High winds in San Francisco Bay led to small craft warnings, leading safety officials and race organizers to cancel the swim at the Escape From Alcatraz triathlon for the first time in its 37-year history.
In the resulting 18-mile bike leg and 8-mile run, Ben Kanute took the men’s title by 1:08 over fellow U.S. Olympian Gregory Billington and Lauren Goss edged U.S. Olympian Katie Zaferes by 54 seconds. With a time trial start leaving 30 seconds intervals between the top pros, the competitors raced all out in virtual isolation, the results to be revealed by the timekeepers after everyone had crossed the line.
Kanute started second and opened with a race-best bike split that upset expectations that super swimmer-biker first starter Cameron Dye would lead the field into T1. Kanute’s 43:45 bike split was 56 seconds faster than Dye and overcame Dye’s 30 seconds head start.
“I passed Cam about halfway through the bike I think,” said Kanute. “Cam was riding well today. But I was lucky enough to start right behind him and key off him a little bit. He is a very strong rider, so it was a big confidence boost to be able to pass him about mile 8 or 9.”
Andy Potts started 4th, one minute behind Kanute, and the 6-time Escape champion’s 3rd-best 46:24 bike split left Potts physically 1:39 behind Kanute at T1. Kevin Collington and Mauricio Mendez struggled to sub-par 47:26 and 47:57 bike splits that left them little hope of a podium finish.
Kanute defended his lead with a 5th-fastest 45:38 run that brought him to the finish with a 1:30:09 elapsed time and a 1:08 margin of victory over Billington, who scorched the run with a race-best 43:19 split. Cam Dye finished with an 8th-best 46:34 run that brought him home with the final spot on the podium, 1:49 back of Kanute.
“I had this race circled on my calendar for a long time,” said Kanute. “I love this race. It was disappointing there wasn’t a swim. But I just went out there to smash it no matter what.”
Kevin Collington finished with a 3rd-best 44:51 run that brought him home 4th, 1:08 back of Dye. Andy Potts closed with a 6th-best 46:02 run to take 5th, 8 seconds back of Collington.
Defending Escape champion Holly Lawrence opened with a tied-for-women’s-best 51:41 bike split she shared with Barbara Riveros of Chile. Seven seconds slower was Lauren Goss, but none of the top contenders had any idea where they stood on elapsed time. Katie Zaferes stood 1:31 back on elapsed time but had little notion what place she occupied.
“I was second to start,” said Zaferes. “So I was 30 seconds behind Holly and I am thinking Holly probably got a penalty and Lauren rode really well. So we didn’t really know what’s going on. “
Goss, who started one minute behind Lawrence, had a better idea where she stood after the bike leg. “I had a minute on her too so when I arrived at T1 one minute back, I knew I was in the game.”
Goss knew she has having a special day when she physically passed Lawrence on the run. “For sure I’ve tried to pass Holly my whole life. She is a teammate of mine. So we are both supportive of each other. You appreciate it when you are going bad and you see your teammate having a good day. And when you are having that good day you appreciate it because you know these kind of days don’t come around that often.”
After a women’s second-fastest 49:28 run - 1:36 better than Lawrence - Goss finished in 1:42:06 with a 54 seconds margin of victory over Katie Zaferes, who closed with a women’s-best 49:09 run split. Lawrence finished with a 3rd-best 51:04 run that left her 3rd, 36 seconds behind Zaferes.
Lawrence was philosophical about the end of a very long winning streak that included the 2016 Ironman 70.3 World Championship. “I don’t really know what happened today,” said Lawrence. “My numbers were good, but I was too cautious on some of the descents. When she passed me on the run, I keyed off Lauren. She raced really well.”
Lawrence looked back at the past year with bittersweet emotions. “I saw Lauren as I was coming out of transition. I knew she wasn’t too far behind. I was surprised I didn’t have more time on her. But she obviously biked really well and ran even better. To be honest, I was waiting for my winning streak to be over. I think that kind of takes the pressure off a little bit. My win at Escape started my winning streak last year. I won every race since a year ago today.“
Escape From Alcatraz
San Francisco, California
June 11, 2017
B 18 mi. / R 8 mi.
1. Ben Kanute (USA) 1:30:09
2. Gregory Billington (USA) 1:31:17
3. Cameron Dye (USA) 1:31:58
4. Kevin Collington (USA) 1:33:06
5. Andy Potts (USA) 1:33:14
6. Mauricio Mendes Cruz (MEX) 1:33:29
7. Eric Lagerstrom (USA) 1:33:58
8. Tommy Zaferes (USA) 1:34:15
9. Victor Arroyo Bugallo (MEX) 1:37:45 *M30-34
10. Sean Jefferson (USA) 1:38:20
1. Lauren Goss (USA) 1:42:06
2. Katie Zaferes (USA) 1:43:00
3. Holly Lawrence (GBR) 1:43:36
4. Barbara Riveros (CHL) 1:46:30
5. Paula Findlay (CAN) 1:48:06
6. Jennifer Spieldenner (USA) 1:49:08
7. Lauren Brandon (USA) 1:51:19
8. Sophia Steffens (USA) 1:7:27 *F20-24
9. Leah Sherriff (CAN) 1:57:29 *F30-34
10. Michela Santini (USA) 1:58:5 *F35-39