Gwen Jorgensen is ready for her next challenge.
Less than a week after winning the gold medal in the women’s triathlon in the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the accountant-turned-athlete was in New York to reveal that she will run in the New York City Marathon in November. The race, slated for Nov. 6, will be the final one sponsored by Asics, who has had Jorgensen on its roster of athletes for the past several years.
Although she’s never run a marathon before, her blazing run speed at shorter distances is legendary in the sport and led her to victory in Rio.
In a photo op on top of the Empire State Building Thursday morning, Jorgensen was presented with her bib for the marathon by Peter Ciaccia, race director and president of New York Road Runners, which hosts the event. She was accompanied by her husband, Patrick Lemieux, whom she entrusted with holding the gold medal. Lemieux, a pro cyclist who put his dreams aside to help Jorgensen reach hers, expertly folded the ribbon so that the medal would fit back into its case. “Gwen doesn’t even try to get it back in the box,” he said. “She always just hands it to me.”
WWD grabbed a few minutes with the athlete.
WWD: You were running shoulder-to-shoulder with Nicola Spirig, the reigning gold medal triathlete who won in London in 2012, and then you just accelerated and left her in the dust. How did that feel? You’ve been focusing for four years on this one day and you accomplished your goal.
Gwen Jorgensen: It’s pretty crazy. For four years, every single day I’d wake up and say, “Is this going to help me win a gold medal? If it is, I’m going to do it, if not, I’m not.” And to be able to execute on one day after four years of preparation is pretty crazy and pretty incredible.
WWD: You had a flat tire in the London Games that put you out of medal contention. Were you thinking about that during this year’s race?
G.J.: No, I actually credit a lot of my success to that flat tire. I got the flat tire and finished 38th at the London Olympics and I was super disappointed, but that was when I made the decision that I wanted to go to Rio and I wanted to win gold. It was when I started this four-year journey and if I hadn’t gotten a flat, I’m not sure I would have had that kind of drive. So I changed coaches and my husband, Patrick, gave up his career to help support me and we started on this four-year journey. Was I thinking of getting a flat this year? No. It’ uncontrollable and I don’t want to waste energy thinking about something like that. I was actually really calm leading up to the race, which is a little bit unusual. At the Olympics, I just had complete faith and said, what’s going to happen is going to happen. I knew the work was done.
WWD: Your race in Rio included a 10-k run and you’ve never run anything longer than 10 miles, but you’re taking on the New York City Marathon. Is this a hint that you’re considering doing an Ironman, a much-longer triathlon with a marathon at the end?
G.J.: I’m not planning to go to long-course triathlon. The marathon is a learn, search, discover opportunity for me, something I’ve always wanted to do. Running is my happy place, I love running. I just want to do it. I’m not naïve, I’m not going to have the perfect build-up, I have six weeks, and there are runners who have been preparing for years, and for me, I have no expectations.
WWD: Let’s talk a bit about your fashion sense. You’re sponsored by Asics and Roka, two sports brands. So how would you describe your personal style? What do you like to wear?
G.J.: I’m in Asics 24-7. Wearing jeans is dressing up for me. I like to be comfortable and look good, and for me, that’s Asics-wear.