Ironman Hits Panama City Beach

By: Adam Roland
By: Adam Roland

What a beautiful day it was for the Ford Ironman Florida. The temperature was perfect for the more than 2,300 tri-athletes competing in the event. The elite pros hit the water at 6:50 Saturday morning and were followed by the rest of the field at 7 o'clock.

Conditions were a little rough in the Gulf for the 2.4 mile swim. Jan Rafael of Germany led the pros out of the water after two loops. As for the women, Andrea Fisher out of Austin, Texas had the lead.

Then the competitors hit the transition and got ready to take on a 112-mile bike going from the beach north on State Road 79, east to 77 and back to the beach. And the two who led out of the water led the way to the run. Rafael and Fisher were first off the bike. They put on their running shoes as they try to tame the final stretch of Ironman Florida, the 26.2 mile run, that's a marathon for anyone who's wondering.

What a tough way to finish, but the conditions were favorable and the flat course allowed for the Rafael to come across the finish line first in a time of 8 hours, 22 minutes and 44 seconds. This is his first Ironman as the career short distance tri-athlete came through big.

It didn't take long for Scotland's Bella Comerford to take the lead in the marathon and go on to win her fourth Ironman Florida. What an amazing feat as Comerford finished in a time of 9 hours, 28 minutes and 28 seconds.


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