Carmel Valley coach shares love of triathlon with kids


In June, Carmel Valley triathlete and duathlete Judi Carbary, 66, placed third in her age group at the 2016 International Triathlon Union (ITU) Duathlon World Championships in Aviles, Spain. Three weeks later she was in Bend, Oregon to compete in the USA Triathlon Duathlon National Championships and placed fourth in her age group, qualifying her to compete in the 2017 ITU Multisport World Championships in Penticton, British Columbia.

Carbary said the 2017 event will be exciting — it will be the first to feature a week of races in all of the events in the triathlon family, including the duathlon, triathlon, cross-triathlon (trail running and mountain biking), aquathlon (run-swim-run) and aquabike (swim-bike).

As passionate as Carbary is about competing, she is even more passionate about growing the sport of triathlon. She is a USA Triathlon-certified kids’ triathlon team coach and the founder of the SoCal Youth Triathlon Series for athletes ages 7-15 years old.

“I keep racing to be a role model and inspire the kids, even though it’s hard to fit in,” said Carbury, a retired pediatric and family nurse practitioner. She schedules all of her races around her team’s training schedules, meaning this year she only had two lead-up events before the championships.

The June event was Carbary’s sixth World Championships but she hadn’t competed at one for 13 years.

“I trained really hard but I was just going to do it for the fun of it, I had no idea how I’d do,” Carbary said. “My daughter came with me and she got to see me on the podium.”

Carbary competed at the sprint duathlon distance: a 5K run, followed by a 20.5K bike portion and wrapped up with another 2.5K of running.

In Spain, she rented a bike although they didn’t have the race wheels they promised they would have —Carbary had to roll with it.

“We were told the course was going to be flat but only the first two miles were — it was rolling hills and lots of turns,” Carbary said.

Despite the unexpected challenges, she said it was a pretty course, with the run portion taking her past parks and riverfront and the bike portion was a cool, mid-60s ride through the city. She said it was amazing to get on the podium with her proud daughter watching.

After Spain, she only had 10 days to train before the Duathlon Nationals in Oregon on June 25. That course was mostly uphill and the freshly-paved road was very hot during the 1 p.m. race.

“The heat was coming off the pavement like it does in Kona,” Carbary said, noting there was also very little shade on the road so during the two runs, her challenge was to keep well-hydrated.

Recently she competed in the San Diego Triathlon Classic on Sept. 10 where she won her age group.

“I’ve been having a good year,” said Carbary, who said she was able to overtake her age group’s leader on the last mile of the run.

Carbary has one more race in her 2016 season, the Esprit de She duathlon in San Diego on Oct. 16.

A triathlete and duathlete for 32 years, Carbary started out by running recreationally in college and did her first triathlon in Pennsylvania in 1985.

“I didn’t know what I was doing at all,” she admits. “It didn’t start until 11 a.m. and I had heard about carbo loading so I had an all-you-can-eat breakfast. I could only side-stroke, I didn’t know how to swim and it was a rollercoaster bike course, I was scared to death. But I did really well and it hooked me.”

Carbary said she continued on, teaching herself how to swim.

Biking for a long time was her strength but now she is finding that she is running faster than many in her age group.

“I’m self-motivated and I do it because it’s fun to train and race with your friends,” said Carbary, who has made many lifelong friends on Team USA.

Eventually she became certified by USA Triathlon as a youth and junior coach because she felt like she had something to offer to others. When Carbary moved to San Diego from Maryland in 2009, she discovered there weren’t many kids triathlon programs here so she started the SoCal Youth Triathlon series in 2012.

With her triathlon team, Carbary’s main focus is for the kids to have fun, as well as work on endurance and develop their skills.

“Kids really like being with their friends, they don’t even think of it as training,” Carbary said.

With the team she hosts clinics throughout the year where kids learn the basics of the sport and can be motivated to want to train for a race.

The series includes age-specific distances at high-quality, USA Triathlon-sanctioned events like the Mission Beach Triathlon — for example, the “Itsy Bitsy” distance for 7-10 year olds is 100 meters swimming, a two-mile bike ride and a .75 mile run.

Before every race in the series there is a pre-race clinic so kids can see the course, learn the rules and practice transitions so they feel confident and are safe on race day.

Her series is sponsored by Road Runner Sports, which provides awards and discounts for participants. Carbary is also very grateful for her local sponsors such as Clif Kids, Jimbo’s…Naturally and Nytro Multisports in Encinitas, which provides the team members with special race kits and gear belts. The team proudly competes in bright neon green uniforms.

From April to September, the team has bike-run or track strength practices after school and swim-bike-run workouts on Sundays. The kids train for running and biking on the SR-56 path and do their swimming at Mission Bay so they can adjust to the open water.

Carbary said she has had four new kids join the team in the last two weeks and said now is a great time to join — the SoCal Youth Triathlon Trick or Tri race is coming up on Oct. 29 in Irwindale and from October to March the team will have coached practices on Sundays. Additionally, nearly every month Road Runner Sports hosts free, fun, family events and clinics.

“It’s been nearly five years already which is unbelievable,” Carbary said of her series and team. “The kids are so much fun and the parents are so great and encouraging.”

To learn more, visit and visit the San Diego Youth Team page.