The most important advice: give us a high-five when you run through the SB water station!Escape From Alcatraz is a great race and one that many pro triathletes will refer to as their favorite event. This is because of the beautiful views of San Francisco and the Bay Area. Race day will go by fast and the crowds will be loud and scattered throughout the course. It is an awesome triathlon in an incredibly beautiful city.
Here’s an overview of the gear you’ll need and some advice you’ll appreciate having on race day.
When you pick up your race packet you’ll get two plastic bags. One of them is for taking on the boat with you, and the other will hold your gear for the swim finish (which we’ll call “pre-T1″). Here’s what to take on the boat:
Boat strategy: You’re on the boat for roughly 60 minutes and it will get quite hot in the cabin. You want to eat some solid nutrition early on for long-term energy. As the pros are being introduced, you can consume the gel. It will take 15 minutes to work which should put you around half way through the swim. The water is primarily for the gel and the electrolyte drink is for your consumption so you don’t get dehydrated. You don’t have to finish all this but it is better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.
Do not zip up your wetsuit before you get on the boat. You can have it on half way or just carry it on. You’ve got plenty of time before the start of the race to put on your suit. You should apply Body Glide or other skin lubricants before leaving transition to board the bus to the boat dock.
Board the boat soon enough so that you can sit at the side near the open doors. This will allow you to stay cool as well as exit the boat as soon as the race starts. The boat unloads within 5 minutes of the race start, but having a cool breeze as you get zipped up is a nice advantage.
Relax and enjoy the ride. 60 minutes is a long time, so sit down, claim some real estate and think good thoughts.
Swim strategy: Hold your goggles as you jump — not dive — from the boat. The current typically pulls really hard toward the Golden Gate Bridge on race day. You can almost tread water and get to the beach. You will not be able to jump on another competitor.
Sight on the apartments behind Aquatic Park. As you get closer to shore, sight on Fort Mason, then the St. Francis Yacht Club. There is a yellow buoy about 400 meters from shore in front of the Yacht Club. You want to be on the left of that buoy and cut to the shore as aggressively as possible after you pass it. This will land you on shore safely.
The tide pulls significantly stronger at the shore than at the boat jump location. That is why it is important to cut the buoy corner as tight as possible or you risk going past the beach before you hit land.
If you get off course, flag down a kayaker and have them reposition you. This will not disqualify you from the race.
Once on shore, gather your bearings. You will feel a little vertigo, so walk slowly until this goes away or risk falling on the stairs.
Pre-T1 strategy: Take your wetsuit off all the way before leaving the pre-T1 area and put it along with your cap and goggles into your bag. Running with the wetsuit on is not advisable. You’ll get very warm and the suit will be very hard to get off once you get to T1.
Put your old pair of shoes on, grab your water bottle and start running! Pour the water on your face and rinse some to get the salt taste out of your mouth.
T1 bike gear:
Bike strategy: The bike course goes by quickly. If you’ve been training by riding distances longer than 18 miles, you need to mentally prepare to go hard from the start. Before you know it you’ll be halfway.
From the Legion of Honor to Baker Beach the course is all downhill so you’ll fly. From Baker Beach to T2 the course is flat or downhill. Plenty of time for your heart rate to settle and prepare for the run.
T2 run gear:
Run strategy: There are a few places on the course were it is too tight to pass. Familiarize yourself with these spots so that on race day you can push the pace to pass those competitors who are enjoying the incredible view you get to see any time you want.
Don’t fear the Sand Ladder. Slow and steady wins this portion of the race. Keep a hand on the rope and walk at a steady pace up the steps. Practice makes perfect, so if you get a chance to do a couple of repeats, do it. Remember to keep your head up at the end and smile, because the race photographers are there taking pics at the top.
The first couple and last couple of miles of the run are dead flat so you’ve only got 4 miles of uneven terrain. Once you hit the Golden Gate Bridge it is all downhill or flat. Don’t be afraid to let loose on the gravel stretch home. Congratulations on a successful Escape!
Enjoy your day and remember to thank a volunteer!