Young triathlete aiming to build on last year’s Escape 

Racing in the June 5 Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon will mark the end of a busy week for Sherry Sanders.

It’s the final week of the school year for the Sequoia High School sophomore, who turned 16 Saturday. In addition to preparing for exams and Tuesday’s driver’s license test, Sanders will step up her training for the triathlon that begins with a leap into San Francisco Bay off a boat next to Alcatraz.

Her strongest event is the swimming portion of the race. Sanders completed the 1½-mile swim in
33 minutes, 42 seconds last year in her first-ever full triathlon.

“I had done the swim once, so I knew what to expect. I gave some people advice on the boat ride out as I had seen my dad do the race before,” said Sanders, the youngest of last year’s 2,000 entrants. “You jump off the boat and you just have to move or people will jump on you.”

The second leg of the race, an 18-mile bike ride, represents Sanders’ greatest challenge in the event, but she’s confident that conditioning from this season’s NorCal Crew experience will result in an improved time from last year’s 1:38:46.

Sanders’ 8-mile run through the Golden Gate Recreation Area trails should also show marked improvement from last year’s time of 1:33:44 as she was a member of the Sequoia cross-country team that made it to the CCS sectionals for the first time in school history.

Running was Sanders’ entrée into athletics. As a child, she would join her father, John, for jogs near their home in Emerald Hills, a semi-rural unincorporated section of Redwood City. When Dad would sign up for triathlons, Sanders would tag along and participate in the kids’ events and later the sprint triathlons.

John Sanders has since moved from triathlons to Iron Man competitions; he remains his daughter’s coach, and with mom Carol, her biggest fan.

“She’s inherited the crazy gene from me,” John said of Sherry, his eldest of two daughters. “I’m thrilled that she enjoys doing it and likes pushing herself. I try to facilitate and encourage it and provide whatever motivation and assistance I can.”

The 5-foot-9, 150-pound rower, cross-country runner and triathlete is determined to join her dad in future Iron Man competitions, but the minimum age is 18 for the events that include 2.4-mile swims, 112-mile bike rides, and 26.2 mile runs.

“I just love doing these sports. I like working hard, and I like the feeling I get,” Sanders said. “I like being good at something.”


31st Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon

When: June 5, 8 a.m. plunge from Alcatraz

Fitness Festival: Opens at 6:30 a.m. at Marina Green

Sherry Sanders: One of the youngest racers this year.


The Elite Triathletes

Men: Andy Potts, 2007-09 winner, attempting a return to victory after a third-place finish in 2010.

Women: Defending champion Leanda Cave seeks her fourth trip to the winner’s podium.

Event info:

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David Liepman

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