Alumni Spotlight: Karen Harbaugh

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Alumni Spotlight: Karen Harbaugh

Bella Love

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By: Bella Love, Staff Editor

Manatee High Alumni Karen Harbaugh has made great achievements in triathlon racing and is a wonderful inspiration for girls everywhere who aspire to compete in triathlons at a high level. Harbaugh made the most of her time at Manatee, participating in the girl’s service organization Anchor Club, Key Club Sweetheart, which was the girls’ version of Key Club and Sugar Canes, where she was the dance team captain. She was also a Desoto Queen during her time at Manatee. She then went on to get her masters in physician assistant studies at the University of Florida and is now working as an Interventional Radiology Physician Assistant. She now lives in Gainsville, Florida and is the mother of three children. Harbaugh is also a successful competitive triathlon racer.

“Even in high school, Karen was a very hardworking and conscientious student. She was an outstanding dancer and an outstanding leader on the dance team,” said Mrs. Boone, the current Spanish and senate teacher who was in charge of the Sugarcanes when Harbaugh was a student at Manatee.

She is a member of Women For Tri, an organization that supports and encourages women in the sport of triathlon. The mission of Women for Tri is to increase female participation in competitive triathlons. They also give grants to deserving women’s triathlon clubs around the world.

Fight to the Finish: Harbaugh participates in many triathatalons competitively. She partnered with a shoe company called Vibram for these races. “Make time for what fills your soul with happiness. You can accomplish your dreams if you are willing to make a plan, work hard, and be committed,” stated Lindo-Harbaugh. Photo Credit: Vibram.

“Women For Tri, a program of The Ironman Foundation launched by Ironman and Life Time Fitness in 2015, works to increase female participation at all levels of triathlon,” explains the Women For Tri Foundation’s website. “The program seeks to identify and diminish primary barriers to entry and mobilize triathlon advocates to encourage and engage female athletes across all race distances and representing all athletic abilities.”

One of Harbaugh’s greatest achievements in the sport of triathlon is making the USA team for the triathlon world championships. Harbaugh qualified for the 2018 International Triathalon Union’s Draft-Legal Sprint Distance Triathalon World Championship in Gold Coast, Australia.

“Team USA was created by USA Triathlon to be a group of age group/amateurs who will best represent the United States and compete in the International Triathalon Union’s (ITU) world championships, which attracts athletes representing over 50 countries each year,” says the organization about the competition.

Harbaugh has participated in more than a dozen Olympic distance races, two Ironman 70.3 distances, the Louisville Ironman 140.6 and the Chattanooga Ironman 144.6. The Ironman is largely recognized as the biggest and most important race for anyone in the sport of triathlon. She is involved in multiple running clubs, including The Running Man Club, G3-Gainesville Triathlon Club, Two Rules Running, Gainesville Cycling Club, Florida Track Club and Running Tabs. She has partnered with the running shoe brand Vibram and promotes them by running in them during many of her races.

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