This is one of my favorite events, a real can’t miss in Southern California with a few caveats. My participation with this race started with the swim leg of a relay; relay teams are a great way for newbie triathletes to get a taste of the action & potentially to catch the triathlon bug. After doing this a couple of times, I started doing the whole thing. It’s a great event & a gorgeous setting for a race. One of the things I love most about this race is that it raises a lot of money (over $1 million) for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Participants are encouraged to fundraise and many of the large studios and companies send large teams. The classic distance (.5 mile swim, 18 mile bike, 4 mile run) sells out within hours and includes a celebrity division. The interational distance is less crowded but still a big event. Pre-race, there’s plenty of communication. Packet pickup the day before is strongly encouraged but parking at Zuma Beach is expensive. The vendor expo is big and there’s lots going on so at least you feel like you’re getting your money’s worth. Parking on race morning, especially for the classic on Sunday, is a clusterf***. The lot opens at 4:30 is full before 6am. Get there early or deal with the extra stress of having to park very far away and rush to claim your spot in transition & get your wetsuit on before race start. The swim at Zuma is gorgeous; conditions and water temps vary wildly year to year; I’ve seen it big so best to mix in some open water training. The bike course along PCH offers spectacular scenery, some climbs but nothing terrible. The run course is out & back, gets a little congested. The finish line is a party-like atmosphere with an announcer and throngs of cheering spectators. You’ll feel like a rock star finishing this race. Registration is expensive, but you’re supporting a great cause, and the swag bag is very generous (quality shirt, lots of samples, discounts, and offers). After the event, I continued to get emails asking me to offer feedback on my experience, telling me about media coverage, thanking me, etc. They used a different photo company this year; photos were available within 3-4 days and much less expensive than in years prior. I plan to do this race every year!