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EFA Training

Posted Jan 23 2009 6:02pm

Golden Gate Tri-Club warming up at the bottom of the Sand Ladder in Baker Beach. Click here for more purty pictures.

EFA is Escape from Alcatraz. San Francisco's very own premier Triathlon. Top athletes from all over the world come and do this race. There's a huge professional contingent that comes down every year. In addition to all the pros last year we had the Gold Medalist from the Olympic games as well as pretty much the whole US Olympic women's triathlon squad in attendance. I heard there were over 100 pros for the race. Jason would know the exact number, he was co-race director for last years event. I've never done it but I always volunteer. I'm a volunteer veteran at EFA:)

It's a unique and tough race. Unique because the distances for the swim, bike and run don't fall into any of the standard distances in Triathlon. The distances are closet to that of an Olympic event but those who have raced it say it's much harder. Tough because all three events are difficult. The 1.5 mile swim from Alcatraz is through heavy current that changes direction depending on where you are on the bay and that's on a flat day. Jason recounted one swim where the swells were so heavy that you could only see San Francisco at the top of the swells, making "sighting" (direction finding) a bit challenging. How fun is that!? Another friend, Sharon, told me how she got seasick and nauseous - nice. EFA is the only triathlon I know that doesn't disqualify swimmers if they have to be "repositioned" by boat. It's also the only triathlon I know that allows athletes to miss the swim finish, so long as they run back to the bike start - damn those currents:) The bike is only 18 miles but they managed to chart a course that is uphill both ways..ahahaha...I'm sure they really meant hilly both ways. The run is part trail with a large hill, large by triathlon standards. After the turnaround on Baker Beach is the infamous "sand ladder", a short but steep, sand filled hill. It's an absolute killer this late in the race, the one last obstacle before the road home.

So yesterday's track workout was on this ladder. Pretty huh. How do you beat this? Sunny weather, by the beach and in view of Golden Gate Bridge. The gang had to run up and down the ladder, 4-6 loops. Half the time they had to carry backpacks full of sand. They are trying to mimic that fatigue and heaviness that sets in late in the race. As the last trackster finished there was applause with the sun setting in our backs, followed by barefoot running on the surf.

I was there to take pictures with social director Angela. It was sweeter for me because I got to fully enjoy the afternoon and watch them all workout. Always inspires me to see other people work. No hill repeats for me, Ohlone 50k was enough for this week.
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