Jan. 22 Last Sunday, Brett Gotcher ran the Chevron Houston Marathon, his first marathon, in 2 hours, 10 minutes, 35 seconds placing seventh place. In doing so, Gotcher set an American record for the event. But that was only half the story for this member of the McMillian group that trains in Flagstaff.
The exciting news is that this was the fourth fastest marathon debut time in United States history putting him in the conversations for the next great American marathon hopeful and consideration for the 2012 Olympics.
It is also the fifth-fastest marathon time among active American marathoners, behind Ryan Hall [2:06:18], Abdi Abdirahman [2:08:56], Meb Keflezighi [2:09:15] and Dathan Ritzenhein [2:10:00].
“To me, I viewed this race as the first race of my professional running career,” Gotcher said. “There have been some really good points leading up to this. I felt like this was an opportunity for me to assert myself and put my name out there as one of the best guys in the U.S.”
And while his performance was record setting, it could have been even better. Gotcher ran the first 18 miles with fellow McMillian elite runner, Andy Lemoncello. With the lead pack in sight, Lemoncello, who is training for the London Marathon, dropped off and the lead pack picked up the pace leaving a struggling Gotcher to struggle to the finish alone. Gotcher hit the wall just like the rest of us weekend marathoners.
“I got really, really tired,” he said. “That last mile, all I could think about was getting a drink of water and lying down. I never felt like that before and I hope I never do again. I left it all out there, that’s for sure. From my training, I felt like [2:10 or faster] was possible. With two miles to go, in my mind I was thinking I’m going to run 2:09-something. Things didn’t quite go as I had anticipated them to. But, on the right day it should be no problem, and on a great day I could be even under 2:08.”
Gotcher said the Chicago Marathon or the New York City Marathon are probably next on his marathon calendar. Last year he rode in the lead car at the New York City Marathon and studied the tactics of the elite runners including fellow Americans, Ryan Hall and eventual winner Keflezighi.
In 2007, Gotcher moved to Flagstaff, Ariz., to train with Greg McMillan and the McMillan elite team. Alvina Begay, who finished 5th in the Women’s P.F. Chang’s Rock and Roll Marathon, is also coached by McMillan.