One Beach, Two Extreme Events

by May 11, 2009 • 6 comments

beachblast045This past weekend Panama City Beach enjoyed two very unique and extreme events; the Gulf Coast Triathlon and the Paragliders Beach Blast. Competitors and tourists from countries all over the world came down for the events hosted on the “World’s Most Beautiful Beach.”

For the fourth consecutive time, Mike Neill, hailing from British Columbia, Canada, won the Gulf Coast Triathlon, on this occasion enduring 85 degree heat to turn in a time of 4:06:33. Fellow Canadian, Ben Cotter, finished second 7 minutes off pace with a time of 4:13:58. The first local male to cross the finish line was David Shearon with a time of 4:37:17, a time good enough to land him 12th overall. Caroline Smith of Mandeville, LA won for the women with a time of 4:43:29 followed not far behind by Gabriela Loskotova from the Czech Republic with a time of 4:47:48. The first local female to cross the finish line was Helen Libby from Lynn Haven, who, like her fellow local top finisher, finished 12th with a time of 5:08:24.

If you were out cheering on the racers you might’ve noticed the perfect blue sky dotted with colorful gliding chutes. Edgewater Beach Resort hosted the Beach Blast, a showcase of the world’s most talented Paragliders. For those who don’t know, Paragliding is a recreational and competitive flying sport where a Paraglider, in a free-flying, foot-launched aircraft, sits in a harness suspended below a fabric wing and takes to the air using air pressure and a motorized fan to pilot. Nearly a hundred of these Paragliding pilots from all over the world owned the Panama City Beach skies. It was quite a site to see. Even beach-lovers, amazed by the flying chutes, got a chance to fly as the pilots gave tandem rides to onlookers, strapping them in and flying them over the beach and shoreline.

In one weekend we saw running, swimming, biking and flying. I guess that just about covers all the bases and summer hasn’t even started yet.

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1 Alex Souza May 11, 2009 at 1:35 pm

Hi, can you please forward 2 photos of me? They are beachblast036 and 037.

Thanks a lot and congrats for the great article!


2 Terry May 11, 2009 at 6:08 pm

Well me hailing from the same neck of the woods, ie Vancouver, British Columbia, let me congratulate Mike Neill on a great race.


3 Wag the Dog May 12, 2009 at 7:22 am

let’s put Dr. Newsom in one of
these paraglide things with a
banner that reads “I love Dunkin’ Donuts”


4 Jason Koertge May 12, 2009 at 7:41 am

Wag, you’re cracking me up.


5 Visitor May 13, 2009 at 6:27 am

The wife and I visit PCB every year in May. The last few years we have had to plan our trip around “Thunder Beach,” having made the mistake one year of scheduling our visit during the first weekend of May.

Now I see that we will have to schedule “around” the para-gliding event. We stayed @ the Holiday Inn, just down from the Edgewater, and the constant and incessant buzzing of the para-gliders was a real “turn-off” for two middle-aged people trying to relax a bit.

After visiting PCB about every year since 1993, next year we are going to the Driftwood Inn @ Mexico Beach


6 Steve Bailey May 13, 2009 at 9:52 pm

Paragliders were awesome – It’s the beach – it was nice to see different activity and we look forward to seeing them back in bigger numbers next year – hell, I may give it a shot – looks like fun!!!!