A sign of a hopefully-successful 2021 triathlon season, the 70.3 series put on its second event in just as many weeks with Ironman 70.3 Florida out of Haines City on Sunday, April 18. Athletes started the day with a rolling start at the white sand beach next to Lake Eva Park, then upon completion of the 1.2-mile swim moved on to the 56-mile bike ride through rural roads in Polk County. Finally, athletes took on a two-loop course through paved trails and roads around Lake Eva before finishing in the park. The pro event saw Bart Aernouts of Belgium and Emma Pallant of Great Britain take the early-season victories.
Athletes mask up and keep their distance while holding in the starting corrals.
The pro athletes had a different start, beginning the day with a run-in start on the beach.
Athletes enter the water one-by-one using the rolling start format. The clock time for individual athletes doesn’t start until they cross the timing mat right before entering the water.
Though the pre- and post-race activities surrounding the race look quite a bit different due to COVID, the race itself is mostly business as usual.
Great Britain’s Emma Pallant started the day off strong with a field-leading swim.
Germany’s Andreas Dreitz traveled to the United States to get in on the racing action.
Belgium’s Bart Aernouts on his way to the victory.
Pallant showed strong early-season form with steady performances across swim, bike, and run.
Age-group athletes make their way through neighborhood streets on the way to finishing up the bike section.
Dreitz finished his day with a 1:17:28 half-marathon, ultimately finishing in third.
Aernouts’ 1:13:02 gave him the victory.
Pallant rounded out her day with a 1:26:36 half-marathon.
The United States’ Heather Jackson raced 70.3 Florida just a week after competing in 70.3 Texas. She ultimately finished third in Haines City.
Athletes hammer through the scenic course on the way to the finish line.
An athlete makes her way through the run course. This represented the first race opportunity for many athletes in well over a year.
The course heated up into the 80s F as the day got later.
Even in the tough conditions, athletes are excited and relieved to be back out on a race course!