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Athlete Spotlight – Kara Patterson

Kara Patterson has come a long way in the past two years. Since 2009, Patterson has added nearly three meters to her personal best in the javelin. She now owns the American record. And, Patterson has learned how to travel.
Image of Kara Patterson

Patterson’s first international trip by herself in 2009 was quite a disaster. She arrived in London with a cell phone that didn’t work and, being at the wrong terminal, couldn’t find her shuttle driver. To make matters worse, she had packed all of her competition gear and belongings in her checked baggage which didn’t arrive in London. Patterson was faced with two days of not knowing where her luggage was since she didn’t have a phone that worked, couldn’t get online and couldn’t convince the front desk workers to let her borrow the phone to check on her bag. Thankfully at 10 p.m. the night before competition, Patterson was reunited with her belongings and javelin, but it was hardly a smooth start to her career as a world-traveling athlete.

Since then, Patterson has not only learned the importance of carrying on her competition shoes and clothes, but has also embraced the travel that comes with her lifestyle. In February, Patterson made her first trip down under and competed at two meets in Australia for the earliest open to her season since high school. Patterson finished first in both meets and saw the competitions as a success.

“The past two years I’ve gotten injured in some capacity between January and April,” Patterson said. “It’s just a time of year where you are putting in a lot of hours in training and your body is getting broken down a little bit. So I wanted to break up the routine a little bit and avoid that overuse that has happened the past couple of years, and I think it was successful.

“I would have loved to throw a couple of meters farther, but it was amazing to go to Australia and have fun competing again. I had more fun throwing the javelin than I have had in a year; it was amazing.”

Image of Kara Patterson
Kara bonding with the Australian wildlife
In between the meets, Patterson and her boyfriend and fellow professional thrower Russ Winger took full advantage of their free time. Their adventures included visiting a Koala park, snorkeling at Rottenest Island, catching a cricket match and sampling the local fare at a restaurant that served kangaroo and crocodile burgers.

Readers of Patterson’s blog Javelin Journal know that Patterson’s travels don’t stop once the season has ended. Patterson regularly blogs of her adventures camping and hiking in Colorado, Wyoming and Washington and tales of visiting family scattered across the country. Patterson admits that she has gotten more adventurous in the past few years and recalled her first overnight backpacking trip with Winger.

“Russ took me to a place in Southwest Colorado called the Emerald Lakes,” Patterson said. “We hiked in 10 miles and camped for three days and hiked back out. I was in tears and frustrated and had blisters all over my feet on the way out and complaining like crazy, but it is still the best trip I can even imagine.”

Patterson started her blog as a way to log her training and competitions, and has found it helpful in keeping the right attitude.

“The main reason I started it [the blog] was because I felt like I needed some sort of training journal,” Patterson said. “I’ve tried to do a written one before, but they always seemed to turn negative for some reason. It has been really good to know that I am writing something that is going to be published for people to see. Being positive is easier, and thinking about how to word things so I’m being honest, but I’m putting a forward momentum spin on things is helpful for me. When I have a bad performance or frustrating day, I can write about it and get it off of my shoulders and out of my mind.”

When Patterson is home in Southern California, she spends one day a week volunteering at the local Humane Society. Patterson was connected with the Humane Society through Athletes with Hope and after going through the necessary training, she is now an official dog activities volunteer. Patterson walks dogs waiting for adoption and helps them to learn good behavior.

“I absolutely love it. I think it does more for me than it does for the dogs sometimes,” Patterson said. “I take a lot of pride in knowing that because of the work that my fellow volunteers and I are doing, the dogs will be better equipped to go to actual homes where their owners don’t travel internationally all the time and maybe have a backyard they can run around in.”

And while Patterson will continue walking her furry friends and photographing her international travels, she remains focused on the goal for 2012 – an Olympic medal.

“No one cares as much about my career as I do,” Patterson said. “Kind of far doesn’t get you a medal.”
Image of Kara Patterson
Kara's reaction after eating fried cicada
(L-R: Kara's brother Craig,Kara, Russ Winger)


Quick questions with Kara
Favorite country to visit? Australia
Can’t travel without? iPad, neck pillow, headphones
Foreign language? A little German
Weirdest food she’s tried? Fried cicada in Beijing
How does she pass the time on long flights? Sleeping, reading and movies. Patterson doesn’t have trouble sleeping in transit, on a recent 15 hour flight, she slept for 11 hours.

For more information on Patterson,
visit her USATF bio online.

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