championships as part of Grandma’s Marathon, which is currently the country’s 13th largest marathon.