Karen Thibodeau was born August 22nd, 1979 in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, Canada. She grew up in the small town of Kentville where she started her athletic career at the age of 10 when she joined a local swim team - The Wolfville Tritons. By age 17, Karen had moved to Waterloo, Ontario, where she joined The Region of Waterloo Swim Team and, in 1996, qualified for Olympic Trials for the 200 meter backstroke and the 400 meter individual medley.
In 1998 Karen accepted a swimming scholarship to the University of Pittsburgh, and over the next two years won silver and bronze Canadian National medals as part of the 400 meter relay team. Karen graduated with an honors degree in exercise physiology, and for her outstanding athletic and academic accomplishments, Karen was awarded the University’s Blue-Gold Award.
Shortly after graduation, Karen moved to Korea to teach English for eight months, and then returned to Ontario to work as a community recreational coordinator where she taught health and fitness to minority groups throughout the Toronto area. In an effort to further the scope in which she could help these marginalized populations, Karen decided to return to school. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Toronto in 2006, and began working in Vancouver, British Columbia as a mental health and addictions outreach nurse.
Having been out of competitive sports for five years, in 2007 Karen decided to enter the Vancouver International Marathon. Not being familiar with the sport, Karen managed to win for fastest first time marathoner with a time of 3 hours and 10 minutes. After being encouraged to enter the world of triathlon, Karen decided to enter the Oliver BC Half Ironman, and with only a short amount of time to train she won the race and earned a spot at Ironman Canada, where she placed 2nd overall female. Six months later Karen won the Honolulu half marathon and was back in the world of racing. She applied for and obtained her pro-license, and is in her second year as a professional triathlete and Kona World Championship hopeful.