Goucher has stellar return to New York in marathon debut

Nov 2, 2008 - 8:48 PM By Simon Lewis PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

NEW YORK (Ticker) -- Kara Goucher made her marathon debut a record-breaking one in New York on Sunday but she vowed to be better prepared for her next bid for 26.2-mile glory.

The New York-born Goucher made an emotional return to the city she and her family had moved away from after her father was killed by a drunk driver when she was the age of three. And the 30-year-old Queens native made it a marathon debut to remember as she claimed third place behind three-time champion Paula Radcliffe of Great Britain and runner-up Ludmila Petrova of Russia in a time of 2 hours, 25 minutes and 53 seconds that set three milestones.

Goucher's performance was the fastest marathon debut by an American woman, beating Deena Kastor's 2:26:58 effort when finishing seventh in New York seven years ago and was the fastest time by a U.S. woman at the New York City Marathon. It was also the first time since 1994 that an American woman had finished in the top three in New York, following Anne Marie Letko's third-place showing 14 years ago.

"It was interesting. It was really fun. I know I can do a lot better," Goucher said Sunday.

"I had a few things go wrong. I had some stomach issues and some cramping issues. As bad as I felt the last five miles, it was awesome."

Goucher praised Radcliffe's hard-running approach that decimated a women's field organizers said was the strongest they had ever assembled.

"I was happy that Paula ran," she said. "I like to run against the best.

"I want to be the best. I knew it would be a more aggressive race since she was running, which scared me a little bit. She ran fantastic. She hammered us with about eight miles to go, and I caved."

With it being her first marathon, Goucher made sure to study last year's race to set her plan of attack, especially focusing in on Gete Wami, who placed second.

"My plan was to kind of do what I saw Gete do last year, and that is to tuck behind whoever was leading and to gut it out as much as possible.

"I got broken with maybe eight miles to go. Then I had to kind of regroup. I had to tell myself, 'it's 10K, you can do this'. So I secured third place."

Goucher, coached by the last American to win in New York in 1982 men's champion Alberto Salazar, said she would gain a lot from her debut.

"We thought I could come here and under the right conditions I could be competitive and maybe win," she said. "I always said this won't be my last marathon. When I hit 23 miles, I thought, 'wow, this is the farthest I've ever run'.

"It was a learning experience. I'm going to be much more prepared next time."

Goucher said she was also deeply touched by the support she received from New Yorkers lining the route, particularly in her home borough.

"People were yelling 'The Queens girl!'," she said. "I wanted to stop and give them all a hug. People were chanting my name the whole time. That's why, even though I was cramping, I loved it. It was so awesome.

"The marathon here just holds a lot of importance to me. Because I was born here, because this is where my dad lived, this is where he died. This is where my coach became who he was as an athlete. I'm sad the race is over. It was awesome."

Fellow American Katie McGregor ran a personal best 2:31:14 to finish in 10th while the American men found strength in numbers with four top-10 finishers behind winner Marilson Gomes dos Santos of Brazil (2:08:43), the most since Salazar led home five runners in 1982.

Abdi Abdirahman was the leading American, placing sixth in 2:14:17, with Josh Rohatinsky seventh (2:14:23), Jason Lehmkuhle eighth (2:14:30) and Bolota Asmerom rounding out the top 10 (2:16:37).

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