Saturday, May 1, 2010

Reporting Live from Escape from Alcatraz 2010...

Posted by Ton:

Arrived yesterday in beautiful San Fran, and the weather is amazing. Sunny, high 60's, clear skies. Perfect conditions for this year's Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon. Alas, the water temp will be a chilly 55 degrees when all 2000 athletes plunge into the water just off of 'The Rock' at 8am tomorrow. Brrrr! I've got my wetsuit, hoodie, and neoprene socks ready, but I still expect to get hit with an unforgettable jolt.

There's not quite a race like this anywhere in the world. First off, the course itself (1.5mi swim + half mile run to transition + 18mi bike + 8mi run, including a beach run and a 400-step sand ladder) is a little unusual. Not the kind of race where you can necessarily benchmark against your last olympic distance PR! Secondly, as a qualification-only race, the competition is definitely going to be tougher than your normal regional tri. So, while I plan to race hard at a heart-pounding pace, I'm definitely going to remember to soak up the sights -- which includes, as I'm told, rolling onto my back after about 10min into the swim to catch the view of Alcatraz and the Bay Bridge against the rising sun.

I'm also told that the toughest part of this race is the notorious sand ladder, at about mile 5 of the run portion. It's a steep climb from the beach that includes a combo of sand and 400 uneven log steps. Truth is... there's no real way to train for something like this, and in watching the race videos, there are plenty of professional athletes who choose to do a briskly paced walk up this segment while hanging on to the ropes on the side of the trail. Me? I've decided to attempt a Spiderman-inspired fast crawl. We'll see how that goes. :)

Alright, off to the mandatory athlete's meeting to pick up my race number. There's a palpable energy in the air in town right now. Just yesterday, during my run along Marina to the Golden Gate, there were plenty of knowing looks/nods from athletes around the world, each as if to say "I'll see you in the Bay on Sunday". I made it to the end of my run just in time to catch the sunset.

Breathtaking inspiration for Sunday.

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