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San Francisco Bay Triathlons Limited In 2012

  • By Kelly O'Mara
  • Published May 15, 2012
The race features one of the most unique starts in all of triathlon. Photo: Kurt Hoy

Scheduling conflicts through 2014 are limiting triathletes’ options in the San Francisco Bay, cancelling two popular races starting at the infamous Alcatraz Island.

TriCalifornia announced last week that its San Francisco Triathlon at Alcatraz is cancelled both this year and next. The cancellations, said TriCalifornia founder and CEO Terry Davis, were caused by conflicts with the prestigious America’s Cup sailing race taking place in the San Franciso Bay over the next two years.

“We are a small fish in a big pond (bay) and we understand that,” says Davis.

The America’s Cup World Series races will take place throughout August and September of this year. But, while the sailing race has priority over all other events, final dates have not fully been set. Tides and currents limited other dates for the challenging swim. A possible day in November coincided with the US Half Marathon. And a large charity walk on the same course at the same time made a July 8 date like “fitting a square peg in a round hole,” said Davis.

TriCalifornia will be offering an Alcatraz swim on May 28 and an aquathalon on July 22. However, permits for a bike course were not available on those dates.

The America’s Cup finals will take place next summer, blacking out even more days, said Davis.

EnviroSport’s Escape from the Rock was also turned into an aquathalon this year on Aug. 25, said founder Dave Horning, because of both the America’s Cup races and a $1.1 billion reconstruction of the main elevated highway next to the bike and run courses. That construction forced Horning to cancel the bike leg of his race three years ago with just ten days notice. Now, he said, he may never add the bike leg back in.

“Don’t fight city hall,” said Horning.

EnviroSports also offers a swim-only event. The distinction being that their swim starts much closer to the infamous island, said Horning.

Both EnviroSport’s Escape from the Rock and the IMG Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon claim to be a continuation of the original race that started in 1981. They split off into two races in 1997 when IMG contracted with Davis and TriCalifornia to run the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon. In 2010, IMG ended Davis’ race directing contract. He, then, announced his own version of the event.

A separate Alcatraz triathlon that follows the original route over the Golden Gate Bridge is offered to members only by the South End Rowing and Dolphin Club.

The IMG Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon will take place this year, on June 10, but lottery registration is already sold out.

Permits for next year’s event have already been filed, said Lisa Jenkins, senior director at IMG. But, would-be escapees may be cold. The event will be in either April or May, earlier than its traditional June date, because of the America’s Cup conflicts.

“We work closely with the city of San Franciso,” said Jenkins of being able to schedule its races. “Maybe it was part luck.”

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