Potts, Cave repeat at Alcatraz
Posted: Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Story and photos by Brad Culp, Triathlete Magazine
June 8, 2008 -- It’s a new year, but it was the same old result at Sunday’s Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon, as American Andy Potts and Brit Leanda Cave picked up repeat wins in the San Francisco Bay. Potts, who is looking to secure the third and final spot on the men’s Olympic Team in two weeks at the Hy-Vee World Cup, held off surging Kiwi Graham O’Grady to win by 35 seconds. The women’s race was even tighter, with Cave edging out American Becky Lavelle by only 15 seconds.
The 28th annual event kicked off with a bone-chilling 1.5-mile swim under clear skies in the Bay. Over 1,800 athletes took the traditional plunge from the San Francisco Belle ferry parked just off the rocky cliffs of the infamous Alcatraz Island Prison.
The top pro men flew through the 53-degree waters, led by French super-swimmer Benjamin Sanson. Potts was the second to exit the Bay, followed closely by upcoming American Matt Chrabot. Potts elected to go barefoot during the one-mile run from the swim exit at Marina Green to T1 and made it onto the bike with a small gap on the rest of the contenders.
Chrabot proved to be a formidable opponent for Potts on the grueling 18-mile bike leg and the pair pulled away from the field as they twisted and turned through the hills of San Francisco. The American duo made it to T2 with a 90-second gap on a pair of men from Down Under—O’Grady and Aussie Craig Alexander.
Potts broke Chrabot within the first two miles of the run and began to build an insurmountable gap. O’Grady and Alexander looked strong on the early miles of the run, as did American uber-biker David Thompson. The trailing trio was able to make up a few minutes on Potts as they stormed to the finish, but it wasn’t enough and Potts picked up the repeat win in 2:01:57. O’Grady hang on for second, finishing 21 seconds ahead of Alexander.
Like the men, the top ladies emerged from the Bay in a big lead-pack, consisting of Americans Mary Beth Ellis and Rebeccah Wassner, along with Cave, Lavelle and Canadian Sam McGlone. Ellis stormed to the front during the early miles of the bike, but a bike crash took her out of contention and sent Cave to the front.
The Brit was the first to return to transition, followed by Lavelle and Aussie Mirinda Carfrae. The top three women hit the finish in the same order they left transition, as neither Lavelle or Carfrae were able to make up time against the smooth stride of Cave, who broke the tape in 2:15:37. Local-star Lavelle excited the crowed with a runner-up finish, less than a minute in front of Carfrae.
Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon
San Francisco, Calif.
June 8, 2008
1.5-mile swim, 18-mile bike, 8-mile run
1. Andy Potts (USA) 2:01:57
2. Graham O’Grady (NZL) 2:02:32
3. Craig Alexander (AUS) 2:02:53
4. David Thompson (USA) 2:03:04
5. Matt Chrabot (USA) 2:03:25
1. Leanda Cave (GBR) 2:15:37
2. Becky Lavelle (USA) 2:15:52
3. Mirinda Carfrae (AUS) 2:16:47
4. Rebeccah Wassner (USA) 2:20:17
5. Samantha McGlone (CAN) 2:20:58