Greenwich resident Roos successfully ‘Escapes’ from Alcatraz

Greenwich resident Marilyn Roos competes in the bicycle portion of the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon.

Greenwich resident Marilyn Roos competes in the bicycle portion of the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon.

When it comes to pushing herself, it’s hard to find someone who has as much fun as Marilyn Roos.

Plus the fact that she’s stretching her limits for worthy causes makes it all the more enjoyable for the Greenwich resident.

“I enjoy pushing myself,” said Roos, who has been competing in triathlons for over a decade. “I love the adrenaline rush, being around the athletes and raising money for a good cause. Overall, it’s a really happy thing for me.”

After months of preparation, Roos boarded a plane for the City by the Bay and competed in the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon on June 1.

Roos was in San Francisco competing against current and former Olympians, world champions and top amateur triathletes from around the globe.

“I was like euphoric when I crossed the finish line,” Roos said. “I was exhausted. It’s a lot of work, a lot of expense to compete in these events and a lot of training to get into shape for this event. There is such a feeling of accomplishment and pride for participating in something so arduous when you cross the finish line.”

She finished event 1,467th overall, posting a time of 4:15:43. Her time to complete the swim portion was 45:48, while it took Roos 1:25:27 to finish the bike portion. When it came to the run, Roos took home a time of 1:47:04.

“I have been doing triathlons for over 10 years and it’s the toughest triathlon that I’ve ever done,” Roos said. “Escape from Alcatraz is a really tough race. It is very rewarding when you finish it and it’s nice to have the bragging rights, but it’s extremely difficult.”

The day for Roos was a long one. Starting at Marina Green in San Francisco, the competitors are bused to a pier at 5:30 a.m.

From there it’s on to the San Francisco Belle Ferry, where Roos and 2,000 of her closest friends took the 7:30 a.m. plunge into the waters adjacent to Alcatraz Island.

Marilyn Roos enjoying her time during the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon.

Marilyn Roos enjoying her time during the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon.

Once the 1.5-mile swim was complete and Roos was at the St. Francis Yacht Club, the athletes hopped on their bikes at the Marina Green for the 18-mile ride that included a stop through the Golden Gate Park.

After the bike portion was complete, a tired Roos darted eight miles for a run that finished at Baker Beach Battery.

“The swim is incredibly tough,” Roos said. “I was a swimmer in college and I love to swim, so the swim is my strength, but it’s extremely tough to swim that leg of the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon. It’s the hardest swim I’ve ever done.

“The bike ride is shorter than usual triathlons, but it’s really hilly,” added Roos. “The run is also difficult because at four miles, you’re running on soft sand for a mile. At mile five, you’re pulling yourself up 400 sand stairs and then there’s still another three miles to go.”

Although the swimming portion of the Escape from Alcatraz was quite challenging, Roos admitted that it was also her favorite part of the event.

“I was the happiest with the swim,” Roos said. “It was the most difficult but I was the happiest with it. I thought I did really well there, despite the challenges.”

With the swimming at the top of her list, Roos said that if she does the event again, there’s definitely still room for improvement.

“I want to do a lot better when it comes to the running portion,” Roos said. “Running is my weakest point and I just keep on getting slower and older. I feel good and really proud of my swim and the bike I could have been in a little better hill shape, but I definitely think I need to improve on my running.”

All the hard work and dedication that goes into her Escape from Alcatraz performance is for a very worthy cause. Roos first did this triathlon two years ago. Both times she competed for B*Cured, a volunteer non-profit organization based in Greenwich that is working to find a cure for brain cancer by providing grants for innovative brain cancer research.

B*Cured was founded by two of Roos’s good friends who both have lost a close family member to brain cancer.

“I feel good about raising money for something that affects people that I know,” Roos said. “I have been doing triathlons for 10 years, most of which I have raised money for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I did my first triathlon just before my 40th birthday in Memphis because my father passed away from lymphoma when I was 16. When I saw that I could train for something, get into good shape, lose a little weight and raise money for something, I thought it was the perfect trifecta. Triathlons have always been about raising money.”

While competing in a triathlon is certainly a long day at the office, Roos had a plethora of help along the way.

This year, Roos’s boyfriend, Mark Sumeray, did the running portion of Escape from Alcatraz. John Martin, Roos’s best friend from college, along with Martin’s wife Michele, came up from Santa Barbara, Calif., to compete in the swim and bike portions of the competition, respectively.

“It was great having them be there for me,” Roos said. “They each did a leg of the triathlon and all raised money for B*Cured. It was their first time ever doing any kind of race. I think they have true appreciation for what I’ve been doing for the past 10 years.”

Training for the Escape from Alcatraz was no picnic for her. She worked out five to six times a week, usually focusing on one or two of the triathlon events at a time.

“I definitely did at least one of the events per training session,” she said. “Some times I did two or all three.”

The thrill of competition is nothing new to Roos.

In the past she has participated in the St. Anthony’s Triathlon in St. Petersburg, Fla., nine times, the Westchester Triathlon in Rye, N.Y. eight times, The Nation’s Triathlon in Washington, D.C., and the Timberman Half Ironman in Guilford, N.H., to name a few.

Just recently Roos completed the Stamford KIC-IT triathlon, an event that benefits Kids in Crisis.

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