Americans Andy Potts and Mary Beth Ellis will be returning to San Francisco this weekend with hopes of reclaiming their Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon titles from last year.
One of triathlon’s most beguiling gems, the Escape from Alcatraz, gets underway early Sunday morning from the frigid waters of the San Francisco Bay lapping at the crusted shore of an island referred to as The Rock.
The Escape from Alcatraz would be able to boast of an additional two legs to the standard swim-bike-run theme when you think about it. After boarding a ferryboat in your wetsuit and cold-water swim cap regalia, you are motored out to Alcatraz where your next task is a jump off the boat into the water. If you imagined there might be some brand of sandy beach you’d toe the line upon you are wrong. Rather, with your cold-water swim cap muffling most of the sounds as you tread water awaiting the starting horn, it’s hard not to imagine that your new point of view of the world would be very close to what a prisoner would have been seeing had he made it thus far in an actual escape (although the prison remains intact, Alcatraz is no longer a federal penitentiary but a tourist attraction). You might also wonder how long a prisoner would last given no swim training, acclimatization to the cold or for that matter a wetsuit. Or whether they would have been lucky enough to time their escape with a current that would work for them as opposed to making every stroke a pathetic waste of energy.
This will be Potts third weekend in a row of racing. He won Ironman 70.3 New Orleans on April 18, and backed that up with a fourth place finish at last weekend’s Ironman 70.3 Texas. Aside from tired legs, Potts’ biggest challenge will be beating ITU star Bevan Docherty. Docherty currently leads the ITU World Championship Series standings and has the short-course speed needed to win. Other contenders include Australia’s Chris McCormack and the United States’ David Thompson and Brian Fleischmann.
On the women’s side, Great Britain’s Leanda Cave will be back to challenge Ellis. Cave was the two-time reigning champion last year before she was beat by Ellis. Also look for Australia’s Michellie Jones to try to claim yet another title in San Francisco.
The action begins 6:30 a.m. when the field takes on the modern course: a 1.5-mile swim from Alcatraz to San Francisco’s Marina Green—just east of the Presidio and the Golden Gate Bridge—where they get in some early running just to get to T1 and defrost and warm up core-body temperatures. Then the racers will mount their bikes for an 18-mile ride that cuts through the Presidio and loops into Golden Gate Park and back. The run is a 8-miler with trail running, beach running and a heart-rate raising climb up the so-called “Sand Ladder.”
See the complete professional starting list below:
Mary Beth Ellis
Rachel Sears Casanta