PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) – Hundreds of triathletes are for the Visit Panama City Beach Ironman 70.3 this weekend.
“This was my first 70.3 seven years ago, so it’s really cool to be back here after not racing for a year and a half. Obviously a little jitters with nerves, but just excited to be back on this course to start it up again,” Zarzaur Law triathlete Laura Brewer said.
Around 1,800 athletes from all over the country are racing on Saturday.
This one is a half Ironman, a 1.2 mile swim, a 56 mile bike ride and a 13.1 mile run.
Race Director Ben Rausa said many athletes love coming out to this course specifically and it’s not as easy as it may look.
“The terrain is flatter than most, the misconception is it’s easier than more races but in a sense it’s not because you don’t have the hills to climb which are kinda automatic when you process it. You have to focus mentally in your head to keep pedaling on a flat terrain or you aren’t going anywhere,” Rausa said.
For some of the athletes there, it’s their first very first Ironman, but for others, they are doing the course once again.
“The people are amazing, I feel like every triathlete, they literally just love people, they are dedicated and they’re encouraging. So I love that about the sport that it’s comradery especially in this time of COVID it’s just nice to be back with our fellow athletes to do this together,” Brewer said.
While the Ironman 70.3 seems intimidating to those who see it, the athletes competing in it come from all walks of life, all fitness levels and all ages.
“I would just encourage anybody that spectators that are out there seeing people thinking that’s just a crazy thing to do they don’t think they can do it. Anybody can do it. There’s so much magic that happens on the other side of fear and just taking that leap of faith and trying it you’ll probably get addicted so,” Gulf Winds Triathletes president Tina Bahmer said.
The race starts tomorrow morning at 6 a.m. on the beach behind Edgewater Resort.
To see the race map and road closures, click here.