PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) – The 2021 Visit Panama City Beach Ironman 70.3 Gulf Coast was held at the Edge Water Beach and Golf Resort on Saturday morning.
Nearly 1,400 triathletes from all over the world were in competition for the 39th annual Ironman 70.3 Gulf Coast race.
Jan Stepinski, a California man, came out victorious by dominating the swim and bike, and coasted though the run, completing the race in 03:51:09, over 12 minute faster than second place finisher.
“I mean my goal was to get out there and enjoy myself, you never really know what to expect,” Stepinski said. “Of course I push myself as hard as I can, and again, coming off of injury, I didn’t want to overcook it on the run so, once I kind of scoped out the situation on the first lap I just paced myself and enjoyed it out there and brought it home.”
For the female racers, Chelsea Hollingsworth-Barnhill took first place with an overall time of 04:37:58.
“You know, this is honestly just like a gift,” Barnhill said. “Just being able to come out here and swim and bike and run, I know there’s so many people that would love to be doing this, and it’s truly a gift.”
But today’s race held extra significance for Barnhill, as she and her husband both conquered the 70.3 triathlon race.
“So we saw each other in transition, we took off on the bike, he passed me on the bike and he just gave me some encouraging words,” Barnhill said. “I was like, my husband is out here doing this, I can do it, like got to keep pushing myself.”
Stepinski has completed nearly a dozen ironman races worldwide, but instead of pride, the triathlete showed gratitude.
“I’m just grateful for everything, my coach for preparing me,” Stepinski said. “Thank you. That’s all I can say. It’s amazing. I love these races.”
Stepinski finished the swim first overall with a time of 00:24:47, the bike in first as well at 0:2:01:20, and eased his way to the finish with his 01:21:13 half marathon run.