Travel & Outdoors

Escape From Alcatraz Triathalon

June 2, 2012 6:00 AM

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Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon
Marina Green/Racers leave from Pier 3
500 Marina Blvd.
San Francisco, CA 94123
(415) 380-8390

Date: June 10, 7:30 a.m.
Click here for schedule

In 29 years as a federal prison, nobody ever survived an escape from Alcatraz, but every year athletes from across the country prove it possible. To compete in the 32nd annual Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon, athletes must qualify or be chosen in a lottery, thus becoming one of 2,000 athletes participating in this modified international distance triathlon. Its grueling course begins with a 1.5-mile swim from a boat off of Alcatraz, transitions to an 18-mile bike ride and concludes with an 8-mile run that includes a 400-step Equinox sand ladder. Join in on rubbing it in the faces of those would-be escapees, or just watch from the sidelines — this year’s race may be the best ever.

The escape begins with a 7:30 a.m. polar plunge from the San Francisco Belle into the icy waters by Alcatraz Island. With an hour to complete the 1.5-mile swim, swimmers will fight strong currents and 55-degree water. Watch them finish this leg at Marina Green Beach near St. Francis Yacht Club. From Marina Green triathletes will mount up and head out for the 18-mile cycling leg of the competition. Spectators may watch from along the route or wait at Marina Green to see who wins this portion of the race. Then comes the hard part. Racers will have 5.5 hours to complete the 8-mile run to Baker Beach Battery to complete the triathlon.

Click here for parking and public transportation

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Related Events
Fitness Festival & Expo
Marina Green

Dates: June 9 and 10
Hours: Sat – 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sun – 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Price: free

The Fitness Festival, an activity hub for fans and athletes, is where everything starts, ends and transitions at Marina Green. The long history of this event, and its roughly 20,000 spectators, promises fitness vendors, promotions and plenty to eat and drink, including a beer garden. The festival is also the site of mandatory athlete meetings and packet pick-up.

Related: Best Bay Area Bike Shops

escape from alcatraz Escape From Alcatraz Triathalon

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Escape Academy Presentation
Sports Basement Presidio
610 Old Mason St
San Francisco, CA 94129
(415) 437-0100

Dates: June 7 and 8
Hours: Thurs – 6 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.; Fri – 6 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Price: free

Eric Gilsenan, 23-year veteran and staff coach of the triathlon, leads day-long clinics in March and April that take triathletes through the actual course. Then, in the last few days leading up to the event, he leads the Escape Academy Presentation, a 30-minute final briefing and Q&A session. The presentation is geared toward participants, but interested inquirers are invited to come get a feel for the event and whet their appetites for the event.

escape awards Escape From Alcatraz Triathalon

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Awards Ceremony
Marina Green

Hours: 11:45 a.m.
Price: free

Revel in these hard-working racers’ victories at Sunday’s awards ceremony on the festival stage. This is where long-time supporters of multi-year, sponsored winners and first timers alike congratulate these elite athletes.

Spectator Sports
Corporate Challenge
(incorporated into the triathlon)
San Francisco, CA 94123

While you’re watching the race, check out the corporate competitors from Safeway (two-time defending champions), CytoSport, Actellion Pharmaceuticals,, General Mills, Babson MBA and Biodot Inc.

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Alcatraz Escape Swim
580 Jefferson St
San Francisco, CA 94109
(415) 384-0318

Hours: 7 a.m.
Price: $75 to $165

Test your mettle at the monthly Alcatraz Escape Swim sponsored by Water World Swim. The June event is usually filled by triathlon participants cramming in one last practice, but registration for all of the monthly events stays open for months before the race.

Pacific Catch

2027 Chestnut St.
San Francisco, CA 94123
(415) 440-1950

Founded in 2003, this casual restaurant honors Pacific-fresh seafood with its large menu that includes seafood salads, sandwiches, gluten-free foods, fish tacos and even tempting drinks such as the lemongrass-ginger infused iced tea. Insider’s tip: If you are looking to eat really healthy, order a rice bowl and request the half greens/half brown rice option.

The Plant
3352 Steiner St.
San Francisco, CA 94123
(415) 931-2777

The Steiner Street location was the first of this local restaurant group, now numbering four, that wows fans with casual, fast, delicious organic food including veggie burgers, chicken sandwiches and chilled soba noodles. While you’re here, take a moment to appreciate the restaurant’s design, notable for the innovative use of sustainable, recycled and reused materials.

Related: Top Alternative Fitness and Sports Activities in San Fran

Marketing communications professional Amy Rabinovitz is a Bay Area writer who has lived in Marin County, San Francisco and now resides in Silicon Valley where, for 15 years, she has been a digital and social media marketer. Her work can be found at

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