The Nautica Malibu Triathlon is an annual charitable event that is sponsored by Equinox and dedicated to raising money for pediatric Cancer Research. Now in its 31st year, the healthy event will be held on Sunday, September 17, at Zuma Beach in Malibu, California, and the proceeds will go to the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Pediatric Cancer Research Program.

The Nautica Malibu Triathlon attracts sports fans and athletes from all over the nation--and the world--including professionals who race alongside celebrities and philanthropists. The 2016 event raised over $1.3 million and the event organizers are hopeful that 2017 will bring in even more.

Supporting cancer research

Among the people partaking in the event is Kathleen Sino, a resident of LA--and the founder of Gounded Kidswear--who lost her eleven-year-old niece, Sam, to a form of leukemia known as Blastic Plasmacytoid Dendritic Cell Neoplasm (BPDCN) which is normally only found in adult males. By taking part in the triathlon, Kathleen hopes to keep her nieces memory alive and raise awareness about cancer and the importance of conducting research to find a cure. When Sam was sick in the hospital, she made a bucket list and the words "run outside" were on it. Today, Kathleen finds those words especially inspiring.

“Losing Samantha was one of the most difficult life events my family and I have ever experienced,” Kathleen stated.

“In the midst of our grief, I decided to convert the pain into positive energy. I furiously started researching charity events and any opportunity to honor Sam and tell her story. It was a colleague of mine at the CHLA that nudged me into taking on a triathlon, as it would be a huge physical, emotional, and charitable accomplishment to complete in Sam's memory.”

Kathleen prepares for the triathlon by waking up at 5 am every day to work out via taking long swims, running for several miles on a treadmill, or taking spinning classes.

Despite the mental and physical exhaustion that goes along with training, Kathleen considers the experience to be very rewarding overall.

“The best part about this triathlon is our TEAM SAMANTHA jerseys,” she said. “In addition to myself, three of my family members will be participating in the relay event to represent Team Samantha.

And at the finish line, we'll have dozens of Sam's loved ones wearing Team Sam shirts, cheering us on and telling her story to the world!”

Kathleen readily admits that losing a loved one to cancer is nearly unbearable and that family support, love, and prayers are vital during such stressful times. Although the outcome of Sam’s story was not a happy ending, her fate has inspired Kathleen to embrace philanthropy via “Grounded Kidswear” which designs apparel for children and gives a percentage of their monthly proceeds to charities that benefit children.

“We have partnered up with many cancer research non-profits and hospitals and we plan on continuing to do so until the end of time,” Kathleen declared.

“It’s helped me cope with my grief and so has the triathlon.”

Kathleen suggests that anyone who is planning on partaking in the event gives themselves ample time to prepare by training for months in advance. “Be kind to your mind, body and soul as this challenge will be nothing like any race you've ever participated in before,” she said. “Also, find a group of fellow triathletes to support you! Sophia's Buddies is a group of parents and family members racing in their child's honor/memory, and they are the driving force behind Team Samantha. Just remember, you can do anything you set your mind to, especially if you do it with love.”

Preparing for the triathlon

Sports coach Jason Schneider, who also partakes in the event annually, agrees.

As a professional athlete and trainer, Jason has earned certifications for his skills in cycling, swimming, and running and he is also the founder and president of TriTrain Endurance Coaching, Indoor Cycle Mentor Lead, Triathlon Coach, and Equinox Complex Group Fitness Manager.

“Health, strength, and overall fitness are the building blocks of longevity, energy, and the prevention of injury,” Jason stated and noted that, as a child, he was sedentary, overweight, and prone to eating too much junk food and spending too much time indoors watching television or playing video games. His active-lifestyle parents kept him healthy via skiing, mountain biking and hiking. “When my parents ran the inaugural LA Marathon my life changed,” Jason continued.

“Watching them, I was so inspired that I decided the next year to join them. I've been active ever since!”

In 2009, Jason made the life-altering decision to leave his good paying job in corporate America and turn to his turn passion: being outdoors living a fit and healthy lifestyle. That same year, he started coaching his own triathlon team called “TriTrain Endurance” and paid special attention to the swimming portion of the event since that is the area that gives most people trouble.

“Most people do the majority of their training in a pool,” Jason explained. “While water is water, the ocean, particularly in Zuma Beach, can be treacherous. Big waves with a shallow break, rough seas, fog, sighting.

If not well prepared, the shortest part of the race can be the absolute hardest! I strongly suggest that anyone who is training for this event do bike-to-run workouts every week and try to train along with a team, club, or group for motivation and real-world practice of swimming, cycling, and running with other people around. Multi-sport events require an immense amount of dedication, persistence, sweat and grit. It’s hard work, but it’s rewarding.”

Jason races in several long-distance triathlons and marathons every year; he has even run across the Sahara, through the Amazon jungle, atop the Great Wall of China, and both the North and South pole. This Fall, he is planning to run a trail ultra along the cliffs of Wales and is already preparing for the task.

“My goal is to complete my ‘7 on 7’--seven marathons on seven continents--next year with my final race in either Australia or New Zealand, which will be my fifth Ironman race with my team in celebration of my 50th birthday and a hike up to Everest base-camp with an ultra-run down,” Jason declared before noting that, despite all his successes, he holds a special place in his heart for the Malibu run.

Malibu is one of the most beautiful, fast, exciting courses in triathlon. It's star-studded, well organized and iconic and, to top it all off, it's for a great cause,” he said. “Triathletes are a passionate bunch. When our sport gives back so generously, as Malibu does to Children's Hospital, no matter your results you leave the race feeling like a winner.”