Goucher sets U.S. all-time best in half-marathon

Kara Goucher's amazing running season took to the roads Sunday in Newcastle, England, which resulted in an American all-time best in the half-marathon.

Kara Goucher's amazing running season took to the roads Sunday in Newcastle, England, which resulted in an American all-time best in the half-marathon.

Making her debut at the 13.1-mile distance, the Duluth native won the 27th Great North Run women's race in 1 hour, 6 minutes, 58 seconds on the course from Newcastle to South Shields. Goucher, 29, who lives in Portland, Ore., defeated women's marathon world record-holder Paula Radcliffe, 33, of England, who was second in 1:07:54.

Goucher's time is the fastest women's half-marathon in the world this year and it came in her first race longer than 10 kilometers (6.2 miles). Deena Kastor holds the United States' women's half-marathon best of 1:07:34, set April 2, 2006, in Berlin, and it will remain an American record because the Great North Run point-to-point course has a net elevation drop.

"I just ran on how I felt," Goucher told Matthew Brown for the International Association of Athletics Federations. "I didn't realize I was pulling away from Paula and thought she was right there all the way. I felt great until the last two miles when I kept thinking, 'I mustn't look back because she will know I am hurting.' I kept expecting her to go past me. I reallydidn't know how fast I was running."

Earlier this season, on Aug. 25 at the IAAF World Championships in Osaka, Japan, Goucher placed third in the women's 10,000-meter outdoor track event in 32:02:05, the best finish in U.S. history. She was third at 3,000 meters in 8:34.99 in an IAAF track meet Sept. 9 in Rieti, Italy, to become America's second-fastest woman outdoors at that distance, and finished third at 5,000 meters in 14:55.02 in a IAAF track meet Sept. 16 in Berlin to become America's fourth-fastest woman outdoors at that distance.


It was Radcliffe's first race in 21 months after taking time off for the birth of her daughter, Isla, now9 months old. She's also had a number of injuries, including a stress fracture at the base of her spine. Radcliffe had set the women's marathon world best of 2:15:25 in the 2003 London Marathon and the Great North Run record of 1:05:40 the same year. She hopes to have a chance at the Summer Olympics marathon gold medal in 2008 in Beijing.

"I'm disappointed not to win the race because that's what I wanted," Radcliffe told the IAAF reporter. "I'm missing a bit of leg speed but other than that there's nothing really missing. Winning was my aim but it's not like this was a total disaster.

"I had seen Kara's results but I was surprised she was running that fast. It wasn't that I was running slowly, just that she was going really well."

Goucher and Radcliffe ran together for much of the first six miles. Coming through at 30:58, then Goucher pulled away with sub-five-minute miles of 4:57 and 4:49. Goucher's times through other checkpoints -- 15K (47:36),10 miles (50:59) and 20K (63:33) are also being reported as American all-time bests.

English spectators, expecting Radcliffe in the lead, instead cheered on Goucher with, "Go Paula, great job!"

"I really just wanted to compete and didn't know what to expect," Goucher said. "I thought I could be second or third, but I also thought I might be 10th. I just didn't know. I didn't even know what the U.S. record was -- it's just a shame this won't count."

Radcliffe came on in the closing miles to finish56 seconds behind, and Aniko Kalovics of Hungary was third in 1:10:19.

* In the men's half-marathon, Martin Lel outdueled Kenyan countryman Sammy Wanjiru to win in 1:00:08. Wanjiru was second in 1:00:17, while American Adam Goucher, Kara's husband, was sixth in 1:03:15.


Gebrselassie breaks marathon world record

Haile Gebrselassie broke the marathon world record Sunday, winning the Berlin Marathon in 2 hours, 4 minutes, 26 seconds.

The 34-year-old Ethiopian was 29 seconds faster than the four-year-old mark of 2:04:55 set by Kenya's Paul Tergat, on the German capital's flat and fast course where six world records have been set.

Gebrselassie trailed the record mark by six seconds at the halfway point but picked up the pace over the last six miles, when he ran alone without pacemakers.

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