Quest for Gold: Gwen Jorgensen’s Story – A Family Affair

Go, Gwen, Go: A Family’s Journey to Olympic Gold

Gwen Jorgensen won gold in the 2016 Rio Olympics, along with many other wins, and she is currently training hard for another medal in the 2020 Olympics, this time in the Marathon.

We all know, it takes a village to raise an Olympian and today we talk with two of Gwen’s family members, Nancy and Elizabeth Jorgensen. They authored Go, Gwen, Go, a book about the Jorgensen family’s commitment to Gwen’s success and ambition to be a world champion and win gold. Today we have the opportunity to go in depth about “the village” that raised Gwen to this point. We hear about the 2012 Olympic disappointment,  the 2016 Olympic gold medal, and the 2020 marathon hopes and more in this fast-reading story where Nancy and Elizabeth Jorgensen share their version of an Olympian’s life and what that entails as “supporters” of one’s lofty dreams. 

Nancy Jorgensen is the mother of Gold Medalist Gwen Jorgensen. She earned a Bachelor of Music from Alverno College and a Master of Music from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. A high school choir director for many years, she is the co-author of two music education books. 

Since 2015, Nancy has been a writer, concentrating on a book-length memoir and short creative nonfiction. Nancy has written several essays and an Olympic blog for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. She enjoys spending time with her children and grandson in Oregon. Her favorite pastimes are reading, playing medieval music, baking and working with textiles. 

Elizabeth Jorgensen is a writer and teacher and regularly presents on a Korean form of poetry called sijo. Elizabeth’s lessons have been uploaded on the Sejong Cultural Society as an exemplar of teaching poetry.   

Elizabeth is a pop culture addict and spends her free time watching the Real Housewives with her aging cockapoo, Branji. When she’s not watching Bravo, she enjoys meeting fitness goals and training. She is passionate about selfies and sharing home-cooked meals with her favorite people. She is also a first violin in the Menomonee Falls Symphony Orchestra. 

Elizabeth prides herself on being her little sister Gwen’s biggest fan. She enjoys following her, both professionally and personally, and especially enjoys giving unsolicited advice on Gwen’s social media channels.

Questions Liz and Nancy are asked:

4:28 First Four:

  1. How old are you?
  2. Where were you born?
  3. Where do you live now?
  4. What is your favorite workout? 

7:15 Who is Gwen Jorgensen?

8:47 Why and when did you decide to write the book?

10:08 How did you encourage or support Gwen when she decided to compete?

12:08 Liz, how did your sibling relationship play into Gwen’s success?

14:35 How long did it take to write the book and what were some of the challenges?

16:25 How did you find a publisher and when was the book released?

18:01 How did the family decide to support Gwen in all of the areas she needed?

20:01 Liz, what were some of the more creative ways you’ve supported Gwen at her events?

21:23 What sacrifices did you make as a family?

22:54 Did you make your daughters’ activities a family event?

23:55 What were Gwen’s challenges in triathlon and what made her switch to the marathon for the 2020 Olympics?

24:44 How did she convince herself to become a competitive cyclist in the triathlon?

25:44 Why would she not try to win another gold medal for triathlon?

26:19 Who else is part of ‘Team Gwen’?

28:20 How important is having an entire support system of people to succeed at an Olympic level?

29:24 What were some of Gwen’s low points in her career?

30:52 What happened in the 2012 London Olympics?

32:34 Where did she finish?

32:58 Did she qualify for the Olympics on that same course?

33:06 How did she stage the comeback for 2016 in Rio?

35:03 What was it like when you realized she was going to win?

35:59 What happens post-win in the Olympics?

36:57 What has happened with Gwen between when the book ends and now?

37:46 Did she have surgery recently?

39:06 When does she do the trials for 2020?

39:34 One of Gwen’s personal goals was to start a family; how has that been?

41:37 How has Gwen’s family changed the dynamics with your family?

43:57 What else should we take away from your book?

49:29 Final Kick Round:

  1. What is your favorite local training run or outing (location, starting point, parking, distance, terrain and safety issues)?
  2. Favorite book(s), video or resource? 
  3. Who or what would you like to have featured on the Run To The Top podcast?



“The way Gwen started as a high school and college athlete, but then transitioned into the work world and was working as a CPA and RESISTED triathlon, but then finally came to triathlon, and it was just such a unique story that we both thought it was worth telling.”

“Gwen is so good with saying exactly what she needs; whether that’s food, nutrition, sleep, alone time, or help with something.”

“Nothing is a sacrifice, it’s an investment.”

“She had said publicly, ‘I want to win gold in Rio.’ and had devoted so much of her life to that one race that her emotion just exploded out of her and that affected the rest of us and we gave into that same kind of release.”

(Nancy) “Whenever Gwen is on the bike, I am so nervous. I know now, after seeing her crash and seeing other people crash, I know what can happen on the bike and when I’m home I don’t even watch. I’m cleaning my stove or scrubbing my sink or something.”

Take a Listen on Your Next Run


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Mentioned in this podcast: 

Run To The Top Winners Circle Facebook Community

RunnersConnect Facebook page



Book: Go, Gwen, Go by  Nancy and Elizabeth Jorgensen

BodBot App

Jamie Turner – Why he’s the world’s best triathlon coach

Lake Country Recreation Trail

Bowerman Track Club

Lopez Lomong

Book: Running for My Life by Lopez Lomong

Ryan Bloor – Right Body Fitness

Nancy Jorgensen’s Homepage

Liz Jorgensen’s Homepage

Follow Gwen on:

Gwen’s Homepage

Gwen’s YouTube Channel





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