Napa triathlete Eric Gilsenan is plotting his 25th consecutive Escape from Alcatraz for this coming Sunday March 3. The undisputed record holder began his streak in 1989 finishing 102nd out of 200 triathletes. It was his first triathlon and Eric found the finish line eight months after finding sobriety and losing 75 pounds. Today the Escape has grown to 2,000 participants and so has Eric’s role in the race.
Eric conducts Escape Academy clinics to prepare athletes for the rigors of the actual race course and leads Q & A sessions at the athlete meetings. Eric also does pre-race announcing on the boat to Alcatraz, pulls the horn to start the race and finds the breath to announce the last two hours of the race after completing the course himself. He is also a historian. Are there any memories that stand out?
“It was 1994 when we used to bike over the Golden Gate Bridge. Greg Welch was in the lead but was directed onto the wrong side of the bridge. Andy Carlson and Mike Pigg were on the correct side. They caught up and yelled “Hey Welchie, stop, get across here, you’ve got to get over here!” So, Welchie unclipped his pedals and ran through six lanes of cars with bike cleats and bike on a wet metal bridge. He finally catches them in transition and then wins the race.”
Stay tuned for more from Eric Gilsenan…