She Who Laughs Last…

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Outside magazine, February 1996

She Who Laughs Last…
By Todd Balf and Paul Kvinta (with Debra Shore)

Two days before the short-course triathlon world championships in Cancún, Mexico, last November, newly crowned Ironman champion Karen Smyers was neither training nor relaxing nor touring Mayan ruins. Instead Smyers was embroiled in a rancorous meeting in which she attempted to stop the sport’s organizing body, the International Triathlon Union, from implementing a
controversial series of rule changes. “I argued against five of the proposals,” says Smyers. “But they passed them all.” Particularly disturbing to Smyers is a measure that will slap a two-year ban on anyone who competes in the sport’s other world championship, the Hawaii Ironman–a policy that made her subsequent victory in Cancún all the more satisfying. Not only did
Smyers get to tweak the ITU by sweeping both titles in a span of five weeks, but she also was able to answer those who called her Ironman win a fluke. After all, she points out, Paula Newby-Fraser’s collapse in Hawaii came with Smyers right on her heels. “Paula told me later that the reason she got into trouble,” says Smyers, who plans to race in next year’s Ironman despite the
ITU ban, “was that she knew I was coming.”