Bay to Breakdown

Many people think the 1.5-mile swim is the most demanding part of the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon, but we can't even understand that sort of swimming. It seems more like a rescue operation. But we can wrap our heads around the sand ladder: At mile 4.5 of the 8-mile run, after 1.5 miles of swimming and 18 miles of biking, the competitors are deposited on Baker Beach and told to run in the sand. Usually, there's bitching: What are we, in third grade? But run everybody does, down the beach, past the naked people (day off, fellas?), until they reach the sand ladder. Typically, this is where everybody just stops, looks at the nearest official, and says, "What?" Because they're being told to run up a cliff. And many will use the hand rails, because they're not winning the triathlon and it's all gone to hell already. The 400-step sand ladder: foolhardy yet understandable, like taking the stairs at work. The swim? Too close to crazy.
Sun., May 2, 8 a.m., 2010

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