The Visit Panama City Beach Ironman 70.3 Gulf Coast brings in over 1400 triathletes
PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) -Driving around Panama City Beach Saturday morning may have been difficult as the 39th annual Visit Panama City Beach Ironman 70.3 Gulf Coast kicked off at Edgewater bright and early with the first of over 1400 competitors hitting the water at six a.m.
This triathlon is a little different than the Ironman set November in that it is cut in half, so it is a 1.2-mile swim, with a few participants said the gulf was a little choppy ,followed by a 56-mile bike ride that took participants on a loop up 79 north and back, and then to top it all off, they run half a marathon, 13.1 miles.
The top finisher for today, was Jan Stepinski, who had a 24:47 swim, 2:01:20 bike ride, and a 1:21:13 run, rounding out his total time for today to 3:51:09.
“I’m thrilled to have finished, to be here,” said Stepinski. “I came here off of an injury. I wasn’t sure how it’d go at all, and it’s really hot here, unlike where I’ve come from from California. I didn’t know what to expect with that either. I’m thrilled to have had such a good race. Florida is awesome.”
The female top finisher for today, was Florida native, Chelsea Hollingsworth-Barnhill. She finished today with a 29:19 swim, 2:35:32 bike ride, and a 1:26:30 run, making her total today, 4:37:58.
Chelsea, a little emotional, as this was her first half ironman ever, and she had no idea she was the top female finisher! This was also her first half Ironman with her husband, something she said made it even more special.
It’s truly a gift from God to be able to come here and be able to compete like this,” said Hollingsworth-Barnhill. “Honestly, it’s my faith that gets me through races like this because I know that he gives me the strength that I don’t realize that I have, and that was today. Winning overall today, that is not my own strength. That’s God’s strength through me, so it’s really special to feel that. It’s very encouraging.”
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