Kari Ebeling Named to USAT Women’s Committee

By brenda barrera | July 28, 2015, 12:14 p.m. (ET)
The newest member of the USA Triathlon Women’s Committee, Kari Ebeling, brings extensive experience in race management and nonprofits to the group.

“We are so pleased to welcome Kari to this group of dedicated triathletes,” said USA Triathlon Women’s Committee chairperson, Tara Comer. “Kari brings not only a wealth of nonprofit and programming experience, but as the former race director she represents an important voice in our sport.”

One glance at Kari Ebeling’s career path and it’s clear she is dedicated to supporting people in their journey toward good health and lifelong fitness. She recently served as Program Director of the Support Through Sports program at the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults and was also the Chief Operating Officer for TriColumbia, a Mid-Atlantic endurance event production company.  Being a race director requires a broad spectrum of skills and Kari acquired these during her tenure as Race Director for the Columbia Triathlon and IronGirl events. A USAT Certified Level 1 Race Director, she also volunteers on the USAT Race Director’s Committee and assists in the teaching of the USA Triathlon Certified Race Director course. Currently, she is the Special Events Manager for Howard Community College. Kari lives in Maryland with her husband and has three grown children.

Did you play sports growing up?
In high school I was a tennis player and also on the track and basketball teams.  I wasn’t a swimmer, biker or long distance runner.  It wasn’t until I had knee surgery and discovered biking was a way to help in my recovery.

Your first triathlon experience wasn’t as a typical participant was it?
No, I was the director of resource of development for the Arc of Howard County (provides services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities) and in 2007 we supported the all of the Columbia-based triathlons on their bike course with an aid station and course marshals.  I took it a step further and created the first fundraising charity team: Team ARC. I recognized it was a great opportunity to create awareness and fulfill the mission by raising funds.

How did you become involved in TriColumbia?
I had so much fun at that initial race in 2007 that I decided to try a race by myself.  In 2009 I started work for TriColumbia as a part-time employee and then moved up to the Director of Operations and in 2011 was named Chief Operating Officer (COO).

I’m sure it’s difficult to choose, but can you pick two memorable triathlon experiences, one as a participant and one as a race director?
In my first triathlon I was halfway through the run when a woman passed me and said, “You’re doing great!” I noticed the body marking on her leg. She was 62. That was a pivotal moment: even though I didn’t know her she become a role model—I wanted to be just like her when I was that age!
     There are so many memorable moments for me as a race director, however, I believe that the last finisher of every race will forever hold a place in my heart. The sheer determination and the pure joy they exuded as they crossed the finish line is something I will never forget!

Tell us about teaching the USA Triathlon Race Director’s Course.
Teaching the course is an opportunity to help new race directors to learn best practices right away, be able to share what works and encourage them as a support and mentoring system. I find that rewarding, you don’t have to start from zero—you can take combined knowledge and be better.  We’re creating compliance safe races, I want every athletes experience to be positive and safe.

You were the race director for Iron Girl Columbia (2010-2013) and Iron Girl Half Marathon (2011-2013), one of the longest running series that now includes triathlons, 5K, 10K road races and Wellness Weekend events, that must have been inspiring.
Yes, it was inspiring.  As a race director, it was amazing to watch women accomplish their goals – it’s a game changer.

Do you have any upcoming races?
I am really looking forward to doing a half marathon with my daughters this fall, we haven’t decided which one yet, but it’s going to be a destination race.

What inspired you to volunteer on the USAT Women’s Committee?
I want to help forward the sport for women.  

Okay, let’s do a little word or phrase association . . .

  • Good luck charm or superstition: The Chinese symbol for peace. I even have it tattooed on my ankle.
  • A memorable moment as a race director: Watching Athletes Serving Athletes compete at events, it’s always amazing!
  • Most challenging/difficult triathlon moment: Losing my first swimmer at an event.
  • Your definition of success: Achieving excellence rather then perfection.
  • After racing, I like to: Stand in the shower extra long.
  • After directing an event I like to: Go for a run.
  • Post race or workout treat (food): Quinoa (our local natural market makes this delicious salad).
  • Favorite place to run: My hometown when I visit; love running through old memories.
  • Favorite bike course: Eagleman . . . without the wind!
  • Favorite place to swim: Lake Habeeb at Rocky Gap State Park in Maryland.
  • Inspired by (female triathlete): Judy Molnar--who never gives up and always dreams big.
  • Inspired by (female in triathlon governance): USA Triathlon’s Kathy Matejka--she is an incredible supporter of Race Directors and promotes the value of a multi sport lifestyle.
  • What sports-related book is on your nightstand or one that you’ve recently read? Triathlete EQ: A Guide for Emotional Endurance by Dr. Izzy Justice and Heather Gollnick. It relates not just to how you race but also how you live.