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Previewed: IRONMAN 70.3 Auckland – Asia-Pacific Championship

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A world-class field is, at this very moment, assembling in Auckland, NZ, for the Ironman 70.3 Asia-Pacific Championship, to be held this forthcoming Sunday, January 19th 2014. Big prize money, a regional title and a share in one of the best KPR points offerings on the 70.3 circuit has lured some 30 professional men and 13 professional women onto the start line for battle very early in the international season.

The Men’s Race:

The men’s field, in particular, is absolutely overflowing with talent. With such a strong field, we expect there to be  a big pack heading together off the bike and fireworks on the run. So early in the year, it’s going to be anyone’s race.

As TriZone previously reported, the men’s field will be headlined by none other than five-time world champion and living legend, Craig ‘Crowie’ Alexander. Alexander had a disappointing run of form late last season at both the Ironman 70.3 and Ironman World Championships due to a back injury. Announcing he is no longer vying for Kona contention and instead renewing his focus on 70.3 racing -where he believes he is most competitive- it will be interesting to see how the champ’s form is, particularly since it is a very long time since we’ve seen the Shire native race so early in the year.

As with Alexander, it is indeed hard to construct an accurate form guide for much of the 30-strong field. Defending champion Christian Kemp of Australia is back and hungry to hold onto the title. Kemp was off most radars in 2013 after struggling with a long run of injuries, but raised eyebrows blitzing the field in Auckland. According to two-time Olympic medalist, Bevan Docherty, Kemp was strong on the bike and ‘toyed’ with them on the run in his way to the victory. It’s certain then, that this year Kemp will have a target firmly placed on his back.

Docherty himself showed us last year his January form was strong across all three disciplines with a second placing at the inaugural event, so he too -as always- will be one to keep an eye on. He then went on to win Ironman New Zealand on debut and set a course record. His first attempts at the two Ironman World Champs last year did not yield the results he would have been hoping for. Docherty will be out to prove something on Sunday.

Fellow Kiwi Cameron Brown will also be looking to be in the mix. After taking out his 10th Port of Tauranga half-Iron in January, Brown looks to be in great form. Brown took six weeks of towards the end of last year, something he hasn’t done for ten years, to fully recharge some aging batteries. This looks to have worked wonders, particularly on the bike as he showed in Tauranga. This field has some incredibly fast runners and could prove too quick on Sunday for Brown, particularly if he’s gapped in the water.

Terrenzo Bozzone was in scintillating form in 2013, making a resounding return from a prolonged injury hiatus. He finished off 2013 with a string of 70.3 podiums including second at the World Championships in Las Vegas and wins in Miami, Mandurah and Shepparton. Bozzone is making his return to Ironman racing in Taupo this March so whether or not the big training load will dim his run speed off the bike is to be seen. If he’s close to the condition he was in in 2013, Bozzone will be hard to beat.

World number 5 Ironman 70.3 professional Tim Reed will be in Auckland to win. The lead bike pack will be nervously looking over their shoulders for the inevitable onslaught by Reed as he powers his way though the field aboard his new Shimano-equipped Felt whip. If he is there off the bike he will back himself to be able to run with the best of them and take the title.

Tim Reed coached Sam Appleton to a maiden 70.3 title in Canberra five weeks ago after a string of podiums at Port 70.3, Nepean and Mandurah. Appleton is a strong, rounded athlete who will swim and ride with the front packs. With a strong run, Appleton will almost certainly be at the pointy end in the second half of the run, chasing another podium.

Young gun James Hodge had a fantastic season 2013, his second year of professional racing, with a number of podiums and wins at Ironman 70.3 Japan and the Metaman half-distance race. The tall Tasmanian rode off the front in Auckland last year in an impressive display of bike strength and he has shown in recent months that he hasn’t lost any of that power. In fact, it is reported he is riding better than ever right now. With improved bike strength, a front-pack swim and the same off-the-front attitude, Hodge is a good chance to improve on his third-placing from 2013.

Former Australian Ironman 70.3 Pro Champion Tim Berkel will be in unknown form this forthcoming weekend. Berkel was recently hit by a vehicle travelling at about 45kph during the inaugural Challenge Forster race. Coach Grant Giles has been working his squad hard in Lennox, so we expect Berkel to be well conditioned coming into the race. A strong all-round athlete, Berkel has show in the past he’s capable of some exceptional runs over the 70.3 distance.

2008 Olympic gold medalist Jan Frodeno has been transitioning to long-course racing since the London Games where he placed. Racing a mix of ITU and non-drafting events, Frodeno tasted 70.3 success with a second-place at the Ironman 70.3 European Championships in Wiesbaden in 2013. As he continues to adapt his craft to long-course racing, we know we haven’t seen the best Frodeno has to offer on the 70.3 circuit.

Richie Cunningham showed some great form in 2013 taking wins Galveston and St Croix 70.3’s before being hit by a car and breaking his elbow. Cunningham returned to racing with some quick runs netting him podiums at Austin 70.3 and Rev3 Venice Beach.  With a few podiums in Panama – a February 70.3 race – in the last few years, Cunningham has shown he can perform well early in the year, so watch for another quick one from this fast veteran.

There are a number of other dark horse athletes to watch in Auckland. David Mainwaring took a win at Murray Man Half and  second at Challenge Forster in recent months, showing he is in good touch and racing confidently. Matthew Pellow is also in good form, which he showed when ran through James Hodge with a barnstorming effort in Canberra to net second place. The likes of Paul Amey and Dave Dellow can never be discounted either, both bringing experience and speed to the startline.

Full Men’s Startlist:

  • Andrew Yoder (USA)
  • Bevan Docherty (NZL)
  • Brodie Madgwick (NZL)
  • Callum Millward (NZL)
  • Cameron Brown (NZL)
  • Chris Sanson (NZL)
  • Christian Kemp (AUS)
  • Craig Alexander (AUS)
  • Damien Decas (FRA)
  • David Dellow (AUS)
  • David Mainwaring (AUS)
  • Graham O’Grady (NZL)
  • James Hodge (AUS)
  • James Seear (AUS)
  • Jamie Stanley (AUS)
  • Jan Frodeno (GER)
  • John Polson (AUS)
  • Mark Bowstead (NZL)
  • Matt Franklin (NZL)
  • Matthew Pellow (AUS)
  • Michael Poole (NZL)
  • Paul Amey (GBR)
  • Richie Cunningham (AUS)
  • Sam Appleton (AUS)
  • Sean Donnelly (GER)
  • Terenzo Bozzone (NZL)
  • Tim Berkel (AUS)
  • Tim Reed (AUS)
  • Todd Israel (AUS)

The Women’s Race:

At the inaugural race in 2013 Annabel Luxford absolutely dominated the women’s field. She was leading out of the water and put time into the likes of Meredith Kessler and Caroline Steffen on both the bike and the run. Despite some simply outstanding results in 2013, Luxford still considers herself somewhat of a long-distance rookie. We expect 2014 to be an even bigger year for Luxford as she continues to push her boundaries over the 70.3 distance.  Luxford will go into Sunday’s race as a strong favourite over some fierce local competition. After coming 3rd at the 70.3 World Champs Luxford backed up to beat the 70.3 champion a week later over the same distance.

Catriona Morrison had a very consistent 2013 which included a number of podiums and wins over the 70.3 distance, including the tough, humid St Croix 70.3. Morrison is coming off a win at the Port of Tauranga Half where she ran a sharp 1:21 half-marathon. We expect Morrison to race strongly and contend for a podium spot.

Kiwi Sam Warriner is an experienced racer who doesn’t appear to have slowed one iota since giving birth to her first child. She took out the Cairns Airport Ironman 70.3 Cairns in 2013,  and dabbled in some ITU racing at the evergreen age of 42. Warriner will need a strong bike performance to challenge for the win, but we expect her to be up at the pointy end of the race all day.

Kiwi legend Jo Lawn is another athlete with the potential to challenge for a podium position. Lawn is again preparing for Ironman New Zealand in March with the hopes of securing an eighth title.  With another consistent year behind her, Lawn will, like compatriot Warriner, look to the bike for a strong result.

Australian Rebecca Hoschke has had a good domestic season so far with a second at the Murray Man half, and a win at Challenge Forster. The reigning Ironman Australia champion will have been working hard with coach Grant Giles to prepare for the this race and hopefully to improve on her eighth place here in 2013. After leaving her full time job late in 2013 Hoschke has been putting more time in to her training and we look forward to seeing the results of this on Sunday.

Australian-based Japanese ITU veteran Kiyomi Niwata will be near the front out of the drink but will need to work hard to stay within touch the likes of Luxford, Morrison, and Warriner on the bike if she is to challenge for a podium. With a few second-placings in 2013 over the 70.3, the swim-run specialist will be looking to start 2014 with a strong result at the Asia-Pacific Champs.

Coming off a podium finish in at Canberra 70.3, Brisbane native Kym Jaenke will join the likes of Michelle Bremer and Michelle Wu as darkhorses who have the potential to nail a big performance on Sunday.

  • Annabel Luxford (AUS)
  • Catriona Morrison (SCO)
  • Hannah Lawrence  (NZL)
  • Jo Lawn (NZL)
  • Kiyomi Niwata (JPN)
  • Kristy Hallett (AUS)
  • Kym Jaenke (AUS)
  • Melanie Burke (NZL)
  • Michelle Bremer (NZL)
  • Michelle Wu (AUS)
  • Rebecca Hoschke (AUS)
  • Sabrina Mohn (SUI)
  • Sam Warriner  (NZL).

Karl is a keen age group triathlete who races more than he trains. Good life balance! Karl works in the media industry in Australia and is passionate about the sport of triathlon.

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Training

How to Improve Your Running Drills

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Want to improve your run drills? The real benefits of drills are a result of how they are applied to training, writes Graeme Turner.

Coaches love drills. The Internet, magazines and books are all full of drills and every coach has their favourites. Drills are an important way for people who are learning how to run properly to develop the correct skills to run efficiently and avoid injury. As a coach, I use drills as part of the warm-up for my track sessions. I’ll share two of my favourites later.

Practising a skill develops the muscle memory to execute the technique. In the case of football, repeatedly passing the ball develops the correct technique to accurately deliver the ball to a teammate. In the case of running, drills develop correct run technique; for example, lifting the knee rather than pushing through the calves.

However, what football coaches ascertained is that a player doesn’t just stand there and pass the ball. They may be doing that while running at full speed. And they may be passing the ball running at full speed with a 100-kilogram opponent running at them at full speed.

3 stages of acquiring a skill

  1. Learn the core skill.
  2. Learn the core skill at speed.
  3. Learn the core skill at speed under game (or race) conditions.

You may notice now that if you watch a football practice session the drills are performed not standing in a line but with trainers running at them with padding trying to knock them over.

Most football players at the top level typically already have the core skill – they need to hone that skill under the intense pace and pressure of top-grade football. This is something that has changed over the last decade as coaches have learnt the criticality of developing skills under game pressure; however, in many ways running is still at stage 1 – Learn the core skill.

Incorporate the drill into a run

Running drills are typically practised during a session and then the run component of the session is executed. The assumption is that the skill will develop the muscle memory and this will then, via some form of osmosis, translate into actual running. However, the drills, like the old football sessions, are performed statically (in place) and not under pressure. Over time this skill may translate to the athlete’s run but, at best, this will take a great deal of time.

By adopting a football-style approach, the outcome of the drill can be reached more quickly and the skill becomes more resilient to the pressures of a race. Rather than practising a drill and then running, try incorporating the drill into a run.

Here’s what I do during running sessions

Run 100 metres starting at an easy pace. Once you reach the 50-metre mark, build up pace so that by the end of the run you are at about 85 percent of full pace. Note, for sprinters, the end pace may be closer to 100 per cent.

Now, do the same build but at the 50-metre mark start focusing on a key skill. For example, focus on lifting the knee rather than pushing off the ground. Keep this focus while building up the pace to the end of the interval. Performed statically, this is the traditional ‘marching drill’; however, we are focusing on the skill while running and progressively adding more pressure (pace).

Don’t expect to ‘get’ this straight away. It may take a few run-throughs to develop the skill. I actually do this when racing – focus on a drill for a while in a run as a way of not only ensuring good technique but also as a means of distraction.

Many other drills, such as ‘tunnels’ (keeping the head level), can also be practised this way, even the traditional ‘butt kick’ drill – probably the most commonly incorrectly performed drill – can be performed this way. Curiously, performing butt kicks while running typically means the runner performs this drill correctly with their knee pointed forward rather than straight down.

Two of my favourite drills

Hot Tin Roof

Ground contact represents deceleration. The greater the ground contact time, the greater the loss of momentum and energy. Picture the running track as a hot tin roof. As your foot is about to hit the hot tin roof, focus on pulling the foot up so that it spends the minimum amount of time being ‘burnt’.

Ninjas

A common mistake runners (and coaches) make is focusing on the drill and not the outcome. Butt kicks are a great example of how focusing on the drill itself can create the wrong outcome. ‘Ninjas’ is an example of a drill where the focus is on the outcome, which ultimately is what every runner seeks. At the 50-metre point, focus on running silently – like a ninja trying to sneak up on somebody. This is a great drill to do with a partner as you can compete to see who can make the least noise. Like the hot tin roof drill, this facilitates a much shorter and lighter ground contact time and also tends to mean the runner becomes less flat footed. I could call this running quietly, but ninjas sounds much cooler.

Rather than make drills a separate part of your session, incorporate them into the run itself. Not only will you learn the skill faster but the skill becomes less likely to break down under race conditions.

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Training

Strength Training for Age-Group Triathletes

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Strength is important for endurance athletes and takes time to generate, but there are a few tricks, that will help you maximise your training time.

I drive my coach crazy asking to train more, but I am slowly learning that training smarter is better than training harder. There are many days when the body just isn’t up to the task of training, and sitting at your local cafe will be of more benefit than flogging a dead horse, so to speak.

For the majority of age-group triathletes who have full-time jobs and a family, it is important to make the most of any training time. While it is important to do long, slow sessions to build endurance, there are a few tricks of the trade’ that I have picked up over the years to build strength endurance without having to swim endless laps of the pool, ride for hundreds of kilometres and run for hours on end. Here are a few for your consideration.

Swim

Swimming strength is important, as, come race day, it will allow you to combat choppy seas and the whitewater of a mass swim start. A big part of my swimming involves using a band to hold my ankles together with a pull buoy and hand paddles to build strength. Doing a one-kilometre swim of 10 times 100-metre efforts with just five seconds rest will give you the same strength workout as swimming 1.5 kilometres.

Bike

Long rides are great to build up strength and muscular endurance; however, for those wanting to improve, big-gear hill repeats can also replicate the aforementioned training effects. Triathletes have been using this type of session for years, as doing seated climbing in a big gear (usually 60-to-70 cadence) helps to build leg strength, which usually only comes from long hours out riding.

Run

A great way to get more out of your run is to add interval repeats. These are great to do on the treadmill and help to improve your speed and leg turnover. A simple speed session of 10 times one-minute on and 30 seconds off at just over race pace speed will help you to run faster come race day.

Recovery

The biggest part of endurance sports training is doing the right recovery. Your ability to recover plays a big role in injury prevention and how well you can back up for your next session. Stretching, sleeping and hydration are the key points to focus on. If you are feeling particularly tired, then often a simple stretch session will be much more beneficial for you than a training session on an already tired and fatigued body. Often the hardest thing for any triathlete is knowing that you might just need a day or two off in order to help the body recover and refocus.

The important message is that more is not always better. If you can learn to train smarter and make the most out of every session, then you will see big gains. After all, everyone can do the work but it is those who train smarter who see the biggest improvement.

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News & Racing

Challenge Family Announce Details Of The Championship 2018 Live Stream

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With THE CHAMPIONSHIP 2018 fast-approaching, CHALLENGEFAMILY is excited to announce that the exhilarating race, taking place on the 3rd June, will once again be live-streamed on the official CHALLENGEFAMILY website. This exclusive stream will allow triathlon fans from around the world to be a part of THECHAMPIONSHIP and follow the action live as it unfolds.

CEO of CHALLENGEFAMILY, Zibi Szlufcik, said: “CHALLENGEFAMILY has always championed the support of triathlon fans worldwide, and our live stream of THECHAMPIONSHIP 2018 gives those who cannot make it to Samorin, the chance to follow the pro athletes and AG athletes live as they compete.”

THECHAMPIONSHIP race, now in its second iteration, will again be held at the spectacular x-bionic® sphere in Samorin, Slovakia, and host an outstanding line-up of pro athletes including returning champions, Lionel Sanders and Lucy Charles.

Lionel Sanders of Canada celebrates winning The Championship Challenge Triathlon on June 3, 2017 in Bratislava, Slovakia. (Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images for Challenge Triathlon)

In addition to enforcing the 20 metre no drafting rule on the bike leg, THECHAMPIONSHIP 2018 also operates staggered race starts to ensure both the professional and and age group athletes have a fair race. THECHAMPIONSHIP will also play host to a number of family-friendly side events set to captivate the entire family into the triathlon spirit.

“Live streaming the race not only highlights the remarkable athletes racing, but also showcases the incredible venue, in addition to the wonderful electric atmosphere of THECHAMPIONSHIP 2018 as a whole. The inaugural event was watched by a global audience of 100,000, so we are confident that this year’s race will surpass this figure and set a new standard in triathlon.”

The course of the middle-distance race (1.9km swim, 90km bike and 21.1km run) has been meticulously designed so that the start, transition and finishing stages of the race each give spectators outstanding views of the x-bionic® sphere.

To follow all the action as it happens please visit: www.challenge-family.com/live/

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Gear & Tech

HUUB release third version of Aegis wetsuits

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Explicitly designed for triathletes, the Aegis /// is perfect for the beginner to the serious or expert triathlete who want both comfort and performance on race day.

The Aegis was HUUB’s first mid-range wetsuit family to take inspiration and key features from the brands’ top-end names such as Aerious and Archimedes, making it a best seller, always offering both performance and value for money, and therefore commanding the market at that price point.

HUUB’s founder and owner Dean Jackson, commented, “The Aegis family of suits offer much more than the price would suggest, with features descending from our flagship Archimedes it has created a price point defining suit that delivers more than expectations.” 

So what do you get for the Aegis///’s price tag of £299.99? The brands exclusive X-O Skeleton™ for exceptional alignment and stroke efficiency, superior panel patterns offer Rotational Freedom™ and ease of stroke, plus a Breakawy Zipper™ delivering the fastest transition. The wetsuit provides you with HUUB’s exclusive buoyancy levels of 3:5 for men and 3:3 for women. A sleeveless version is also available.  

Explicitly designed for triathletes, the Aegis /// is perfect for the beginner to the serious or expert triathlete who want both comfort and performance on race day.

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News & Racing

Ironman Announces First Full Distance Event In Ireland

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Ironman announced today the addition of its first full distance event in Ireland, Ironman Ireland, Cork. The inaugural race will take place on June 23, 2019.

“Ironman is an incredibly prestigious sporting competition held in locations throughout the world. Now, for the first time in Ireland, Cork will host a full-distance Ironman competition starting in 2019. Youghal will be centre stage for the next three years as we showcase our beautiful beaches, historic towns and world-renowned hospitality to a world-wide audience. I am delighted to welcome Ironman to Cork,” said Cllr Declan Hurley, Mayor of the County of Cork.

The race will be held in Youghal, Co. Cork which is located approximately 45 minutes west of Cork city and Cork International Airport. Youghal is a coastal fishing town on the southern coast of Ireland and a fortified seaport since the fifth century. It is also Ireland’s second oldest town. Cork International Airport offers direct transatlantic services in addition to its extensive European access routes, along with modern motorway access from Ireland’s capital city, Dublin (2-hour drive). Youghal is perfectly situated to stage an iconic triathlon.

The race will get underway with a 3.8km (2.4-mile) swim with a rolling start from the golden and sandy, Claycastle beach in Youghal Bay, that gently shelves into the Celtic Sea. This is within walking distance of Youghal Town.

A two-lap 180km (112-mile) bike course is next. Starting off through the centre of Youghal town, a climb of the famous Windmill Hill awaits the cyclists as a first challenge, which undoubtedly will also become a spectator hotspot. The cyclists will then encounter a combination of flat country roads and undulating coastal roads with magnificent sea views of Youghal Bay, Ballycotton Island and Cork Harbour. This breathtaking course goes around County Cork, into the town of Midleton (home to the famous Jameson Distillery) and will rise to a max elevation of 190m above Midleton before a technical drop back into Youghal.

The 42km (26.2-mile) run course will be the highlight of this event. This will be a flat four-lap run course through the centre of the historical town of Youghal, taking in Youghal Harbour and the famous Clock Gate Tower. Athletes will run under the arch of the Clock Gate Tower in the centre of town during each lap before finally running under the Ironman finishing arch in Market Square.

Speaking about the event, Tim Lucey, Chief Executive Cork County Council said: “Cork County Council is especially proud to join forces with Ironman which will bring an economic boost estimated to be over seven million Euro to the local economy. But the impact is much more than that; we have the opportunity to promote East Cork but go even further into all that Cork has to offer. We will showcase sport but most importantly of all, we will showcase community spirit. This will be an event that invests in both people and place and I look forward to what will be an amazing experience.”

“It has always been our goal to establish a full-distance event in Ireland. Now, building on the success of Ironman 70.3 Dún Laoghaire we are excited to add Ironman Ireland, Cork,” said Oliver Schieck, Regional Director Ironman UK & Ireland. “This race is a remarkable combination of a stunning race course with a beautiful landscape as a backdrop. We are looking forward to welcoming Irish and international athletes to the inaugural edition in June 2019.”

Ironman Ireland, Cork will be a qualifier for the 2019 Ironman World Championship being held in Kailua-Kona, Hawai’i.

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News & Racing

Elite Field Of Professional Triathletes Set To Compete In 2018 Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon

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The pro field for the 2018 Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon set to take place on Sunday, June 3. The line-up includes 2016 Rio Olympian Ben Kanute, Olympian Jarrod Shoemaker (USA), Olympian Ryan Fisher (AUS), Olympian Paula Findlay (CAN), 2018 Surf City Escape Triathlon winner Jason West and more.

The new official coach of the Escape Triathlon Series Andy Potts will also be competing. Potts represented the United States in the 2004 Olympics, is a seven-time IRONMAN champion, 28-time IRONMAN 70.3 champion, and a six-time Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon champion.

“I am super excited about my new role as the Escape Triathlon Series coach and look forward to competing this year and supporting all levels of participants as they work to accomplish their goals,” said Potts.

The pros will join 2,000 amateur triathletes for the 38th year of this annual event. Athletes have qualified to race through the newly-formed Escape Triathlon Series. 2018 Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon Champions Ben Kanute and Lauren Goss will attempt to defend their titles. The full list of professional triathletes set to compete in the 2018 Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon includes:

Men

  • Kevin Collington (USA)
  • Brian Duffy Jr. (USA)
  • Robbie Deckard (USA)
  • Cameron Dye (USA)
  • Ryan Fisher (AUS)
  • Ben Kanute (USA)
  • Eric Lagerstrom (USA)
  • Garrick Loewen (CAN)
  • Andy Potts (USA)
  • Jarrod Shoemaker (USA)
  • Jason West (USA)
  • Timothy Winslow (USA)
  • Matthew Wisthoff (USA)

Women

  • Liz Baugher (USA)
  • Paula Findlay (CAN)
  • Lauren Goss (USA)
  • Sarah Haskins (USA)
  • Alicia Kaye (CAN)
  • Caroline Shannon (USA)
  • Erin Storie (USA)
  • Lindsey Jerdonek (USA)

Top triathletes from around the world will take over the streets and waters of San Francisco for the 2018 Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon on a course showcasing the beauty of the city. Triathletes will hit the water at 7:30 a.m. to embark on a challenging 1.5-mile swim from Alcatraz Island to the shoreline of Marina Green, an 18-mile twisting bike ride through the Presidio, and an 8-mile trail run out to Baker Beach and up the infamous 400-plus step Sand Ladder. To finish the race, triathletes will follow a path back under the Golden Gate Bridge, pass Crissy Field, and finish on the grass at Marina Green. Fans can experience the excitement at Marina Green, where the swim exit, athlete transition area and finish line are easily visible.

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