Readers Roundtable: Kara Goucher’s Post-Trials Interview

Kara during her interview with the guys from LetsRun. Photo by Cinnamon (Kyle Gorjanc/SaltyRunning.com)
Kara during her interview with the guys from LetsRun. Photo by Cinnamon (Kyle Gorjanc/SaltyRunning.com)

Sisterhood, joy and the love of running were threads throughout this weekend’s Olympic Trials and the build-up to it, from the Power of the Pack in Jacksonville to Amy catching the collapsing Shalane at the finish line. As we’ve seen time and time again, often we perform at our best when we lift each other up. How many times did you see Shalane or Amy smile as they worked together through the streets of L.A. Would Shalane have been able to hang on to her spot on the U.S. Olympic Team without the support of Amy cheering her on?

That’s all great, but life isn’t always so easy. Sometimes, even with our best efforts to be positive we don’t like the way things turned out. Sometimes that’s because of injustice, but other times it might just be sour grapes in the heat of a moment of severe disappointment. This brings us to Kara Goucher and the postrace interview with LetsRun where she criticizes her former coach, Alberto Salazar who currently coaches the winner of the men’s race, Galen Rupp (you can watch the video after the jump). While Kara Goucher had a great race, definitely proving she’s not washed up at the “elderly” age of 37 as the NBC commentators seemed to suggest, now the story of her Trials threatens to be defined by this interview. On one hand, after coming in fourth and narrowly missing a place on the team, her comments could be construed as bitterness. On the other, if she really feels there’s been an injustice shouldn’t she be commended for bravely speaking about it?

So we had to ask you: what do you think about Kara Goucher’s statements? Do you think she rightfully speaks of injustice or is it sour grapes? 

For more of our Trials coverage visit our Instagram feed.

To watch Kara Goucher’s interview with LetsRun, click 

Salty Running boss and mother of 3 little ones with PRs of 3:10:15 (26.2), 1:25:59 (13.1) and 18:15 (5k). I love to write about running culture, mental training, and fitting in a serious running habit with the rest of a busy life.

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44 comments

  1. Admittedly, I am not a Kara Goucher fan at all. These were thoughts she should have kept to herself at the time because she really sounds like a sore loser! She could have had a lot more class and said those things a lot more tactfully later on if she’s truly concerned about having a clean sport. Here it seems like she’s just pissed she came in fourth place and is bashing her former team and coach. If any other athlete in any other professional sport said this, they would be fined heavily and in a lot more trouble.

    1. She has spoken out before about Alberto and Shalane and Amy aren’t coached by him, so I don’t think she was referring to them, just Alberto and his influence on the sport, itself.

  2. Though I am nowhere near the caliber athlete Goucher is, I can empathize with her position. I don’t think it’s hard for us to keep this in mind, but maybe just to remind the general public/those not 100% familiar with her: this is not just her hobby – this is her CAREER. She narrowly missed competing on one of the world’s biggest stages. She has been through some tough times this past year, and now this? I don’t begrudge her comments one bit. Tactless? Perhaps. Sour grapes? Sure. Justified? She certainly feels so, and who are we to judge? I’ll never truly know what this phenomenal athlete is going through. So she dropped some f-bombs and came across bitter. Meh, she’s human. Disappointment blows, and we all process that in different ways. We can’t all be graceful all of the time.

  3. I think after running a tough marathon and coming in 4th, she likely lost her filter and wasn’t thinking clearly about how to tactfully answer the question. I give her credit for even answering the questions that were completely unrelated to how her day played out.

  4. I was entirely disappointed in NBCs coverage of this great race and in ignoring the numerous issues around USATF and the accusations against Salazar and Rupp. I think Kara is justified as she’s faced more criticism for her involvement in challenging Salazars greatness. I can imagine the emotions after the race she had. It’s likely at a different place and time she may have used different words, but her emotions are justified. NBC scores a C in my view. Lack of coverage of anyone other than the leaders (even a list, let alone a backstory or two) and not reporting the controversies was unfortunate. This was a great opportunity to showcase some amazing men and women and the stories around their path to the trials on a larger showcase.

    1. I completely agree with you re: the disappointing NBC coverage. How boring to have 2 hours of nothing but the camera trained on the 2-3 leaders. Not much more than a mention when Ritz or Sara Hall dropped out (and they got Ritz’s name wrong!). No attention given to most of the other men and women who are amazing athletes and worked their butts off to get to the trials. C- at best.

      1. Agreed on the coverage. Definitely could have showed more throughout the pack and into the back (but kept a side screen of leaders and splits so no one missed anything.). I also really got annoyed when it took them incredibly long to go back to the women’s race after the top 3 men came in….the women were still out racing!

      2. It drove me crazy that they called him Darren! At first I thought I was hearing things!
        I’m glad there was coverage, but it would have been nice to have some stories about some of the elites that made it that we don’t all know by name.

    2. Totally agree about the coverage– you never knew how far apart anyone was (like a visual at the bottom, or average paces, or seconds/minutes off the leaders??)– something. Not enough backstories, nothing about controversies going on…

  5. Full disclosure: I do like Kara Goucher. A small part of me was sort of hoping for her to finish top 3 on Saturday, not because I dislike Cragg, Flanagan, or Linden (because they are all awesome), but probably because I’m a sap who loves a good comeback tale.
    I can see both sides of this interview situation though. I can see how her comments were probably ill-timed and make her look like a sore loser. Everybody likes to see the “gracious loser” side of athletes, right? It makes people feel good and comfortable when we see 4th place say they’re sad, but so happy for the winners….

    But… isn’t that sort of bullshit too? For athletes like these women to succeed in this sport, they have to have a huge competitive fire. The highs are high, but the disappointments must feel a million times worse. It seems completely disingenuous that minutes after a heartbreaking narrow miss to making it to Rio, that a person would immediately slap on the gracious loser face. Is it fair that athletes, in the heat of the moment, without any time to process what just happened, be expected to NOT speak from a place of raw emotion?

    No, this interview does not make people feel warm and happy. Yes, this interview makes her SEEM angry. If I were in the same situation though, I’d probably have a lot of emotions too- anger being one of them. I know we like to hold famous athletes to a higher standard, but at the end of the day, they are humans with real human emotions. Maybe it’s the counselor side of me that sort of looks at situations from that angle?

    And my comments haven’t even yet touched on the Salazar/ doping controversies….

    This is an interesting roundtable topic! I think there will be lots of polarized views of this situation!

    1. I do agree, we are all humans at the end of the day and we cannot say truly what we could have done in that position. We can HOPE that people have more control, I mean….we’ve seen it. Take NFL….look at the difference in how Luke Keuchly acted after the superbowl loss, and how the freaking NFL MVP acted after the same loss. We are all different, and we can hope for the best but not everyone has as much self control. I can’t say for sure how much control I would have had, but I would hope that I would have focused more on my own personal disappointment than throwing shade at the winners.

  6. I’m very in the middle when it comes to Kara, as I also am in this situation. Kara ran a great race, and admittedly shocked me a bit how long she held in there. I give her a lot of credit and obviously admire her work ethic, and that killer marathon she just ran. She took the criticism and doubts and used it to fuel her to run well, and prove that she still has a lot left in her. For her race, I commend her. I also have no issues with her bringing NOP issues to light this past year- I think it’s overdue that people are digging into very serious allegations about doping.

    While I know she was probed by the interviewer trying to bait her, I’d have hoped she would have handled it a bit better. I don’t mind the swearing or what not (in fact, it’s nice to see someone be more candid), but she came across as a bit bitter with the timing. She just took 4th, after a great race. Just missing out, while Kara’s former training partner and her new partner (Amy), ran together and supported each other both making the team. Kara brought no new information at this time to the doping scandal but a bunch of “they’ll get whats coming to them” sort of stuff which just rang bitter of not making the team when 3 Nike athletes did. Not that we will ever know but it would have been interesting to see how she would have reacted had she made the team. Would she instantly turn around and bash her new teammates and bring up drama- probably not. Had she taken 4th and there were no Nike athletes in front of her would it have been a different tune, probably.

    I get that the combination of the disappointment/heat/post-race/everything would make it hard for anyone to be on their A game when a camera is shoved in your face. But with her being a professional athlete, and have lots of experience winning (and losing) I guess I’d have hoped to see a little more from her.

    1. Adding to my comment here….

      What ever happened between Shalane and Kara..like the TRUE story. Not the “best friends” they claimed to be (which I don’t think anyone bought), but the actual story. Could that have fueled her responses and made the whole 4th place thing (with Shalane in 3rd) even harder on her?

        1. Watching Amy drag Shalane through those last miles was so inspiring– I was yelling at her to just go as Desi was making her surge, but I was also teary-eyed. Shalane needed her that day.

  7. I was surprised by Kara’s interview – both what she said, given the timing of the interview, and the manner in which she said it. My knee-jerk response was actually to be a little worried for her. I think her willingness to speak out is brave, though her manner of delivery in this particular interview does not cast her in such a positive light, and probably will bring her some negative PR (if you believe there is such a thing as negative PR). Clearly there is no love lost between the NOP athletes and many of their competitors; even Meb, who is always the epitome of grace, had some negative words to say about Galen in the post-race press conference, and it was interesting to see Amy Cragg sitting next to him, surreptitiously clapping, clearly in agreement.

    1. I agree, definitely says something to see Meb having some negativity even. In general it’s just sad to me that such a great day and big moment for the sport (Televised marathon trials!! Insane, so many friends and family texted me they were watching and enjoyed it!) and it’s being remembered less about the great running and more about the drama.

  8. I didn’t care for her post-race comments, but for me, it was more about the overall tone and negativity, not just the NOP comments. Saying that Amy wasn’t having the best year, that Kellyn couldn’t hang one… Kara didn’t paint herself in the best light, IMO. I know she was exhausted after her race and may have not had a filter, but this is her job and media relations should be part of her skillset.

  9. Did you see Kara during the race, absolutely dripping with sweat, trying to adjust the wet cloths to dissipate some of the heat (like so many of the other runners)? The last half mile as Amy, then Desi, then an almost-out-of-it Shalane, and then Kara, exhausted but still going? Why wouldn’t she be crying, having worked so hard to make the team, to miss it like all the others behind the first three? But still, fourth place after so many people had written her off? She said in her FB post the next day that emotions had been raw. I say shame on the media for taking advantage of any of these runners at their most vulnerable moments. As others note, she’s gone through the Salazar issue so many times, why do the media think that Saturday, after the trials, they’d get another nugget? Her tone of voice wasn’t the “typical” Kara, but there was nothing normal about that day, being in the Olympic marathon trials, in heat, running for your passion, your singular focus? As some note above, yes, she might have been more gracious in the moment, but we don’t know the back story of all this, what she’s thinking. Disappointed and realizing she’d get dinged for her comments, yes, willing to give her slack, yes.

    1. I can’t agree with “shame on the media for taking advantage…” These are professional athletes and talking to the media after races is part of the gig. She’s a seasoned pro so that’s not a valid argument for her. She’s not a victim so either what she said was brave or sour grapes or whatever, but to blame the media for her statements is infantalizing her.

      1. I suppose ultimately the response is a combination of many things. We weren’t there and now we’re judging all this, too, adding to the drama and giving more credence than perhaps is warranted.

    2. No, not buying it. Plenty of professional athletes (actually, the majority of them!) manage to handle themselves professionally in post-competition interviews. It’s not as if she is being singled out or that this is some kind of unreasonable expectation placed on Kara just because it’s Kara or just because she’s a woman; look at the reaction to Cam Newton at the Super Bowl press conference. This is part of her job and she flubbed it by being bitter and petty.

    3. I don’t think “shame on the media” either… The runners know they’ll be interviewed. Anyone who has run a few marathons knows there is that strange drunk/brain-dead/so low blood sugar phase after the race… Kara knows this. She also knew she’d be interviewed. Watching it, I just kept thinking “Why is she saying this to these guys, on camera???’ Save the lip-curling contempt for chatting with your friends, husband, coach, Oiselle ladies… whatever. She is a world-caliber athlete, a role-model for many, and this interview did not keep with that. At all. Her reputation/her public image is a huge part of her career as well– running will go away as she gets older, but a positive public image can carry her career in running far beyond actually competing. When she comes across as a poor loser (I imagine 4th feels much worse than 20th in this situation), feelings are high, and I felt so bad for her to have worked so hard and that just not made it. When I have had for-shit races (NYC ’15 comes to mind), my lips are shut afterward, because my feelings are so strong and I need to process (and I realize my experience of a bad race is no where near hers, for so many reasons..)

      About Galen. doping, whatever… The truth will come out. I believe that.

      1. I agree Pimento, you know you are going to be asked questions. And realistically- she should have known they would bring it up. Most reporters would in my opinion.

  10. An unfortunate situation where her raw emotion comes off as somewhat immature and unprofessional. I’ve been a Goucher fan since day one and I’m not going to change; we are all human and her honesty, albeit crude, came out in an unfortunate time when her mind wasn’t exactly prepped to hold back potential comments that could backlash.

  11. I read the interview and thought it was surprising the topic came up and was a little surprised by the choice of words.But the tone and body language in the video were really jarring, maybe because it really doesn’t fit with her public image?

  12. It was an unprofessional and less than gracious response, yes. But I don’t think less of her for it, and actually appreciate the raw and honest reaction. There’s so much that’s gone on between her and her former coach–out of the public eye–and definitely some hurt and bitterness showing through in that interview that isn’t connected to coming in 4th so much as it is to what she experienced during those years with Salazar. I want to know more and I do hope the full truth comes out. Was I the only one who watched Galen cruise through the final 10k of his first marathon and wondered “how can he perform like this and truly be clean?”

  13. I would say I am definitely in the middle on this one: yes, she just finished 4th in what I can only imagine was a highly emotional and physically draining marathon – so in that moment, when an interviewer asks kind of a weird question (yes, this was a weird question – why not just focus on what Kara had just done and leave it at that?) then I can understand her response. HOWEVER, NONE of the female athletes who finished ahead of her are part of the NIke Oregon Project (Cragg and Flanagan run for Bowerman Track Club and are NOT affiliated with Salazar) and Linden runs with Hansons and is a Brooks athlete – so anything regarding the situation with Salazar didn’t apply to HER race and by bringing that up, it does make it sound as if she questions the athletes ahead of her (she doesn’t, her remarks were all about NOP, etc., but the average fan may not know that). So, could she have been more “professional” or “gracious”, maybe, but at the same time, reporters know what questions to ask to get a “good story.”

  14. I may be in the minority here, or slightly skirting the issue, but what I felt most for her was compassion. This particular interview was “cringe-worthy” for sure, and she definitely stepped out of the “America’s sweetheart” box, which to be frank, I found a bit refreshing. That said, wrong place, wrong time, wrong tone.

    But how many of us don’t have a cringe-worthy moment or two? Whether saying something cruel and regrettable to our kids or spouse, or quitting a job without the class we might have, etc. The woman was overheated, exhausted and crushed. And in that moment, there was an avalanche of word vomit. Should she have been better? Should she have known better? Should she have been better prepared for those specific questions? Sure. But who of us hasn’t had that moment? Luckily, most of us don’t have to have those moments publicly displayed and atoned for.

    Professional hazard that she could have been better prepared for, but she’s also a human being who was a literal “hot mess” in a very hard moment.

  15. On one hand, F decorum. Why do athletes need to say and act a certain way? She’s a human being. Why do we expect pro athletes to be stepford women with perfectly programmed grace? Why can’t they have an opinion and speak their minds? Why not speak truth instead of niceties. How much of the naysayers are simply reacting to see something they weren’t expecting to see?

    On another side, she’s a professional and is paid to run and live an athlete’s lifestyle. That’s an incredible privilege and we consumers of running good pay for that privilege really. But then again, what does she owe us for that? At the very least, as a professional she knows about post-race press and she knows the potential is there for relatively hardball questions. Maybe it’s the fact that she didn’t seem to give a shit was the thing that was jarring?

    And then on another side, is there a time and a place for things? Is that a real thing or just something we’ve come to expect?

    And then another side, it almost seems like she’s done with the image thing – or is tired of maintaining it all the time and is letting her guard down and not afraid to show her darker side. I mean, we all have that. I can be a horrible abrasive grouch and not even realize it sometimes. That’s life. I can’t imagine having to maintain a persona constantly.

    And then another side, go ahead and speak your mind but when you go beyond niceties and say potentially inflammatory things there will always be fall out from that choice.

    She’s not stupid and she’s definitely not a victim of LetsRun trolling. She could have walked away. But she didn’t and it seems to me that she was happy to use that interview as an opportunity to speak her mind and now the fallback rains down (some good and some not so good), but that’s life. I think it is refreshing that she lifted the girl next door veil. And I think, in the end, I prefer that very much to the perfectly crafted marketing of herself in the past.

    As for other sports … I have no idea! Can’t weigh in there 🙂

    1. I agree with your f decorum sentiment. I think this really shows how scripted, practiced and unnatural most media appearances are.

      And about her image: she’s a 37 year old woman with a child and plenty of life experiences, not some fresh faced America’s sweetheart. so yeah, she has the emotional complexity that goes along with that. Image is just image. I like that she was real here.

      Isn’t this basically the same conversation people have after every goucher race? How unprofessional of her to show emotions, blah blah blah. Just usually it’s because she (God forbid) cries.

  16. I have so many thoughts here. I’ll start with addressing an important missing piece, which is we don’t know what question prompted this response. It is not included in the clip or media coverage. Whatever it was, it seemed to be about Nike Oregon Project and any impact they have on her now. It’s not like she just started ranting out of nowhere about them because she was upset she came in 4th or thought NOP athletes finished unfairly (she didn’t even know Rupp had won!). To the contrary, she credited letting all of that go to allow her to have the race, which she considered a comeback. So I don’t view this as her being whiny or sour grapes about coming in 4th. I think it is a totally different response to a totally different issue. She had very different messages/thoughts when questioned about her performance and placement, and, while understandably upset she fell short, she credited the 3 before her for running better.

    That being said, I too was surprised she got so vocal (and mad!) about this to the media. It also appeared very clear that she was speaking authentically and that she does believe that she pulled away from something toxic/unfair. I am sure that was incredibly difficult – and even more so to spill the beans on her former coach and teammates. She had a hard race, but a strong race and you can bet that during those tough last miles she was thinking about all of the NOP crap and her hard work regaining ground after leaving them. As others have mentioned, it was somewhat strange that the media did not cover the issue at all during the race. Had there been an IOTA of media coverage of the controversy during the race, it wouldn’t have seemed so far out of left field for her to go there. Was is the most professional thing to do? No. Did it take a ton of courage to stand up like that? Absolutely.

    We can all say she should let it go and let the system unravel the issue. However, we all know that it will take years and nothing may come of it, even if she is 100% correct. Also, let’s not forget she is living this controversy. We armchair quarterbacks are not.

    So what do I think of it all? If she were standing in the room with me now, I’d walk over to her and give her a big hug and a high five.

    1. I believe the question that prompted the response was along the lines of what did she think about Rupp’s performance – which is kind of a dumb question since the top women are obviously not paying attention to the top men in the race, and I’m sure was intended to get some sort of “interesting” response.

  17. I was a little shocked listening to the interview. I know disappointment and exhaustion can affect you, so I can understand how you might lose your “filter”. But, running is her job and part of that is dealing with the press and knowing that your words will be heard by many. Just because you are an athlete that worked hard but didn’t make your goal doesn’t give you the right to be rude. My boys watched the race with me and had so much respect for the athletes. I certainly wouldn’t want them to watch that interview. The fact is we all have jobs and we all have to meet certain criteria. I am a teacher. There are standards I have to meet regardless of if I am going through a hard time, exhausted or emotionally drained. And because I live in the area in which I teach I have to be aware of my behaviour and anything I say about work after 3:30 too. Is that fair? Probably not, but it is what it is and I accept that. We all take the good and bad in our jobs. I do admire her for standing up for something she believes in, but that interview was the wrong way to do it and I don’t think helped her case.
    As an aside, I thought Meb was a class act when talking about being crowded by Rupp. He could have ranted about it and come off a sore loser, but once again appeared grateful and happy despite any issues on the course. That interview I showed to my kids!

  18. I have been a Kara Goucher fan for a long time, and will continue to be but I was disappointed in the way she handled this interview. While I understand everyone’s arguments about exhaustion, emotion, etc, it made her seem very bitter. The way she brought up how Amy’s year went certainly made her seem like a sore loser, and it was very unprofessional. i truly believe she is sincere about getting out of a “toxic” environment, but I don’t know that I would consider oiselle any less “toxic.” I guess I am not so surprised by her comments considering she is part of a team that always has something to say about everything.

  19. Immature: Yes
    Unsportsmanlike: Yes
    Emotional: Yes
    Human: Yes

    We stood right before the turn into the finish/loops, so about 250m to go. When she passed, she was trying to hold back tears, even though everyone was cheering her on. Her face was quivering. She worked so hard to be a contender, and came up short. I’m sure she was heartbroken and caught up in the moment. That same interview may have had a different tone an hour or day later. I am not a Salazar fan, and I do think there is some dirty stuff going on.

    I watched the coverage this morning. I have to say, I am not a Rupp fan. Talented, yes, but I was not impressed with him at the finish line. When Meb finished, he waited for his new teammate to cross the line, extended congratulations. He even helped him with water when he was on the ground. Rupp was nowhere, probably didn’t want to face reported so he wouldn’t have to answer questions. As they were finishing, it was obvious the crowd along the streets favored Meb. The crowd was going nuts as he went by smiling, waving, Even Kara got more cheers. What’s worse… At the awards ceremony, it was sad to not near as many cheers and congrats for Rupp. I wish him well I the Olympics. It will be interesting!

  20. I think Kara is an amazing athlete. Could she have been more tactful? well sure, but I don’t think after running 42 kilometres and narrowly missing your dream, your going to be in a happy, cheery place.
    I think she was amazingly gracious to the winners, and obviously, she has some inside information that will eventually come out…
    I wish there was better coverage of the race. I had to just depend on the internet because they did not show the trials in Australia.
    I wish all the runners well, and hope that in the future we learn that all runners were running clean….

  21. I’m sure you’ve all seen this from kara’s blog (http://www.karagoucher.com/the-trials/), but she commented on this: “After I finished Amy and Desi both came over to comfort me. We have all been through so much in the sport and so I sincerely appreciated their kind words. I went to the media area where I was asked about the race. Amy, Desi, and Shalane were better athletes than me and they deserve to be our Olympic team. Amy was fourth four years ago and has stayed motivated and unbroken to return to be the trials champion. In 2012 Desi had to drop out of the Olympic marathon and has had a long and patient journey back to the top of the world scene. Shalane has carried the US distance running torch for years and toughed it out on a difficult day to make the team. Bottom line is, they are all incredible athletes and I take no shame in losing to them. But it still hurts and I wish that I was on the team with them.”

  22. And now she is calling into question the footwear Cragg and get ex-trading partner Flanagan write in the race…