Fresh Ideas: Perkins is Carson City’s Iron Woman

“Some girls chase boys; I pass them.” – Barbara Perkins

Carson City’s Ironman is a woman.

One of Carson City’s native daughters will compete on Saturday at the Kona Hawaii Ironman World Championship Triathlon.

What is a triathlon? It’s a competitive continuous race involving three separate sports, usually swimming, bicycling and running. The Kona Ironman is a 2.4-mile ocean swim, a 112-mile bike ride, and finally a full 26.2-mile marathon – a total of 140.6 miles.

The Kona race is similar to the Olympics for triathletes except it happens every year. And like the Olympics, only the best qualify.

Carson’s star is Barbara Perkins, daughter of Allison Joffee and Tom Perkins. She’s a graduate of Carson High School who trained with her dad to complete her first triathlon in 2009 at Pyramid Lake. But it wasn’t until 2012 she returned to the sport that has become a focal point of her life. She completed her first full Ironman in 2013 at Lake Tahoe.

What’s the attraction? “It feels like what I’m supposed to do,” says the 28-year-old. She likes inspiring others to become more active and try something they didn’t think they could do.

The Kona event is open to professional triathletes called “pros,” and amateurs based on age categories. Barbara and other women triathletes have been advocating for equality in triathlons through the “50 women to Kona” movement in favor of equal numbers of women and men at the pro level of world championships.

The constant struggle for equality in women’s athletics motivates Barbara. In addition to her triathlon competition, she also coaches college-level swimming in New Jersey.

Who inspires her? Women who aren’t afraid to change the status quo keep her moving forward. Barbara and other female triathletes are “racing for equality” and “pushing the envelope” to bring equity to athletics. Barbara writes about her racing experiences in her “you got chicked” blog. Being part of a community of female triathletes fosters a positive competitive spirit in support of women striving for equality and respect.

On the plane to Kona, Barbara met Julie Moss who in 1982 crawled across the finish line of a triathlon, bringing public attention to the gritty individual sport that’s now an industry. Moss’s ’82 finish (watch it on YouTube if you dare) “epitomizes a pure moment of human desire and the will to finish,” says Barbara.

Moss, who at 58 is 30 years older than Barbara, shared insights about triathlon racing, which Barbara recounted. “Trust yourself. Trust your training. Trust your body to carry you to the finish line. Don’t look ahead on the course and think about what’s coming next but simply be in the moment as it unfolds. And experience the moment as it is happening.” Good advice.

Barbara is sponsored by Coeur Sports, an athletic company whose theme is “heart and courage.” That’s what it takes to push beyond the limits.

NBC Sports will broadcast the Kona Ironman on Saturday beginning at 9:30 a.m. with the open water swim. Barbara Perkins is No. 2355.

With heart and courage Barbara Perkins and her triathletes sisters are striving for equality and fairness in athletics and in life. Go Barbara go!

Abby Johnson is a resident of Carson City, and a part-time resident of Baker, Nev. She consults on community development and nuclear waste issues. Her opinions are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of her clients. She has known Barbara Perkins for 28 years.


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