Portugese Olympian prepping for her first marathon.
Written by: Chris Lotsbom
(c) 2011 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.
NEW YORK — Jessica Augusto is extremely excited. The petite athlete from Braga, Portugal, is in a city with more than three quarters of the population of her home nation. Making her first-ever trip to the United States, Augusto will be running the New York City Half Marathon here this Sunday.
“I had only seen New York on television, and I think it is a very big and incredible city,” said the 29 year-old Olympian. ”The dream of every European person is to come to New York and see the places they see on television.”
Like any first-time visitor to the city, Augusto is amazed by Manhattan’s sights and sounds. She has already passed through Times Square, hopes to visit the Statue of Liberty, and plans to walk around the streets and avenues to get to know the Big Apple better.
Augusto was born in Paris to Portuguese parents where her father was perfecting his craft as a pastry chef. Augusto and her family moved back to Portugal when she was 7 years-old; she did not know how to speak Portuguese.
Beginning to run when in prep school, Augusto soon found her calling in cross country.
“I wasn’t a good athlete in the beginning, but then I looked for a trainer and I started training and having good results,” she said.
Soon she was federally funded by the Federação Portuguesa de Atletismo. Competing on the international stage, Augusto made the 2008 Beijing Olympic team in the 5,000m and 3,000m steeplechase, won the silver medal at the 2008 European Cross Country Championships, and scored a bronze medal at last summer’s European Championships at 10,000m. Her personal bests include national records for the 3,000m steeplechase (9:18.54) and two miles indoors (9:19.39).
This year, Augusto has shifted her focus to the marathon. In her debut half marathon at the Great North Run in Newcastle, England, in 2009, Augusto was second in 1:09:10, nine seconds off of Portugal’s national record (Fernanda Ribeiro’s 1:09:19, run in 1998). Augusto boasts the fourth-fastest half-marathon personal best in the NYC Half Marathon field.
“I hope to get some practice for the first marathon, and I hope that I can meet my expectations,” Augusto said of the race on Sunday. Her first test at the marathon distance will be the Virgin London Marathon on April 17.
“I would like to be able to finish the race,” she added, “but I would like to get a time of 2:28:00, and also be able to reach the podium. If I manage to do that then it would be excellent, a five-star result.”
On Sunday, she will face American favorite Kara Goucher (1:06:57 PB), ING New York City Marathon winner Edna Kiplagat (1:09:32), British Olympian Jo Pavey (1:08:53), 2003 IAAF World Cross Country champion Werknesh Kidane (1:08:09), Mexican marathon record holder Madai Perez (1:09:45), and recently crowned European Indoor Championships silver medallist at 3,000m Olesya Syreva (1:09:52).