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Almost 2000 athletes jumped into the waters of the San Francisco Bay this morning for the 35th annual Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon. The iconic race known for its unique course with three distinctively challenging legs in the form of the 1.5-mile choppy, cold-water swim, technical 18-mile bike and 7.5-mile run on varying terrain (sand ladder!) always attracts a chock-full pro field.
This year, two ITU-focused athletes took their first wins on the course. American Eric Lagerstrom edged out six-time winner Andy Potts (USA) in the finishing chute, while Australian Ashleigh Gentle, who won last November’s Beijing International Triathlon, topped the women’s field.
Choosing a different line on his own towards the end of the swim proved to be a risk worth taking for Australian Josh Amberger, who exited the swim with almost a minute lead on the strong chase pack of Potts, Lagerstrom and Cameron Dye (USA). Potts and Dye stayed within striking distance of Amberger during the bike, and Lagerstrom—who says he mostly loves climbing hills just so he can go down them—got aggressive on the descents to put in some seconds on the technical bike course to stay towards the front of the race. Also in the mix from the start of the day was American Kevin Collington.
Amberger kept his lead out onto the run, leaving T2 ahead of Dye, Potts and Lagerstrom. Coming off the infamous, grueling sand ladder, Potts, who was doing this race for the 10th time, took the lead. He and Lagerstrom started their battle towards the end of the run, running shoulder-to-shoulder as they neared the finishing chute. With about 50 yards to go, Lagerstrom outsprinted Potts to the tape to take his first Alcatraz win. Potts, Collington, Amberger and Dye were all across the line behind him within a couple minutes.
Swim stud Sara McLarty was first out of the water with fellow American Lauren Goss on her heels. Goss blew by and into T1 as McLarty stopped to put on shoes for the ½-mile concrete run into transition, putting Goss out onto the bike course first. Following McLarty and Goss about a minute back were Gentle and 2012 Ironman world champion Leanda Cave (GBR), with another minute separating them from three-time Ironman world champion Mirinda Carfrae.
Out on the bike course, Cave worked to make a dent into the leaders, and at one point on the run took the lead. The stronger runners surged to the front, though, and with her ITU pedigree, Gentle sped to the line first, just 15 seconds ahead of Goss. Carfrae came in third, followed by Cave and Canadian Magali Tisseyre.
2015 Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon
San Francisco, Calif. – June 7, 2015
1.5-mile swim, 18-mile bike and 7.5-mile run
1. Eric Lagerstrom (USA) 2:02:06
2. Andy Potts (USA) 2:02:28
3. Kevin Collington (USA) 2:02:40
4. Josh Amberger (AUS) 2:03:32
5. Cameron Dye (USA) 2:03:42
1. Ashleigh Gentle (AUS) 2:1343
2. Lauren Goss (USA) 2:13:58
3. Mirinda Carfrae (AUS) 2:15:32
4. Leanda Cave (GBR) 2:17:16
5. Magali Tisseyre (CAN) 2:19:25