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Athletes run, swim and paddle in annual event

OCEANSIDE — The third annual Maui Jim Surf Monkey competition held July 31 is a triathlon of sorts, with a 5K run, 1-mile swim, and 6-mile paddleboard course.
Competitors can choose to participate in one or all three events. There are men’s and women’s age group winners in the separate run, swim and paddleboard races. Top Banana award is given to the top scoring man and woman in the combined run and swim competition. The coveted King Monkey and Queen Monkey award go to the man and woman who have top overall scores in all three events.
An estimated 500 to 700 competed, and ranged in ages from 10 to 79. “The race has a local following with the triathlon clubs,” Dan Van Dyck, expo coordinator, said.
“It’s growing every year,” Scott Hamilton of Santee said.
The open water swim competition started at 7 a.m. followed by a run on The Strand at 8 a.m., and a paddleboard race at 10 a.m. “The swim was a little rough this morning,” Hamilton said. “Paddling was a little better, the water was calmer and smoother. Still six miles is six miles.”
Many who raced are triathlon competitors who push themselves through nine months of training and a race ready diet to be in triathlons. For trained athletes the Surf Monkey competition is a fun spirited change of pace.
“It’s a great event,” Thomas Johnson of Santee said. “It allows you to be a kid again.”
Beginners can give the race a try without intense training and avid racers can compete for fun and bragging rights.
“There are a lot of
sponsors and plenty of swag,” Van Dyck said. Kona Brewing Company, Xterra Wetsuits, Newton Running, and Clif Bar are among the sponsors who supported the race and handed out freebies and prizes.
The icon of the race is the Top Banana trophy, which speaks volumes about the fun spirit of the competition. A ceramic statue of a monkey on a surfboard is given to the top man and top woman in the combined run and swim competition. “It’s a staple from the 1960s,” Johnson said. “The monkey you’d buy from the Tijuana street vendor on your way back from your surf trip.”
Final Surf Monkey race results can be found at