Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Post Script: Barbara Warren

***Note on 8/28/08: Barbara passed away on Tuesday, August 26, 2008. I have those updates here and here. May she rest in peace.***

I was going to put this at the end of my race report but I believe it deserves its own post.

All day after my race I couldn't stop thinking about the woman who crashed. And on Sunday, I kept thinking about her. My triumph this weekend seemed to have this cast of shadow over it because I was so saddened by what I'd seen.

I wanted to post here what's currently known about Barbara Warren of San Diego.

I found this article on Slowtwitch.com:

The San Diego Union-Tribune reported today that endurance athlete Barbara Warren of San Diego suffered a broken neck Saturday while competing in the Santa Barbara triathlon. The 65-year old Warren crashed during the bike segment of the race and had no movement below the neck since then. She is currently in the Intensive Care Unit at The Cottage hospital in Santa Barbara.

Warren broke the ondontoid bone and the C2 cervical vertebrae according to Mac Larsen, an Alvarado Hospital emergency physician, reported the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Warren's husband, Tom Warren was quoted to have said that his wife was conscious and alert but could not talk because she was on a ventilator to assist her breathing.

"Barbara and Tommy are two of my favorite people on the planet. They live and breathe the endurance sports lifestyle and like nothing better than accomplishing something no one thought they could do. If this is true and Barbara is indeed seriously injured, please take a few moments out of your day to pray for Barbara’s recovery," said a stunned Bob Babbitt in an e-mail to the San Diego triathlon community.

Barbara Warren, a psychologist, is a several-time participant and an age-group winner in the Ironman Triathlon World Championship in Hawaii. She has also participated in a multitude of other endurance events including a triple Ironman, the 2,983-mile Race Across America bike race, the 135-mile Badwater footrace across Death Valley and the Marathon des Sables, a seven day run across the Sahara Desert.

Tom Warren won the 1979 Ironman Hawaii.

So there we go. I'm really so deeply saddened by this. It shows you that even the most experienced people are not immune to crazy things happening. Nobody seems to know how it happened - whether the crappy road was involved (I have to believe it was, that road is shit, excuse my foul language, but it IS) or another person or what.

I just ask that everybody please send your thoughts her way and let's keep hoping for the best for her.



Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this. I was looking all over to find what happened because it looked so bad when passing by. That road needs to be redone or removed from the course, it is very very very dangerous.

This totally could have been prevented.

Mel said...

Oh so sad...I will say some prayers for her!!!

Kathleen said...

Hi Sarah, I was looking for info on Barbara and found your blog. We're kinda neighbors (I'm in SF) and I just did the SB Tri - my first tri ever! It was a total blast...I took 5:52 (that's with 25 mins of transition time) but I loved it. Lots of room for improvement. I was so far behind in the bike route that I didn't even know this had happened.

Rainmaker said...

:( So sad to hear this.

I was thinking about this during the weekend and thinking how it always amazes me that with the Pro's (and similiar) out there so much, they manage to avoid accidents in races most of the time. Sad to hear about anyone getting hurt - especially folks with so much experiance.

Lee said...

Sarah - what a memory to leave with. It is amazing how someone can go that long without incident and suffer this kind of tragedy. I will think good thoughts for Barbara.

I imagine if the road is anything like Westside Rd on the Vineman course that could definitely be an issue. I am surprised more people don't go down each year.

Lee said...

What happened to Barbara is a terrible tragedy. We should all be keeoing her in our thoughts and prayers. My heart goes out to her and her family.

Unfortunate accidents like this happen when people engage in hazardous sporting activities. The stretch of road on which Ms. Warren crashed is no more dangerous than any other road on any other course. Her crash was a terrible accident but it was just that - an accident. No fault or blame should be directed at the organizers of the event or their decision to use that particular road.

I believe my experience allows me to share these toughts. My resume includes participation in, organization of and officiating at triathlons, bike races and running races for 22 years. I have done 4 Ironman races and over 20 Half-Ironman races, as well as numerous shorter triathlon events.

Speedy recovery Barbara!

Sarah said...


While I agree that it was completely an accident, I do disagree that it was no more dangerous than any other stretch of road.

That road is filled with potholes and edges. I've seen people crash on it in the past. It is far easier to catch an edge or lose control hitting a bump on a big hill than if the road was smooth pavement.

It's true we all engage in this sport knowing its risks. Yet I do feel that race organizers have a duty to create as safe an atmosphere as possible. This includes things like outlining potholes with orange spray paint, creating a mandatory speed limit or no pass zone on hills that are incredibly dangerous (as they do in Oceanside 70.3), or simply re-routing if necessary.

During the Vineman 70.3 I saw numerous bottles littered across the road through out Westside road because its condition was similar to the road Barbara crashed on. Again, there were far fewer bottles strewn on the other roads that were in better condition. We can generally ride over water bottles, but sometimes people swerve to miss them and end up having an accident because of it.

In any case, I certainly don't blame anybody, but I do feel strongly that responsibility needs to be taken when there is a situation that is riskier than usual.

Anonymous said...

Barbara is one of the most amazing women I have ever known. There are few people who have touched this world in the way that she has. She left no stone unturned and she loved like no other. If only the world had more Barbaras. On August 26th, 2008, Barbara Warren, beautiful wife, beloved twin, amazing mother, and friend to all, stepped into the presence of her Lord. She will be dearly missed and she was so very loved. Please keep her family in your prayers. And in honor of Barbara, may we all strive to leave a legacy like hers! Blessings, my friends.

Anonymous said...

I too, passed her, and couldn't stop for fear of crashing myself. Riders did the following that I observed: Passed on the right, threw water bottles on the road instead of off the road, passed crossing the yellow lines, passed in pairs going downhill around 30 miles an hour, almost running me off the road. Potholes every where. I was so shook up, I didn't realize my own speed and barely made the sharp turn at the bottom of the hill. The ambulances passed me, and I could think of nothing else but this poor person, who now had died doing what she loved to do.

This was my second year, and I am completley upset with other riders who were only out their for themselves. I wish I had a way of recording the numbers of those people who did not follow the rules. There were far too many. There should be the following changes made to this triathlon.

Ride only on roads with no potholes.
Patrolled with more people, with severe penalties for breaking the rules.
No passing signs of downhills.

I'm not doing the Carp. I need time to think about this. I am so shocked by this awful turn of events. My heart goes out to her husband, family and friends.

Sherry Boston Rennard said...

I am deeply saddened by the death of this accomplished triathlete and amazing woman. I crashed at Santa Barbara two years ago in Toro Canyon and ended up in the hospital, but much more fortunate than Barbara. I do want to note that the race directors said over and over again prior to this year's race to be careful on the downhills, not "race" the downhills, but "race" the uphills. There were several potholes that were marked with orange paint and most people were obeying the instructions to take it easy on the downhills. I do know there were some athletes who did not heed this advice, but I do not believe this woman was one of them. This is an unfortunate tragedy. None of us can know exactly why these things happen, but it does make us think twice. My condolences go out to those who knew and loved this woman.