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Race Result

Racer: Dan Frost
Race: Alcatraz Challenge
Date: Sunday, August 5, 2007
Location: San Francisco, CA
Race Type: Other - Other
Age Group: Male 35 - 39
Time: (DNF)
Comment: Race #4 of 4 - Aborted at the last opportunity

Race Report:

The Alcatraz Challenge is a unique opportunity to experience two of San Francisco's landmarks, the island prison which gives this race its name, and the Golden Gate Bridge.

Race director Gary Emich has swam literally hundreds of times from Alcatraz and this year's Challenge was the 27th annual event. Participants can choose from either doing the swim only (This is the longest of the Alcatraz swims, compared to the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon that ends just up the beach at the Yacht Club, or the Sharkfest swims that end further east at Aquatic Park), the swim-run biathlon, or a two-person relay.

It is San Francisco in Summer, which means cool/cold and cloudy/foggy. On this day, it was 55F in the air, 60F in the water, and SW winds around 10 knots. Gary makes it clear when you register that nearly 10% of all Alcatraz swims get cancelled for bad weather (visibility or sea state). Of course, the dates of Alcatraz swims do have to fluctuate from year to year in order for the currents to be favorable on the weekends.

I was far from being in a state of complete readiness, having finished an Ironman triathlon the previous day. (See my Vineman report) But I did go to the race site, go through registration, suit up, and take the bus to the ferry landing. I chose to abandon the race at the last opportunity that I had to do so, at the ferry. My head was hurting from the effects of the previous day (and lack of adequate sleep), and the conditions were swimmable, but challenging.

Still, I had the opportunity to go through registration, which was well organized. The helpful folks were kind enough to meet my request to move me from my pre-registered biathlon entry to the swim-only event (due to marathon soreness). And I went home, still shivering a little, with a nice non-white, full-sleeved race t-shirt. Gary was kind enough to write me after the race and offer me a 25% discount to next year's event.

I got back to Santa Rosa for the Vineman awards later that morning. When I told race announcer Brad Rex what I had done, he mentioned that he had heard that there had been a fatality at the Alcatraz Challenge, a 51-year-old woman had been pulled from the water. I mention this not because it reflects upon the quality of the race production, which is excellent, but the enormity of the challenge.

A challenge that I decided to pursue another day.