Escape from Alcatraz is the
name for two different triathlons held in
the San Francisco
Bay Area of California. The Escape from Alcatraz originated in 1981
as a private club event, beginning in San Francisco and ending in
The race split in 1983 with a separate
commercial event open to the public, which is now an aquathlon
(having dropped the biking
section of a traditional triathlon) held on a
shorter course entirely within San Francisco. However, a new public
triathlon, also known by the name Escape from Alcatraz, is now run
Original Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon
Escape from Alcatraz was proposed by Joe Oakes after he
participated in the 1979 Ironman
Triathlon in Hawaii.
first Escape from Alcatraz race was held in two years later June
1981, with members of the Dolphin Club
testing the course. The course started with a swim from Alcatraz Island in the middle of San Francisco Bay to the city of San Francisco, a bike ride over the Golden Gate Bridge to Mill Valley in Marin
County, and an out-and-back running course over Mount
Tamalpais to Stinson
Beach and back.
The running course followed the
course of the Dipsea
foot race, but by making
it an out-and-back run rather than a one-way course, became known
as a Double Dipsea
The course evolved over the years. From 1990 to 1993, the course was a swim
from Alcatraz Island to Aquatic Park in
San Francisco, followed by a one-mile run to Fort Mason.
From there, racers bicycled
along the great highway with a Sloat Avenue
turn around point and a ride back down to the Golden Gate Bridge.
crossing the bridge, riders would ride down to Fort Baker. The final running leg would take participants
though a total of sixteen different trails in the Presidio of
San Francisco and across Rodeo Beach before climbing an 850 foot ascent up Wolf Ridge and heading back down to the
Winners on 1990-93 course were Mike Pigg 1990-1991 and 1993, and
in 1992. Welch held the record
on that course with a time just over 2 hours and 54 minutes. In the
female division, Terry Schneider-Egger won in 1990 and Paula Newby-Fraser
won three consecutive
races from 1991-1993. Fraser held the course record for females
with a time of 3 hour and 24 minutes.
Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon (IMG)
The annual public Escape from Alcatraz triathlon, organized by IMG,
now takes place in early June. The current course consists of a
one-and-a-half mile (2.4 km) swim starting from Alcatraz
Island, a half-mile run from the bay to the transition zone at
, an eighteen mile
(29 km) bike ride, and an eight-mile (12.8 km) run.
portion includes a notorious section called the "sand ladder" at
mile five, a climb from Baker Beach back up to the road that is a combination of sand
and about 400 uneven log steps.
The event had about 1700
participants in 2009. Qualification is needed, which done through a
good rank in the previous Escape from Alcatraz, or in four other
triathlon races held during the preceding year.
The Escape from Alcatraz triathlon was ranked as the number-one
triathlon by Inside Triathlon Magazine