Malibu Triathlon raises more than $500K for charity

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Thousands of athletes took part in the 19th annual Malibu Nautica Triathlon on Sunday. Devon Meyers / TMT

Former Zuma Beach lifeguard Derek Kite won the men’s race for the second consecutive year. Jessi Stensland won the women’s competition.

By Vive DeCou / Special to The Malibu Times

Thousands of athletes and spectators gathered on the sands of Zuma Beach for the 19th annual Nautica Malibu Triathlon on Sunday. More than 2,000 competitors took on the challenge of a half-mile swim in the ocean off Zuma Beach, followed by an 18-mile bike ride up and down Pacific Coast Highway and finishing with a four-mile run to Point Dume and back. The event raised more than $500,000 for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the research of pediatric HIV/AIDS, and preventing its spread worldwide.

Former Zuma Beach lifeguard Derek Kite won the men’s race for a second year in a row with a time of 1 hour, 14 minutes and 34 seconds, almost 10 minutes faster than his time last year. Finishing close on his heels was Bill Schultz, who placed second in 1:17:02. Jessi Stensland won the women’s competition with a time of 1:26:10. Coming in second for the women was Beth Hibbard, who completed the triathlon in 1:27:48.

A popular area for spectators to hang out was the celebrity relay transition area, where they could watch celebrity athletes like Mark-Paul Gosselaar (“NYPD Blue”), Felicity Huffman (“Desperate Housewives”) and William H. Macy (“Fargo”) while they stretched and warmed up. Brittany Daniels, a model and actress was there to run for her relay team. She admitted that it was her first official race. “I’m a little nervous but I’m [so] excited,” she said. She then helped her relay team take first place in the celebrity female relay division. Gosselaar and the “NYPD Blue” team won in the celebrity male division. Winners in the individual celebrity races were Tate Donovan and Estella Warren. City Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich took second place.

There were various activities for attendees during the race. A fun zone where kids could battle with pugil sticks was set up near an arts and crafts area. The Tot Trot, an event for kids 12 and under featuring a 50- and 100-yard dash also took place. Paul Mitchell had a booth where professional stylists cut hair for $15 donations to the Challenged Athletes Foundation, which provides grants to athletes with physical disabilities.

Eye candy was aplenty at the triathlon. There were three new shiny hybrid Toyota cars parked on the beach. And a sand sculpture was formed that depicted a large sun mellowing out with some beachgoers and sea creatures. Carolyn Gurich of Archisand made the sculpture with her daughter, Rachel. “The sand here is very coarse,” Gurich said. “So we had to bring it all from the water’s edge where it is finer and wetter [to create the sculpture].” She added that the best way to keep a castle from falling apart is to spray it with fresh water throughout the day.

A day that started out misty and cool was becoming a scorcher as the last athlete crossed the finish line just before noon. The surf had been quite calm but the 59-degree water caused some of the swimmers to shiver despite wearing full wetsuits. Zuma beach lifeguard Kyle Power said the weather and the surf didn’t cause many problems, “It went fairly smoothly, a lot better than last year.” He and his fellow lifeguards were in charge of safety for the swimming portion of the race and all of them had emergency medical training.

The previous weekend Power worked at a swim clinic offered by Michael Epstein of Michael Epstein Sports Productions, the company that put the triathlon together. The clinic was offered to beginning swimmers registered to race in the triathlon. Power said that he and two other lifeguards taught people the basics of swimming including water entries, handling the surf and waves, swim strategy and race strategy. On how well his students did in the race, the laconic Power said, “I saw a lot of them come in.”