At 7 am. on June 7th, six Team CHM athletes dove into the 55 degree waters of San Francisco Bay. Leaping from the Horn Blower ship where 2000 athletes, all exiting in under 8 min. When they splashed down into the icy waters they were just off the shore of the infamous Alcatraz Island – from there the athletes had a 1.5 mile open water swim, through rough waters and strong currents to make it to shore. Swimming through the bay, I had to pause and look at Alcatraz from the water – a perspective that few people have the opportunity to experience . . . this is what it is like to ESCAPE from Alcatraz!
Once on the shore, it was a 1/2 mile run over to the transition area, where we all jumped on our bikes. The bike course was spectacular – with many significant climbs, sharp turns, and incredible views. Over the 18 mile bike course there were a number of crashes due to the difficult and technical nature of the ride. As a legally blind athlete I was taking it easy, and putting safety first. Team CHMer’s Clay Macfarlane & Zach Luterman were leading the pack when they hit the bike to run transition. The run at Escape From Alcatraz is more obstacle course at times than it is traditional running race. After a flat and fast trail out for the first two miles of the run, the first set of stairs loom in front of you. These are no normal stairs either, they are railroad ties formed into a staircase that quickly ascends more than 100 vertical feet. From the top of the stairs the hill keeps heading up eventually hitting 250 feet of climbing. From there it is a straight sprint on a dirt trail down to Baker Beach, where racers run the length of the beach, though the sand and under fishing lines. That’s when racers encounter the dreaded “Sand Ladder”. Ascending 400 sand stairs (wood posts laying in the sand are cabled together, with sand covering them making them loosely resemble stairs), athletes have the last of their energy fully drained. Thankfully once athletes hit the top of the sand ladder it is all flat or downhill to the finish.
A Major thank you to Team CHMers who conquered this epic race – Donna Gelnett, Clay Macfarlane, Zack Luterman, Jamie Kris, and Brad Haines. Each one of them put their heart into their race day effort. And thanks to their generousity and awesome fundraising – together the team was able to raise $15,365 to help cure blindness caused by Choroideremia!