Virtual Malibu Triathlon Brings in $200K for Children’s Hospital

Competitors run to the ocean for the VIP Swim Start during the 2017 Triathlon

Due to the coronavirus, this year’s Malibu Triathlon, which normally draws thousands of competitors and visitors to the city over a two-day weekend, was cancelled—at least, the in-person event was.

Instead, promoters decided to hold the event, this year presented by Bank of America, virtually and without a specific location. Everyone was welcome to participate, registration was free and athletes were allowed to choose any location in the world from which to compete.

Event organizer Michael Epstein said in a phone interview that 700 people from around the world signed up to participate in the virtual event, from 30 states and 10 countries. 

“People did whatever worked for them, according to the coronavirus situation, in the area where they live,” he said. “Many just went to the places where they normally bike or run, and it worked very well.”

Epstein explained that he wanted to still have the triathlon as a virtual race because “it gave people a goal to shoot for in these crazy times—a reason to exercise and a challenge during the virus.”

The results of each event were uploaded automatically from individual fitness trackers, or uploaded manually with proof, in order to determine the winners in all categories by age range, sex and/or relay team. Those participating in the running, biking and swimming segments competed in the triathlon, while those who opted out of swimming participated in the duathlon.

Participants had to complete their distance of choice at one time and upload the results within a specific time frame and date.

Every year, a large component of the triathlon is the fundraising done by participants for pediatric cancer research at the Children’s Hospital of LA, which has the largest pediatric oncology program of its kind in the western U.S. Last weekend’s event raised $200,465.57 of a $250,000 goal. Despite the fact the amount raised in the last “normal” triathlon event in Malibu in 2019 was $1.4 million, Epstein said he was still proud that participants raised even this much during the pandemic.