Thanks to a beautiful seashore and perfect temperatures, IRONMAN Florida is a magnet for triathletes and their families.
One of the most storied North American races, IRONMAN Florida began in November, 1999. It takes place in Panama City Beach, which is known for pristine beaches and moderate fall temperatures. Just as the summer season winds down, it's the perfect time of year to visit northwest Florida—and the event is as much a destination vacation as it is a race.
The swim takes place in the Gulf of Mexico, where athletes will have a short beach run in between laps. Waters are typically in the mid 70’s, allowing triathletes to wear wetsuits. The two-loop swim course gives spectators a bird's eye view of the entire course.
After exiting the water, athletes are challenged by a fast, flat, one-loop bicycle course. The terrain pushes the body in way that most athletes are not accustomed to: the absence of rolling hills or steep inclines forces consistent pacing. Winds are typically light in the morning, but become more challenging later in the day. With daylight savings time beginning the following day, early sunset reminds athletes that the bicycle cut-off is soon approaching.
The two-loop run course, while flat, has many turns throughout the local neighborhoods. In the spectator-friendly area, thousands of residents and visitors emerge for fall get-togethers while supporting the competitors. The course also winds through St. Andrew’s State Park, a favorite among participants for its shaded areas and wildlife. After the second loop, athletes round the last corner for the the final quarter mile to the finish.