Karl completes Escape from Alcatraz

A Great Yarmouth businessman has successfully completed one of the toughest and most notorious triathlon events in the world, the annual Escape from Alcatraz.

Pasta Foods managing director Karl Jermyn had to swim a mile and a half across San Francisco Bay from the legendary island prison and then cycle 18 miles and run another eight.

Even though his sponsored effort will raise hundreds of pounds for Great Yarmouth charity Centre 81, 40-year-old Karl admitted that he would have taken up the challenge for nothing.

“I’ve been in triathlons before. I like setting a goal, pushing the boundaries and seeing what you can achieve,” he said.

That attitude is also important to members of Centre, 81 - where he is a trustee - which supports people with physical and other disabilities and helps focus on their abilities rather than disabilities. He was delighted that his achievement helped their 30th anniversary appeal.

The swim from Alcatraz to the shore, something never successfully achieved by a prison inmate in its 29-year history, was the toughest obstacle.

“Once, it was thought to be impossible and the adrenaline kicks in when you plunge into icy waters with strong swirling currents and the potential for sharks,” said Karl. “Not everyone makes it. There are about 100 small craft standing by to help in an emergency.

“At first, it is silent. Then you hear the announcer on the far side encouraging swimmers ashore. Then you hear the cheers of the crowd and see the shore and that spurred me on.

“I had trained hard and always thought I would make it but it was a mixture of relief and joy to get there.”

There was no time to rest; he then had the gruelling cycling stage around the steep, undulating streets of San Francisco, followed by the demanding run, a mile of it on sand.

“Having completed the swim, nothing was going to stop me. Most of the 2,000 competitors are American and as I approached the finishing line it was brilliant to hear the announcer calling my name from Norwich, England.”

Karl clocked 3hr 53m 25s for the event, just under an hour of it on the swim. Afterwards, he received a medal, a recovery drink and, appropriate to his day job, a pasta meal.

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