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Last year, Ironman Florida hosted the first full Ironman in the U.S. since the start of the COVID pandemic—and it ended up being the venue for one of the most moving moments of the year, when Chris Nikic crossed the line in 16:46 and became the first person with Down syndrome to finish an Ironman.
This year, after the massive storm cancellation at Ironman California, the men who weren’t able to start in Sacramento have been giving the chance to fly across the country and line up in Panama City Beach instead, including 70.3 world champ Gustav Iden finally making his Ironman debut. They’ll join a stacked women’s pro field that was already on deck for this Saturday’s race, along with thousands of age-group athletes, including Brent and Kyle Pease, Lloyd Henry (the first African-American triathlete to complete an Ironman on six continents), and Olympic softball medalist Jennie Finch.
Here’s what you need to know and how to watch.
Who to watch in Florida
Originally scheduled as a pro women’s race, the men’s field was added post-Ironman California cancellation. That means that only men entered in Sacramento were given the option to start in Florida, and the Kona spots and prize money were also transferred cross-country. While some of the athletes who hoped to race in California didn’t make the trip—Jan Frodeno, notably, called an end to his year and Tim Reed opted to not stretch out the season any longer—the men’s start list still includes Iden, who will be doing his first Ironman, and Lionel Sanders, who has had success in Florida before (and got engaged there). The two-week delay could pay off for some too, like Iden, who had a cold in California, and uber-cyclist Cam Wurf, who may actually have had time to sort out his COVID paperwork now.
The marquee event, however, is the women’s race. Since it was planned originally, the start list is understandably far deeper, with 35 athletes lining up. That includes popular Americans Heather Jackson and Linsey Corbin, who were both targeting Kona when they were forced to pivot. Carrie Lester, who won in high temps in Coeur d’Alene earlier this summer, will also be aiming for another victory. But don’t count out the youngsters. Swiss star Imogen Simmonds, third at 2019 70.3 Worlds, has been relatively quiet through COVID, dealing with on and off injuries, but looked like she was returning to form earlier this year. And Hannah Wells has dominated in New Zealand and Australia the last three years—winning nearly everything down under—but will be making her U.S. debut this weekend. Who will come out on top on the flat and fast course?
How to watch
As it does with most of its major pro events, Ironman will be broadcasting Ironman Florida on Facebook Watch on the Ironman Now page. Coverage will start at 6:30 a.m. ET/3:30 a.m. PT on Saturday, Nov. 6. The commentators haven’t been announced, but the team is typically made up of former pro triathletes and triathlon commentators in the booth and out in the field.
For live athlete tracking, you can follow both the professional and age-group athletes on the Ironman Tracker app or online at Ironman.com/LIVE. (Pro tip: All athlete tracking links for a weekend’s Ironman-brand races are available during the race weekend at that link.)
The men’s race starts at 6:40 a.m. ET; women start at 6:45 a.m. ET.