Goucher was born Kara Grgas in Queens, NY, in 1978. She started running as a seventh-grader in Duluth, Minn., where she moved with her mother and sisters after her father was killed by a drunk driver. She found immediate success in the sport, leading her high school cross-country team to a string of state titles, qualifying for the Foot Locker National High School Cross-Country Championships and earning a scholarship to running powerhouse the University of Colorado.
In the 2000/2001 academic year Goucher blossomed, winning three individual NCAA titles (one in cross-country, two in track). By then she was dating fellow Buffalo Adam Goucher, to whom she was married in September 2001.
Kara Goucher’s first few years as a professional athlete were marred by a series of injuries. Unable to put together a period of consistent training, she achieved lackluster results in competition. That changed in 2006, when she and Adam moved to Portland to be coached by Alberto Salazar. That year she gave the world a glimpse of what was to come in running 31:17 for 10,000m, one of the fastest times in U.S. history.
Since then, Goucher has been on a tear. She won a bronze medal in the 10,000m at the 2007 World Championships and followed that up by winning the Great North Run half-marathon in an American-best time of 1:06:57. The following year she qualified for the Olympics at 5000 and 10,000m and finished 9th and 10th in those events in Beijing.
Goucher’s highly anticipated marathon debut, at New York last fall, was a great success. She finished third and set an American debut marathon record of 2:25:53. And this spring she came within seconds of becoming the first American to win the Boston Marathon since 1983, finishing third after losing a gutsy sprint down the homestretch.
The Gouchers have postponed plans to have their first child until after this year’s World Championships Marathon in Berlin.