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Report Card – Nautica Malibu Triathlon

On September 18, 2016 I participated in the Nautica Malibu Triathlon.  The race was relatively short with an 800 meter swim, 18 mile bike and 4 mile run.  The race company, MESP of Agoura Hills California, claimed there were over 5000 participants.  I believe it.

This is my report card.

Malibu Triathlon art.

Malibu Triathlon art.

Two Parts

I look at each triathlon in two parts: the race and the event.  The race is that part that consists of swimming, T1, biking, T2, and running.  It’s the personal goal stuff.  I’ve already written about that in a previous blog post so I don’t need to do that here.  

The other part is the event.  That is the part that embodies everything associated with the race like the venue, the race staff, the marketing, etc.  This post is my brief report, mostly about the event.

I give the 2016 Nautica Malibu Triathlon a B grade and here’s why…

The Venue

I don’t know that the organizers could have selected a better venue in the region.  If the bike course had followed one of the canyon

roads into the mountains, that may have been better, but the difficulty level would put off many people.  I like loop courses, but given the location was between mountains and ocean, a loop course would have been either too long or too difficult to manage.  Overall, I like this venue: clear ocean water, rolling hill bike and mostly flat run.

The Race Staff

The race staff that I spoke with were attentive and helpful which is very important for both first time athletes that are nervous and race veterans who might have high expectations.

The Charity

Over one million dollars was raised for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.  I can’t say enough good things about that!

The Award Ceremony(ies)


Tom Bergeron announces the celebrity winners.

The award ceremony was strange to me.  It gave me the impression that there were two classes of athletes: celebrities and everyone else. There were only two or three participants  I would call celebrities. I recognized two names: Zack Efron and Dave Zabriskie.  John Crier and David Duchovny, who have participated several times in the past, weren’t even there.  Or if they were, I neither saw nor heard about them.

Oops!  I almost forgot.  Tom Bergeron hosted the celebrity awards.

To be honest, it doesn’t even matter to me.  I just didn’t like that the whole event pandered to the “celebrities.”  I’m sure they did this because the celebrities can generate big donations.  But their pandering was at the expense of recognizing the “other” athletes.  This is one of the reasons I didn’t give the Nautica Malibu Triathlon an A.

The Promotions. There Were Promotions?

The other reason I didn’t give the race an A is that all the promotion was blatantly about the charity partner, the sponsors or the race itself.  Several months ago, I received an email from the race organizers asking for my triathlon story.  I’m sure they did this for all registered participants and I’m sure that out of 5000 or so participants, I was not the only one to respond.  This is usually done so they can highlight a few age-groupers who have overcome big obstacles to get to the starting line (weight loss, cancer, car accident, etc).  I never heard a word about any of these stories.

Another promotional piece that went into hiding was the video contest.  Registered participants were asked to submit funny, triathlon related short videos to be judged.  The winners were to have their videos shown on the big screen above the transition area.  Again, not a word was mentioned about that.  I even inquired about the contest soon after I crossed the finish line and no one knew anything about it, but I was given an email address for a follow up inquiry.  I emailed MESP, the race production company, several hours after the race and I am waiting for a response.


As I look back on the whole experience, I am so glad that I participated.  My race felt like it was one of my best yet and I was able to get out of the water without help from a lifeguard! (see my other post for an explanation).

Would I recommend this race to any of my friends?  Certainly.  But I would preface the recommendation with a warning about the celebrity culture which, in my mind, does not belong in a sport that prides itself on giving equal access to all participants.  Let me be clear:  This is Hollywood’s playground, so I can accept that.  I just don’t have to like it.

Would I do this race again?  Maybe.  I did enjoy it, but 2500 miles is a long way to travel for a race.

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