Only three people escaped from the Alcatraz federal prison in the island’s history. In 1962, three men were able to somehow make it to the ocean and nobody knows their whereabouts since.
For the past 42 years, however, it’s been a little bit easier to escape. Instead of hardened criminals, it’s now some of the best athletes in the world who accomplish the feat.
The 42nd Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon is set to take place June 11 in San Francisco, with the third annual Escape from Alcatraz’s Aquathlon (a 750-meter swim and 5K run) taking place the day before on June 10.
“The Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon is unique and a highly sought after ‘bucket list’ race for many reasons including its historical significance, the challenging yet beautiful and scenic course, as well as the prestige and bragging rights of competing in one of the world’s most notorious triathlons and successfully Escaping Alcatraz,” said Jennifer Lau, vice president of action sports events for IMG.
The Alcatraz prison closed on March 21, 1963, after 29 years of operation. Unlike the people who were sent to Alcatraz to serve prison sentences, those who want to take part in the Triathlon need a little luck. More than 10,000 athletes enter the random drawing each year, with hopes of securing one of the 2,000 slots. Those who do get a golden ticket are rewarded with water temperatures in the Bay that are around 55 degrees during the event.
The Triathlon is for everybody over the age of 18. This year’s group will include Olympians, world champions, age groupers and triathletes from all over the world.
Among these athletes are 13 USA Triathlon licensed professionals, including 2022 male pro division champion Eric Lagerstrom. The list of pros also includes two-time Olympic champion Brent McMahon, who holds the third fastest Ironman time in history. Joining him are 2022 second place finisher Jason West from the male pro division, and 2022 third place finisher Jodie Stimpson from the female pro division.
“The Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon begins with a 7:15 a.m. plunge from the San Francisco Belle into the icy cold water adjacent to The Rock,” Lau said. “From there, they swim 1.5 miles to the Marina Green Beach. It is a unique experience centered around the iconic island that only participating athletes get the opportunity to do.”
Once at Marina Green, the competitors take an 18-mile bike ride through the Presidio, out the Great Highway, through Golden Gate Park and back to Marina Green. The 8-mile trail run course travels through the Presidio, under the Golden Gate Bridge and along Baker Beach, while also encountering the infamous 200-plus-step Sand Ladder. Fans can experience the race at the Marina Green, where the swim ends, with the athlete transition area and finish line both easily visible.
For those who want the experience of completing a portion of a triathlon but not the whole race, there is also an option of a relay team, which is made up of two to three participants who each participate in one leg. At the end of the competition, the top professional finishers and the top three finishers in each age group or competitor division receive awards on-stage at Marina Green.