Chris Late, 32, was the top Austin finisher of the Tri-California San Francisco Triathlon at Alcatraz, with a time of 3:21.31. There were five additional Austin area residents who competed. Lance McInnes, 46, finished in 4:10:26; Neil Mendelson, 43, in 3:59:26; Vit Ragula, 59, in 3:41:31; and Robby Robinson, 40, in 3:49:39. The International Distance Triathlon includes a 1.2 mile swim, 25 mile bike, and 7 mile run.Late, who had been a tennis player, began doing triathlons just last year. The Capital of Texas Triathlon was his first event. He and a group of friends do “destination triathlons” and had even completed one in St. Croix earlier this year. “I was the only one who could go to San Francisco, but it was one of my ‘bucket list’ races,” explains Late. “Actually, it was a Christmas gift from my girlfriend.”Asked to describe the race, Late said athletes checked in at 4 a.m. and took a 15-minute bus ride to the pier for body marking and to put on wet suits. Then, they took a 20-minute boat ride out into the San Francisco Bay. “The currents in the bay are so strong that, instead of picking a swim point at 12 o’clock, you aim for one at 10 o’clock.” Once the boat reached the starting point, the elite athletes jumped into the water. Late said race officials then announced that “there are 800 people on this boat and everybody has to be off in six minutes.”“I started moving up toward the front,” he said. “I saw people jumping off and they were getting jumped on by the next wave of people, so I just dove in.” Before jumping, he said he was standing next to the actor David Duchovny (Duchovny finished in 4:05.52).
While the swim is tough due to currents and the cold water of the bay, the bike “had some impressive hills,” and the run, which includes 200 stairs as the first hill and 400 sand steps 3.5 miles in, is challenging. Late and Robinson noted the thrill of cycling through the streets of San Francisco and running under and around the Golden Gate Bridge (Robinson has been doing triathlons since 1999).
Late and the other Austinites said the race differed from Austin events primarily because the water and air temperatures were much cooler. Late said the air temperature at 4 a.m. was 45 degrees, and by the time he did the run it was 55 degrees.
Ragula, who has been doing triathlons for 20 years and competes three to four times a year, said this was his second San Francisco Alcatraz Tri. “The challenge of a cold water swim was the primary factor,” he said. “I think Austin triathlons are well-organized and lots of fun, but it’s great to have a race where the temperature is 60 rather than 95.”
Mendelson has been doing triathlons for 10 years but with regularity for the past two. “Certainly there is nothing to compare to the San Francisco Bay open water swim [in terms of] current, waves, chop, and temperature,” he said. “I have to give Austin tris a nod in race organization. Alcatraz was well organized, but the ones here do a better job.”
.5 mile swim, 12.4 mile bike, 3.1 mile run
.93 mile swim, 24.8 mile bike, 6.2 mile run
1.2 mile swim, 25 mile bike, 7 mile run
ITU (long): 1.86 mile swim, 49.6 mile bike, 12.4 mile run
1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run
2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run