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The Very, Very Best of Bay Area Active Life 2005

By: Todd Walsh

One of the more intimidating starts in Triathlon: Alcatraz Island, SF, CA.

The Bay Area is an active life dream come true: With terrific climate and varied terrain there is no shortage of activites and events for the multi-sport or endurance athlete. Over the years, we've done a ton of events in the Bay Area and with this list aim to bring you the best races and nuggets of Bay Area active life. Happy and safe training and racing to you in 2005!

Triathlon Races

Best Overall Triathlon
The Alcatraz Triathlon. (August 14, 2005) The race that best illustrates why triathlon even still matters in 2005...An incredibly scenic, challenging, and rewarding triathlon race. Unlike other Alcatraz races, this one always makes sure you start the swim at the rock, and isn't that the whole point of an Alcatraz race? It is less glitzy than other tris, but it is by far the best triathlon course around and is expertly run by veteran triathlete and Event Race Director, Dave Horning and his staff. Read our reviews of past races. For more info:

Runner up: Santa Cruz Sentinel. This race is quintessential California triathlon. Ocean swim, super bike course north of Santa Cruz, and gorgeous run along West Cliff. Also, you can expect awesome race volunteers, fabulous race weather, and a great T-shirt. For more info:

Best Triathlon at Elevation
Donner Lake. We don't recommend too many "lake" triathlons around here, but this is one of the best. Donner Lake, a cousin to mighty Lake Tahoe, has wonderful, cold, crystalline waters and the bike and run courses are just as stunning. One of the toughest "Olympic Distance" races out there.

The "Keepin' it Real" Tri Series
Tri-For Fun Pleasanton. In a day and age when race promoters are jacking up the price of entries capitalizing on the sports popularity, at $35 a race, you can't go wrong. Includes T-shirt. For info:

Paddle Board Races

Paddleboard racing has been around for years but is growing in popularity. And it's at the stage where most of the participants know each other and events are low key, friendly events... all at the beach/ocean. Two of our favorite events in the Bay Area:

Jay Moriarty Memorial Race. This race is held in memory of the late, great Jay Moriarty. 10-12 miles of paddling off of beautiful Santa Cruz. 100% of profits go to local Junior Lifeguard Programs. Also, a short/novice course of 2 miles. July 9th.
Wharf 2 Wharf - a more lowkey and easy event compared with the Jay. You paddle from Santa Cruz Wharf to Capitola Wharf.

Swim Races

Best Open Water Swim
Santa Cruz Pier. Big race, big fun. Runner up: Lake Berryessa. The quintessential Masters Open Water race.

Best relay swim race
Lake Tahoe Relay. Put on by the Olympic Club in San Francisco, this is an epic race. Swim as a team across magnificent Lake Tahoe! Teams are made up of 5 swimmers, each swimming a 30 minute leg then alternating. As the third deepest lake in North America and the tenth deepest in the world, it is a unique and special place. Water temperatures vary widely year-to-year. The hardest part is getting your boat to the starting line on time. Positives: You swim across
Tahoe! Also, check out the Donner Lake Multi-Event Challenge the next day. (swims, runs, tris). (Team Mountain View Masters making the tag to switch swimmers.) See for details.

Training and teams

Best Masters swim program
Mountain View Masters. Billed as a "swimming and social club" MVM has the most well rounded masters swimming program around: Solid and varied workouts, enthusiastic, knowledgeable coaching staff and great team events (e.g. the annual "Triathlounge", socials, volunteer days etc.) Runner up: Santa Clara Masters. Their summertime long course workouts can't be beat!

Best Triathlon Team
Team Sheeper based in Menlo Park. Not only is this team run by a legend in Bay Area Triathlon, Tim Sheeper, it has a super staff of coaches, is well organized and has a ton of events and great workout programs for every level triathlete -- year round! Plus, Tim is a great guy who combines a passion for fitness and triathlon with a laid back, Zen like attitude.

Best long training ride
Los Altos area over to the Coast. Roughly -- Old La Honda road to skyline, down 84 stopping in at the San Gregorio General Store for a late breakfast, lunch or snack. If you go on a Saturday midday, you can usually catch some live music there. If you're tired at this point, turn around and ride all the way back up 84. That's the easiest way back. Or, if you're feeling strong, ride north up to Tunitas Creek road all the way back up the Skyline, then back down King's Mountain to Woodside. This is probably a 60 or 70 mile ride. Be sure you have enough water and food, spare tires, and a buddy or two to ride with. Cars can be an issue, so exercise caution. Not for the faint of heart.

Best training run
San Francisco waterfront. Start at the Marina Green, run out to the Golden Gate, up the wooden stairs at Fort Point, under the Gate, out to the Land's End trail down to Baker Beach and back. Around 8 miles or so. If you're feeling strong, extend it by going up into SeaCliff and to the Palace Legion of Honor. Good mix of flat trail, stairs, dirt and scenery and usually pretty mild weather. This is pretty much the route that the Alcatraz Triathlon takes.

Best place to practice open water swimming
Aquatic Park, San Francisco. Even though this is fairly protected, inside the cove, you still get currents, wind, chop. You can swim right near shore along the buoy line if it's your first time, or venture out into the middle of the cove. Free (cold) showers by the beach; or use the Dolphin Club or South End if you know a member there.

Get Social!

Best place to score a date, or at least people watch while working out
Marina Green, San Francisco, around 10 a.m. Saturday morning.
Runner up: Rancho San Antonio, 5-6 PM weeknights in the summer.

Best post workout hang out
Los Gatos Roasting Company on Main Street on any sunny day.Runners up: Santa Clara International pool deck, post noontime swim. Sam's of Tiburon -- too tired (or inebriated) to ride back to SF, take the ferry.

About Todd Walsh: Todd has swum from Alcatraz a dozen or so times, competed in over 60 triathlons from Santa Barbara to Donner Lake and is an avid open water enthusiast. Increasingly, he is surfing more, triathlon-ing less.

Golden-Coast Productions, 2005


Golden-Coast Productions, 2003