Woman, Son Training For Tulsa Ironman Competition


Thursday, December 26th 2019, 11:14 pm
By: Amy Kauffman


Thousands are lacing up their running shoes, swimming laps, and biking hundreds of miles to prepare for the Ironman Competition here in 2020 and for some, this race is a second chance.

One Tulsa woman qualified for the Ironman World Championships in 1985 in Hawaii, but didn't get to go.

"My husband and I went down there specifically to try to qualify," said Tulsa native Karen Mulkey.

Karen started participating in triathlons in her early 20s. In 1985, she won a triathlon in Louisiana which qualified her for a spot in the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii.

The race advertised a free trip for the winner of the race, but when she crossed the finish line, she was handed a dozen roses instead of a plane ticket.

"It turns out the man got the trip, and I got a dozen roses - and at that time in my life I couldn't afford to do it," said Karen.

Thirty-five years later, Karen is a mom who works full time and no longer races competitively, but she believes it's fate the Ironman Triathlon is coming to her home town.

Related Story: Keystone Harbor Prepares For Ironman Tulsa 

However, this time around it will be a little bit different, because she's competing with her son, Noel.

"In May when we both finish, that's what's going to be really cool," said Noel Mulkey.

Ironman Tulsa will start with a 2.4 mile swim in Keystone Lake, then athletes will bike 112 miles through portions of Creek, Osage and Tulsa Counties, finishing at OSU Tulsa's campus.

After that, they'll lace up their running shoes for a marathon along the river.

Karen and Noel both train for several hours a day and say this will be the first "true" Ironman Competition for both of them.

And even though Karen isn't as competitive as she used to be, she hopes it will inspire others out there to realize it's never too late to chase your dreams.

“There's other things in life that people want to do, and this is one of those things that I thought would never be possible again to try,” said Karen.

"I know that will mean a lot to her. It's been a long time coming,” said Noel.

Register for the event.