San Francisco, Calif – Saturday morning, on the warm sandy shores of Rio’s Copacabana Beach, triathlete Gwen Jorgenson set her focus on winning the first Gold Medal in triathlon for the United States. Which she did. Sunday morning, over 600 steely amateur triathletes battled the chilly 62 degree waters of San Francisco Bay in hopes of earning their own personal best in Tri-California’s San Francisco Triathlon at Alcatraz.
Before daylight, another Olympian, USA’s 2004 Triathlon Olympic Team member, Victor Plata, was welcoming athletes into both the transition area and eventually, across the finish line. Athletes from across the country prepared for one of triathlon’s most historic Olympic distance races by checking their bikes, positioning their gear, and slipping into their wetsuits for the 1.2-mile rough water swim. Once out of the water, racers biked a hilly 23-mile route, following it up with a 6.1-mile run along some of California’s most scenic coastal bluffs.
By sunrise, athletes found themselves at the rather unique start of this triathlon — on a barge heading out to the middle of San Francisco Bay where they then braved a 10 foot jump into this season’s unexpectedly icy waters. “This race is not for the faint of heart but it also takes some blood, sweat, and tears to pull it off,” says Tri-California Events Founder and CEO, Terry Davis. “We are very proud to be able to bring back, by popular demand, the original and most successful triathlons at Alcatraz,” said Davis, referring to Tri-California having to suspend future races after its inaugural race in 2010 due to The America’s Cup.
At the end of the day, it would be Pedro Gomez, 33, of Scottsdale, Ariz., who would take the gold for the Men’s Division with a time of 2:09:09. Second overall male was Jack Calhoun, 27, of San Francisco, Calif., with a 2:11:20 and a close third was John Dahlz, 32, of Daly City, Calif., with a 2:11:31.
For the women, Emily Cocks, 39, from Napa, Calif., topped the podium with a time of 2:29:36. Second overall would go to Tina Eakin, 46, of Elk Grove, Calif., and Cocks’ Freeplay teammate, Kelly O’Mara, 31, of San Rafael, Calif., grabbed third with 2:35:49.
The San Francisco Triathlon at Alcatraz provides athletes of all calibers the opportunity to test their grit on the challenging terrains of this race and to shake up the monotony of traditional races. “The swim was a washing machine, the bike was great — to have the breeze coming off the coast, and that run was the toughest part, ” said first time triathlete Travis Knight. “I can’t wait to come back and do it all over again”