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Karen Cosgrove


“Life is not about one-upsmanship.  It is about supporting each other – teamwork”.  Karen Cosgrove

“We can’t all be presidents of countries or Bill Gates’ of the world.  But we are all capable of setting a goal and going after it.” – Karen Cosgrove


Karen Cosgrove

Miles That Matter Founder /Head Coach

Karen Cosgrove, 33-year marathon runner, is the driving force behind Miles That Matter -- a sport training program she developed to coach women, men, and teens to be stronger than they ever imagined – not only giving them feet to run but wings to fly” with her “can do” attitude.

Karen Cosgrove, now in her 50’s and approaching her 110th marathon, never considered herself an athlete in her youth. She was always the first person cut from any team she tried out for. So, how did she get to where she is today? She learned to dream.

It all started from reading an article in a popular women’s magazine 33 years ago that talked about running and walking as great ways to get in shape.

This caught her eye because she had gained 20 pounds from a sedentary life as graphic design major coupled with the habit of eating pizza and beer with friends.

About the same time, she saw Frank Shorter win an Olympic medal for the United States.

Karen, a middle child from a family of nine siblings, started to dream. She saw running as a way to stand out from the crowd and gain an identity of her own.

Karen’s Life Changing Experience

Karen’s life changing experience started when she tagged along with her brother’s friends to the Terre Haute Marathon -- intending to run a six mile race while they tackled 26.2.

Fully aware of a woman’s prerogative to change her mind, Karen did just that. She registered for the full marathon instead, although she had jogged no more than a maximum of six miles in her life.

A curious thing happened. She finished the event in less than four hours. She then entered the race circuit, continued to train and within two years became an elite runner, taking twelfth in the world in 1980. While other women found emancipation on college campuses and at women’s rights rallies, Karen became liberated by a pair of worn out Nikes.

Karen’s U.S. Olympic Team Dream

Eventually Karen became the twenty-ninth female out of 265 to cross the finish line of the 1984 U.S. Olympic trials. Unfortunately, only the first three finishers qualified, one of whom was from Karen’s home town.

Excited for her friend but disappointed in her own performance, Karen flew home that evening with the stinging irony that “the girl next door” was living what could have been her Olympic dream.

Once the plane landed, Karen jostled through bands, flower bouquets and swarming reporters before she glimpsed her own celebration – an unassuming poster board sign held by her two-year-old son displaying the scribbled words, “Mommy, we love you and are so proud of you!”

Amazingly enough, four years later Karen tried again. Only seven months after the birth of her second child, she laced her shoes for the 1988 Olympic trials. Early in the race she stepped into a pothole and sprained her ankle, and at mile 11 she had to make the agonizing decision to drop out.

The very next week, her brother was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and given only a 5 percent chance of survival. As many of us do when faced with a heartache, Karen bargained with God to give her brother a second chance. She vowed then to “make a difference” with her life.

Today, Karen’s brother is alive and so is her promise. Prior to founding Miles That Matter, Karen worked with the Leukemia and lymphoma Society, training ordinary people to run an extraordinary distance -- a first marathon. In 18 years of coaching, she has guided over 9,000 people across that finish line and has helped raise over 10 million dollars for many local not-for profit organizations.

Karen’s Philosophy

Her philosophy is simple. She keeps her charges grounded with common sense advice.

  • “Listen to your body.” (Having run over 90 marathons, she has never been injured.)
  • And not once has she asked anyone’s race time. She believes that is not what’s important. “It’s all about making people strong,” says Karen.

Fun Facts

Karen was there at the beginning of the Flying Pig Marathon in 1998. Karen “drew the course on a bar napkin” with Flying Pig Marathon founder Bob Coughlin.

Coaching Philosophy

  • The goal is to teach you that "more is not better - balance is everything".
  • Fitness should be a life-long activity, and done right, it will be.

Coaching Experience

  • Founder, Miles That Matter 2008
  • Fleet Feet Sports Training Program, Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Personal and Virtual Coach to hundreds of first time and seasoned runners (since 1988)
  • Head Coach: TEAM IN TRAINING The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (1992 - 2007)

Area of Expertise

  • Running and Run-Walking Programs for all levels
  • Strength Training for the Multi-Sport Athlete
  • Bicycling
  • Swimming
  • Motivation
  • Fundraising

Accomplishments and Awards

  • Has run more than 105 marathons and never been injured.
  • Ranked 12th in the world for marathon distance in 1980
  • Qualified and competed in the 1984 and 1988 Olympic Trials
  • Winner of the First Columbus Marathon
  • Eighth in first attempt at the Boston Marathon in 1979
  • Winner of the Chicago Distance Classic in 1980. Second fastest time for an American woman that year
  • Four time winner of the Charleston Distance Classic
  • Tenth at Avon Women’s International Marathon Championship. Second American Woman, September 1979
  • Fourth at Avon Women’s International 30K Championship April, 1979
  • Winner of several local road races and triathlons
  • Third and Second Place in Age Group at the World’s Largest Age Group Triathlon, Chicago , 2001 and 2002
  • Featured in The Runner Magazine, December 1981, Karen Cosgrove: The Story Of A Leading Runner and Her Pregnancy
  • Greater Cincinnati March of Champions - Athlete of the Year- Female- Community at Large 1996, presented by the March of Dimes
  • Communiplex Women’s Sports Hall of Fame, 1989
  • Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky Sport’s Association, Master & Senior Sportswoman of the Year, 2004.
  • Roger Bacon High School Women’s Hall of Fame, 2009

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