Monthly Archives: June 2002

Alcatraz Fundraiser Race Report

Thank you for your donation to support the purchase of a Wall Mount Infant Warmer for the family birthing center at Pennock Hospital. No goods or services were provided for this contribution and this letter will serve as your receipt for income tax purposes.

As promised, here is the race report! June 16, 2002-Fathers Day

We arrived at the transition area at 5:30AM to set up our bikes and arrange our biking and running gear. Buses transported us several blocks away to catch the boat to Alcatraz. When we arrived at Pier 33 we were “body marked” on our arms and legs with our race number and age. Jack went back and had the top of his head marked with his race number so when they unzipped the body bag, they would know immediately who he was. Diane kept trying to sneak away while in line, but Jack has been lifting weights all winter so he was able to drag her on board. Our two boats left Pier 33 at 7:20AM for Alcatraz. The first boat contained the professionals, special interest athletes and “younger” competitors. Our boat contained all athletes over 40, female athletes under 29 and all relay teams.

At 8AM the horn sounded and the athletes from both boats started jumping in the water and swimming toward shore. Our “wave” was second to go off a minute later. After a group hug we jumped in. We heard many of the swimmers gasping for breath when they hit the water, but all three of us thought the 57-degree water was “refreshing” (probably due to the practice swim in Gun Lake in April when the water was 54-degrees in the warm spots and 48-degrees in the cool spots).

The race organizers told us to swim directly toward the Transamerica building, which was not where we were going to end up. About two thirds of the way through the mile and a half swim the current would catch us and would sweep us toward the St. Francis Yacht Club (half a mile down the waterfront). If we swam directly toward the yacht club, the current would take us out to sea, rescue boats would pick us up, and our race would be over. The chop was rougher and the swells were bigger than any of us expected. Harry saw two sea lions swim right under him. Maybe Max Rappaport was right and the real danger was overly amorous sea lions and not sharks. Apparently Jack thought it would be easier to swim if the Bay was shallower so he swallowed a lot of water, but it didn’t seem to make much difference. All of us finished the swim safely and were very relieved.

From there we put on our running shoes to run the half-mile to our bikes. Harry couldn’t find his transition bag, so he ran in his wet suit and swim booties (how cute). We changed into our bike shoes, bike helmets, jumped on our bikes and took off for an 18-mile ride through San Francisco. Our ride took us through the Presidio, along the waterfront and up the first long climb to the Golden Gate Bridge. We went through a tunnel under the approach to the bridge, past the Palace of the Legion of Honor, through a golf course, through Seacliff (right past Robin Williams’ house), past Cliff House and along the Pacific Ocean on the Great Highway. We turned east into Golden Gate Park, made a long two-mile climb and then started back on the same route we came on. The hills were long and steep and we were all very cautious. Jack was on the brakes on every downhill and his bike computer still showed a maximum speed of 47 mph. We all finished the ride safely and again we were relieved. We hopped off the bikes, took off our bike shoes and helmets, put on our running shoes and headed out for the 8 mile run.

The run took us along the waterfront through Crissy Field to Fort Point (underneath the Golden Gate Bridge). There we climbed the steps to the ” Presidio headlands”. Through this whole area it was single-track trail running with runners going both ways. There were many places we had to step off the path and let runners go by (the returning runners had the right of way). We went on the “coast trail” past the “coastal defense batteries” and through a tunnel under the approach to the Golden Gate Bridge. The tunnel was pitch black, was full of rocks and roots, and you had to bend over to exit the far end (Jack didn’t think the run was tough enough so he wore his sunglasses through the tunnel-big mistake!!). He didn’t fall but took 7 of the fastest steps anyone has ever taken with his chin a foot off the ground. Diane wanted to prolong the run so she took a couple hundred-yard side trip before someone told her she missed a turn.

The run turned onto Baker Beach (Jack and Harry were looking for the nude sunbathers, but only saw a large fisherman and they prayed he had his clothes on), went a quarter of a mile and made a u-turn. A half-mile later was the dreaded “sand ladder”. We all three put our heads down and climbed to the top. We still had a half mile of “up” before we started the long downhill back to the start. We ran back along the same trail as we came on and met several runners who were still on their way out. After leaving the headlands, we went back down the steps to Fort Point, back through Crissy Field, along the “Golden Gate promenade” and back to the finish. We all finished and none of us got hurt. That was our goal and we made it!!

Our cheering section was all there at the finish line just as relieved as we were. No, we didn’t win but in our families’ eyes we were all winners. The cheering section consisted of Harry’s wife, Lynette (also the photographer and team nurse); Diane’s daughter, Jill (also the photographer): Jack’s children, Matt, Sara and Anna (that made Father’s Day special); Matt’s friend Tonya Carlson and Sara’s friend Ian. Matt, Sara, Tonya and Ian are all living in San Francisco and Anna will be moving there in August. Eric Gahan (former Hastings resident) and his wife Heather also joined us to watch the Red Wings win the Stanley Cup on Thursday night at one of the local “restaurants”. Jack had lunch on Saturday with former Pennock Village residents Ruth and Ernest “Bud” Meyer near Aquatic Park.

We all agreed that it was a very difficult race but it was a great experience, one that we would never forget. The panoramas from the trails above the Golden Gate Bridge were spectacular. Harry slowed down on the bike just to admire the view, and all three of us wished we had cameras on the run.

Thank you again for your donations to Pennock Foundation and your support. It made the race easier knowing that there are friends pulling for us. We have pictures and Lynette took some videos. We would be happy to bore you with them, just ask. At the pre-race meeting, they told us the race would be televised on September 22 on CBS at 4PM. Check your local listings as the time and date may change. Chances are you won’t see the three of us, but who knows???