ENDURANCE SPORTS LOSE ONE OF LEGENDARY TWINS
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 talking."
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 times.
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 said.
Warren led a fascinating life long before she began running, biking and swimming.
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."
Services are pending.
Read this article online at the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Read the LA Times coverage.
Read about Barbara and Angelika at Competitor.com (you can post comments, too).
Visit The Twin Team website.
Note: Barbara and her sister Angelika competed on a 4x women's team in the 1995 Furnace Creek 508. They both completed the Badwater Ultramarathon in 1989, 1990, 1991, and 1999. I happily crossed paths with them around the globe, at some of my favorite events and places, over the last 20 years. The Twins have been, without fail, a double shot of beauty, energy, elegance, sportwomanship, integrity, grace under pressure, and friendship - every single time I encountered them.
We send our deepest condolences to all of Barbara and Angelika's family.