The community comes out to support Malibu Search and Rescue

Victoria Nodiff-Netanel of Mini Therapy Horses and Neal Thornhill of Malibu Search and Rescue shown at the Malibu Search and Rescue Trail Run. Photo courtesy Victoria Nodiff-Netanel.

It was a brisk 37 degrees at historic Paramount Ranch for the inaugural Malibu Search and Rescue Trail Run. One hundred and seventy-one runners laced up their sneakers for either the 3.1-mile or 6.2-mile race to help raise funds for the all-volunteer MSAR. 

The rescue team typically makes more than 150 calls a year in the Malibu area, finding missing hikers, rescuing cars and drivers who go over the sides of canyons, and other types of daring rescues even using helicopters. The team is made up of reserve Los Angeles County deputies, but they are self-funded for the specialty equipment they need to be on top of their game. Saturday’s event was a chance for the community to say thanks and give back by raising money.

Paramount Ranch in the Santa Monica Mountains provided a rolling, hilly course. It was a festive atmosphere where some remains of a western town still stand after filming TV shows such as “Gunsmoke” and “Westworld.” The theme song from “Bonanza” played at the starting gate.

Nathan Allen of Santa Rosa Valley won the 10K with a 36:12 time.

Charlie Harper of Newbury Park took second place at 37:26. That’s a roughly six-minute mile pace and on a rocky, gravelly trail. Harper’s wife and two young daughters were among the dozen who ran a fun run 1K for youngsters. 

“I thought it was great,” Harper said of the inaugural run. “The course is really nice on trails I had never been on before and for a good cause. That’s great too.” The family loved the bounce house for kids and the beer garden for adults.

Along with food trucks and post-race snacks, there was a little something for all ages at the event. Mini therapy horses, fire protection services, Sheriff’s Department Volunteers on Patrol, Disaster Communications Department and MSAR team members were on hand with information and to take photos.

Taelor Young, 29, of Thousand Oaks was the fastest female to cross the 10K finish line at 41:07. She only signed up for the race hours before the start. 

“It was super fun.,” Young said. “There were some good climbs and lots of downhill to fly on.” Young plans on running it again next year.

“The best part of watching the race was the little kids come in doing the 1K with their parents who had just done the 5K or 10K and they’re smiling along with them crossing the finish line.” Volunteer Janice Nikora of Malibu added, “When I heard about the race I said, ‘What can I do to help?’ I love the search and rescue team. They’re a vital part of our community.”

MSAR’s Neal Thornhill organized the race. 

“We’re really excited to see the whole community come out,” he said. “Everybody seems really happy here.” 

Funds raised will go to buy specialty vests the team uses in rescues. 

“That’s our priority right now,” Thornhill said. “We have to get someone to make them for use. It gets costly.” 

MSAR members typically carry 50 pounds of gear so the vests will be custom made to handle the vital equipment necessary when hiking out to find missing persons. 

Even runners from outside the Malibu area drove in to run the MSAR race. Beth Siracusa made the trek from Redondo Beach. When she saw an advertisement for the run she decided to participate because, “I love the area. I love our home here. I love our national parks and our park service so, I wanted to come out and support the team here. 

“I’m absolutely coming back next year,” The 51-year-old said. “It’s beautiful. The scenery is wonderful. The people are fantastic and it’s supporting such an important cause.”

MSAR is always looking for volunteers. Those wishing to join the team can email