All of this was a tuneup for the Oct. 29 Chicago marathon. Baker's plan was to run with the leaders for as long as possible. Unfortunately, that proved to be less than a mile, and Baker struggled to a 12th-place finish, her time a disappointing 2:39:36. Along with the Chicago disappointment, Baker was forced to swallow another bitter pill—two weeks earlier Newby-Fraser had run away with yet another Ironman title and course record. Baker has won four triathlons since Chicago, but at the Commonwealth Games, in Auckland, New Zealand, last January, she failed to qualify for the 10,000.
Everyone, Baker included, agrees that she will have to give up the triathlon if she hopes to compete with running's best. At the moment, however, she is unwilling to make the move. "If I did really well I'd consider just being a runner," she says, "but at the moment, I'm a triathlete who likes to run." But with Olympics on the horizon, Baker admits that assessment could change. A final spin around the track—without beer drinkers—would be a nice cap to a career.