New Twists on Triathlons
Two women aim to make running fun
by Kyle Norris
Eva Solomon and Karen McKeachie were bored with standard triathlons. So now they run a company, EST Events, dedicated to adding some spice to the three-part swim-bike-run races.
The two veteran athletes are hosting Michigan's first triathlon for women, "She Rocks!," on June 28 at Big Portage Lake-and an offbeat adventure race called the "Battle of Waterloo" on August 16.
In many triathlons, McKeachie says, some women can get lost in the pack. Others don't even enter because they feel intimidated racing against men. She and Solomon hope "She Rocks!" will attract those women, and others who might have found the demanding races too intimidating as well. "She Rocks!" will offer an optional shorter route for beginners and a duathlon, with biking and running but no swimming.
"We're doing our best to make it fun and not stressful," says Solomon. "We want to alleviate as many fears as possible for these women." It seems to be working. At a recent training class, a group of women from Detroit showed up-none of whom had ever competed in a triathlon before.
Both Solomon and McKeachie are serious athletes. McKeachie, fifty-six, is a lifelong runner who did her first triathlon when she was twenty-nine. She's competed in nine Ironmans-basically triathlons on steroids-and once placed an impressive eighth. She has five world titles and nine national age-group titles in triathlons and duathlons. Her business, Women in Motion, helps women reach their fitness goals.
Solomon, forty-one, ran her first marathon just before her wedding. Long intrigued by triathlons, she competed in her first at age twenty-seven, just after giving birth to the second of her three children. She first met McKeachie as a competitor in triathlons. Now Solomon is quitting her job as an elementary school teacher to concentrate full time on EST events.
The "Battle of Waterloo" will be a forty-two-mile adventure race through the Waterloo Recreation Area. It's divided into ten stages that alternate between swimming, biking, and running, and the partners hope to attract as many as 400 competitors at $120-$150 a head. One quirk: participants must devise a way to carry their running shoes while swimming across lakes. McKeachie says she'll just stuff them in her swimsuit and run in wet shoes.
[Originally published in July, 2009.]