The third-oldest North American race, IRONMAN Florida began in November 1999 and takes place in Panama City Beach, which is renowned for its pristine beaches with sugar-white sand and moderate fall temperatures. It's a perfect time of year to visit northwest Florida while the summer season winds down. The event is as much a destination vacation as it is a race.
Waters are typically in the mid 70's, allowing athletes to wear wetsuits and the two-loop swim course allows spectators a bird's eye view of the entire course.
After exiting the water athletes are challenged by a fast, flat, one-loop bicycle course. The flat terrain pushes the body in way most athletes are not accustomed to - the absence of rolling hills or steep inclines forces you to be in control of your body to maintain a consistent pace. Winds are typically light in the morning, but become more challenging late in the day. With daylight savings time beginning the following day, early sunset reminds athletes that the bicycle cut off is soon approaching.
The two-loop run course, while flat, has many turns throughout the local neighborhoods. It is a very spectator friendly area where thousands of residents and visitors alike come out in their yards for a fall get together while supporting the competitors. The course also takes you through scenic St. Andrew's State Park. This area is a favorite portion the course with its shaded areas and plenty of wild life. After the second loop, athletes round the last corner for the the final quarter mile to the finish, all the while feeling the the excitement and the enthusiasm of the finish line crowd.
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