They're not inmates, but three local swimmers will be joining a crowd of 2,000 people jumping into the San Francisco Bay's icy-cold waters this Sunday to compete in the 32nd annual "Escape from Alcatraz" triathlon.
"This quintessential San Francisco event will send the world’s top athletes on an icy swim from Alcatraz Island to the city’s shoreline, biking a grueling terrain through the Presidio, and running sandy hill climbs at Baker Beach," described Shelbi Okumura, a public relations representative for the annual competition.
Featuring a 1.5-mile swim from Alcatraz Island to the shore, an 18-mile bike race and an 8-mile run through San Francisco, the race is considered one of the most difficult triathlons in the world.
It has become a local tradition for spectators to gather and watch the competition as well, Okumura said.
However, watching the athletes isn't the only attraction available to locals - the public is also invited to enjoy a free, weekend-long Fitness Festival and Expo with more than 40 booths exhibiting the health and fitness industries' latest products and services, food and more.
Approximately 2,000 athletes from 43 different countries are expected to participate in Sunday's Escape from Alcatraz triathlon. Here are a few locals who will be braving the icy-cold waters:
Erin Hawk, San Mateo
Erin Hawk is a 37-year-old mother and wife who works full-time, while also training five to six days a week for one of several triathlons she competes in each year. She picked up racing in 2007, lost 40 pounds and has continued racing to maintain a healthy lifestyle and fulfill her love for triathlon racing. She has since competed in more than 15 races. Erin trains locally, biking the San Francisco Bay Trail, running in Woodside and swimming at Aquatic Park in San Francisco. This will be her first Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon. Okumura said, Hawk is "truly a regular person, accomplishing something amazing – she admits she is not an elite racer, and will probably never win a race. But she is incredibly proud to say she has raced in each event she has done." Hawk has turned a wall in her home office into an awards shrine featuring her framed bib, race photo and medal from each triathlon she has completed, as a constant reminder of what she has accomplished over the last five years.
Javan Bernstein, Foster City
This 46-year-old PlayStation attorney took up triathlons per a friend’s recommendation five years ago, and was hooked after his first race. To date, Bernstein has raced in 14 triathlons, and this year will compete in Iron Man Canada. Bernstein is no stranger to Alcatraz, as he raced in this event back in 2010. He trains six to seven days a week in the Foster City and Woodside/Atherton areas. He will have a large cheering section at the finish line this Sunday as his mother, brother, sister, brother-in-law and friends will all be there.
Tom Kiely, Burlingame
Tom Kiely fell into triathlons while recovering from a shoulder injury he suffered while lifting weights two years ago. He joined a spin class, started jogging, took up swimming – and then decided to put all three together and start competing in triathlons. The 41-year-old family therapist raced in five triathlons last season and has another five races planned for this season. This will be his first Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon, and his eighth race overall. Tom trains fix to six times a week, taking advantage of the Peninsula’s prime tri-training landscape. He says the Peninsula is truly a mecca for cyclists, with beautiful stretches of landscapes and challenging climbs, which offer amazing running opportunities.
Check Patch again this Friday for complete race routes, expo details and event schedules.