Off the Clock: SOM Professor Proves Escape from Alcatraz Just Takes Some Endurance

Posted: August 20, 2004 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Tara Laskowski

With thousands of people watching and his family cheering him on, Allen Hughes successfully escaped from Alcatraz and was rewarded-not arrested-when his tired feet finally came to rest. On June 6, Hughes, visiting assistant professor in the School of Management, was one of 1,500 people who participated in the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon in San Francisco, Calif.-just three years after his second hip replacement surgery.

Allen Hughes

The Escape from Alcatraz race consists of a 1.5-mile swim in the San Francisco Bay, an 18-mile bike ride, and an 8-mile run/walk. Participants leap off a ferry into the San Francisco Bay near Alcatraz Island and begin their “escape” to mainland. Hughes was most worried about the swim portion of the race-the bay temperature being around 55 to 57 degrees at that time of year-but his training and the luck of fairly calm waters that day made the swim easier than he expected. “You just have to jump off the boat and go for it,” he says. “So I did.”

This particular race had caught his attention because he used to live in San Francisco and it sounded like a fun premise for a triathlon. He also wanted to bring his family to California and show his 23-year-old son his birthplace.

However, because the race is very popular, the participant slots fill up quickly and Hughes thought it would take him a few years to be able to enter. He entered his name in the lottery, not expecting to be chosen. “I thought one of these years my name would come up,” he said. And it did-the first time he entered! “Then when it came up, I thought, ‘Oh, will I be ready in time?'”

A champion track and cross country athlete in college, Hughes has always had a passion for running. Small injuries and joint and tendon problems forced him to stop running for many years after he completed three marathons, and eventually led to hip replacement surgery three and five years ago. Recovering from his surgery, Hughes wanted to get in shape again and joined the Masters Swim Team at George Mason.

It was by swimming and cycling at his health club that he began to think about competing in triathlons. In the past 2 years, Hughes has participated in more than 10 triathlons, 8 of those in the last year. He also participates in metric century bike rides (62 miles) with a local cycling club.

Hughes finished the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon in 44th place out of 48 in his age group, and finished in 1,196th place overall with a time of 3:41:08.

After escaping from the famed prison, Hughes has moved on to other triathlons. In September, he will participate in Reston’s triathlon and in the Make-A-Wish Foundation’s race at Bethany Beach.

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