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Malibu Triathlon decision punted to January council meeting

Buying a race is one thing, but if you can't get a city permit to put it on, your investment isn't worth much.

Photo by: Super League Triathlon

The drama over the Malibu Triathlon continues. Yesterday we reported that former race director Michael Epstein appeared ready to regain control of the race again based on documents provided by the Malibu City Council that included a contract between the city and the Zuma Foundation, which is being run by Epstein, to put on the race for the next five years. Epstein had sold the race to Motiv sports, but continued to work as the race director until the event was purchased by Super League Triathlon in 2020.

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

Earlier this year a Road Race Ad Hoc Committee was put together to decide which organizations should receive the two permits the city allocates each year for running, triathlon and cycling events. That suddenly put Super League in the position where it was competing with other organizations for the right to put on the triathlon it had purchased three years ago.

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

That Ad Hoc committee has put together agreements with Malibu Race Series LLC to put on a running race, and with the Zuma Foundation Inc. for the triathlon. At yesterday’s meeting City Council was supposed to approve those agreements, but by the time the council got to that item on the agenda it was already passed the allotted finishing time of 10:30. Mayor Steve Uhring “didn’t want to stay here until 11:30 at night,” and asked if the 18 people who had asked for an opportunity to speak that the meeting could designate a couple of spokespeople to “tell us what you want … If we can’t do that, we’ll have to do it another night.”

Turns out that we’re not the only ones who have had a keen interest in the permit application for the Malibu event, according to the mayor.

“I’ve received a ton of emails, both from Michael Epstein with what he’s trying to do and there’s the Super Group (Super League Triathlon) with what they’re trying to do, there’s Malibu Moves who submitted a proposal and then there’s the 5 K, so I’m going to say no,” Mayor Uhring said, acknowledging that there was likely a lot to be discussed on the topic.

All of which means we’re left in limbo for another month as we wait to find out who will end up putting on a triathlon in Malibu next September. Regardless of who ends up in control of the event next year, it’s now clear to race organizations that owning the “IP” of an event is one thing, but at the end of the day whoever can gain the permits to put on a race is in the driver’s seat. As a local with a long history in the city and with the event, Epstein was in a much better position to negotiate for those permits.

We’ve reached out to Epstein for comment, but have not heard back. We’ll update this story with any more information as it comes available.