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Update as of 11/11/13: The race director reached out to me today and apologized for not delivering a product I had signed up for and for the communication issues. He assured me that next year, he will try his hardest to prevent the pre-race gnarliness from happening again, and if it does, he will communicate with the athletes ASAP. Although it would be pretty sweet if he controlled the world, he doesn’t, and shit happens. Next year, he’ll let us know about it.

Also, I forgot to mention in the original post how awesome the volunteers were. A race will not succeed without volunteers, so a HUGE thank you to everyone who donated their time and energy so that we athletes could enjoy a perfect day at the beach!

So… who’s in for the Malibu SUPathlon 2014? Grab a beer afterwards?

Today, I did the Malibu SUPathlon for the second year in a row. After marinating on my experience, I still have mixed feelings about how I should go about this recap. I had a butt-ton of fun on the course, that is true.

I always do.

What it comes down to, though, is that I am used to professionally produced races: races that communicate changes with runners (hello, lesson learned from NYCM last year?) and races that value its participants. I value you readers and runners enough to give you the honest truth about this event so that you can decide for yourself if your time and money is going to be spent well at this event next year.

A race can be on a lame-ish course, have undesirable weather (there have been lots of those), be forced at the last minute to change locations due to a government shutdown, or be left explaining apologetically that runners have to do their business in the bushes because the Andy Gumps didn’t show up on time, and it will still be a super-fun, solid experience. But if it isn’t run professionally, I’m left to ask why, on a weekend when there are two other reputable area races (Santa Barbara and the Calabasas Classic), I should choose Malibu (aside from the obvious fact that stand-up paddling isn’t an option in either of those two).

The Ugly

  • The course changed (minus 3-miles) and there was no communication with participants regarding the change aside from a suddenly different course map on Facebook one day before the race. This is a big deal for runners. Maybe not for people who registered for the SUP instead of the run or for those who were doing it simply for fun, but to me (I was using the run as a 7-mile tempo run–can’t forget about my goal race in December.) and a couple other participants I spoke to (more runners than SUPers), it was a big deal. When we sign up to run, we want to run.
  • I emailed info@runmalibumarathon and never received a response back.

Why are these ugly? I spend too much money and a lot of time and training on races every year, and when I am not respected as a racer (communication=respect in friendships, marriage, life in general), which has never been the case until this race, I am left with a sour taste in my mouth. I’m pretty positive that most of the SUP community couldn’t have cared one way or another because they seem to be a pretty easy going group of homies (the non-communication and start line setup became a joke to them, judging by the conversation at the start) (and I could most definitely learn something about this from them), but I am a runner with running goals, and when my mileage is messed with and I have paid good money to get those miles, things like this really bum me out.

Quite frankly, I was so pissed about the lack of communication that I almost didn’t show up this morning. The only reason I did was because a reader and I commiserated over email regarding the ridiculousness of this event, so I knew I wasn’t alone in feeling shafted. Also, I had already paid for it and had arranged for my mom to take the girls overnight (again, best mom ever!).

I’m glad I raced.

The Awesome.

Race day was pretty fantastic. The husband and I left our house for the 25-minute drive to Malibu.

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When we arrived, theย board caddy husband set up our boards at the transition zone.

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Then, we found a parking spot and high-tailed it to the busses, where we were driven 5 miles to the SUP start.

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The SUP start was different from the half start this year, so I wasn’t able to take a bagillion pictures with my most favorite cousin (she ran the half) like we usually do. Sadface.

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I did meet up with the most lovely reader Kim, who is totally awesome and finished super strong! Her paddling was fierce to the max!

I found it strange that there were no timing mats , porta-potties, or water. It kinda felt like we were just dropped off on the side of the road.

Oh, wait. We were.

So I popped a squat down a trail with this view:

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There was no line to toe (Some racers assumed a mock-racing-blocks position, though); the race kinda just began with all kinds of runners: wiser ones, younger ones, runner ones, paddler ones, fitness buffs, beer buffs, ones in button-down shirts, ones in spandex–all kinds. I love races where it’s a hodgepodge of different people out for a good time.

My Garmin was acting up again and wouldn’t sync with the satellites (Dear Santa…), so I’m not sure what my pace was, but it was fast enough to get me to the boards first. Just like last year.

SPOILER ALERT: I lost my lead big time. Just like last year.

Apparently planking and IPA drinking isn’t a substitute to genuine paddle-training.

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It’s good for the core and the soul, but not for producing positive paddling results. Sadface again.

Three stellar chick-paddlers zipped past me in the water with ease. One chick even offered up some tips because my form sucked balls. You say you have to put the paddle all the way in the water? And use your shoulders more than your arms? Ok. Noted.

The winds shifted in the last couple yards before the final buoy, so I narrowly avoided the same fate as last year when I was stuck paddling at a pace of 1 mile/30 min. (NOTE: I’m obviously not a strong paddler, so that may or may not be worth anything). I rounded the buoy and paddled into a micro-mini wave, but still ate shit when my fin hit the sandy bottom. With a smile plastered across my face, undoubtedly.ย I finished in 1:58:something, 4th girl.

I wore a Camelbak Baja hydration pack (it’s a lot like the Ultra pack) filled with Fluid for the paddle, which I’m pretty sure saved me from falling directly into a hallucination of a shark’s mouth.

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After I finished, I dusted most of the sand off my feet, pulled my shoes back on, and ran back up the course in hopes that I would find my most amazing cousin and her friend L.

I DID!!!!!!

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We’re actually running in that picture!

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There is so much happiness in those pictures, I can’t handle it!!!! Congrat’s M and L on your finish!

Post-race:

Lots of racers, lots of goodies:

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And good husband points:

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I’m not sure if I’ll be back again next year, but if I am, I hope that the race organizers communicate changes clearly and in advance, and if something similar happens next year, offer racers a refund or the opportunity to lateral to a different race (the half or the full). I also hope that the run is longer. Keeping the run at least at a 10K would be nice. But I’m a runner, so I only count for half of the SUPathlon.

P.S. I beat the husband. My streak lives on. Booyah!

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