Panama City Beach - Triathletes are already starting to show up in Panama City Beach for Saturday’s 13th annual Florida Ironman. 2,500 people have entered and race officials say it's a huge boost to the local economy. The Florida Ironman is a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride and a 26.2 mile run, but the those numbers pale in comparison to the amount of money those athletes will spend here this weekend.
They come from 49 states, 37 countries and they range in age from 18 to 82. All hoping to conquer one of the most grueling triathlons in the world, the Ironman Florida. While most of the competitors have traveled to get here, some are local. Jacob Hensz is an F-22 pilot stationed at Tyndall Air Force Base. He says his military background has helped him with training.
"That mentality will come with me in the triathlon nobody wants to suck and that's really what it comes down too," said Hensz.
As far as local business owners are concerned, all the athletes are winners. The Ironman is expected to pump between 7 and 10 million dollars into the local economy.
"It's a great opportunity for us to show off to the world a beautiful place we have the destination that we have here in Panama City," said Ben Rausa, Ironman Director.
Ironman Florida race directors won't have long to rest after Saturday’s race. They say they'll start planning next year's event on Sunday. They say the sign-up list will already be filled.