Gulf Coast Triathlon Expected to Cause Traffic Delays - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Gulf Coast Triathlon Expected to Cause Traffic Delays

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Nearly a thousand athletes and their family and friends are spending the weekend in Panama City Beach. The athletes will be swimming, biking, and running in the 31st Gulf Coast Triathlon.

The Boardwalk Beach Resort on South Thomas Drive is hosting the race. Organizers were putting on some finishing touches on Friday and will complete the rest on Saturday morning.

Race Director Shelly Bramblett says the race takes months to organize, and she's thankful about 2,000 people plan to volunteer throughout the course.

Athletes also spend months training for the triathlon. It consists of a 1.2 mile swim in the Gulf of Mexico, followed by a 56 mile bike ride and ends with a 13.1 mile run. Both bike and run courses start and end at the resort.

The athletes will be sharing the road with drivers. They'll bike on Front Beach Road and Highway 79. Then, they run east through some residential areas to St. Andrew's State Park and back to the resort.

News 13 spoke with the Sheriff's Office Friday afternoon. Deputies and other agencies will be out to help direct traffic on Saturday but ask drivers to be patient and watch for bikers and drivers.

Race organizers say although there will be traffic delays, it's a small price to pay for the benefit the athletes bring to the community.

"They also bring in a lot of friends and family who like to sneak in a beach vacation while they're here," said Matt Culpepper, with the Boardwalk Beach Resort.

"They eat here. They sleep here, and a lot of times they come here and train in the off season, and then bring income in at that time as well. So the financial impact is about 3 to 4 million dollars each year," said Shelly Bramblett.

The triathlon begins a little after 6:00 on Saturday morning and will last into the afternoon. South Thomas Drive near the Boardwalk Beach Resort will be closed for the finish line.