How We Rebuilt the Malibu Half Marathon & 5K
Updated: Jul 15, 2019
Hi, my name is Erica and in 2015 I became the Race Director of this incredible event, the Malibu Half Marathon & 5K.
At that time the event had been around for six years, but it had never been able to realize its full potential.
Although the course, along the ocean’s iconic Pacific Coast Highway is among the most scenic routes in California, the runners' experience, marketing, and relationship with the local community had been overlooked.
With the help of David MacVittie and barefoot running legend Alberto Perusset, co-founders of the event, I organized a smooth and simple race on the beautiful, chilly morning of November 15, 2015.
Then Magic Happened
I had not been much of a distance runner until, almost by chance or by destiny, I became involved with this event and, although I had a background in event management, what I was about to experience on race day would change me and my life profoundly.
If I close my eyes, I can be there again among the crowd of people gathered at the start line with their hands on their hearts while a 13-year-old Malibu High School talent was singing our National Anthem. That positive energy and vibrant focus I will never forget. The morning went by so fast, too fast, and before I knew it Blue Benadum was the first runner to cross the finish line in a time of 1:12.45. Blue, also a co-founder of the event, is now an indispensable member of the Nike family, leading the Nike+ Global Run Project, as well as being the founder of the Lab Project (runwiththelab.com).
I was so inspired by the sense of accomplishment and complete happiness (sometimes accompanied by pain) that every finisher had written on their faces, that in that moment I knew I was hooked and that I was going to devote myself to relaunching and rebuilding the event the way it was supposed to be.
Starting from the Basics
2016 was the year for us to show our athletes and the locals that the new team was fully dedicated to giving back to its community and leaving a positive mark.
Because of the importance of their grassroots efforts and commitment to our youth, we decided to make the Boys and Girls Clubs of Malibu our race beneficiary. The Malibu High School Athletics Booster Club also used it as an opportunity to raise money for equipment and travel.
Then it was time to focus on rebranding the event, reconnecting with the runners' community and aligning ourselves with aspirational brand partners that could elevate the Malibu Half Marathon & 5K into one of the best races on the West Coast including; Rusnak BMW Westlake, lululemon, Saje Wellness, Klean LA, TheBu Kombucha and Just Water. In order to do this we created a team of passionate people, all pros in their fields, to help me bring my vision to reality. So a special thank you to my #dreamteam, who stood by me every step of the way: Brian Meert for Facebook and Instagram advertising, Myrna Gallegos out in the field representing the race with running clubs and stores, Phat Chiem giving a distinct voice to our event (#runbeautiful) to name a few.
Falling in Love with Running
Throughout the year I started joining different running clubs to get a feel of what was out there. I joined Blacklist LA for a urban night run in Downtown LA; the Electric Flight Crew for a Santa Monica workout followed by their signature Happy Hour NO Shower; lululemon Malibu Wednesday training run and the LA Leggers which were starting their season training for the LA Marathon. I loved every one of those experiences for different reasons and decided to became a member of the LA Leggers and train for the LA Marathon. Only few weeks later I run my first half marathon in Long Beach.
It goes without saying that I will never forget how I felt crossing the finish line, eyes full of tears, joy and pure happiness. I remember passing mile 13 and thinking just how a few weeks before I didn't believe I could ever run more than a few miles and there I was, sprinting through the finish arch, feeling on top of the world. With a new appreciation for running and road races, I went back to working on the 2016 event full of new ideas and feeling reinvigorated and inspired.
Celebrating a Success
On November 6th, 2016 the Malibu Half Marathon & 5K returned with a spectacular out-and-back course in a locale famous for its 21 miles of scenic beauty, laidback surfer vibe, and celebrity homes. Framed by the sandy beaches and crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean on one side, and the rocky bluffs and golden Santa Monica Mountains on the other, the race is a rare opportunity to run along the storied Pacific Coast Highway and experience iconic Malibu. We tried to be thoughtful about every aspect of the race experience: communications, transportation, parking, finish festival, music, food and drink, the course, and more, and I hope all of you felt our care and determination coming through to deliver a memorable event for you.
The community response and support was incredible. Mayor Lou La Monte’s attendance was one of the highlights of the morning. He held the finisher’s ribbon for the top male runner, Ismael Samano, who crossed the finish line of the half marathon, with a time of 1 hour, 9 minutes and 26 seconds.
Overall I felt we lived up to our mission of creating a beautiful shared outdoor experience in Malibu. The event was as transformative for me as it was for our participants. Nonetheless there's always so much to learn and always space for improvement.
With no time to rest I'm already working on the 2017 event. Join us November 5th, 2017 for another year making memories together!
See you on the road,