Bahrain Royals in Local Ironman Competition

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PANAMA CITY BEACH - Nearly 3,000 triathletes are in Panama City Beach for the 15th annual Ironman Florida event.

Many have competed here before, and for others it's their first trip to the Panhandle.

To say the Ironman Florida triathlon is a big deal for Panama City Beach would be an understatement.

Ben Rausa the Ironman Florida Race Director said, "This is Panama City's Super Bowl in the world of triathlons."

It's no wonder it's attracted competitors from all 50 states and 51 countries, including 2 sons of theCrown Prince of Bahrain.

Sheiks Isa Bin Salman Al Khalifa and Mohammed Bin Salman Al Khalifa, and their entourage, landed at the Pensacola Airport Sunday night in their private Boeing 747.

Then they boarded a caravan of black SUV's for the trip to an exclusive South Walton resort.

They both registered for the event Wednesday morning.

Obviously the 2 Sheiks are not your typical Ironman Florida competitors, but race officials say they believe all of those registered are special.

"It's just another athlete trying to accomplish one of the most challenging days of their life," Rausa said.

Other triathletes are welcoming the Sheiks, and plan to treat them just like their other fellow triathletes.

Ironman participant, Rick Brown said, "Everyone here does their own race. They have a good time, they do the best they can. As I imagine that is what they are going to do too."

Others say they aren't surprised to hear about the royal racers.
Another triathlete Jay Munnins, "Gordon Ramsay just did Ironman Hawaii, so there are famous people doing this stuff all the time, but when you do the race, it's the race. They are Saudi Princes' until they do the race then they are just regular triathletes."

The royal visitors will be in the area until November 4th and then they'll head to Nice, France.

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