It’s never too late to complete a triathlon. Just ask Steve Evans.
A longtime Santa Monica resident who works for the Showtime television network, Evans had never seriously considered doing so much swimming, cycling and running all in one day.
But something about the athletic feat appealed to him.
“It was one of those moments where somebody said, ‘How would you like to join the CBS triathlon team?'” he said. “I thought, ‘Well, that sounds like a good idea.'”
Evans is one of scores of Santa Monicans participating in the 29th annual Malibu Triathlon, which will be held Sept. 20 at Zuma Beach and which features a half-mile swim in the Pacific Ocean, an 18-mile bicycle ride and a 4-mile run.
But he is also part of a dedicated contingent of entrants with no shortage of chronological mileage. He turned 66 earlier this summer.
“It’s a challenge,” Evans said. “But it’s a great way to stay in shape and meet new people, and it’s a terrific sport.”
The triathlon weekend in Malibu is popular among amateur athletes from across the Westside and Southern California, and it has been known to attract Hollywood actors and other celebrities.
The event doubles as a fundraiser for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, with last year’s edition drawing more than 5,000 participants and generating about $1.35 million for the hospital’s pediatric cancer research and treatment efforts.
The Malibu Triathlon appears to have a special appeal among the 60-plus crowd, including active senior citizens and retirees who have more time to train and working adults who are trying to maintain health-conscious lifestyles. Last year’s race featured 53 men and women in a variety of 60-and-over age categories.
For Evans, a Seattle native who settled in Santa Monica in 1982, the upcoming Malibu Triathlon will be his third.
He’s finished marathons in Los Angeles and New York even though he didn’t start running until his 30s, and he’s comfortable on a bike. But he knew he’d have to hone his swimming skills, which he did by taking a masters class at Santa Monica College.
“One of the great things about the triathlon is the people you get to know,” said Evans, who finished last year’s Malibu race in 2 hours 32 minutes 43.94 seconds. “There’s a triathlon community, so you see the same faces out there training on the weekend, you meet some new friends and you have a common interest.”
Glen Greenfield, 62, started doing triathlons after being challenged by his daughter, Santa Monica High alumna Joanna Greenfield.
But the Malibu Triathlon presents a new obstacle for the Santa Monica resident and longtime Lincoln Middle School history teacher, who in previous triathlons has swum in a lake, not an ocean. He has spent time training in the coastal waters with a floatation device, although he knows he can’t use it during the upcoming race. And he’s slowly conquering his fear of ocean swimming.
“I’m a little panicked out there,” he said. “The biggest challenge is getting through that swim. Psychologically, I’m so nervous about it. Afterward, I’m so happy that I can sail through the biking and the run. That’s easy compared to the swim. I get passed a lot in the water, but I pass a few people after that.”
As part of his training regimen, Greenfield wakes up at 5 a.m. several times a week to go on a run or bike ride before school.
When it comes to participating in triathlons, he still feels young.
“I’ve seen people who are 82 doing triathlons,” he said. “I figure I have at least another 20 years.”
Santa Monica resident Brian Burke, 70, is hoping to continue his triathlon streak.
He’s entered the Malibu race in each of the last four years, but his status for this year’s edition is in question after he crashed his bike and fractured a rib while doing a personal time trial.
Burke, a Northern California native who moved to the beachside city in 2007, was a track athlete in high school and found time to train for triathlons after finishing his career in education as a teacher and principal.
“I wanted to keep my health together in retirement and stay active,” he said. “And here in this area, you can do triathlons very easily. There are plenty of bike trails and running trails. The environment fits perfectly.”
Contact Jeff Goodman at 310-573-8351, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter.