Kara Goucher - Olympian and Duluth Pack Fan
Imagine casually running 80 to 100 miles a week while being a mother, a wife, an author, and a sponsored marathon runner. How about 120+ miles per week in preparation for the Olympics? To us, 5 miles a week often feels like an accomplishment. But we recently had the amazing opportunity to speak to Kara Goucher, 2x Olympian and Duluth native, who does just that. Lucky for us, she took time out of her busy schedule to talk about growing up in Duluth, Minnesota, her connection to the community, and her fondness of Duluth Pack.
Upon her birth in Queens, New York, Goucher’s family relocated to Duluth, Minnesota in her early childhood. To her, the city on the hill is considered home. Goucher began her successful running career right here, in fact while attending Woodland Middle School! It was there that Goucher joined the track team in 7th grade and soon after began running for Duluth East High School at around the age of twelve. She reminisces fondly about runs around the University of Minnesota Duluth, W.R. Bagley Nature Area, and Hartley Nature Center, finishing them off with a dip in Lake Superior or a bite to eat at Sammy’s Pizza.
Upon graduating from Duluth East High School in 96’, Goucher continued running at the University of Colorado where her coach happened to sport a Duluth Pack bag, making her beloved home seem not so far away. From there, Goucher went on to become a 2x Olympian competing in the 10,000 meters event at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the full marathon event in the 2012 London Olympics. Not to mention she also earned a silver medal for the 10,000 meters race at the IAAF World Championships in Osaka, Japan in 2007 among numerous other awards and distinctions.
Perhaps you were fortunate enough to see her set the course record in 2012 during the USA Half Marathon Championships that were part of Grandma's Marathon Weekend in Duluth, Minnesota. Her time that year was 1:09:46 and still stands undefeated to this day. Goucher disclosed to us that Grandma’s Marathon, stretching from Two Harbor’s to Duluth, is still one of her favorite courses. So we had to ask, “Which race was your least favorite?”
Being the down-to-earth and humble woman she is, Goucher started that she has learned a lot from each race she has run throughout her career, but she believes that two of her most challenging races were the Leadville Trail Marathon (starting at a staggering 10,000 feet and ending at 12,000 feet) and the New York City Marathon which she states is uneven, hilly, and “straight-up hard.”
Despite difficult courses and an incredibly demanding schedule, Goucher says her inspiration to keep going is crushing the goals she sets for herself that make new challenges like ultra-marathons and trail running worth the sweat (literally.) Also, a good, upbeat playlist doesn’t hurt.
While having a beautiful family, traveling the world, and enjoying her life in Colorado, Goucher still makes a point to come back to visit Duluth, catching up with family and long-standing friends that she ran with back in high school. Although she misses the simplicity of Duluth living, coming back allows her a break from checking emails, and lets her truly tune out and be fully present with her surroundings. Not to mention, she gets to share this memorable place with her husband and son, enjoying Betty’s Pies, smore's on the beach, fishing and trying new breweries.
Goucher always makes sure that on her long list of places to stop, Duluth Pack is one of them. She states that her mother has always had a Duluth Pack bag, along with a majority of her high school friends. Goucher herself recalls her first Duluth Pack, a khaki-colored Shell Purse, that she carried at her side for longer than she can remember. She was fortunate enough to have recently been gifted another Duluth Pack bag from her husband to add to her collection: a limited-edition Sportsman's Tote featuring Sunbrella Fabrics in Smoke.
Whether she is running up and down mountains or sprinting through the Olympics, Goucher’s spirit is here, dining with her family at JJ Astor, watching the ships go by in the harbor and simply being by the dark blue waters of the Gitchi Gummi. Her fond words regarding the community here make us feel even more grateful to live in such a beautiful and wild place-- and just like Kara Goucher, to call it home.