Ann Arbor triathlete Nikki Derrick wore race bib #1184 at this fall’s Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii—the same number worn by her close friend Karen Perzyk in the 2016 event.

Nikki, 47, requested this number as a way to honor Karen, a beloved friend and fellow Michigan triathlete, who died in January after a brief battle with stage IV esophageal cancer.

Karen Perzyk (left) and Nikki Derrick.

 

Karen’s death at age 49 was a devastating loss for Nikki, and for many others in their close-knit group of endurance athlete friends. It was Karen who inspired Nikki to return to competing in triathlons again after several years away from the sport. Karen was the kind of person whose enthusiasm for life and love of movement were infectious, Nikki says. She loved watching her friends succeed and was their biggest cheerleader.

On the latest episode of the Michigan Runner Girl podcast, Nikki shares how she decided to turn her race in Hawaii into a tribute to Karen, a way to honor the friend who meant so much to her and to so many others.

To listen to this episode, click on the player at the top of this post. You may also listen using your favorite podcast app.

Nikki gives a detailed account of the World Championship in Kona and what it felt like to be there without her friend … and what it felt like to push through the 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bicycle ride, and a tough, hot 26.2 to reach the finish line.

We also talk about her love of mountain biking (she finished strong at this November’s Iceman Cometh Challenge in Traverse City) and what’s next for her in the coming year (a marathon out west, in wine country, among other adventures). We also talk about where Nikki finds her motivation, and how she carves out time for staying active while also being committed to her job as a physician assistant at the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor.

The Michigan Runner Girl Show is made possible in part by the Grand Traverse Resort & Spa

If you enjoy what you’re hearing on the Michigan Runner Girl show, we’d be so grateful if you’d take a few moments to write a review on iTunes. This will help more runners and Michigan lovers like yourself find the podcasts. Thank you!! Also, the quickest way to get the podcasts is to subscribe to the show via iTunes or via Stitcher or your favorite podcast app. 

A special thanks to Mike Moran, Mike Youker and Jonny Tornga of Quarter After Productions in Traverse City, Mich. for producing the show. Check out this studio’s work 

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