Taking place on November 4, 2018, this year’s IRONMAN Florida has been relocated to Haines City in the Tampa Bay Area, due to the impact of Hurricane Michael on the original race venue in Panama City Beach.
The organising team has released the following message to all participating athletes…
Dear IRONMAN Florida Athletes:
Hurricane Michael has made racing in Panama City Beach impossible in 2018. This is a disappointment to us all. We understand the impact of Hurricane Michael and how the resulting change in race venue affects your race plans. Our overriding goal is to offer you the opportunity to race on the weekend you expected in a safe venue as close to Panama City Beach as possible. We appreciate your flexibility, patience and good cheer as we work through the details of a new venue in Haines City.
In order to make the transition to a new race venue as smooth as possible, we will be updating you regularly with additional details and pertinent information related to IRONMAN Florida.
Accommodations: To assist in lodging options, we have updated the accommodations page on the event website which can be found here. Additionally, most hotels in Panama City Beach have been cooperative in refunding deposits.
Travel: Two major airports near Haines City, Tampa International Airport (68-miles from Haines City) and Orlando International Airport (38-miles from Haines City) are served by the major airlines that also fly into Panama City Beach, including, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, and Southwest Airlines. At this point in time, we ask that you please check with your airline about changing your travel schedule. Flights into Tampa or Orlando are widely available, and we have already heard from many athletes that airlines have been extremely accommodating in changing flights given the impact of Hurricane Michael.
Local attractions: We know that many of you spent a great deal of time researching the event and some made your decision based on local attractions. As you may be unfamiliar with Haines City, here are a few of the great local options for family and friends: Walt Disney World Resorts, including Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios; Kennedy Space Center; SeaWorld Orlando including Discovery Cove; and Universal Resorts, including Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure; both are located approximately 25-miles from Haines City. Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, the Florida Aquarium and ZooTampa at Lowry Park are all located in Tampa, Florida and just a short one-hour drive. Additionally, there are numerous water parks in the area.
Late Check-In: We will be providing late check-in on Saturday, November 3, to help those coming from out of town. An updated event schedule can be found here. Check back often for additional schedule changes as items are being updated in real time throughout the week.
Our goal is to provide regular updates to all athletes via email and social media to keep you as informed as possible on the emerging details of the event. Please understand that our situation remains fluid. Our goal is to help make the experience as stress-free as possible.
We are working with our local partners to help answer additional questions, especially as it relates to travel and accommodations. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you require assistance in this area; we will do our best to help you.
As a reminder, the IRONMAN Foundation has launched a Humanitarian Relief Effort campaign and has pledged $50,000 to support local recover efforts in Panama City Beach and will match all donations received by IRONMAN Florida race weekend, up to $100,000. More information on how you can help can be found here.
We realize the shift from a Saturday event to a Sunday may be problematic for some of you. For those that find this date impossible, our next Saturday event is the 2019 Memorial Hermann IRONMAN North American Championship Texas on April 27, 2019. If this is a better option for you than racing in Haines City, please email email@example.com by Friday, October 19 at midnight ET with an explanation and request for a transfer to the 2019 Memorial Hermann IRONMAN North American Championship Texas on April 27, 2019 and we will accommodate.
We are not yet confident in our ability to host a 2019 full distance IRONMAN event in Panama City Beach given the recovery and rebuilding situation and, until we are assured in our ability to deliver a safe race at our standard, will not make any commitments. Therefore, we will not be offering any deferrals, transfers or complimentary entries into 2019 IRONMAN Florida.
We are here to help – and to get you safely to an IRONMAN Florida Finish line on November 4. Please stay tuned for further event updates.