The 28-year-old will use the Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Half Marathon as a stepping stone to the Rotterdam Marathon.
When the New York City Marathon was cancelled last November due to the effects Hurricane Sandy, thousands of runners were inconvenienced.
One of them was Brett Gotcher.
The 28-year-old, who ran 2:10:36 in his 26.2-mile debut at the 2010 Houston Marathon, had been putting in well over 100 miles a week in preparation for the iconic 26.2-mile footrace through New York’s five boroughs. With no race, he suddenly found all that hard work for naught.
“I was really bummed,” Gotcher admits. “I was so ready for that race; I was mentally amped.”
After returning from New York empty-handed, Gotcher decided to refocus he efforts. Instead of heading back to Flagstaff, Arizona, where he trained for years under the watchful eye of coach Greg McMillan, Gotcher returned to northern California — where he grew up — to refocus his training.
Avoiding the copious amounts of snow that hit Flagstaff this winter, Gotcher has managed to stay injury-free training on the ice-free trails at sea level in Santa Cruz. “Ultimately, it was a good decision not to deal with those challenges,” he says of forgoing the Flagstaff winter. “Instead of slipping in the snow or being confined to running on a treadmill indoors, I’m out enjoying the relatively mild North California climate.”
Gotcher’s long break from racing will come to an end this weekend in New Orleans, where he will be part of a star-studded field at the Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Half Marathon. He’ll lace up his racing flats and line up next to the likes of double Olympic gold medalist Mo Farah and three-time London Marathon champion, Martin Lel.
“I’m a little nervous,” Gotcher admits. “Since I haven’t raced in a quite some time, I’m not really sure how fast I can run this race.”
When asked if he will try to keep up with the likes of Farah, Lel or 201 New York City Marathon champion Gebre Gebremariam, Gotcher demurs. “I’ll see how it plays out,” he says. “If these guys take it out slow at the beginning, then I might hang around, but I definitely don’t want to blow up by going out too fast. I honestly have no idea what is possible in this race but I know one thing for sure and that is that I want to get things back to where they were. I’m hungry to race again.”
Gotcher has been logging 90 to 100 miles a week in training and is looking at this race as an opportunity to formally kick off his training for the Rotterdam Marathon on April 14. “I hear this is a fast course, and with this great field running the Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Half made the most sense,” he says. “I love races like these that provide fun entertainment. That’s why I love road races so much; there is this light-aspect to it that you don’t really get on the track.”
Having never been to the Big Easy, Gotcher says he plans on experiencing the city to the fullest. “I’ve heard only great things about the city,” he says.
After Rotterdam, Gotcher has his eyes on a bigger plan: qualifying for the U.S. Olympic Marathon that will head to the Summer Olympics in Rio in 2016. “The marathon is my meal ticket,” he contends. “As long as I am running at this level, I think I got a legitimate shot of making the team. I just have to focus.”
About The Author:
Duncan Larkin is a freelance journalist who’s been covering the sport of running for over five years. He’s run 2:32 in the marathon and won the Himalayan 100-Mile Stage Race in 2007. His first running book, RUN SIMPLE, was released in July.