To quote Clint Eastwood's character in Escape From Alcatraz, "I always wanted to see San Francisco, but never like this." That notion seems lost on the 1,400 or so participants who will navigate the subcomfy bay waters during the Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon.
Not only are these athletes paying for the privilege, but also, upon hitting dry land after the mile-and-a-half swim in 55-degree waters, they're choosing -- choosing! -- to bike 18 miles and then take a leisurely eight-mile jog all over tarnation. Chances are, famed escapee Frank Morris never attempted anything remotely like this on that bone-chilling night in 1962.
If you're not up for that three-fer, join the 18,000-plus expected spectators along the course as it winds its way around the bay -- from Marina Green through the Presidio and the Richmond, down the Great Highway to Golden Gate Park, and back, then round-trip to Baker Beach (and the dreaded sand ladder) for the final footrace. Top 2002 finalists Michellie Jones, Chris McCormack, Marc Lees, and others battle esteemed pros for Ironman dominance. (If you had planned on driving a car around town today, don't. Just don't.) Watch crazy people escape the inescapable at 8 a.m. Admission is free; visit www.tricalifornia.com/alcatraz/2003 for course info.
-- Kevin Chanel
Field of Dreams
Sneak a peek at the Giants
Every baseball fan dreams of catching a fly ball. (Just ask Patrick Hayashi and Alex Popov, the two guys who caught Barry Bonds' record-setting 73rd home run ball on Oct. 7, 2001, and who haggled over ownership rights for a year and a half.) Outdoors Unlimited's new series of guided sea kayak tours might just make that fantasy a reality. The company's Mission Bay - S.F. Giants Paddles are scheduled to coincide with the team's home games. The rides start with a quick lesson, followed by a relaxed tour of the waterfront. Sights include close-ups of Navy ships, but the real highlight is the chance to put on your catcher's mitt and maybe witness a Bonds splashdown up close. Reservations are required. The trips are scheduled through Sept. 18 and depart from the Bay View Boat Club, 489 China Basin (aka Terry Francois Boulevard). Tickets are $42-60; call 476-2078 or visit www.outdoors.ucsf.edu/ou.
-- Lisa Hom
Man's Best Friend
No need to pack light during these llama-guided treks
Llamas make better travel companions than most people do -- they're soft and cute, and will carry your gear without whining. So if you need an outdoorsy break from humankind, check out the East Bay's Llama Day Hikes.
Experienced tour guides bring a herd of these beasts of burden on the four- to six-mile treks, and hikers get to handle, guide, and care for the critters along the way. If you pack an enormous lunch, don't worry -- the fluffy creatures will carry it for you (but watch out for those big teeth). Trips depart at 10 a.m. from the Redwood Gate at the main entrance of Redwood Regional Park, 7867 Redwood Rd., Oakland. Registration is $35; call (510) 636-1684 or visit www.ebparks.org.
-- Jack Karp
The Walking Undead
Mina Harker, the vampire whose "making" is chronicled in Bram Stoker's novel Dracula, leads the Vampire Tour of Nob Hill every Friday and Saturday night. Harker's alter ego, Kitty Burns, wrote the historically accurate descriptions of eight Gothic landmarks. Meet her at 8 p.m. at the corner of California and Taylor streets. Admission is $20; call (650) 279-1840 to reserve your spot, or visit www.sfvampiretour.com.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser