Champion Michigan Triathlete Karen Mckeachie Dies in Bike Accident.

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.






  1. Sandra said:

    Reblogged this on A Promise to Dad and commented:
    Ugh. Enough already!

    And today in class one of my students said (right after a conversation about road rage), “you aren’t one of those cyclists who rides in the middle of the road lane, are you?”

    Could not have asked for a better teaching moment.

  2. Lynne Pirie said:

    I vividly recall this exceptional woman athlete, Karen, a very quiet yet fiercely relentless instance runner at Michigan State University back in the 70’s. I moved to the west and was not aware of her continued exceptional athletic achievements until being informed of her tragic death by a fellow team mate from those years at State. I am overwhelmed by this staggering loss to her husband, family and friends and the triathlon community. It humbles me greatly to think that I had the opportunity to run and compete on the same track as Karen. She will inspire thousands of us “also rans” to keep pushing in honor of her legacy.

  3. Twila Tardif said:

    Terribly sad news. Karen was truly a hero’s hero. She had incredible spirit and kindness to go with it. She was an excellent and experienced rider. We really ought not to need any more of these tragedies, but this is one more reason why Michigan drivers and roads need better planning and road-sharing education. As you speed along that beautiful country road, think about whose life might be in your hands. Is it worth it? Really?

  4. Greg upshur said:

    Raise friend and mentor, loved warming up with her before a race telling her how I was going to kick her ass! Hah
    Tom please send me visitation times. thanks and sooo sorry. The Mustang Chef

  5. Laurie said:

    I witnessed this accident and I just want to send prayers to her family and many friends!!!

  6. Lizzie Burt said:

    We are all so saddened by the loss of a wonderful woman and dear friend!

  7. Lew, I am so sorry to hear about Karen. She was an inspiration to so many women. My heart goes out to you. Gloria West

  8. Gloria said:

    I’ve never met Karen nor heard of her prior to this tragic accident. My heart goes out to her husband, family & the many lives she touched along her journey. A senseless way to die. RIP Karen & thank you for persevering in women’s sports!

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