Former Swimmer Karen Holloway ('94) Wins Ironman Canada Triathlon Title

September 13, 2005
By ODU Athletics
ODU Sports

Sept. 13, 2005

NOTE: Karen (Connolly) Holloway is a 1994 graduate of Old Dominion University and former team captain on the swimming team. In 1993 she captured the CAA Championship in the 200 fly and set the ODU school record in both 200 and 400 fly. She was also the team MVP in 1993. Holloway is a graduate of nearby Norfolk Collegiate High School.

Iron will, Canada gold Holloway picks up speed at each stop en route to women's triathlon title

BY FRED JETER TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER Thursday, September 8, 2005 "Copywright Richmond Times Dispatch, used with permission"

Karen Holloway felt like a new woman entering the Subaru Ironman Canada in Penticton, British Columbia.

She felt like a much richer woman leaving it.

The 32-year-old Tuckahoe Family YMCA swim instructor benefited from a new custom-made bicycle and a recently mended foot in posting the fastest time among women and the 28th best overall out of 2,245 entries.

Holloway's combined 9-hour, 51-minute, 31-second clocking for a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mike bike race and 26.2-mile run was worth $12,000 her richest payday since turning pro in 2002.

"I'll put that back into my training and my next big trip," said the 5-6, 140-pound former Old Dominion University swimmer.

Her earnings, in Canadian currency, came out of a total purse of $75,000. Californian Chris Lieto was the overall winner in 8:33.32.

Holloway finished more than three minutes ahead of runner-up Paolina Allan (9:54.25) but off the female record of 9:05.28 set by Erin Baker in 1990.

There was drama aplenty leading up to the flight to Canada's most western province.

As Holloway put the finishing touches on her training, she kept watching for the UPS truck and a custom-made bike.

The bike (built to order by Kevin Skeen of Ohio) arrived Aug. 26. Holloway left Aug. 27 for the Aug. 28 physical test.

"It was a risky decision switching bikes at the last minute without having any practice," Holloway said. "Turned out to be the right move. It's been said triathlons go to the fastest runners. I think I turned this one into more of a bike race."

Holloway was third among women after her 54-minute, 58-second swim in Okanagan Lake. She took the lead for good 20 miles into the bike race and kept stretching it.

Then, she easily (if anything can be easy in triathlons) held on with a 3:45.23 marathon run.

"I wasn't looking back," she said. "I didn't run scared."

Holloway's running regimen was thrown for a loop during the spring by a foot injury called Morton's Neuroma -- a swelling of nerves in the toes.

"It was painful, just to walk, excruciating to run," she said.

Holloway underwent surgery in early June by Dr. John Bowman of West End Orthopaedic. The operation, while successful, greatly reduced her road work at a key juncture.

Her marathon was about 15 minutes off her all-time best, but it was quick enough under the conditions: windy and temperatures hovering near 90.

Holloway trains locally under Chris "Slice" Danahy. She also bestows kudos to her husband, Chris, who she said, "sacrifices a lot . . . like when I go on 7-, 8-hour workouts on the weekends."

The Canadian triumph was draped in sentiment for Holloway, who was born in Quebec. A military brat, she also lived in Vancouver and Ottawa before coming to Virginia, where she was a Colonial Athletic Association champion for ODU in the 200 butterfly.

"When I first started doing triathlons, my father [Norman Connolly] said to me, 'You have to do the Canada Ironman,'" Holloway said.

Holloway didn't forget, and neither did dad. Among those applauding Holloway in Penticton was her father, who was born in nearby Kamloops.

Holloway, who plans little break in her training discipline, intends on skipping the Hawaii Ironman and to focus on the Florida Ironman in November.

"It's not like I did the best I possibly could . . . like there was nothing left," she said. "That's very encouraging. I know I've got a better time in me."