We at SDTriNews.com believe every triathlete has a story–a reason for why they do what they do in our sport. We seek out these stories and endeavor to share them with our readers to inform, encourage, and inform whoever may come across our site. Welcome to T3.
She didn’t podium when we met her. She didn’t even finish in the top five. But for some reason, people love Karen Schwartz. Her finishing picture on our FB page as of this evening has 52 likes. That’s a lot of love. So we figured, Karen may have a story.
We were right.
Karen’s fitness journey actually starts in high school when she was a competitive runner. A stressful work schedule several years later led to some pretty unhealthy choices and a 50 pound weight gain. When Karen landed a new job with a much friendlier schedule, she joined the local YMCA and started attending the Wednesday night running club. There she met an inspirational person in her triathlon journey: Ron Totten. Totten was a triathlete himself. He often encouraged Karen to try triathlon.
Karen had been running 5Ks and 10ks with even a 10-miler under her belt when a physician informed her in 2011 that she had a stress fracture and had only one activity available in her fitness arsenal: swimming.
Totten’s encouragement began to strike a nerve, and Karen made the decision to try a tri as soon as she overcame her injury.
As one could predict, Karen loved the multi-sport community. (Who doesn’t love this bunch of people!) She finished her first tri at Siouxperman in 2012 with minimal equipment commitment (like many newbies, she borrowed a bike). She began to think more about going further distances and continuing to race. Then, in December 2012 her first (and arguably biggest) fan, Ron Totten, died suddenly of cardiac arrest. Each time Karen competes from this point forward, she thinks of Ron and his excitement when she finished that first event.
Karen, who lives in Minnesota, crossed the border into South Dakota for our fine state’s own Outland Challenge for a couple of reasons. She had seen the promo video on CTolle Run. Karen, who ran competitively in high school, has raced with Olympian Carrie Tollefson. In fact, Karen was only lapped once in the 3200 meter race, by none other than the Olympian herself. So knowing Carrie was going to be at Outland made that race a draw. Additionally, the race is a challenge (thus the name). Karen finished with a genuine sense of achievement, even with this as her seventh triathlon. Karen also discovered in her training that an old high school acquaintance would be racing. So why not come over to the prairie state of triathlon.
Karen’s future in triathlon looks bright. With fewer injuries thanks to the cross training triathlon requires, she hopes to conquer the half-iron distance within the next couple of years. We wish her the best and look forward to seeing her cross the border into our race territory again. And we can see now, too, why 52 people LOVE Karen Schwartz. Make that 53 with us.