In her first Off the Couch contribution, Brooke McEwen offers a profile of Andy Landgraf and the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon in San Francisco.
Alcatraz Island was considered escape-proof throughout 29 years as a maximum-security federal prison.
Andy Landgraf, a Milwaukee real estate manager, has a plan, however, for a break-out race in the 32nd annual Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon on Sunday.
“I’m going into it like I’m a prisoner and I’m trying to escape,” Landgraf said. “I just want to escape and make it to the finish line.”
A destination race in the triathlon world, Escape from Alcatraz hosts 2,000 amateur and professional athletes from across the globe to compete on one of the most challenging and picturesque courses in endurance sports.
Larson and his fellow competitors will first swim 1.5 miles from Alcatraz Island to shore at the St. Francis Yacht Club.
The race continues with an 18-mile bike loop through Golden Gate Park. Participants finish the race with an 8-mile run to Marina Green, but not before encountering the infamous “sand ladder,” a climb up 400 log and sand steps at mile five.
Unlike the mostly seasoned triathletes participating in the competition, Landgraf is something of a newcomer to the sport.
Escape from Alcatraz will be only his second triathlon, and a big step up from his first outing in the Waupaca Triathlon.
Milwaukee athlete Andy Landgraf trains in Gilbert Lake, near Wild Rose.
Photo courtesy of Andy Landgraf.
“It was a lot of fun,” Landgraf said. “It sparked my interest and I’m looking to stay with it now. I always try to do something new every year.”
Alcatraz’s legends drew Landgraf to the race.
He traveled to San Francisco as a high school student, and the island’s historic lore fascinated him for years to come. Little did he know that as a 27-year-old he would face the island again, braving strong currents and cold water in his own simulated escape.
After winning a coveted entry through the race lottery, Landgraf could not turn down the opportunity to participate.
While triathlon training can be as grueling as the competition itself, Landgraf said he took a less rigid approach to race day preparation.
“I’m not a traditional triathlete,” he said. “I don’t follow a strict schedule. I make sure I prepare myself so I can do well when I compete . . . Competing isn’t my life. It’s something I love to do from a recreational standpoint.”
Landgraf trained four to six days a week. He spent weekdays concentrating on one race leg at a time. On the weekends, he followed a brick training schedule, linking longer-distance swim workouts with bike rides, or bike rides with runs.
He said his past athletic endeavors provided a good foundation for his training.
He has participated in Wisconsin road and criterium races in cycling and ran the San Diego Rock ‘n Roll Marathon.
While attending the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, he spent a semester in Australia and learned to surf. On occasion he said he still takes hit the waves on Lake Michigan.
“I really enjoy pushing myself,” Landgraf said.
His main goal for this race is to finish.
“Maybe I’ll never finish an Ironman, but at least I can say I escaped the Rock,” he said with a laugh.
Brooke McEwen graduated from Marquette University in May. The Indianapolis native returned home for the summer to pursue jobs and 10K races. Look for more of her profiles of area athletes.