By Tom Demerly.
Karen Mckeachie, 63, of Ann Arbor, Michigan was killed in a collision with a car while cycling on Dexter-Chelsea Road near North Fletcher in Lima Township on Friday morning, August 26, 2016.
Michigan State Police are conducting an investigation of the accident.
Karen Mckeachie was an internationally-known elite triathlete and an iconic figure in the sport.
Mckeachie was inducted into the USA Triathlon Hall of Fame in 2014. In her career as a top age group triathlete across all distances and many age categories, Karen Mckeachie won six world age-group championships and 15 age-group national championships. She was a multi-time Ironman World Championship finisher.
On Friday night a relative of Karen Mckeachie memorialized her remarkable life with these highlights:
- Inducted into the USA Triathlon Hall of Fame in 2014
- Seven-time triathlon world champion
- Seventeen-time triathlon national champion
- USA Triathlon’s Overall Triathlete of the Year, 1999 (the only 40+ female to receive that honor)
- USA Triathlon Masters Triathlete of the Year, 2000
- Is believed to be the oldest athlete (58 years) to outright win a major triathlon, beating out all the younger athletes in the race
- Created the first-ever women’s bike saddle
- Former coach of Olympic triathlete Sheila Taormina
- Won two triathlons in one weekend in 2013
- Has run a 2:48 marathon
- Raced in 9 Hawaii (Kona) “Ironmans”, finishing as high as 8th female overall, and four times in the Top 25
- When she was in college, and before Title IX began to level the playing field, University of Michigan wouldn’t give her an “M” shirt to wear when she qualified for the NCAA championships. So she sewed an “M” onto her own shirt, went to the championships, and won outright. Her hand-sewn “M” shirt is now in UM’s sports hall of fame. (She had to transfer to a lower-quality agricultural college in East Lansing because, even after her victories, UM still did not support women’s athletics).
Karen spent the past 35 years hosting and managing races, building the sport well before it became mainstream. Mckeachie’s influence has directly touched nearly every triathlon in Michigan that is older than 5 years.
Karen Mckeachie was an engineer with an analytical background she employed in her approach to triathlon training and equipment. She is credited with developing the first ever female-specific triathlon bike saddle when she used a hand saw to modify an existing bike seat to be more comfortable riding in the aerodynamic position. She was also co-founder of what may have been the first ever website to sell triathlon gear online.
Mckeachie, along with her husband Lew Kidder who survives her, was a tireless supporter of the sport of triathlon, contributing to the careers of many elite triathletes, managing triathlon events and contributing at every level of the sport.
Known as a quiet, reserved person outside of the racecourse, she was a fierce competitor while racing, having endured numerous physical injuries to prevail across all race distances and age categories. Mckeachie never recognized her age as a limitation and always raced for overall success.
Along with her husband, Lew Kidder, she helped found Triathlon Today! magazine that went on to become Inside Triathlon magazine under (then) VeloNews publication.
Prior to her death Mckeachie was racing and training actively, continuing to participate in national and world championship events.