Swim Canceled, Race Continues in 32nd Gulf Coast Triathlon

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PANAMA CITY BEACH - Triathletes were set to go for their 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride, and 13.1 run Saturday morning for the Gulf Coast Triathlon. But what they wouldn't get to take part in was their swim.

Red flags and dangerous waters kept the competitors out of the Gulf for the first time in the 32 year history of the Gulf Coast Triathlon, so they opted for a beach run instead of the 1.2 mile swim, and went straight to the bikes.

That's where the field hit the pavement on Highway 79, working their way to and from Boardwalk.

Right after they finished and hopped off the bikes, they put their running shoes on for the half marathon.

Without the swim, the race isn't technically a half triathlon, but the winners regardless, Andrew Hodges from Huntsville, Alabama and Kirsten Sass of McKenzie, Tennessee.

Despite not getting the swim, some of the top finishers echoed the sentiments of many of the competitors that they were just excited to be apart of the event.

"This year, I'm trying to get that magic back and it's just harder the older you get," said Caroline Smith, who took fifth place in the women's race and is a three time champ, "but it's so fun and I love the Gulf Coast Triathlon. I love coming to Panama City Beach. It's just a great experience."

"It's a great event, a great local event, and I'm happy with the results", said 4th place male finisher Michael Curtin. "definitely a strong bike, a pretty decent run, I'm happy with it. And now I've got Worlds in Canada in September. It's not a lot of racing, just a lot of training."

Here are the top five overall finishers for the women's race:

1 Kirsten Sass 35 McKenzie, TN 3:55:10
2 Jennifer Vogel 33 Jacksonville, FL 4:14:03
3 Lori Vonpingel 29 Birmingham, AL 4:15:33
4 Julia Worden 39 Ocala, FL 4:21:12
5 Caroline Smith 43 Mandeville, LA 4:22:17

Men's top five finishers:

1 Andrew Hodges 31 Huntsville, AL 3:41:58
2 Jeffrey Shelley Jr. 29 Hoover, AL 3:50:01
3 Christopher Borden 35 Haleyville, AL 3:51:39
4 Michael Curtin 29 Panama City, FL 3:53:45
5 Allen Stanfield 34 Gulfport, MS 3:54:33