7 Key Questions to Answer Before Racing the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon

The Escape from Alcatraz triathlon is one of the most famous triathlons in the world. Set against the backdrop of the beautiful city of San Francisco, this 1.5 mile swim, 18 mile bike and 8 mile run endurance challenge is favorite triathlon of many! While training for Alcatraz requires special focus and dedication, choosing the proper equipment and understanding how to safely and effectively take on the course are all keys to a successful escape.

If you are signed up and committed to ‘escape’, here are 7 quick (but very important questions) you’ll want to be prepared to answer to be ready to ‘escape’ on race day:

1. What equipment will use choose for the bike? Road vs Tri/TT bike? Gearing? Wheel Selection?

2. What gear will you use for the swim? Full wet-suit, sleeveless? Neoprene cap, double swim cap? Goggle choice?

3. Given the varied run surfaces what is the best shoe selection to best navigate the 8 mile run course?

4. What are the key landmarks to sight off of during the swim? If you know the names of those landmarks, will you recognize them from water level while swimming in the San Francisco Bay?

5. What is the best way to prepare for the cold temperatures of the San Francisco Bay waters?

6. How can you train effectively for the technical aspects of the bike course?

7. What are effective training methods to be ready for the infamous sand ladder?

For over fifteen years I have been coaching athletes to successfully escape on race day.  I have coached hundreds of athletes from all over the world to their best possible race day experience. For 2016 I have updated our 12 and 16 week training programs to get you ready for race day. Unlike many training plans, our Alcatraz triathlon program includes coaching support via Q&A throughout the program. Athletes also receive 16 weeks of newsletter full of tips and guidance to most optimally prepare for racing in San Francisco on this most famous triathlon course.

Take the guesswork (and worry) out of your preparations.

Updated for 2016:

Sign up today for the 16 week (starts 2/22/16) or the 12 week (starts 3/21/16) training program.

You will ESCAPE!
-Coach Rachel Casanta

-Rachel Sears Casanta is a full time endurance sport performance coach and former professional triathlete. She has competed in 10 Escape from Alcatraz triathlons, including an age group win, three podium finishes and seven professional starts. Known for her blistering bike splits and runs, Rachel works with self-motivated athletes who are committed to giving their own personal best effort in life and on the race course.


Training for Ironman Boulder 2014

Do you want to race in this year’s sold out Ironman Boulder triathlon? Hypercat Racing is currently offering a limited number of training and race entry packages for Ironman Boulder. Not only can you gain entry into this sold-out event, but you can also train effectively with a professionally created training strategy and regular feedback from Coach Rachel Sears Casanta. 

Check out the race entry & training package details for Ironman Boulder here.  Don’t delay. Spots are limited!


David Levine sets a new PR at Ironman Arizona. David reached the podium one again with his 4th place M18-24 finish.

Wine Country Racing

full_vm_retail_v2.aiA contingent of fiesty Hypercat athletes descended on the beautiful country side of Santa Rosa, CA for a toasty day of multisport racing over the weekend.  Contested on Saturday, August 1 were the Full Vineman, Full Vineman Aquabike, Half Vineman Aquabike and Barb’s Race Half Ironman events.  The Full Vineman is the oldest independent iron distance triathlon in the United States. The 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile event offers a formidable challenge for all racers and draws many a top long course triathlete to test their endurance mettle.  Quickly growing in popularity are the Full and Half Aquabike events which challenge athletes to race a swim/bike combination following the same course as the triathlon events. Barb’s Race is the only all-female half-ironman triathlon in the country and its cause (to fight cancer) spirit and competition makes it a very popular August event in Northern California.

We like wine!

We like wine!

This year, several Hypercat athletes choose to compete in the Aquabike events as part of their preparation for other later season events. These ‘training event’s provide the ideal opportunity to simulate race conditions for Ironman and half ironman racing without the recovery costs of the run leg.  Steve Fung of Orinda, CA had a strong day setting a new personal best in the 2.4 mile swim and riding a strong 5:44:38 for the 112 mile bike leg. Steve’s overall time of 6:51:14 placed him 5th M35-39.
Considering Steve suffered two (!) flat tires near 90 and 100 miles, his time and finishing place is even more impressive.  No doubt that the flat tires cost Steve valuable time that might have enabled him to give his coach, Rachel Casanta a ride for her money. Rachel finished 2nd female overall, behind fellow pro Teri Albertazzi,  in a time of 6:44:10. She also set a personal best for the 2.4 mile swim (1:09:56) and clocked a 5:30:15 for the 112 mile bike.  

Wine is good!

Wine is good!

Jen Kibler of San Francisco is currently preparing for Ironman Arizona this November. Jen competed in the Half Vineman Aquabike as part of her training preparations.  Rewarded for her efforts on warm, sunny day Jen placed 1st in the F25-29 age group and showed she is well on her way to becoming an Ironman!  Congratulations Jen! barbs_race_color41

The race production staff at Vineman certainly had their hands full with the Full Vineman and Aquabike events being contested simulataneously. Add to the mix, the all-women’s Barb’s Race Half-Ironman and you have one large multisport party!  Two Hypercat Racing athletes, Tracey Roeder and Catherine Hackett were both first time half-ironman competitors. Roeder, mom of two, competed at the Wildlfower Olympic and Escape from Alcatraz earlier this year.  During the summer she juggled her training with family, work and life’s demands. Tracey triumphantly crossed the finishline at Barbs in 6:25:18 for a 17th place F40-44 finish!  Tracy now has her sights on the California International Marathon on December 6th.

Catherine Hackett, a teacher residing in San Francisco surprised herself as showed that yes, she can do it! Hackett finished her first half ironman (and only second triathlon ever) in 7:37:04 finished 48th F35-39. Way to go Catherine! Your students will be so inspired! Catherine is now focusing her training on preparations to run the New York City marathon this November.

Sears Casanta wins Aflac Irongirl Syracuse Triathlon



There’s no place like home. Hypercat Racing coach and professional triathlete Rachel Sears Casanta returned to her home state of New York to compete in the first Aflac Irongirl Triathlon on July 26, 2009.  The all women event welcomed nearly five hundred registered participants to the race venue at a Oneida Shores in Brewerton, New York (north of Syracuse).  Casanta won the 800m swim, 30k bike and 5k run in 1:20:19. Julie Rosa of LaFayette finished 2nd in 1:23:32 and Jaime Stitt crossed the line in 3rd in 1:24:53.

Coach with her first Coach!

Coach with her first Coach!

Casanta, born in Syracuse, NY, spent her formative years running on the same roads of the Irongirl race course.  The 5k run overlapped the route she ran many times as teen participating in Oneida Shores Fun Runs sponsored by the Syracuse Chargers track club.  The nostalgia of returning to Oneida Shore was made extra special by the presence of  Casanta’s first running coach, Kelly Schulz.  Schulz coached Casanta when she was a cross country runner at Millard Hawk Junior High in Central Square, NY.  Schulz and Casanta got reacquainted at a pre-race course talk where Casanta offered advice to Irongirl competitors, many of whom would be tackling their very first triathlon event. 

Additional Media Coverage:





=>Read Rachel’s Aflac Irongirl Race Report here.<=

Hypercat Race Results

Julie Pfeifle placed 1st place winning the F45-49 age group at the Tri for Real Triathlon in Pleasanton.  Julie set a new course PR in 1:39:22 (a 3 min improvement).

Coach Rachel Sears Casanta shows she is making ground in her come back to racing. Rachel placed 4th female and 2nd F30-34 in the Miner’s Ravine 5k in Roseville, CA

All smiles!

All smiles!

Coach Phil Casanta raced too!

I'm ready!


Hypercat Racing – Race Results

Julie Pfeifle placed 1st place Women 45-49 at the Folsom International Triathlon.
Julie set a new personal best covering the Olympic distance in 2:35:04. A PB by 6 minutes!


Rachel and Philip Casanta

Rachel and Philip Casanta

Mustang 5k XC –

Coach Rachel and Coach Phil mixed it up off-road on Labor Day running the Mustang 5k to benefit the San Marin High School XC team. Rachel placed 2nd among the 30-34 women. Not to be outdone, Coach Phil matched her effort with a 2nd place for men 35-39!

The July Race Result Round-up

Deschutes Dash, Bend OR Results –
Heather Leach places 1st place in the women 50-54 age group in the Olympic duathlon (25 mile bike/10k run and
1st place 50-54 in the sprint duathlon the next day.
                                                                      Awesome Heather!
We like to win!

We like to win!

Lake Del Val Aqua Challenge. Coach Rachel Sears Casanta places 2nd place
in the wetsuit division for the .5 mile swim and 3rd place wetsuit in the 1 mile swim.
Congratulations to friends Eileen and Reid Swanson who also took home their share of hardware.

Vineman 70.3 Results
Howard Goodman places 3rd in the men 65-69
age group. Way to go Howard!
Christy James swims her fastest 1.2, bikes her fastest 56 mile and run her quickest half marathon en route to setting a new half-ironman personal best at the Vineman 70.3!