Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Some triathletes don't disappear into the crowd. They have something that sets them apart. A sparkle. A magnetism. Kevin O'Connor, for instance, has a ubiquitous "Magic Johnson" smile. Eighty-four-year-old Bob Powers exudes a palpable warmth and an understated gregariousness. He truly likes people. Gregg Garrettson is more overtly extroverted and at 6'5ish, is impossible to miss. When he asks you how are you doing, you know he cares about your answer.

These and others remind us that races are as much social experiences as they are athletic tests. Don't you feel sad for that person who arrives at the venue, talks to no one and leaves as soon as the race is over, the value of his or her time spent measured only by whether his/her competitive goals were met or not?

Another person who can light up a race venue is Minneapolis' Karen Bebchuk, a 43-year-old mother of two girls. And her O'Connorian smile, Powersian warmth and Garrettsonian congeniality are not the only things that make her stand out in a crowd.

She is also the "Skort Lady."

Sure, lots of women race in skorts these days, but Karen was one of the first Minnesotans to don this particular garment. She's been "skorted" for years. She owns numerous pairs, some of which sport rather flamboyant patterns. (Note the floral motif that she's wearing in the purloined Facebook picture above.)

And it is quite possible that Karen is the fastest skort-wearing triathlete in the Land 'o 10-Grand. Check out her 2009 Highlights:

* 3rd overall woman @ Heart of the Lakes Short Course
* 4th overall woman @ Liberty Olympic
* 7th overall @ the YWCA Women's Triathlon
* 12th overall @ Iron Girl - Bloomington