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Malibu City Council meets to approve agreements to give triathlon event back to previous race director

Barring a last-minute reprieve, Super League Triathlon will lose the event it purchased in 2020 after tonight's meeting

Photo by: Malibu Triathlon/ Ryan Bethke

The last item on the agenda for this evening’s Malibu City Council meeting is to: “At the recommendation of the Road Race Ad Hoc Committee, approve the Agreements with Malibu Race Series LLC and Zuma Foundation Inc. for the two allowable Road Race Temporary Use Permits.”

The two races include a half-marathon and 5 km (run by Malibu Race Series LLC), along with what has long been known as the Malibu Triathlon. The triathlon, which celebrated the 38th running this year, is famous for its celebrity participants, including, over the years, Jennifer Lopez, Matthew McConaughey, David Duchovny, Zac Efron, Mario Lopez, Julie Bowen, Teri Hatcher, William H. Macy, Will Ferrell, Jennifer Garner, Robin Williams, Jon Cryer, Anna Kournikova, Felicity Huffman, Chace Crawford and Jack Falahee.

This is the second time the triathlon has been in the hands of city council – this year’s event was saved at the last minute when the council granted a last-minute permit to change the race route after flooding forced a route change.

Malibu Triathlon wins appeal to revise course after floods and an endangered fish almost forced cancelation

Super League loses permit

We reported on the status of the Malibu Triathlon last week (see link below). In a seemingly bizarre twist of events, Super League Triathlon, which purchased the Malibu Triathlon in 2020, appears to have been shut out of being able to put on the event in the future as the City gets ready to give it’s one and only triathlon permit to the Zuma Foundation, which is run by former Malibu Triathlon race director Michael Epstein.

Malibu appears to have dumped Super League and given the triathlon race permit back to the previous race director

After starting up in 2015, a company called Motiv sports began acquiring a number of events across the United States, including the famed Wildflower Triathlon and the Malibu event. Epstein remained the race director under Motiv, but after Super League Triathlon took over the event, Brennan Lindner took over the race director duties.

It’s not clear if Epstein, who lives in Malibu, had a non-compete clause in his contract with Motiv or Super League after the sale of the event. (We’ve reached out to Epstein for comment but have not heard back, and while we received a statement from Super League last week, they did not comment on our questions about Epstein.) One assumes that if he did, it wasn’t longer than three years, which allowed him to submit a proposal to put on the triathlon in Malibu for next year.

“Last year – the City of Malibu voted unanimously to form a special committee to review the Road Races in Malibu,” Epstein wrote to former participants in the triathlon. “The result of that 6-month review was another unanimous decision to allow all interested parties to submit their proposal for putting on Road Races in the City of Malibu for the next five years. That review process was completed and a third unanimous decision was issued by the Road Race committee to award the triathlon event to the Zuma Foundation, a Non-Profit Corporation created by Malibu Residents to not only raise funds for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, but to also support local youth initiatives.”

Tonight the Malibu City Council is set to approve the five year deal between the city and Zuma Foundation, which will leave Super League Triathlon out of the mix.

“Super League Triathlon is extremely disappointed by the decision of the ad hoc committee to recommend a permit for a triathlon to be issued to Michael Epstein, who has sold the triathlon in the past for commercial gain, and we would urge the full City Council to consider all the facts in their deliberations,” the company wrote in a statement last week. “Super League remains the legal owner of the event and its IP, and this decision would set a very dangerous precedent for the industry in general and all who want to invest in sporting events.”

The agreement with Zuma Foundation stipulates that the race will not have more than 4,000 participants, and will donate at least $100,000 to Malibu youth-based community-oriented charitable organizations.” Epstein has also made it clear that the race will continue to raise funds for the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles.

Those interested in watching tonight’s Malibu City Council meeting can watch the meeting live or later on demand here.