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Preview: Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon

Paula Findlay makes her non-drafting debut at Sunday's race.

Rocky Arroyo Photography

The famed Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon, which sells out every year and draws an impressive roster of pro triathletes as well, takes places this weekend on Sunday, June 11th in San Francisco. Here’s a look at the big names racing this year:

Women’s race

Last year’s winner, Holly Lawrence, returns this year and as one of the best non-drafting competitors in the sport right now is the favourite heading into Sunday’s race. Escape from Alcatraz is a unique distance non-drafting race with a 1.5 mile swim, 18 mile bike and 8 mile run and while it’s therefore shorter than what the Ironman 70.3 world champion is used to, she has proved she has the speed across all of swim, bike and run to be a serious threat to the rest of the field.

As always, Escape from Alcatraz has drawn a handful of Olympians who are new to the non-drafting format. One such athlete this year is Canada’s own Paula Findlay, who has been having a season of brand new racing experiences including participation in the Major League Triathlon series. We’ll have an interview with Findlay up later this weekend.

Three other Olympians in the field are Chile’s Barbara Riveros who placed fifth in Rio, Katie Zaferes who currently the leads the World Triathlon Series rankings and Erin Densham who placed 12th in Rio.

Long course athletes Lauren Goss and Lauren Brandon round out the women’s pro roster.

With so many former and current ITU athletes in the field as well as super-swimmer Brandon, the swim on Sunday is sure to be fast. We expect Lawrence to take control of the bike leg as she has done in the past, but with speedy runners like Riveros in the field, the run may help make it a close and exciting race.

Men’s race 

Last year’s winner, Olympian Joe Maloy, isn’t on the men’s start list this year but his Rio team mates Ben Kanute and Greg Billington are. Kanute placed third at last year’s race and has been having a strong season of Ironman 70.3 results so far this year, proving he’s a force in the non-drafting world.

Several other men in last year’s top 10 are returning to race Escape from Alcatraz again this year, too, including last year’s second place finisher Cameron Dye, fourth place’s Eric Lagerstrom who win in 2015, Andy Potts and Kevin Collington.

The other pro men include Max Fennell, Tommy Zaferes, Mexico’s Mauricio Mendez and Sean Jefferson.

As with the women’s race, there are some exceptionally strong swimmers in this field including Potts, Dye and Kanute. We expect to see Dye out front on the swim and bike and for the ITU athletes to challenge him on the run and for a strong runner like Kanute or Lagerstrom to charge the run and make it a close finish as well.

The race kicks off at 7:30 AM local time.