Rochester woman with heart condition to compete in Iron Man - KXLT - Fox 47 Rochester MN News, Weather, Sports #rochmn

Rochester woman with heart condition to compete in Iron Man

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (FOX 47) -

Kari Turkowski is no stranger to fitness. 

She grew up playing volleyball and hockey, and running track. 

"I'm one of those people who gets a high from the training and the physical fitness, but I'm a natural born competitor," she said. 

But at the age of 26, her passion for sports came to a halt, when a sudden undiagnosed heart condition forced her to undergo several procedures and take lots of medications. 

All of that led to stage two heart failure. 

"Any person or any athlete would know being told to stop is a very hard thing," Turkowski said. "And I've been completely open and honest about going through depression, seeing a therapist, having to kind of adjust to my new me."

At the age of 30, after a seven-year career in the accounting industry, she left her job in Minneapolis and later became a doctorate student at the Mayo Clinic, hoping to discover what doctors couldn't about her own condition. 

"In my head the fire was burning, it was, 'you've got to find an answer, you've got to find an answer and if they can't you need to be part of that answer,'" she said. 

But her determination didn't stop there. 

She got back into her love for fitness, and last summer, she decided she'd compete in an iron man triathlon, pledging to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, and run a marathon. 

For the average person with stage two heart failure, climbing a set of stairs would be difficult. 

But Kari is beating the odds. 

"I realistically shouldn't be doing what I'm doing in the sense of how can my body do what it's doing, am I pushing it beyond certain limitations? Absolutely. They've said that, they've warned me about that, but we've come to kind of that middle ground."

Her goal is to cross the finish line. 

"I've learned more about myself than I kind of expected and there's been a lot of ups and downs and a lot of emotions. It's been an emotional roller coaster.  But I think, cross that finish line, I'll decide the next day what the next part of my life is."

The Iron Man is this Sunday morning in Madison, Wisconsin. 

She has a group of about 50 friends and family members traveling there to cheer for her.

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