Gold-medal triathlete Gwen Jorgensen running Beach to Beacon as part of shift to marathons

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Gwen Jorgensen, center, runs during the women’s 10,000-meter run at the U.S. Championships in Des Moines, Iowa, in June. (AP file photo)

The Beach to Beacon 10K race brings elite runners to Cape Elizabeth every year, and 2018 is no different with Olympian Molly Huddle and former winner Ben True running Saturday.

This year’s race will also feature 2016 Olympic gold-medal triathlete Gwen Jorgensen, who now is training to be Olympian in the marathon.

Jorgensen had a shift in motivation when she had a child. The swimming and biking workouts were traded for more running.

The gold medal helped sway her decision, as well.

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“After I won a gold medal in the triathlon, I had accomplished everything I set out to do in that sport,” Jorgensen said Friday. “After giving birth to my son, Stanley, I wanted to make a new challenge to myself. I am motivated by challenges and also believe in taking big risks. I also love running and enjoy getting up and doing something I love daily.”

Jorgensen was recruited into the sport of triathlon in 2009 while she was attending the University of Wisconsin. She competed in her first triathlon in 2010.

“As a little kid, I loved swimming, but I was never great at it,” Jorgensen said. “I was naturally a good runner, but now to compete at the highest level in running is a great challenge.”

Jorgensen has won the USA Triathlete of the Year award twice, and was a two-time defending world triathlon champion heading into 2016 when she won the gold in Brazil.

Now that she is training for marathons, Jorgensen has been able to focus on running. The Beach to Beacon will be a good test to gauge where her speed is at with the 2020 Tokyo Olympics less than two years away.

“I want to push my limits and focus on process-based goals,” Jorgensen said. “I want to have my shoulders relaxed, my cadence high and push through the mental and physical pain. This will be a good test to see how I run on tired legs. In the marathon I will need to learn to run a fast 10K on tired legs, and this is my first opportunity to learn how to do it.”

Having a child altered Jorgensen’s path. She has tripled her miles run per week with marathons on her mind, but Stanley eases the pain upon arriving home.

“I have such a great appreciation for the work I do now and greater perspective because of my son,” Jorgensen said. “If I have a bad workout or injury, I come home to my son and forget all about any problems. He is so incredible, and I am so fortunate that I love my job.”

Saturday’s race will be the Wisconsin native’s first race in Maine. She is participating based on advice from her coach, Jerry Schumacher, to run the historic race.

“I will be running a 10K tomorrow on tired legs from marathon training, which is what I will need to do in a marathon, run a good 10K at the end of a marathon,” Jorgensen said. “I am really excited to test my limits tomorrow.”

The Olympian’s favorite workout to do when training for triathlons was six 1,000-meter repeats at race pace. The Beach to Beacon will certainly put that to the test.

Jorgenson said the most excited she will be Saturday is when she meets the race’s founder, Joan Benoit Samuelson.

“I love how she cares so much about the community and is excited to get children active and healthy, as this is a passion of mine, too,” Jorgensen said. “She is doing great things with this Nike event.”

Having raced all over the globe, Jorgensen picked Norway and Japan as her two favorites, if she had to choose. This week is her first time in Maine, and it has made a good first impression.

“I am stunned with the beauty here in Maine,” Jorgensen said. “… I ran the entire course today, and the last mile is challenging, but I heard the fans are amazing and push you to the finish line. The course is beautiful with the ocean views. It is an incredible place to come and push hard.”

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