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Visit Panama City Beach Ironman 70.3 Gulf Coast set for this weekend

Published: May. 4, 2022 at 7:27 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) -The Visit Panama City Beach Ironman 70.3 Gulf Coast, or what used to be known as the Gulf Coast Triathlon, is set for Saturday.

That event has survived both a hurricane and COVID in recent years, but continues on strong. Though the dark cloud of the pandemic is no longer hanging over it, the event has adapted to an endemic with carryover protocols!

“Absolutely, we’re still planning, and we’ve learned a lot from our previous experiences over the year,” said race director, Ben Rausa. “And we’ve absolutely implemented some of our practices during the COVID and applied them to current day, which has worked out really well for us.”

Perhaps the biggest change that has carried over, one that very much seems racer friendly.

" Our most favorite thing is we now register per appointment,” said Rousa. “So we built in this timeline for us so we can handle everybody accordingly. And process them through. And that was a direct practice from COVID where we had only limited space, limited people, and limited time to get them through. So now we’ve applied that. And it’s worked out very well and the athletes, I think, like it.”

It’s a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and 13.1 mile run, add those numbers up and you get 70.3. hence the name.

The event, which began in the early 80′s as the Gulf Coast Triathlon, changed owners back in 2016, and with two thousand plus expected this weekend, at 40 years old, the event seems stronger than ever.

“Gulf Coast Tri was one of the first in the country 70.3. Run by a local council, board,” said Rausa. “A nonprofit, it was a great thing for our community. And as the industry goes, they started losing their numbers. And they didn’t have as {LAST MAY} many resources as we (Ironman Corp.) had. The reason that they brought IronMan Florida to this race was partially due it was already an established location and we piggybacked on the Gulf Coast (Triathlon). And we became partners then. Unofficial partners if you will. And eventually like I said, numbers were suffering for Gulf Coast. And I think in 2016 Ironman purchased it. And we were able to bring it back and revive it. 1000 athletes overnight basically for the first year that we had it.”

The race headquarters are now at the Edgewater Beach Resort, the swim begins on the beach there, with the finish line on the front side of the resort. It all gets going at 5:45 Saturday morning.

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