One of our swimmers just “escaped from Alcatraz” – here’s the story…. by John Anderson (thanks a lot John, a bit more exciting than our usual swims!)
ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ, 2014
What an ‘AWESOME’ event! I think that must be one of Americas favorite words but I can’t think of a better one for now! The short version is that I loved the swim and survived the cycle and run. If you want the long version then keep reading:-
The day started with a 3am alarm, quick breakfast and a 20 min walk to the bus stop. The MUNI bus was on time at 4.17 and all the buses have bike racks on the front. 30 mins later the bus driver told us to “have an awesome day” and we headed to the transition area to rack my bike. As I hadn’t road tested my bike I jumped on it just to check the brakes/gears. At this time in the morning my brain couldn’t quite grasp why the bars went one way and the front wheel went the other!! I’d forgotten to tighten the bars!! ‘IDIOT’ said Rosie laughing. With the bike racked and everything tight it was time to get on the bus to the boat.
2000 of us squeezed on to a triple decked ferry boat and headed out to ALCATRAZ as the dawn broke. I’ve never felt such a buzz at the start of a race. The Elites and under 40’s were on the lower deck and us oldies up stairs. Once the boat is in position they play the national anthem and the boat tips over as everyone goes to the port side to watch the pros start. Then it all happens fast as everyone else walks to the doors from the warm, carpeted lounges crossing the timing mats and jumps in to San Francisco Bay. AWESOME. The water is not too cold (14C) but it is a bit rough. I swim for about 100M and then just to check reality roll on to my back and look up at Alcatraz Island and the ferry boat. A sight I’ll never forget!
The swim- It was pretty rough so I settled into a pace that would allow me to breathe every 2nd, 3rd or 4th stroke depending on the waves and tried not to bump into anyone. Sighting was tricky as you had to pick out different features as the current took you along the coast but I must have been about right as I didn’t see any of the safety craft. It felt pretty good getting out at ‘Crissy Field’ to lots of “Awesome man” cheers after 41 mins. I guess at this point I should mention that I was suffering from a stinking cold that struck me on the Friday. I had promised myself that I would do the Swim and drop out if I didn’t feel up to completing but thankfully I felt OK.
The Cycle- Once out on the bike I warmed up quite quickly with the hills but didn’t push too hard as I wanted to make sure I could enjoy the run. Just enjoyed the sights of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Pacific Ocean and Golden Gate Park while eating and drinking. At the top of every climb there were more enthusiastic volunteers cheering you on with more “Awesome mans”. After just over an hour it was time for the run.
The Run- A hilly 8 mile run ahead and the sun was out (HOT). Miles 1 & 2 – flat and water with lots of “Awesome mans”. Miles 3 & 4 – over the hill of the bridge and down to the Pacific beach Mile 5 – Holy shit! They had not exaggerated about the sand ladder. At the top I was starting to believe that I was AWESOME MAN!! Miles 6 & 7 – I think the heat and exhaustion were getting to me as the volunteers were calling me Super Man! Mile 8 – You guessed it. I was passed by F******* ‘SUPER MAN’. All done – 3hours 7mins – I’d ESCAPED FROM ALCATRAZ! !!!!!!! AWESOME !!!!!!!!!