It was a wet and wild day in San Francisco as athletes took on the iconic Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon. The event, which features a 1.5 mile swim from Alcatraz Island, an 18-mile bike over the steep hills of San Francisco, and an 8-mile beach run that includes a climb up the infamous “sand ladder,” is a grueling test of fitness and endurance. More than 1,400 pro and age-group triathletes stepped up to the challenge, which was compounded by heavy rains and wind.
American Jackie Hering won the women’s race, besting a stacked women’s field that featured Danielle Lewis (who placed second) and Great Britian’s Jodie Stimpson (third). Hering’s 2:15:22 win is the latest in a string of victories that include a massive come-from-behind win at Clash Daytona and a dominating performance at last month’s 70.3 North American Championship.
In the men’s race, American Eric Lagerstrom foiled Ben Kanute’s attempt to take a fifth Alcatraz win. Lagerstrom, who won the race with a time of 2:01:36, pushed to the front of the field on the bike and extended his lead even further on the run, building a gap of over three minutes on second-place finisher Jason West (USA) and four minutes on third-place finisher Gregory Harper (USA).
See below for photos from the day, taken by Rocky Arroyo, and read Brad Culp’s recap of the race in his Last Weekend Now column.
The Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon begins with a 7:30 am plunge from the San Francisco Belle, a tourist paddleboat, into the icy cold water adjacent to Alcatraz Island.
At the race start, participants are unloaded from the boat in less than 8 minutes, jumping into 55-degree F waters with a strong current that requires frequent sighting and strategic swimming.
An athlete makes his way through the swim course at the 2022 Escape from Alcatraz triathlon.
The 18-mile bike course features several difficult climbs as it winds through the city of San Francisco.
Hering took on the wet conditions with gusto, building a lead of almost three minutes on the bike.
Ben Kanute, who was going for his fiftth-straight win at Escape from Alcatraz, struggled in the wet and cold conditions.
“Leaving @escapealcatraztri disappointed and in search of answers,” Kanute said on Instagram after the race. “Regardless, I love and respect this race so much, and will be back again.”
Jason West had a strong showing at the race, throwing down a 5:43 mile average over the run course to push his way into second place.
Age-group athletes make their way up the infamous “sand ladder,” a 400-step cliff covered with deep and loose sand midway through the run course.
Despite the inclement weather, spectator support along the course was robust.
Seven years ago, Lagerstrom (USA) won a surprise sprint over Andy Potts for the win here. He repeated the victory on Sunday for his second Alcatraz title.
Hering smiles after winning her first Escape From Alcatraz crown.