Ironman 70.3 Panama 2014 featured a sold-out field and a great day of racing on Sunday February 16 in Panama City.
It was just the third running of this WTC event, but it has already become very popular among pro and age-group athletes alike and the 2014 edition was billed as the Latin American Ironman 70.3 Championship.
The field of pro triathletes doubled in size from 2013 and there were no clear cut favorites as there were several pros entered in the race who were capable of challenging for the win.
There is also an unknown quantity when it's early in the Ironman season as some pros come ready to race at top level and some prefer to ease into their season.
For the pro men Olympians Javier Gomez and Bevan Docherty figured to be at the front of the pack but they could expect to have plenty of company.
Andrew Starykowicz is one of the fastest ironman cyclists in the world and along with Tim Don, Richie Cunningham, Axel Zeebroek, and Oscar Galindez figured to be in the mix somewhere before the race was in the books.
For the pro women Mary Beth Ellis figured highly but much depended on whether or not she was fully recovered and race fit as she ended the 2013 season with an injury.
Canadians Angela Naeth and Heather Wurtelle and the Wassner Twins Rebeccah and Laurel, were all quite capable of challenging for spot podium spots depending on early season form.
As the race got underway it was Olympian Javier Gomez leading the way out of the 1.2-mile swim by two seconds over Axel Zeebroek.
Fellow Olympian Bevan Docherty was just 19 seconds back in third.
Super cyclist Andrew Starykowicz was just 30 seconds back of the leader and a threat to take the lead early on in the bike.
True to form Starykowicz is the class of the bike course and begins the run with a lead of over two minutes on the rest of the field.
Olympian Javier Gomez fell far off the pace on the bike course and had almost four minutes to make up on the leader as he began his run, but it was no problem for Gomez of Spain.
He posted a spectacular run time of 1:11:59 that nobody could come close to and he is the winner of 2014 Ironman 70.3 Panama and the 70.3 Latin American Champion with a finish time of 3:38:28.
Matt Chrabot of the USA was second in 3:42:12 and Bertrand Billard took the final spot on the podium with a time of 3:43:24.
For the pro women it was Mary Beth Ellis showing she came to race as she stormed to the front in the swim with only the Wassner sisters staying close at 10 and 13 seconds behind.
The nearest female pro to the top three was over 30 seconds in arrears.
A great bike split of 2:15:04 put down by Canadian Angela Naeth propelled her to the front of the pack as she made her way through transition one.
She would not be caught on this day and Naeth is the 2014 Ironman 70.3 Champion with a finish time of 4:04:58.
Catriona Morrison of Great Britain was second in 4:06:16 and Svenja Bazlen of Germany took third with a time of 4:08:12.
The pros were racing for prize money, Latin American Championship bragging rights, and valuable Kona Ranking Points for the Ironman and Ironman 70.3 World Championships set to take place in the Fall of 2014.
Top finishers in the age-group categories were eligible to win qualifying spots in the 2014 Ironman 70.3 Championships.
For a look at the top pro and age-group results as they become available be sure to visit IronStruck.com.