Zuma Foundation cancels the triathlon in Malibu slated for September 

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The Zuma Beach underpass is currently closed and has been closed since March 2023 due to flooding. Photos by Samantha Bravo/TMT.

Super League Malibu offers to operate a downsized 2024 race event and to negotiate for 2025 event

By Barbara Burke

Special to The Malibu Times

Zuma Foundation, a Malibu-based nonprofit organization, has canceled the Zuma Beach Triathlon slated for Sept. 14. 

“With the goal of producing a world-class triathlon event for the City of Malibu, the local community, participants, and all stakeholders involved, the Zuma Foundation has requested that the City of Malibu postpone the Zuma Beach Triathlon until the Fall of 2025.” The foundation’s press release stated. “This decision prioritizes the safety of participants and ensures the delivery of a world-class event for the City of Malibu, local residents and athletes.”

The press release noted, “The health and wellbeing of our race participants is of the utmost importance. The ongoing construction and repair issues on Pacific Coast Highway, including the delayed completion of the Trancas Bridge project, among others, have led us to reschedule the event due to safety concerns for the thousands of athletes who come to Malibu to train on the course leading up to the race.”

On Jan. 8, the Malibu City Council voted to approve permits for the Zuma Foundation, Inc., whose director Michael Epstein has operated the event in the past under various company names, to operate a triathlon in Malibu on the weekend of Sept. 14, 2024. In doing so, the council rejected a contract bid by Super League Malibu Triathlon, formerly Super League, which had operated the event from 2019 to 2023.

The construction delays, as well as complications in Caltrans’ efforts to clear the creek near Zuma Beach have forced the cancellation of the event, according to City Councilmember Paul Grisanti, who served on the two-member race committee that recommended that the council award the permit to Zuma Foundation. Grisanti added that recent rains have complicated efforts to clear the underpass below the Zuma Creek bridge, one of the areas where triathlon participants would have biked this September. 

“If Zuma Beach Triathlon fails to take place in 2024, we would like to open the door to the conversation about bringing back Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Super League Triathlon, and Malibu Triathlon to the City of Malibu in 2025,” Brennan Lindner, Super League Malibu Triathlon’s spokesperson stated at the April 24 City Council meeting. Readers can hear his remarks at 1:44:22 in this video: 

www.youtube.com/live/LEx0LLQE06M?feature=shared.

Lindner also told the council that Super League Triathlon is open to producing a smaller-scale swim or swim-run event in Fall 2024 that would take place only within LA County jurisdiction — the beach and parking lot at Zuma Beach.” 

Lindner told The Malibu Times on May 5 that the smaller-scale event “would have smaller impact and provide the community of Malibu multi-sport athletes the opportunity to participate in an athletic activity and fundraiser for local charities.” 

“We produced a similar event at Zuma for five years and it was a blast,” he stated. “I believe our good faith efforts over the past four years have demonstrated that we are open to, and willing to, work together to reduce the traffic impact of the event, as well as to incorporate more fundraising to benefit Malibu charities.”

The Malibu Triathlon was founded in 1987 by Epstein and has been a perennial draw for professional, amateur, corporate, and celebrity triathletes. In recent years, the race spanned two days. In 2017, Eptein sold the race to Motiv Sports and was its executive director until 2020. The Malibu Triathlon was purchased by Super League in 2021. Since 2012, the city’s municipal code has limited permits for marathons, triathlons, and cycling events to two per year. In 2013, the city contracted with Epstein, granting him permits to host the Malibu Triathlon for 10 years. In 2017, he sold that right to Motiv Sports. Super League Holdings PTE LTD purchased the Malibu Triathlon in 2021. The city could have extended that permit pursuant to the parties’ contact, but opted to issue a request for proposals, culminating in a contract award to Zuma Foundation.

Grisanti noted that Lindner made overtures to operate a race event on Zuma Beach and its parking lot. However, he stated that there have been no formal discussions with Super League Malibu Triathlon to do so. The Malibu Times will keep readers informed should any such discussions commence.