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).
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.