Malibu Triathlon Gets Green Light from Malibu City Council After Threat From Tidewater Goby

The Malibu Triathlon is on.

The Malibu City Council voted to allow the triathlon to go ahead this weekend after the fate of the event was in question over permitting issues as a result of an altered course that was designed as a way to protect an endangered fish species that have taken residence in a key underpass on the route.

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The vote — a 4-0 tally with council member Bruce Silverstein abstaining — came at the tail end of a marathon city council meeting that started on Monday night and stretched past midnight due to a lengthy docket and a series of pleas from triathlon supporters. The Malibu Triathlon, a fundraiser for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, will take place on Saturday and Sunday. In a statement received by The Hollywood Reporter, triathlon officials thanked the Malibu City Council for “working with us” to ensure the event could go on as planned.

“We are fully focused on delivering an enjoyable and life-changing experience for so many athletes while also generating significant funds for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA),” reads the statement. “We are proud to announce that we have already reached the $1 million fundraising mark for CHLA in 2023. This is an incredible achievement of which we are very proud and we hope to raise even more funds in the days, weeks and years to come.”

The Malibu Triathlon is a high-profile annual event that in years past has hosted the likes of Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Lopez, Zac Efron, Max Greenfield and Mark Feuerstein. Organizers recently confirmed a change in the course forced by flooding in the Zuma Underpass, a result of high precipitation in the Los Angeles area this year. Before the water could be cleared, translucent two-inch fish called tidewater goby took up residence there.

Triathlon organizers teamed with City of Malibu officials and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and Beaches and Harbors to hatch a plan that protected the fish and its new habitat while minimizing “our impact on the local ecosystem.” In doing so, they proposed a course change but the permit was “denied on a technicality,” organizers confirm in the emailed statement. That technicality is that residents in the area must be notified 32 days prior to an event and that deadline has come and gone.

However, during the council meeting, it was pointed out that officials had mailed notices to residents giving them enough of a heads up and that many in the area have come to expect the triathlon as an annual tradition in September. This year’s event will be the 38th on record. As part of the change, the Olympic distance was shortened to 14.4 miles from 25 while the Classic Distance went down to 10.8 miles from 17.

Curiously enough, one city council member pointed out during the meeting that he had received an unconfirmed report from a source that there are currently no tidewater goby to be found in the underpass. The vote to approve the event offers a collective sigh of relief to race participants, many of whom have flooded social media in recent days to plead for it to go on as planned, citing months of training and non-refundable race fees and hotel, airfare and rental car reservations.

On Wednesday, organizers revealed participants for the celebrity division race on Oct. 1. Competing at Zuma Beach will be Diplo, Chace Crawford, Trixie Mattel, Daniela Ruah, Jesse Metcalfe, Timothy Olyphant, Ben Higgins, ChefRush and more. They roster will swim, bike and run as they raise funds for the Pediatric Cancer Research Program at CHLA. The celebrity division race consists of a 0.5 mile swim, 9.6-mile adjusted bike ride and 4-mile run.

Wednesday, Sept. 27 at 12:26 p.m.: Updated to include roster of celebrity participants.

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