Most Underrated Triathlon?

By Pete Williams

Enjoying a 'Gulf Coast' bargain

The Gulf Coast Triathlon, by all accounts, is a well-run event. There’s 29 years of history behind it, a wonderful Panama City Beach setting, and a price point ($175 to $225 depending on how far in advance you register) that’s among the lowest in the industry for a half-Iron distance.

Best of all, you can register for the May 7 event via mail, saving yourself the inevitable Active.com online registration ransom of $25 or so.

What’s not to like? I guess if you’re hell-bent on having the World Triathlon Corp.’s Ironman 70.3 branding associated with your effort, you won’t like Gulf Coast. I guess if you don’t mind paying an extra $100 for a 70.3 event between entry fees and Active.com registration surcharges that make Tickemaster.com look both inexpensive and user-friendly, then Gulf Coast is not for you.

I have no connection to the Gulf Coast Triathlon. I’ve never raced it, don’t know the organizers. Heck, I’ve lived in Florida 13 years and have never even been to Panama City Beach. But I hear great things about the race. Completing a half Ironman (or half Iron as WTC insists such non-affiliated events be called) should be about finishing the distance, not the opportunity to pay even more for merchandise with an IM logo.

If I wasn’t so behind on my training already, I’d make a run at Gulf Coast. Maybe next year. I’m sure it will continue to be the best value in triathlon in 2012…so long as WTC does not buy it.

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