Thursday, August 28, 2008

A Loss

"When you're stuck sitting in a comfort zone, small problems become magnified.
Get out of your comfort zone, touch the edge, and you come back with an
appreciation for life." - Barbara Warren, 1943-2008


Article by Don Norcross, from the San Diego Union-Tribune, August 28, 2008:

Three days after a bike accident left her paralyzed from the neck down, Barbara
Warren, one of San Diego's elite age-group triathletes, died Tuesday night in a
Santa Barbara hospital.

She was 65.

Warren was competing in the Santa Barbara Triathlon on Saturday when she
crashed. Race director Joe Coito said participants told him Warren crashed on a
downhill road about halfway into the 34-mile bike portion of the event.

By Tuesday, doctors told family members that Warren's paralysis would be
permanent. She was breathing with the aid of a ventilator. According to family
members, Warren was conscious and communicated by nodding her head and blinking
her eyes.

Warren's twin sister, Angelika Drake, said Warren decided she wanted to be taken
off the ventilator and die.

"I talked to her and she nodded over and over and over again. She wanted to
leave," Drake said. "No athlete would like to have a life with only their eyes

Tom Warren, Barbara's husband, said he repeatedly asked Barbara what action she
wanted to take, as did Barbara's two adult daughters and her doctors.

"She was asked in different ways, different contexts and she was so adamant
about it," Tom said. "She had her mind made up."

Barbara Warren raced at the Ford Ironman Triathlon World Championship in Hawaii
13 times. She won her age group in 2003 and finished in the top five eight

Her athletic realm stretched far beyond the Big Island and triathlon's most
famous race. In 2001, Warren and Drake set a two-person age-group record in the
Race Across America. Alternating riding bikes, the twins covered 2,983 miles in
nine days, 13 hours.

Warren competed in the Marathon des Sables, a seven-day race across the Sahara
Desert, and raced a triple Ironman in France, requiring 50 hours to finish a
7.2-mile swim, 336-mile bike and 78.6-mile run.

About pushing herself in endurance events, Warren once said, "When you're stuck
sitting in a comfort zone, small problems become magnified. Get out of your
comfort zone, touch the edge, and you come back with an appreciation for life."

San Diegan Kim Rouse, a longtime runner who took up triathlon six years ago,
said more than anything Barbara Warren was a role model.

"When she was doing all these endurance events it was so amazing to me," Rouse

Warren led a fascinating life long before she began running, biking and

Born in Austria, she moved to Florence, Italy, in her late teens to study art.
She became a model, appearing in Harper's Bazaar and Vogue, according to Drake.
She moved to Mexico and acted in films.

"She was mostly a villain," Drake said.

The sisters opened boutiques, plus modeling and ballet schools in Mexico. In San
Diego, Warren studied to become a psychologist.

"She did as much as she could all the time," said Tom Warren, winner of the
second Ironman Triathlon World Championship. "There were no shortcuts."

Olympic triathlon silver medalist and Ironman Hawaii champion Michellie Jones of
Carlsbad remembers Warren for her kindness. Like Warren, Jones is a twin.

"She always asked about my sister," Jones said. "She understood the bond."

Warren passed away with her daughters, Ingrid, 33, and Katrin, 27, standing
beside her, touching her head. Drake lay beside her sister when she died.

"My heart and my soul are gone," Drake said. "She was everything in my life."

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