Alcatraz event a buzz: triathlete
Matamata fitness enthusiast Gavin Ford has crossed a new feat off his list, the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon in San Francisco.
The triathlon, which features Alcatraz prison and the Golden Gate bridge saw Ford complete a 1.5 mile (2.4 kilometre) swim, an 18 mile (29km) bike ride and an eight-mile (13km) run.
Ironically, going to the United States was the furthest distance Ford had travelled for a triathlon, yet it was the shortest course he had competed in over the past two years.
It was not so much about the challenge for Ford, but more about competing in an event with iconic history.
‘‘After about five minutes into the swim, I stopped, looked back at Alcatraz, and took it all in.’’
Ford was one of only 2000 triathletes from all over the world who were chosen to take part this year.
There were 300 places reserved for those with qualifying times, and the other 1700 places were a free-for-all.
‘‘Because it’s so popular you put your name down and they pull it out of a hat, it’s luck of the draw.’’
It was about four years ago when Ford gave up rugby that his love of triathlons began.
‘‘ Sometimes you get sick of going for a run so you go for a ride instead and other times you get sick of going for a ride so you go for a swim instead,’’ he said.
‘‘I don’t have a coach or anything, I try to make up my own little training plans. If I had a coach I would probably get quicker, faster, but I’m not too worried about that.’’
Not only is it his passion for training, but the people he meets that inspire him to carry on.
‘‘There was a guy who was 70 doing it over there and that’s not uncommon,’’ he said.
‘‘People in their sixties do it, people of all shapes and sizes.’’
Ford’s training regime during the winter season consists of at least one swim each week and a three- to four-hour bike ride during the weekend.
‘‘In the summer I do stuff every day,’’ Ford said.
‘‘It was a little bit tricky once daylight saving finished because I couldn’t go out after work and go for a ride. My riding’s been limited to the weekends.’’
Even with limited training Ford placed 978th with a time of 3 hours 28 minutes.
‘‘I was pretty happy, I’m usually in the bottom 20 per cent,’’ he said laughing.
New Zealand double Olympic medallist Bevan Docherty was among the ranks of top triathletes competing in the event. He finished third in 2 hours 5 minutes. Race day was perfect, Ford said. ‘‘I couldn’t have asked for a better day,’’ he said.
‘‘Now I’ve got a taste for it I might look at doing a bit more overseas.’’
In action: Gavin Ford nearing the finish line.
Explorer: Gavin Ford and the Golden Gate bridge, San Francisco.