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The ultimate goal: Local woman hopes to become a pro athlete

BECIDA – Jasmine Carlson can’t stop moving.

In Minnesota, an inside trainer for winter is a must. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer

Before moving to the Bemidji area about five years ago, she and her family lived out of a converted Blue Bird bus, traversing the country and occasionally into Mexico and Canada. Today, she’s training to become a professional duathlete, a goal that she’s shown potential to reach.

Last month, she competed in France in the Duathlon World Championships, where she said she finished fifth in her age group. That came after she finished 13th overall out of more than 1,100 athletes at the Iron Girl Duathlon in Bloomington last year.

Carlson was home-schooled in western Montana, and never really participated in competitive sports. Her family was active in cycling, however, and her mom was a competitive body builder.

But Carlson’s first competitive road race came just two years ago, and her first duathlon came just a year after that. Carlson said she began exercising to combat asthma she contracted after having her son. She added that it also helped satisfy a competitive drive.

“I just thought it sounded fun because of the fact that I’ve always been a pretty competitive person anyway,” she said. “And I just figured it was good to have goals.”

  While competing in France, Jasmine takes off in the cycling transition of the duathlon.

Carlson had some support within the Bemidji community to get to France this year. After seeing how well she did at the Iron Girl Duathlon with a lesser bike than her competitors, Kirby Harmon, owner of the Bike Guy bike shop, helped her get a discount on a better bike.

“She was at a great disadvantage because she didn’t have an aerodynamic bike,” Harmon said. “Which made her placing that she got really amazing.”

Duathlons, which consist of a foot race, a bike race, followed by another foot race, are “much more accessible” to people who may not be able to train in a pool for the swimming portion of a triathlon, Carlson said.

She trains year round, and during the winter she’ll run on a treadmill at Health Quest for Women and cycle on a training bike at home.

By the end of next year, Carlson hopes to become certified as a professional athlete by the USAT, the governing body that oversees multi-sport races in the U.S., a goal that will require her to race well and build up a résumé.

“Pretty much everything that we’ve done, even the things I do now in the athletics, are just an excuse to meet people,” Carlson said. “People are always complaining, ‘I wish I could do something different.’ And it’s like, try something.”

Jasmine crosses the finish line at Iron Girl in Bloomingto.

Growing up on the move

Carlson, who was born in 1985, was raised in western Montana, where her family sometimes went out on 40- to 50-mile bike rides.

“We were always really active people,” she said.

When she was about 13, her family moved into a converted bus, traveling the country and into Mexico and Canada.

“You just meet people and keep going,” she said of her experience living on the road. “And that’s kind of how we even ended up living here.”

During that time on the bus, they got involved in volunteer work, and launched a non-profit that helps struggling youth by offering them a place to stay. The family has continued that program today.

They had visited a cabin in the Becida area owned by a friend a few times during that 10-year period, and bought it from them about five years ago.

Today, Carlson and her 13-member family – her husband and son, two married sisters, one of whom has two children, a brother and his wife along with Carlson’s mom and dad – live on a 15-acre plot with several individual cabins for living spaces and one larger one that contains the kitchen and dining room.

“Everybody was getting married and kids were coming and everybody was like, ‘Alright it’s time to settle down for a little while,” Carlson said.

“Settle” might be a relative term.

Today, her mother, the former body builder, along with her sisters, is a member of the local roller derby club. Her father works for a music festival in South Dakota, meaning he’s often traveling during the summer.

Photo by Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer

The road ahead

Life might become a little more hectic for Carlson in the coming months as well.

She’s in the process of becoming a certified personal trainer while she trains to become a professional athlete.

Meanwhile, her family’s goal of starting a coffeehouse is in the works. They’ve worked in a mobile coffeehouse for some time during special events, but that business model doesn’t work very well in a rural setting, Carlson said.

Part of that goal is also to raise funds for a program to help women who have been the victim of sex trafficking. Carlson hopes that as a professional athlete, she’ll be able to use her platform to raise awareness of issues that she cares about.

 “That’s kind of the ultimate goal,” Carlson said. “You have to do something that calls attention to what it is you’re doing.”

John Hageman

John Hageman covers North Dakota politics from the Forum News Service bureau in Bismarck. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Grand Forks Herald and Bemidji Pioneer.  

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