KINGMAN - It was a race that would have challenged even Olympian Michael Phelps. Four residents from Kingman braved 60-degree and open water to participate in the 6th Annual Alcatraz 100 "Swim with the Centurions" on July 26.
Leslie Martin, a surgical nurse at Kingman Regional Medical Center; Ellen Boyer, a nursing anesthetist at Doctors Surgery Center of Kingman; Matt Hoyng, an engineer from JM Manufacturing; and Russ Eidman, aquatics manager and the coach for the Kingman Dolphins Swim Team, all participated in the race.
All four said the race was quite the experience. They rode a ferry, along with more than 300 other swimmers, out to a point just off the coast of Alcatraz Island.
Hoyng and Eidman were registered as elite swimmers and jumped, with 20 other elite swimmers, off the back of a smaller boat alongside the ferry.
Eidman struggled at the beginning of the race. "I always have a hard time catching my breath at the beginning of an open swim," he said. "I could see Matt (Hoyng) way ahead of me."
Halfway through the race, Eidman looked up and Hoyng was nowhere to be seen. He figured Hoyng was so far ahead of him he couldn't see him.
Eidman started to worry more the closer he got to the seawall entrance that signaled the end of the race.
"I didn't think I passed him, and I couldn't see him ahead of me anymore," he said.
Hoyng said he had a great start and was well in front of Eidman, when he looked up and realized the current had taken him well off his planned course.
"I wasn't even exhausted," Hoyng said about the race. "I was more mad about being so off course."
Martin and Boyer's problems started at the beginning of the race. The two women didn't jump in the water until 15 minutes after the race had started.
The women were part of a long line of swimmers who jumped one by one from the side of the ferry into the cold water.
Martin had some trouble with the current but finished with a decent time. Boyer's goal was just to finish the race. She was concerned on the ferry out that she would not be able to finish because race officials would pull her from the water for swimming too slowly.
She voiced her concerns to one older gentleman as the ferry reached the jumping off point. "He told me not to worry and that he would tell them to let me finish," she said.
Race organizers have a group of kayakers shadow the swimmers just in case.
As Boyer dropped further and further behind, the kayakers began to form up around her. They gave her tips to keep on course in the strong current and teased her a little about being late. "I gave as good as I got," she said with a smile. "I was almost the last person in."
What Boyer and Martin didn't realize was the man Boyer had spoken to on the ferry was completing his 100th swim of the race and this would be the last time the race would finish at this particular spot on the shore. The city plans to renovate the seawalls and the park on the shore. "He was waiting for me inside the seawall," she said. "As we got closer to the shore, he said, 'You go first.'"
He wanted to be the last person out of the water that year, so he could celebrate his 100th swim and the last finish at that park, she said.
Eidman and Hoyng finished eighth and ninth in their division, 18th and 23rd in the race overall and first in the team race. Martin finished 122 out of 170. Boyer is not listed on the race's results page.
Eidman, Hoyng and Martin said they would probably swim the race again. "I want to do it just to see what would have happened if I had not gotten so far off course," Hoyng said.
Boyer said she might consider it but probably wouldn't do it again. She put the race on her "bucket list" just to see if she could do it. "I've got other things I want to do," she said with a smile.