Golden Great
Men's Journal|July - August 2021
The Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon is among the world’s most grueling and gorgeous races.
By Jordan Rane

ANY RACE on the pro triathlon circuit can be expected to test the outer limits of human endurance, self-induced punishment, and nutritional supplement sponsorship. But only one has a starting line that would’ve made Al Capone and George “Machine Gun” Kelly pee their Speedos.

On Aug. 14–15, the annual Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon (EFAT) turns 40 fully afloat in the wake of 2020’s canceled event, due to the pandemic, and still the scariest three-part race named after a former maximum-security prison.

“That first jump is a pretty shocking jolt every time,” says professional triathlete Ben Kanute, EFAT’s reigning three-time champion, about the start of the race.

That infamous start has competitors leap into San Francisco Bay from a passenger ferry parked near Alcatraz Island. That’s followed by a breathless 1.5-mile swim to the deceivingly distant Marina District shore of San Francisco through dark, choppy, 55- to 60-degree water with treacherous currents and the odd laughing sea lion. “You really have to mentally prepare yourself for that swim,” says Kanute. “It’s sort of a free-for-all out there at first. Then things start to settle down and just go kind of numb—including your hands and face.”

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