Escaping From Alcatraz Is an Unresolved Family Endeavor for Triathlete Ronnie Troyn

What is pushing 2,000-plus athletes from above 50 international locations to San Francisco for the 40th yearly Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon (EFAT) on Aug. 15—one of the most exceptional and grueling swim-bike-run races on the professional triathlon tour?



The common healthier mix of spirit, grit, and perseverance with a dollop of straight-up masochism.

But only just one competitor in the crowd (that we know of) has also been curiously drawn to this event—which starts with a chilly, current-churned, 1.5-mile swim across San Francisco Bay from the renowned former offshore prison—to complete what his suspected Alcatraz inmate ancestor started out.

“According to my mom and my grandmother, I’m a direct descendant of Arthur Barker, a convicted legal who experimented with to escape from Alcatraz back in the 1930s,” says triathlete Ronnie Troyn, who felt a faint familial tug when initial hearing about the race on Instagram. “It just right away struck me as this remarkable challenge—but also a incredibly great opportunity to get back again into loved ones stuff that I’d heard about and really did not pay substantially awareness to when I was more youthful. As a kid taking part in h2o polo, I experienced no thought who Arthur Barker was—or even who his mother was.”

Arthur Barker’s mother was infamous, Melancholy-period criminal offense determine Ma Barker, often explained as the ruthless matriarch of the Barker-Karpis gang (which provided two of her sons) and 1 of the most notorious general public enemies of her time.

Ronnie Troyn triathlete

Not everybody in the Troyn loved ones was so keen to revisit this Barker link—which the triathlete admits will get a very little fuzzy in a family tree gnarled into a series of cryptic name modifications. Curiously, right at the leading of Troyn’s tree sits Captain James Ketchum, a popular 19th-century Indigenous American chief from the Delaware tribe.

“I believe my grandma was normally embarrassed about the Barker end of the relatives title and all people motion pictures out there about her, like Bloody Mama,” claims the 46-yr-aged, Southern California-dependent retired navy veteran, who describes the relationship to us this way: “According to relatives papers handed down to me, my grandmother Elizabeth’s mother Neva Farrington was Arthur Barker’s daughter…and therefore Ma Barker’s granddaughter.”

Troyn did not assume to be chatting to Men’s Journal about his suspected ties to Ma Barker (killed in a hail of FBI bullets at an Ocklawaha, Florida, hideout in 1935) or Arthur Barker (killed by Alcatraz guards whilst attempting to escape the jail in 1939) when he happened to point out this genealogical tidbit continue to in the procedure of currently being fleshed out to race organizers.

“I’ve just produced my initial payment for $16.50 to,” he laughs. “Now I guess it’s time to do much more digging and fill in some specifics. These family strains that go back to the mid-1800s…they can spin you in circles.”

Troyn pushed himself to full three qualifying gatherings major up to EFAT—including Ironman Arizona 70.3, which he calls both therapeutic and the next-most exhausting expertise of his existence.

“Iraq was the 1st. That’s the most drained I have at any time been—and the hottest” claims Troyn, whose 20-yr military occupation incorporates 5 deployments soon after 9/11, like time invested in Kuwait and Iraq, Guantanamo Bay, and Afghanistan. “But I would say a incredibly, extremely, quite near 2nd was doing a 50 %-Ironman.”

How’s Troyn experience about Sunday’s race in San Francisco—the Alcatraz-to-Marina dip in particular?

“Honestly, male, I’m on the lookout forward to that swim,” states Troyn, who’s slimmed down from a beefy 230 kilos to a lean, muscled 180 since entering the triathlon entire world, and is open about getting in “a incredibly dark place” soon after some traumatic and heartbreaking military encounters overseas. “A large amount of my good friends are like, ‘Dude, aren’t you fearful about the sharks and currents that move at the velocity of Michael Phelps?’ I’m like, effectively I volunteered to go to Iraq and Afghanistan, so not that a lot.”

Troyn’s race goal is to crack 4 hrs. His serious purpose however is just to consider it all in—even if it expenses him a handful of valuable seconds.

“The genuine matter is, man—I’m alive. So for the duration of my swim, I’m gonna end in the center of the bay. I’m just gonna eggbeater and tread water for a very little little bit. I’m gonna glimpse about in the center of San Francisco Bay. Who in the planet gets the possibility to do that? I’m gonna honor that. Hopefully I will not get in anyone’s way.”

Will Arthur Barker cross his intellect when Ronnie Troyn makes his personal historic crossing.

“Maybe,” he laughs. “I’m contemplating about him a whole lot more than I was all of a sudden. I guess we’ll see.”

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