The title of this blog post wouldn't have been seen as realistic in the 1950s, when maybe the most famous prison in the world was active. But the title is very correct now.Read More
My ultimate goal of the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon is not to do a fast race. I will be there to enjoy the experience, to film and to get as much as possible out of the race. SO having a fast bike has not been a priority at all, but because I'm so tall I still ended up with one.Read More
One of the main goals for easter was to finish all the bookings for the San Francisco trip. We managed to do so, but because of so many things happening during the easter break we ended up doing it the last night before we started working again.Read More
Amalie and I are using the Escape of Alcatraz Triathlon as an excuse to travel around California for two weeks. We are close to done with all our preparation and finished deciding and ordering what car to rent yesterday.Read More
Probably the most people I talk to about the Alcatraz triathlon ask this question, "Isn't there sharks in the water?" And the answer is, yes! It's the first time I've participated in a triathlon were an infomail was sent out with a specific section on sharks.Read More
The Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon is mostly about the swim, it's 1.5 miles long (a little less than 2.5 km) and done with a strong current and in cold water. This will be the longest competition swim I have done so far in my triathlon career and it will be a very challenging task to complete. This is why I started preparing to swim longer distances when I went to the swimming pool yesterday.Read More
She's a beauty isn't she? My twilight princess Midna. What? You don't name your bike? What kind of cyclist are you?Read More
Last on the program is a 12 km run through the Golden Gate Recreation Area to the Baker Beach Battery and back to the marina. Looking at the elevation map there is two steep hills with close to 75 meter elevation in the middle of the run. This makes it a tough run where it's smart conserving energy throughout so that you have enough when it gets flat at the end.
These are not just normal hills though. Instead of building just steps that are solid, they have made a sand ladder that looks absolutely dreadful. In the videos I've seen so far even the professional athletes use their arms to pull themselves upwards because of slippery surface. This is by far the crux on the run leg and will either make or break the athletes attempting to escape.
After a quick turn at Baker Beach Battery the run will follow the same path back, which at some places will result in very crowded or narrow passings. In order to not get stuck behind slower runners in these sections there might be a need to think tactically while running, deciding where to burn or conserve energy.
The entire race seems very exciting and inviting to me, and I can't wait to do it. For now though I'll have to make do with looking at videos and training like a champ so that I'll be able to complete it in style!
After the 1 km warm up run a 30 km long bike ride is ahead of the triathletes. This bike ride is considered hilly and will test the athletes climbing and handling skills as you go both up and down. For those who are not fluent in gibberish, (read the imperial system) the highest point on the course is at 100 meters, on the second climb if you look at the map on the right. The same spot will also be reached on the way back to the Marina.
For me the best thing about this races is that it goes close to the iconic landmark bridge "The Golden Gate." It's something that many of us have seen in the 90s in the intro of Full House and that usually everybody knows about. even though the bike course looks cool I would have liked it to be situated even closer to the San Francisco city center, but I guess that would be very hard to do.
The course goes westward, past the Golden Gate bridge, and towards the Golden Gate Park. Once the participants get there, they will turn around and bike approximately the same route back towards the marina. This means that the road will be shared with cyclists going both ways. Caution is therefore important, and crossing the yellow line can be seen as valid reason for disqualification.
This is also a non-draft race, where illegal drafting can lead to disqualification. This shouldn't be as relevant in the uphills, but in the downhills and on the flats there are huge advantages to be made by getting close to the person ahead. There are officials all around the course to check if people break the rules. On the different YouTube films I have seen so far there are many places where the road is too narrow and there is no other way than to bike in traffic.
The bike course closes two hours after the swim closure time (three hours after the start), which should be plenty of time to bike the 30 km. If somebody is too slow they will be picked up by the sweep car driving at the back.
All three sports represented in The Escape from Alcatraz give a unique experience to the triathlon, but I would argue that swimming is by far the most special and the reason why this triathlon exists.
All 2000 swimmers board "the Hornblower," the boat that's both a shuttle and the starting line for the race. Warming up is apparently for sissies, because the participants jump from the boat as the start signal is sounded. Watch the video above to see this is in action.
Then comes the 2500 meter long swim. This swim is dreaded for several reasons.
First of all, because it is long. Usually when a swim is this long, both biking and running tends to be longer as well. This is not the case, especially not after the course changed in 1993, when both biking and running was made shorter to fit within the San Francisco borders. If you are a good swimmer, then you'll have a better shot at winning this race than any other.
Secondly, the water is freezing. It is usually from 12° to 16° C, which is kinda normal for me when training during the summer in Norway, but still pretty cold. Wet suits are therefore mandatory, at least in my opinion..
The third reason is the strong current. As far as I have understood they try to put the start of the swim at a particular time when there is less current, but the smaller current will still inflicts greatly on the direction you'll have to swim in order not to end up swimming against it at the end. The lifeguards that follow the contestants have the authority to pick up and move a swimmer back into the correct position without having them disqualified.
The strong current also means that as long as you swim correctly in the beginning the last meters will be swimming with the current. The cap for the swimming leg is one hour and the contestants that can't finish within the time limit gets placed close to the shore so they can continue the race.
When they first started this triathlon many people did it without wet suits, and they got so cold they fell off their bikes later in the race. For this reason they inserted a 1 km warm up run from the time you get out of the water until you get to the bike. Many do this run barefoot while still being in their wet suits, but there is also a possibility to leave shoes ready.
For more information check out the video below.