Manitoba Triathletes Victor Bargen & Jordie Moryl Plan their Escape!

Escape from Alcatraz is one of the most storied events in our sport, perhaps because it’s just such a great story.  How did anyone escape this prison?  The waters are freezing.  The currents are strong.  The distance is intimidating… and if you somehow get through all that, you’ve only just gotten to shore!  How could anyone possibly keep going?

The Escape Alcatraz Triathlon includes a 2.4km swim, a hilly 28km cycle followed by an 13km run that includes the 400-step dreaded sand ladder at kilometer 10.

It’s an awesome challenge and one that Manitobans Victor Bargen & Jordie Moryl will be taking on this weekend.

Here are there stories…


I did my first triathlon in 1987 in Morden Manitoba (Tin Man) when a good running friend of mine challenged me.  I dusted off my used 10-speed bike that was quietly resting in my basement, bought some swimming goggles and started a vigorous training regime that focused primarily on pizza and beer.  I finished that first race both exhausted and euphoric.  There was something about combining three sports that hooked me.

As I approached my 60th birthday, I looked at setting new fitness goals.  I wanted to challenge myself.

While on a romantic getaway to San Francisco last year, my wife and I took a tour of the iconic Alcatraz Island.  The Alcatraz Island claim to fame was that no one could escape because of the freezing cold water, killer currents and man-eating sharks.  On the ferry ride back to the mainland, I noticed poster advertising the world famous “Escape Alcatraz Island” triathlon that attracted 2000 athletes annually.  It was so popular you had to apply through a lottery system and hope that you would be selected.  The idea of jumping into the San Francisco Bay at Alcatraz Island, swimming to shore and then cycling through San Francisco was intriguing.

After ensuring that my life insurance policy was in good standing, I convinced my stepson, Jordie Moryl, by rhetorically asking “what could go wrong?”  We submitted our names to the lottery and hoped.

I have been training with determination since November 20, 2018.  I would like to thank Bikes and Beyond, Wanda Mathers, my nutritionist, Tori Waytt, and my swim coach Norm at Windburn for great advice and encouragement.  A special note of gratitude is directed to Dave Lipchen at Windburn Triathlon who views me as an “interesting project”.

Escape Alcatraz – what could go wrong?


I was first attracted to the sport of triathlon after watching my stepfather Victor Bargen compete in the summer of 2017.  If you had asked me prior to this if I had ever thought about competing in triathlon, I would have answered “Heck no.”  After seeing how much fun he was having, I made the decision to dive in headfirst.

In the fall of 2017, I made the commitment to start training.  I can recall my first swim practice vividly, feeling like I was going to pass out after only 25 meters.  Flash forward to today, I have completed two Olympic distance and one sprint triathlon and am looking forward to competing in this sport for many years to come (even the swimming!)

After learning about the world renowned “Escape Alcatraz Triathlon” from my stepfather, it immediately became a bucket list race for me. We both put our names in for the lottery draw to win spots in the race, thinking we had nothing to lose.  I figured the chances for one of us to be selected were slim at best and for both of us it would be next to impossible.

Then came the email… on lottery day I woke up to a message that read “See you at the Hornblower!”  I thought I was still dreaming.  I could not believe that in my first attempt to earn a spot into this prestigious race, I had been selected!  Then came the bad news, Victor had not received his confirmation.  We crossed our fingers, held our breath and on the second round of the lottery, he secured his spot in the race!  I guess it was meant to be.

Since earning my spot into the race back in October, I have been training hard with my team the Windburn Multisport Academy and my coach Super Dave Lipchen has been doing a great job of whipping me into shape.  Every day I feel more and more prepared to take the plunge off the “Gateway Vessel”, the San Francisco Belle and swim 2.4 km’s back to shore across the San Francisco bay in the frigid 13-degree water.  As for bike and run preparation I have been cycling our “hills” and running the treadmill in a desperate hope to simulate the terrain in San Francisco.  Garbage Hill counts as a hill right?

I would like to thank all my teammates, coaches, family and friends and race partner Victor, as they have all supported me immensely along this journey in preparing for this epic race.  I can’t thank you all enough!  One thing I know for certain is that there has yet to be any Great White sightings in the bay on race day… and I hope that doesn’t change!

If you can’t beat ‘em, make ‘em puke!

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