Nautica Malibu Triathlon breaks fundraising record with $1.17 million

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Runners come out of the water during the 2012 Nautica Malibu Triathlon. Photo archive. 

The 26th annual Nautica Malibu Triathlon last weekend raised more than $1.17 million for charity as more than 3,000 triathletes descended on Malibu to compete in various divisions.

Craig Pansing and Megan Severa won the overall individual races Sunday but the true winner was Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, which was the beneficiary of the record fundraising in support of its Pediatric Cancer Research Program. The Malibu Triathlon has now raised more than $6 million in support of the program over the past six years.

The program is dedicated to curing and preventing childhood cancers, and aims to provide groundbreaking treatments and therapies for children with some of the most serious and life-threatening forms of cancers.

“It’s an incredible experience and I feel blessed to have the opportunity to put it on. Feel the energy, it’s amazing,” said Michael Epstein, Malibu Triathlon founder and event organizer. “All the money we are raising for the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles just makes me thankful to the City of Malibu and for the people of Malibu for letting us do the event here.”

“The money raised by the triathlon brings hope to our kids with cancer because we focus that money on developing new treatments for kids who have resistant cancer who were not successfully treated,” added Stuart E. Siegel, MD, and Director of the Division of Hematology-Oncology at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. “We have made great strides over the past half century treating childhood cancer but we still have kids who don’t respond and represent the largest medical disease killer of children. We have work to be done and the money is focused on those kids who really need the help right now.”

The first Malibu triathlon was held in 1987 with 300 athletes competing. Twenty-five years later, the number of participants has increased exponentially to 3,353. This year’s event was sold out four months in advance.

The atmosphere was electric on Sunday as triathletes ranging from beginners to professionals and 14 to 90 years of age gathered at Zuma Beach. Celebrity participants included James Marsden, Jon Cryer, Rainn Wilson, Max Greenfield, Allison Sweeney, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Ellie Kemper, Ali Landry, Claire Holt, Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, Eric Etebari and Geoff Stults, to name a few.

On a crystal clear weekend with no clouds in the sky and temperatures reaching 70 degrees in the ocean, conditions were ideal for triathletes, paratriathletes, celebrities and corporate teams to compete.

The weekend was broken into two separate races. On Saturday, the Herbalife International Distance Course in a .9 mile swim, 24.8 mile bike ride and 6.2 mile run. On Sunday, entrants in the Nautica Malibu Triathlon took part in a classic distance course of a half-mile swim, 18-mile bike ride and four-mile run.

Amber and Pete Schuchart from Santa Monica each competed in separate races. After training with her husband for many months leading up to the biggest physical and mental challenge of her life, Amber made her debut in a triathlon on Sunday.

“I’m excited but a little bit nervous,” Amber said prior to her race on Sunday. “My husband encouraged me and talked me through the whole process. I’m a first-timer trying to keep calm and just have fun.”

“I love this day. It’s very exciting,” said Pete, who competed in the International Triathlon the day before. “I had my best swim and my best ride yesterday. But overall I’m super-stoked about my results. It’s a great experience and it’s for Children’s Hospital, which makes it all that much better.”

Craig Pansing, 31, finished first in the Classic Distance race on Sunday with a time of one hour, 22 minutes and 50 seconds. It was the second year in a row the Pasadena native has conquered the Malibu Triathlon.

“I feel very fortunate to have won two years consecutively. Both years have been tough competition,” said Pansing. “Children’s Hospital is a great cause. I actually raised money for this through NBC Universal. The triathlon community just really comes together for this event. There are so many people supporting this.”

Megan Severa won the female division with a time of one hour, 36 minutes and 19 seconds.

With each stroke, pedal and stride, the hope of saving children’s lives took center stage for a great cause on a special weekend in Malibu.