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Feeling on top of the world
Determination beats everything

By Mehrnoush Barmaki
August 28, 2002
The Iranian

When I came to San Francisco in 1976 to study for my bachelor's degree, it never crossed my mind to do any kind of sports. Then I went through separation with my husband and my doctor advised me to work out to help me with stress. Raising a son on my own, going to school and working full-time wasn't easy but by working out I felt like I am on top of the world.

One day I had discussion with my co-worker about marathoner and he was telling me that not many people can run 26.2 miles and you have to be in GREAT shape. I accepted his challenge and started to train myself. It was January of 1995 and I told him to give me six months and I will show him that determination beats everything. I finished my first marathon in San Francisco in July 1995. After that I decided to do two marathons a year.

One of my friends suggested that since I am running and some biking, I should do a triathlon. I told her that I only can dog paddle and I can't swim. She said that we should do a sprint distance, which is .5 mile swim, 9 miles bike and 2 miles run so I can get used it. I thought it would be a great event to do it with my son.

I registered my son who was 14-years old at Tiburon triathlon in 1995. It was a great event and my son, Bardia, and I had a wonderful time. Now I have decided to start taking classes to learn how to swim.

Through my swimming classes, I heard about Ironman triathlon. I asked someone what it is. It was explained to me that it is 2.4 mile swim (usually in the ocean), 112-mile bike ride and 26.2 miles run in a row. It sounded impressive and again I wanted to challenge myself. I got a coach and started my training. I got accepted in the Hawaii Ironman competition, which is the top championship in all triathlon events.

Until that time I never did any open water swimming but I was determined to complete the course. I was the FIRST Iranian woman who qualified. I was very excited about it. But since I had no experience in open water, I did not meet the cutoff time which was 2 hours and 20 minutes. I finished the swim in 2 hours and 28 minutes and I was disqualified to continue the race.

I promised myself to work harder. I told myself I HAVE TO finish an Ironman event no matter what it takes. I finished my first Ironman (Vineman triathlon, swim in Russian River, bike and run by Santa Rosa, California) in August 2000, and then my second Ironman (California Ironman, Swim in Ocean Beach, bike and run around the same area in San Diego, CA) last year. I am ready for my third Ironman (Panama City, Florida) in November 2002.

I am very excited about my achievements and hopefully my story would be an inspiration for other people. My son, Bardia, is currently is serving at the US Air Force in Tampa, Florid, and he is coming to watch my third Ironman competition.

Currently, Active.com sponsors me. However, it does not include any expenses that occur on my races, such as airfare, lodging, transportation, and maintenance of my bike. I am hoping I would have the support of Iranians to continue my challenge.

I am in a need of a new bike since I am still using the same bike from 1995 (I have had several crashes, but I'm still trying to maintain it). My current bike is Kestrel EMS 500. In exchange for sponsoring me, you would get wide exposure and free advertising.

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