Frequently Asked Questions

2021 Frequently Asked Questions


What type of Triathlon is this and what are the distances?
A: This is a modified International Distance Triathlon consisting of a 1.5-mile swim (2.4km), followed by an 18-mile bike (29km), and followed by an 8-mile run (13km).

How many years has this triathlon taken place?
2021 will mark the 40th time that the race takes place!

Who can participate in the triathlon?
The race is open to professional triathletes, age group amateurs, and relay teams. All participants must be 18 years of age or older.

How many entry spots are available to participants?
The race is capped at 2,000 entries. This is primarily due to the capacity on the boat and the time constraints on the race course.

Is this a good race for first-timers?
This race is extremely challenging and is not recommended for first-time triathletes unless you have experience in similar disciplines, are in excellent physical condition, or have been working out with an experienced trainer or coach.

Where does the race take place?
The race is held in and around San Francisco Bay. The swim starts off Alcatraz Island and the swim exit is located adjacent to St. Francis Yacht Club off Marina Blvd. The transition area, finish line, and festival expo are located at Marina Green near the intersection of Marina Blvd and Scott Street. The bike course travels through the Presidio, out the Great Highway, through Golden Gate Park and back to Marina Green. The run course travels through the Presidio, under the Golden Gate Bridge, along Baker Beach, and back to Marina Green. For more information on the course, CLICK HERE.

When will the race take place?
The race will take place on August 14 - 15, 2021. The Escape Aquathlon will take place on August 14 and the Triathlon will take place on August 15.

What is the weather and water temperature in mid-August in San Francisco?

A: The weather can vary greatly at this time of year even minute by minute. Generally, the weather is mild in the upper 50's to upper 70's, however some years have seen low 40's and some have seen upper 80's. The water temperature in the Bay is generally around 60 degrees.

What’re EFAT’s plans to implement COVID safety measures at the event in 2021?

A: We will continue to work with local government and public health officials to operate the event under local and state safety guidelines. We will implement additional safety measures in compliance with the latest guidelines in August 2021 and will communicate a detailed plan to participating athletes prior to the race.


How can I register for this triathlon?

A: This race does not have an open entry process, however there are several ways to gain access:

1. Selection in the Random Drawing. The 2021 Random Drawing procedure can be viewed HERE.

2. Qualify by placing first in your age group in the previous year's Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon

4. Enter as a Professional Triathlete

5. On behalf of a Partner Charity

6. Receive a Sponsor Guest Slot

Do I need to be a certain age to compete in this triathlon?

A: Yes, you must be at least 18 years of age before the race day.

What are the entry fees?
A: Individuals: $750

Open Relay Teams: $425 per team member

What forms of payment do you accept?
We accept VISA, MasterCard, AMEX, and Discover Card.
When and how can I enter the Random Drawing?

A: The 2021 Random Drawing procedure can be viewed HERE

Is there a fee to enter the random drawing?
No, entry is completely free. If you are one of the lucky entrants selected to register for the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon, there will be a fee at this time.
What are my odds of being selected?
A: The number of people entering the drawing varies from year to year. Additionally, there are some advantages based on prior participation in the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon and based on where you live. Generally speaking, you will have between a 30% and 50% chance of being selected.

How many times may I enter the drawing?
A: You may enter the random drawing only once per year. All duplicate entries will be deleted.

Do I need a specific qualifying time or specific triathlon experience to be selected in the drawing?
There is no minimum qualifying time or required experience to enter. However, we may ask you for your estimated finish time and a list of three relevant races you have participated in previously. This will not affect your chances of being selected in the drawing but does allow us the opportunity to better understand our competitors and set expectations.

If I am selected in the random drawing and my friend is not, can I give him/her my winning spot?
No, winning spots and registered entries are non-transferable.

If I am selected in the drawing, may I defer to the following year?
No, winning slots may not be deferred.

How will I know if I am selected in the random drawing?
Selectees will receive an email with a link to accept and complete registration. Winning a slot does not guarantee registration, as all winning slots will have a deadline to be accepted. If you do not accept and register in time, you have forfeited your spot. No exceptions.

How do I accept my winning slot and confirm my entry?
Selectees will receive an email with a link to accept and complete registration. All winning slots will have a deadline to be accepted. If you do not accept in time, you have forfeited your spot. No exceptions. Please note that the registration window might close early if capacity is reached due to high demand.

How can I enter as a Professional Triathlete?
First, you must have official status as a professional and be able to provide your USAT Pro License number or a similar license from your national governing body. All Professional Triathletes wishing to compete should CONTACT US first.

How can I race on behalf of a Charity?

A: The Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon offers a limited number of spots to charities. These charities may distribute their entry slots as they choose. Interested parties must contact each charity directly regarding their race entries. To view a list of participating charities, CLICK HERE.

How can I receive a sponsor guest slot?
A: Some sponsorship packages include race entries. If you or your company is interested in becoming a sponsor of this event, please contact us at

I was signed up for the Corporate/Collegiate Escape, when will we be able to register for 2021?

A: You will have a priority registration window to confirm your team slot for the 2021 race. More details to be announced.

Registration Policies:

A: View Refund; Deferral; Transfer; and Event Cancellation Policies HERE.

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What airport should I fly in to for the event?
SFO – San Francisco International Airport
Directions from SFO to Event Site

OAK – Oakland International Airport
Directions from OAK to Event Site

What is the best way to ship my bicycle to San Francisco?
TriBike Transport is the Official Bike Transportation Partner. Click here for more info.

What hotels are close enough to bike to the event?
Hotels located in the Marina or Fisherman's Wharf are best. For more information, visit our LODGING page.

What is the best way to get around town?
Ride your bike – San Francisco is a bike friendly town! Learn more
Public Transportation – Learn more
San Francisco Cable Cars – Learn More

Where can I park on race day?
There is no parking allowed at Marina Green or on Marina Blvd. All vehicles parked in restricted areas will be towed prior to the start of the race. Parking is very limited in and around Marina Green. We strongly suggest taking public transportation, a taxi, a bicycle, or have a friend drop you off at Marina Green.


How do I confirm that I am registered for the race?
Winning a slot in the Random Drawing does not guarantee entry. You must register and receive your event confirmation email from Haku. Once bib numbers are assigned closer to the race day, a participant list will be available on the Official Event Website. If the list is not posted yet, feel free to email the Event at to check your registration status.

What is the event schedule?
The race takes place Sunday morning with the swim beginning at 7:30am. Packet pick-up takes place on Saturday. The Fitness Festival and Expo take place Saturday and Sunday. For more information, CLICK HERE.

What am I required to attend as a participant?
Every participant including individual members of relay teams MUST sign in and pick up their own packet on Saturday. Every participant must also attend at least one athlete meeting on Saturday. For details on the entire event schedule, CLICK HERE.

When do I pick up my packet?
Saturday (See Event Schedule)

What items will I need during packet pick-up?
Each participant MUST bring a valid ID. All annual USAT members must bring their membership card.

When do I get body marked?
Saturday during packet pick-up.

When do I rack my bike?
You'll have the opportunity to rack your bike on Saturday, but it's not mandatory. While you are able to rack your bike early, you will NOT set up your transition area early (on Saturday).

You will still be able to rack your bike on Sunday morning too.

When do I receive my timing chip?
You will receive it in your packet on Saturday.

Why the two race bags?
You will receive two race bags during packet pick-up. One bag is for the items you will take with you to Pier 3 but not on the swim. This bag will be collected by race staff Sunday morning at Pier 3 and will be available in the bag corral following the race. The second bag is for any items you would like to have available at the swim exit prior to the short warm-up run to the main transition area. This bag will be collected by race staff ON SATURDAY and available in the bag corral following the race. Make sure each bag is clearly marked with your bib number.

What should I place in my two transition bags?
Keep items to an absolute minimum for each bag. DO NOT place valuables including iPods, heart rate monitors, wedding bands, wallets, “lucky shirts" or similar items you can't bear to lose as there is always a chance of these items being lost in transit. The boat bag should contain a light sweatshirt, sweatpants, and flip flops at most. The swim exit bag should contain a small bottle of water, small towel, and secondary pair of running shoes. (These should NOT be your main shoes you will use for the run portion of the event as they will be wet.) PLEASE: Put your name in your wetsuit with permanent marker and remember these bags are easily torn open during transport. Do NOT put anything in the bag you cannot live without.

May a friend or family member pick up my race packet for me?

Are there additional opportunities to learn about the race besides the athlete meeting?
Yes. On Friday before the race, Sports Basement will host an Escape from Alcatraz Pro Panel and pre-race talk, question & answer session. This will take place at the Sports Basement Presidio near the event site. Information will be available on the website as the event approaches. Please note, this does not replace the requirement to attend the athlete meeting on Saturday.


Where is the swim start and how do I get there?
On Sunday morning, after setting up your transition area you will get on a bus to Pier 3. You will be ordered according to age group and boarded onto a large passenger ferry, The San Francisco Belle. The boat will stop near Alcatraz Island approx. 1.5 miles from the swim exit. All participants will jump from the ferry to start the race.

What attire is allowed or not allowed on the swim?
Wetsuits, goggles, neoprene caps, and neoprene socks ARE allowed. You will be provided with a colored swim cap that you must wear to denote your age group. Gloves are NOT allowed.

What is the water temperature in the Bay?
Approx. 60º

Are there sharks in the Bay?
Yes, there is marine life in San Francisco Bay including sharks, seals, and sea lions. The sharks that live in the Bay are small and hang out at the bottom of the Bay. These sharks have no interest in triathletes. The larger sharks live outside the Bay where the water is nice and salty. These larger sharks do not like nor can they survive in the brackish waters of San Francisco Bay. Seals and Sea Lions may be curious about triathletes but pose no danger.

What happens if I need help during the swim?
There will be many boats, kayaks, lifeguards, and water safety teams out on the water during the swim. They are available if you need to grab onto a boat or kayak for a minute to rest or re-orient yourself. This action will not incur a penalty. They are there for rescue as well if you determine you cannot finish the swim and wish to drop out of the race.

What is the cut-off time for the swim and what happens if I don't make it in the time allotted?
The cut-off time for the swim is one hour. Those still in the water after one hour will be picked up by boat, brought to shore, and allowed to finish without penalty.

How far is the swim exit from the main transition?
It is about a half-mile from swim exit to transition. You will have the option of taking off your wetsuit and putting on shoes prior to this short transition run but neither is required.

Is there a practice swim I can join before the race?

A. Our friends at Water World Swim offer test swims and clinics. More info here:


Can my friends and family wait for me by my bike in transition?
No, only participants are allowed in transition.

Can my friends and family decorate my bike position area in transition?
NO decorations are allowed including signage, balloons, stuffed animals, etc.

Are stationary bicycle trainers allowed in transition?

What type of bicycle is best for this race?
For this race, there is no advantage to having a triathlon/time-trial bicycle. Aero bars are not necessary as you will have little opportunity to use them throughout the curving, technical, hilly bike course. A traditional road bike configuration is best.

What is the elevation of the bike course?
An elevation map can be found on our website: CLICK HERE

Where can I get my bicycle tuned up prior to the race?
Sports Basement is located in the Presidio approximately a mile from the transition area, finish line, and race expo at Marina Green. 610 Old Mason Street. They have plenty of experts on hand in their bicycle department who can assist you. Sports Basement staff will also be on hand in transition and on the course to assist with bike support. However, be patient as they make their way to you in transition or on course.


What types of surfaces will I encounter on the run?
The run course is made up of asphalt, chip trail, dirt trail, stairs, a tunnel, sand, sand steps, and grass.

Is the run course a closed course?
No, you will not only encounter participants running in the opposite direction as you but you will also encounter Sunday morning joggers, walkers, and dogs. Be careful and stay focused. Some parts of the course are narrow with participants running in two directions. Be kind and courteous to other participants.

What is the Sand Ladder and where is it located?
The Sand Ladder is a series of steps that will take you from the beach below to the road above. It is made up of wooden slats under sand. Try to place your foot on the wooden slats as much as possible as you take your steps. There is also a wire hand rail that you may use to help pull yourself up to the top. The Sand Ladder is located near mile 5 of the run course. WALK, do not run up the Sand Ladder, otherwise you will burn yourself out before the finish. Even the Pro's walk or lightly jog up the Sand Ladder.

Where is the finish line?
The finish line is located at Marina Green next to transition and the race expo. Grandstands line the finish chute so family and friends may cheer on participants as they finish.

Can my friends and family cross the finish line with me?
No, only participants may cross the finish line.

Will I receive anything when I finish?
You will receive water and a finisher's medal when you cross the finish line. Medical and massage assistance will also be available. In addition, each participant will be treated to a catered meal upon finishing.


Where are the aid stations located throughout the course?
Transition, Swim Exit, and at each mile along the run course.

What is available at the aid stations?
Water and isotonic. Water will be available at the race start and finish.

Are gels allowed on the course?

A: No.

What meal is available at the finish?
Each participant will enjoy a catered meal consisting of fruit, carbohydrates (breads & pastas), protein, salad, and dessert.


What does it mean to compete on a relay team?
A relay team is made up of two to three participants who each participate in one leg of the triathlon. The timing chip acts as the “baton" and is handed off to the next relay team member during transition.

Do relay teams need to enter the random drawing?
No, open relay teams and corporate escape teams may enter on a first-come, first-served basis. Registration for these slots will be open in November 2020. Details to be announced.

What is the difference between an Open Relay Team and a Corporate ESCAPE Team?

A: An Open Relay Team is made up of two or three participants who are friends, family, colleagues, neighbors, teammates, strangers or any other combination. Open relay teams participate on behalf of their individual teams and are divided in the competition categories of All Male, All Female, and Mixed. The top 3 finishing teams in each competition category will be recognized during the awards.

A Corporate ESCAPE Team is made up of three participants from the same company, corporation, or organization who compete alongside other teams from their same company, all on behalf of their company or organization. Each company or organization must register at least TWO teams in order to compete. The company or organization with the best combined finish time of their top two teams will win the coveted Keys to the Rock Corporate ESCAPE Cup, a perpetual trophy awarded and defended each year. The Corporate ESCAPE relay is limited to about 50 relay teams. Honorary mention is also given to the top finishing all male, all female, and mixed Corporate ESCAPE Team. MORE

Which relay team member is responsible for the warm-up transition run from the swim exit to the main transition area?
The swimmer.

When and where do the relay teammates switch off for the next leg?

A: The cyclist and the runner must wait in transition in the relay corral. The swimmer passes the timing chip (the “baton") off to the cyclist. The cyclist passes the timing chip off to the runner.

When do the cyclist and runner need to be in place in the transition area?
7:00 AM. No exceptions or excuses.

Are stationary bicycle trainers allowed in transition?


How can I volunteer for the event?
We need and accept many volunteers for this race. CLICK HERE for more information.

Where is the best place to watch the race?
Marina Green is a great place to watch the swim start and swim. Marina Green Beach just west of St. Francis Yacht Club is a great place to watch the swim and swim exit. Marina Green is the best place to watch transition. Marina Blvd is a great place to watch a portion of the bike and run portion of the race. There will be grandstands along both sides of the finish chute to watch participants finish the race.

Is there anything for my friends and family to do during the race?
There is a Fitness Festival and Expo located at Marina Green with many vendors, activities, concessions, and beer garden. The expo is family-friendly and free to the public.

How can I view or track race results?
Results will be posted online and updated in real time throughout the race. There will be a Digital Results Zone within the Fitness Festival and Expo located at Marina Green. Friends, family, and triathletes will be able to access computer terminals to view individual and overall results. Results will be available HERE


When is the awards ceremony?
The awards ceremony will take place at Marina Green at approximately 12:00pm on Sunday.

Who receives awards?
Top professional finishers and the top three finishers in each age group or competitor division.

Where can I find race photos?
Race photos will be available for viewing and purchase following the event weekend

I purchased a FinisherPix photo package for 2020, that will carry over, right?

A: FinisherPix is working with athletes on transferring their packages to a future event. Please reach out to FinisherPix at

I deferred my race slot from 2020 to 2021, what happens to my pre-purchased VIP packages and/or pre-selected Build Your Own Race Bag" Items?

A: Your previous purchases, such as the VIP passes and/or Build Your Own Race Bag selections (triathlon participants only), will roll over to your 2021 race experience. You will be able to view the previous purchases a few days after completing the registration, by logging in to your participant account. (Please note: The previous purchases will NOT be available to view immediately after your registration.)

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