Photojournalism - The 2015
Nautica Malibu Triathlon
ABOVE - The Pre-Event is an event in its own right; thousands of athletes filing in from all over the region to get signed up and ready for the triathlon.
I arrived at 4:30am to a unbelievable amount of activity. Thousands of athletes being processed - signing in and receiving their numbers for the race then moving with their bicycles into the main staging area.
Several professional bicycle mechanics - you know the guys you see fixing bicycles in events like "Le Tour de France" were set up in booths with a steady stream of participants waiting in line for last minute bicycle checkups.
In the images above you see Mike Cicchi - a world-class cycling mechanic and all around awesome guy working on celebrity participant Victor Ortez's bike before the race as Victor and a female companion watch. Mike is one of the partners in the Newbury Park Bike Shop where I buy all of my bicycles and equipment and he's simply gifted in all things cycling.
The race didn't start until 7am - with there being a mandatory pre-race orientation at 6:30am. From 4:30am until 6:30am I mainly stayed out of the way... "organized chaos" is the best way to describe the steady flow of athletes and bicycles into the staging area; where rack after rack of bicycles sat in neatly spaced rows as far as you could see.
SPECIAL NOTE - One thing you may notice as you look through these photos is how many of the participants are making eye contact with my camera. I was shooting with either a 500mm f/4 lens or a 300mm f/2.8 lens - BOTH share the same size main lens element at nearly 8" in diameter... these are BIG hard to miss lenses. Many of the participants of this event were celebrities or professional athletes, all of which are familiar with having large camera lenses stuck in their faces. What surprised me is how many of them with only seconds to spot and identify my camera and lens did just that and then made sure to make eye contact - some even adjusted their stances or made "hard-core exercise" faces. That aspect of this sort of event never ceases to amaze me.
ABOVE - SWIMMING - THE FIRST HURDLE OF THE DAY
Triathlons are three separate tests of strength and endurance all designed to test an athlete to their core. The day starts with an ocean swim which is nothing like swimming in a pool. There are waves and currents, real obstacles that each participant must overcome.
The normally "brisk" Pacific Ocean was a temperate 70 degrees Fahrenheit the day of the race and many of the participants opted to swim in short sleeve wet suits - where most of the year full-length wet suits are required to keep your body temperature warm during a lengthy swim.
Most participants started shedding their wet suits before they were out of the water - taking the last 100ft of the walk to the shore to do so - saving precious time when they arrive at the main staging area.
SPECIAL NOTE - The Nautica Malibu Triathlon is an odd mixture of distances - it doesn't really conform to the traditional triathlon formats - The Nautica Malibu Triathlon features a half-mile ocean swim, an 18 mile out-and-back bike course, and a 4-mile (approximately 5K) out-and-back run course.The "TRADITIONAL" Triathlon formats are -Sprint Distance - 750-meter (0.47-mile) swim, 20-kilometer (12-mile) bike, 5-kilometer (3.1-mile) run
Intermediate (or Standard) distance; commonly referred to as the "Olympic distance" - 1.5-kilometer (0.93-mile) swim, 40-kilometer (25-mile) bike, 10-kilometer (6.2-mile) run
Long Course - 1.9-kilometer (1.2-mile) swim, 90-kilometer (56-mile) bike, and a 21.1-kilometer (13.1-mile) run (half marathon)
ITU Long Distance - 4-kilometer (2.5-mile) swim, 120-kilometer (75-mile) bike, and a 30-kilometer (19-mile) run
Ultra Distance; commonly referred to as 140.6 or the 'Ironman' - 3.8-kilometer (2.4-mile) swim, 180.2-kilometer (112.0-mile) bike, and a 42.2-kilometer (26.2-mile) run (full marathon)
The Nautica Malibu Triathlon is in reality a class somewhere between the Sprint and the Standard formats for both the cycling and running courses are slightly longer than the Sprint format but not as long as the Standard.
As the sun rises in the East turning the sky into a warm bath of yellow, orange, and red, the first "WAVE" of swimmers, the "Elite Class" consisting of professional triathletes, runs out into the waves and starts their half mile swim North along the shore.
Participants are ranked into "Classes" and each class is released onto the course in a "wave" - this way there isn't the danger and chaos that can occur when thousands of participants hit the water at the same time. Released in smaller, manageable groups, this allows the safety crews (consisting of members of the US Coast Guard) to keep better track of each participant as they swim the often treacherous waters of the mighty Pacific ocean.
The Elite Class are the first in and they are the first out, making the swim faster than any other group, many of the Elite Class will have completed the entire course before the final wave of swimmers hits the beach.
ABOVE - THE STAGING AREA IS THE HUB OF THE EVENT
Participants will enter the water South of the main event venue and swim North past it - to the far North edge of the staging area. They leave the water and run along a narrow corridor into the main staging area where they must find their bicycles and transition from their swimming gear into their cycling gear. They must then make their way to the start of the cycling stage.
Other than the beginning of the swimming stage, each stage starts and stops in the main staging area. The cycling and running courses are loops which bring each participant back to the staging area so they can transition from the previous event into the next.
ABOVE - THE CYCLING STAGE IS THE LONGEST STAGE
For me, personally, the cycling stage is most exciting. I've been an avid cyclist since my teens and I am extremely active in cycling (I cycle daily). The technology and gear involved is always fun for me to observe - but I'm also impressed by anyone who can get on a bicycle and ride 18 miles full-out and still have enough gas in their tank to run a 4 mile race.
Professional "Elite" athletes like Kaitlin Lanin (above) make the entire exercise look easy. Years of training and conditioning have honed the bodies of the Elite Class of participants into Triathlon wrecking machines.
Most of the photos I shot were of the Elite and Celebrity Classes. What you'll see in the photos above are a wide range of athletes, all Elite, as they performed in the cycling stage.
ABOVE - THE RUNNING STAGE OF THE NAUTICA MALIBU TRIATHON IS A 4 MILE RUN
A slightly longer distance than a 5K run at 3.1 miles - the Nautica Malibu Triathlon presses its participants a little harder making them complete a 4 mile course.
There are several classifications for individuals in this event - age groups and even the type of bicycles ridden (there was a class for mountain bike riders - which really - I have no idea who'd want to do 18 miles on hilly streets on a full-suspension mountain bike - it's abusive to think about - but there were several).
The top "Elite Class" finishers were -
Jason Pedersen finished the entire course in 1:13:12.59 - one hour thirteen minutes and twelve seconds. The cyclist above in the cycling photos wearing the uniform with "Pedersen USA" on his jersey was the overall winner, the fastest swimmer, cyclist and runner.
Kaitlin Lavin finished the entire course in 1:46:35.71 - one hour forty six minutes and thirty five seconds and was the top female performer of the day. Her time bested the majority of the males who participated.
ABOVE - THE CULMINATION OF THE EVENT IS THE AWARDS PRESENTATION ON THE WINNER'S PODIUM
The main purpose of this event is to raise money for and awareness of the Children's Hospital Los Angeles and all of the programs and work this organization does to help critically and terminally ill children.
Many of the celebrity participants mingle in the crowds during the awards presentation. Above - I caught an over-the-shoulder extreme close-up (I was shooting with a 300mm lens - which is like a telescope) of actor Danny Pudi (Community, Capt. America The Winter Soldier) as he stood in the crowd watching the awards presentation.
This year a total of $1,317,802.00 US was presented to the hospital administration before the medals were presented to the event winners and top performers.