Successful any specialist triathlon three situations in a row is amazing, but Escape From Alcatraz is not just any triathlon. Members acquire a chilly plunge into San Francisco Bay’s choppy drinking water for a 1.5-mile swim, then haul 18 miles up twisting hills by bike, and complete with an eight-mile run. The pièce de résistance: a brutal established of cliff stairs called the Sand Ladder. Two thousand novice and experienced athletes from about 50 countries will take a look at their limits on Aug. 15—when the venerated race celebrates its 40th anniversary—but the gentleman to view is Ben Kanute.
The 28-yr-outdated American athlete will endeavor to swim-bike-run down record as the very first guy to earn Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon for 4 consecutive yrs. After winning this race from 2017 to 2019, Kanute has been waiting two yrs for his chance at the file following 2020’s race was canceled thanks to COVID-19. We caught up with the 2016 Olympian to find out far more about this legendary race, his committed teaching program, and the mentality it takes to win a triathlon.
Men’s Journal: How do you get ready yourself to keep in the second all through a race that is so very long and grueling?
Ben Kanute: The mental aspect of the activity is a thing that receives taken for granted. I go into every single work out with purpose to keep focused and test to carry out goals––whether it is in just the rep, set, or the whole exercise session. Even though I’m education, I go by way of my checklist and make certain my sort is good, I’m hitting my tempo, getting the rhythm, and making an attempt to obtain that flow point out in which everything is operating. As soon as you get to the race, you can strike your cues, go through your checklist, and get the most out of oneself.
What type of cross instruction do you do through the calendar year?
Throughout the time I consider not to department out much too much. My mentor lives in San Diego, so I go out there fairly a bit. I do appreciate the ocean and like snowboarding, but a whole lot of these sporting activities get set on the back burner though you are teaching as a expert athlete. It is danger administration. Those people athletics function fully distinctive muscle groups, so the damage possibility goes up. I get the job done with power mentor Matt Pendola, who’s incredibly superior at precise styles of cross coaching and energy coaching that strengthen the swim, bicycle, and operate. A lot of it’s mobility-primarily based plyometrics and toughness training cycles to go alongside with my normal instruction. It is been a good complement. It’s created me less inclined to harm and enhanced my type in all three athletics.
Despite staying a shorter distance than other triathlons, Escape From Alcatraz characteristics an extreme swim leg. How do you defeat San Francisco Bay’s notoriously powerful latest and frigid drinking water?
I love the Alcatraz swim. I imagine it’s a great problem. It is as a lot a physical problem as it is a psychological and tactical problem with the way the wind, waves, and currents are. It definitely improvements your stroke. You just cannot just set your head down and go. Escape from Alcatraz is about studying the h2o and figuring out where to swim. Of class it is challenging to do that—you have to regulate as you’re in the water, seeking to offer with the present, which is pushing you out of the Bay. Whilst the recent can help you around, if you never get near plenty of or cross that “river,” it could stop up pushing you earlier the swim exit. I like to depend a lot on the nearby awareness and just check with thoughts about what the problems are like that working day.
What is the changeover like to the bike leg? What are the largest issues?
Even coming out of the drinking water, there’s yet another problem to operate about a thousand meters to changeover. Your feet are numb and you’re hoping to get to your bicycle. But you have bought to shake the cold to force. The to start with couple miles of driving to the first hill is pretty flat, then from that place, there’s really no flat segment. It’s all really steep and, at the far conclude of the program, there is 1 extended, grinding climb. In overall, I assume there are about 7 significant climbs and the relaxation is downhill, which can be technical.
Total, when we’re conversing about the Alcatraz course––whether it’s swim, bike or run––there’s no settling in. It’s a lot of large-close efforts for limited durations of time. You get a minor little bit of restoration on the downhills or sections main to the future challenging portion, then you are fairly substantially hitting it yet again. But in excess of the earlier couple of yrs of racing, I’ve observed my rhythm.
It ends up being a comparatively extended race, even while some of the distances are unique. It is an all-out effort and hard work, but you have bought to maintain oneself in test because you can place on your own above that purple line if you’re not thorough.
What is the important to preserving your rivals powering you in the last stretch—and that notorious Sand Ladder stair climb?
There are a couple miles of flat on the entrance conclude and again end, but the rest is either uphill, downhill, or in the sand. I imagine this is the most rhythm-breaking portion of the whole course, simply because you’re running straight up stairs. The Sand Ladder (400 steps up a cliff) coming off the seaside is generally tough. You really will need to gauge your effort and hard work and maintain on your own in verify for that to start with half of the operate, then leave a small some thing for the Sand Ladder, and the past dash residence.
All those very last few miles can adjust a large amount relying on how fatigued you are—especially with the guys I’m racing. It’s all about leg turnover. You just need to have to rely on that you are going to get your legs back again, you are going to get up and above the hill, then use those people downhills as no cost speed and time to recuperate.
You have claimed you ‘Hate shedding far more than you like winning.’ When you get to the conclusion of a race, how substantially do you depend on that way of thinking to cross the end line initially?
It is all about brain games––using the feeling of not profitable to push you. But aside from consequence goals, this kind of as winning, I usually attempt to have system goals. If I execute my race as effectively as attainable, I can even now stroll absent pleased even if I get second or third. Quite often results are the only matter looked at during the season, but it’s also important to have method objectives and make positive you are executing issues accurately. I really feel like when I execute all of my procedures, I’m difficult to beat.
What about Escape from Alcatraz suits your race design and style?
Escape from Alcatraz is one particular of the basic triathlons. It’s been about for 40 several years, so it was there effectively from the start out of the activity. It’s an odd length, and goes back to the roots exactly where they did not treatment what was in the way. It’s just about like they designed the course to be as challenging as attainable, and I enjoy that. Racing as a result of the town is scenic, and it’s a single of the most unique commences: jumping off a boat in the center of the San Francisco Bay. I think if you go again and search at a good deal of the winners of Escape from Alcatraz, you will see persons who’ve been pretty successful in the activity. My target is to earn the race, but I also want to go out there and just feel sturdy and have fun. If somebody else is heading to conquer me, I want to make them bury themselves to do it.
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