Vibram Ambassador Questions: Karen Harbaugh

Looking for a lightweight shoe with good traction, I found Vibrams in 2010 while training for my first obstacle course race.

Favorite Vibrams:  I am in love with the V-runs. These shoes are light as a feather, breathe well, and dry out quickly. They are the most comfortable pair I have ever owned. 

My passion is doing triathlons, because I love the challenge of each sport.  Training for three events keeps the routine exciting and fun.  I love to share my passion for triathlons and hope to increase women’s participation in the sport. The G3 (Gainesville Triathlon Club) is a three- time recipient of the Ironman Foundation’s Women For Tri grant, and I am excited to support this initiative.

Before Vibrams, I didn’t care for running, because it hurt my knees. After switching to Vibrams, I discovered a more natural stride and found running to be really enjoyable.  Joining the running community opened new doors to endless events which allowed me to connect with amazing people. The entire fitness community is really supportive, incredibly positive, and truly inspirational.  Over time, we began pursuing new challenges, started accomplishing bigger goals, and began achieving dreams that once seemed impossible. 

I think the most common question I am asked about Vibrams is “Do they have enough support?”

What would you like to see in FiveFingers’ designs in the future? I have had several friends say they can’t wear Vibrams, because their second toe is longer than the big toe.  Maybe there could be an option with this in mind.  I love all the choices and vivid colors and can’t wait to see what designs come out next.  

Three people I most admire:  There are so many people I admire, but Hector Picard, Diana Nyad, and Tina Ament quickly come to mind.

Accomplishments you are most proud of:  It will be an incredible honor and privilege to represent Team USA at the ITU World Championships in Gold Coast, Australia in September. I hope to represent well.  

I was also proud of this accomplishment:  In one of the hottest days in Ironman history, I placed 9th in my age group at Ironman Chattanooga in 2016.  There was approximately a 25 % DNF rate that day due to the heat (97 degrees with a heat index close to 110.)  I only missed qualifying for the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii by 6 slots.

The most beautiful place I’ve ever been was running along the Pacific Coast on scenic Highway 1 during the Big Sur International Marathon.

If I could eat only 3 foods for the rest of my life, they would be bananas, peanut butter & honey toast, and cheese pizza.  

The most courageous thing I’ve ever done is a toss-up between signing up for my first GoRuck Challenge in New York City and signing up for my first Ironman. I’ve been bungee jumping, but that was probably more foolish than courageous.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?  I love the quote from William James “If you can change your mind, you can change your life.”