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Making history in the Visit Panama City Beach IRONMAN triathlon

Published: Oct. 29, 2020 at 8:21 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - A 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, and a 26.2-mile run is what participants will be taking on at the Visit Panama City Beach IRONMAN Triathlon.

"Our job, to be blunt, is to open up opportunities for everyone and people, said The IRONMAN Group Chief Operating Officer Shane Facteau. “This is a very unique and challenging event.”

One participant, in particular, Chris Nikic out of Maitland, Florida, will be the first person with Down Syndrome to compete in this full-distance IRONMAN triathlon.

“Dad wanted me to be happy and be included and be around other people,” said Chris Nikic. “We picked triathlon so we could get in shape together. Triathlon races are so much fun and the people are so amazing.”

Nik Nikic, Chris' father, knew training for any long-distance race would be difficult, so he encouraged Chris to just be “one percent better” every day, which is a slogan he now lives by.

“So, we came up with this concept of just get a little better today than yesterday,” said Nik Nikic. “We made it a permanent habit, a lifestyle habit, that he’s going to do for the rest of his life.”

Chris hasn’t gone through the training alone. His training partner, who will compete in the race with him, says Chris has taught him more than he could ever teach him.

“One of the most magical things that has happened to me is that I’ve been able to be introduced into this world,” said Chris' training partner Dan Grieb. “In this world, I’ve learned that a hug can solve a lot of problems and some of the greatest among us are labeled with words like disability.”

The race will take place on November 7th and Chris looks forward to sharing a 6-pack with his dad after he reaches his goal of finishing the race.

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