Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Local Triathlete Escapes Alcatraz

When you first meet Jennifer Burgess Bristow, you wouldn’t think you were having a conversation with an endurance athlete or a stand-in for Wonder Woman. Her slight build and engaging smile tend to disarm you and make you feel right at ease.

Bristow is the mother of two grown children, a daughter who is a graduate of the University of Florida and a son who has just signed re-enlistment papers with the Navy. Her daughter is becoming a long-distance runner in her own right, but she smiles when asked whether her son might follow in her footsteps, just quipping that he enjoys the gym.

Bristow serves as the Fitness and Activity Director for Fiddlers Creek. She taught fitness classes at the Marco YMCA before accepting her position at Fiddlers Creek. “I couldn’t do what I do without the support of the staff and the residents who are my cheerleaders,” said Bristow.

For Bristow, her passion lies in pushing herself to the max in whatever she undertakes. She couldn’t have found a more appropriate way to do that than participating in San Francisco’s Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon event held in June.

She described the event as one of the “iconic” experiences for those that participate in the sport.

The course itself involves a 1.5-mile swim in the chilly waters of San Francisco Bay, followed by an 18-mile race on bikes and finally an 8-mile run to the finish line. Many of us remember watching the 1979 movie where Clint Eastwood engineers an escape from the “escape proof” prison located on the barren rock formation in San Francisco Bay.

To participate in the Alcatraz event, athletes must first submit an application and then be chosen through a lottery process, insuring after vetting there will be a workable group for the event organizers to deal with. Bristow said 10,000 people register and only 2,000 are chosen to participate in the event.

Part of the road race involves climbing over 200 loosely packed sand steps on the grueling ascent to where they would shed their wet suits and saddle up on their bikes for the next 18 miles. “I was so happy to see Leroy,” Bristow’s affectionate name for her Trek Racing Bike. The bike itself had been shipped out to San Francisco for the event. She was even happier to see it return to Naples 10-12 days after the event.

When you question her regarding her times, she is reluctant to brag about her accomplishments, which were extremely respectable. “I really was quite pleased with all my times, although I think I was a little weak on the run, but will work on that,” said Bristow with her infectious smile. Her time was quite respectable at 3 hours, 18 minutes, 45 seconds.

She placed 13 in her division of 60; 109 out of 398 women; and 743 out of 1,722 participants who finished the race.

She’ll be continuing her training, this time for IRONMAN 70.3 in Augusta, Georgia which will be held in late September, and then her last big event will be IRONMAN FLORIDA in Panama City Beach.

In the long term she is looking at finishing 12 IRONMAN contests which would qualify her as a “legacy” for the World Triathlon Contest in Kona, Hawaii sometime in the future.

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