TEDxBoston

Karen Smyers

1995 Hawaiian Ironman and World Champion and Hall of Fame Triathlete

Karen Smyers competed as a professional triathlete for 30 years.  In her lengthy career, she won seven National and four World Championship titles, including a dramatic come-from-behind victory in the Hawaiian Ironman World Championships in 1995.  Her victory at the short-course ITU Triathlon World Championship just 5 weeks later still earns her the distinction of being the only woman ever to win triathlon’s two most prestigious races in the same year.

 

Subsequently, she endured the challenge of a severed hamstring muscle by broken glass, a time-out for the birth of her daughter, a knockdown by an eighteen-wheeler while cycling, and a battle with thyroid cancer, which prompted Sports Illustrated to name her “The Triathlete Most Likely to Be Eaten by a Shark” in Sydney.   Instead, she came back to win her seventh Elite National Championship title in August of 2001, just a week shy of her 40th birthday.  Karen was honored by her induction into USA Triathlon’s and the International Triathlon Union’s Halls of Fame in both of their inaugural years. In May 2020, Karen has the honor of serving as the women’s coach of Team USA for the inaugural Collins Cup, an event modeled after golf’s Ryder Cup to bring professional triathlon to a new level of notoriety and value.

 

Currently, she shares her experience, optimism, and passion for racing as a coach, motivational speaker and race organizer with her newly launched company Gallivant Racing.  She has spearheaded the all-volunteer-managed Lincoln Kids Triathlon for the past 17 years.  She is a 1983 graduate of Princeton University and lives in Lincoln, MA with daughter Jenna, son Casey, and husband and frequent training partner Michael King.