Alcatraz XVII Triathlon
"The Ultimate Escape"

Dave Horning and Envirosports served up another all-killer, no-filler Triathlon on June 28, 1997: the Seventeenth Annual Alcatraz Triathlon. This race was triathlon at its rawest, purest state. The course was both challenging and inspiring. Congratulations to all the athletes who completed this race on Saturday. Earlier in June the flashier, easier, more publicized Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon took place, leaving the Alcatraz Triathlon to be a more low-key event. No big-name pros, no big heads and very few whiners. Just a lot of hard working triathletes out there trying to escape....

For Top finishers, click here.

The Swim: Probably one of the gnarliest swims I've ever done. At race check in Friday eve, the winds were ripping across the Bay and Chrissy Field. Saturday morning, at 7 a.m., they hadn't subsided much. As we were treading water on the eastern, northern side of the island, the water wasn't too bad, deceivingly calm. But as we swam from behind the shelter of the Rock, it quickly became apparent that it was going to be a rough water swim. The west to east wind made it hard to breath to that side... I must have gulped down 4 or 5 mouthfuls of Bay water. Knowing it was a "flood to slack to ebb tide", and more importantly, the high tide was right at 7 am, I knew the ebb would not be too strong. So, I made my way straight for the Cove. I had the benefit of a paddler for about half the way, before he peeled off. But by that time, I could identify the cove, muni-pier and ship that marks the entrance to the cove. As I stroked into the calmer waters of Aquatic Cove, I mentally prepared for the transition and run to Chrissy Field.

Run #1: The first run is no cake-walk. Up and over Fort Mason, lungs searing, I made my way down to the marina green.... all alone, save for a couple early morning runners. The wind was coming straight at us, making for a chilly warm up run.

The Bike: The bike course was 3-loops through the Presidio... all on excellent pavement, all hills. While I'm no fan of a hilly bike course, this one didn't seem too bad. Chrissy Field Hill is always tough, but Kobe Ave wasn't too bad, and then it's a long descent to Baker Beach turnaround. "Baker Beast" hill coming back is tough, but its short. After 3 loops it was on to the toughest part of the day.

Run # 2: The 10 mile run proved to be the most inspiring, yet challenging part of the course. Horning changed the course slightly this year, just to "keep us honest". Throughout the 10 miles, there are 4 or 5 steep sections that humble even the strongest runner. At the turnaround I lamented to Horning, "This run is a bitch, Dave!!". To which he replied, "It's not supposed to be easy to escape." Steep staircases, trails, sand, beach crossings, cliffs, roads and tunnels make for an incredibly scenic, diverse, difficult run. Amazing to think you get all this diversity in a metropolitan area. Hats off to the Golden Gate National Recreation (GGNR) area for preserving this pristine coastal environment.

Crossing the finish line was a welcome relief. Plenty of water, Nantcucket Nectars, Stoker bars, bananas, Elka burritos, massages, and music (and wind) for all.