Angela Olinghouse had nearly completed the swimming portion of the Olympic distance race in last weekend’s 2XU Malibu Triathlon when she spotted two dark figures near her in the shallow waters of the Pacific Ocean.
Olinghouse, a Santa Monica resident of nearly two decades, was startled at first, but then realized the figures were a pair of dolphins.
“Anytime you see a shadow of anything when you are out in the ocean it is never a good thing,” said Olinghouse, 45. “Then, I noticed it was two dolphins. You aren’t going to see two sharks swimming like that together. It was phenomenal.”
Encountering the dolphins made the triathlon’s course a bit more mesmerizing for Olinghouse, who was drawn to compete in the endurance spectacle because of the scenic surroundings at Zuma Beach.
The experienced endurance racer also enjoys crossing the finish line.
“The feeling you get — the exhilaration, the triumph — makes you feel really empowered,” said Olinghouse, who also completed the Malibu Triathlon in 2016 and 2018. “You know all of your hard work paid off.”
Olinghouse was one of over 5,000 of men and women that swam, biked, and ran in the 37th annual Malibu Triathlon on Sept. 17-18. The event raised over $1 million for the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles’ Pediatric Cancer Research Program.
The event included the Olympic distance race that Olinghouse competed in — a 1.5-kilometer swim, 40-kilometer bike ride, and 10-kilometer run — on Sept. 17 and the Classic distance race — a 0.5-mile swim, 17-mile bike ride, and 4-mile run — held the next day.
The triathlon also featured three other event categories for endurance teams: the Collegiate Cup, Club Cup, And Corporate Challenge.
Additionally, professional athletes also hit the water and sand as competitors in the third race of the Super League Triathlon (SLT) Championship, which was on the triathlon’s first day.
Olinghouse finished the Olympic race with a time of 3 hours, 41 minutes, and 7 seconds. She completed the swim in 50:09, the bike race in 1:29:55, and the run in 1:11:16. She finished fifth in the women 45 to 49 age group.
Johnathan Dolan of Atascadero finished the Olympic race ahead of 1,269 other people. He had a time of 2:02:34. Jim Lubinski of Pacific Palisades was the second fastest finisher with a time of 2:07:47. Jonathan McKinley of Berkley was the third-fastest finisher with a time of 2:08:35.
Laura McDonald of Los Angeles was the race’s fastest finishing woman with a time of 2:26:08. Carolyn Carter, also of Los Angeles, finished second to McDonald with a time of 2:27:19. Ressa Partida of La Canada Flintridge, finished third with a time of 2:33:06.
Kiah Wheeler and Nicholas Chase prevailed as the overall winners of the Classic triathlon, in times of 1:36:24 and 1:15:23, respectively.
American triathlete Taylor Spivey from Redondo Beach was the top finishing woman in the SLT race. She was joined on the medal stand by Spain’s Miriam Casillas Garcia, who finished second, and Great Britain’s Georgia Taylor Brown, who finished third.
Hayden Wilde of New Zealand, a bronze medalist at the last summer Olympics, finished atop the SLT race’s men’s division. Shachar Sagiv of Israel finished second and Vasco Vilaca of Portugal finished third.
Two days ahead of the race, Vilaca, 22, was bitten on the arm by a seal while training in the ocean.
“I was just swimming in the ocean and was unlucky enough to swim towards where a seal was,” Vilaca said in a STL news release. “It started swimming towards me and got very close and it felt like a dog smelling me.”
He tried to slowly push the seal away.
“At a certain point there was a strong wave that pushed it against me and then I pushed it more aggressively away because it was on me and then it got scared and bit my arm and wouldn’t let go,” he said. “I tried to grab the teeth from under and open the mouth and get it away and wanted to swim away but I didn’t know what to do with the seal because I thought if I let go it would bite me again.”
Olinghouse had always intended to compete in the Malibu Triathlon every two years, however the COVID-19 pandemic kept her away from the race for four years. She plans to register for the event again in 2024.
“The energy in the air and random people cheering for you, there is truly nothing like it,” Olinghouse said. “Everyone is congratulating you. You feel amazing.”