A Perfect Day for a Stroll Through Panama City Beach

David Yon, November 18, 2020

The Ironman Florida, just over 100 miles west and south of Tallahassee in Panama City Beach, has been a favorite of Tallahassee triathletes for many years.  Maybe it is not so much a favorite as it is a rite of passage.  Triathletes from Gulf Winds make the drive to participate and to support others in November every year. Kory and Robert Skrob pulled off a rare double when the husband and wife team completed the race on November 7, 2020.

Completing an Ironman is a difficult task no matter what the distractions or conditions.  It begins with the most difficult task of getting to the starting line fit and uninjured.  If you can accomplish that task the race day requires a swim of 2.4 miles (in the Gulf of Mexico), then a bike ride of 112 miles, followed by  a marathon run (26.219) miles. 

These days you must also beat The Virus.”  With its wave start in the water and long distances biking and running, the Ironman competition is one of the best suited events for the battle.  Social distancing, perhaps by another name, is a natural part of the event.  Still, there have been few Ironman competitions in 2020.  In fact, first place finisher Chris Leiferman was told he was the first person to win a full Ironman in 2020. It took him 7:52:44 to complete the event. The top woman, Katrina Matthews, broke the course record, despite the warm day. She crossed the finish line in 8:40:50.

The Skrobs felt the race organizers met their duties to put on a safe race:

“They were extremely careful with our health. All athletes had temperature checks during race check-in on Thursday, bike check-in on Friday and again on entering the transition area before the race. Rather than a mass start, athletes started in groups of 5 individuals and a group left every 15 seconds. All volunteers wore masks and athletes wore masks until just before getting into the water. We tossed our masks in a trash can on the beach. Then we were given masks at the finish line. No spectators were allowed in the finish area or within the transition zones. This ensured only volunteers and athletes who had undergone temperature checks were in race venue areas.”

Having convinced themselves they were safe from The Virus, all they had to do was complete the event before the cut off time.  Since this was a first Ironman for both of them, I asked what caused them to take on this challenge.

Kory – I decided in October of 2019, after completing my second Ironman 70.3 (half Ironman) that I was ready for the challenge. After completing two half Ironman events, I felt prepared to train for and complete the full.

Robert – While I was the person wearing the race bib, the Gulf Winds Triathletes and Gulf Winds Track Club deserve all of the credit for my finish.  While I’d been vaguely aware of the races, it was within the club that I met others who had completed the race. Members of the club believed in me and helped me believe in myself enough to register in November 2019. Members of the club shared their knowledge and gave me encouragement throughout training. And, it was members of the club who texted, sent Messengers and some even showed up to cheer us on at the course. There was no way I could have achieved anything like this without the members of these clubs. My favorite people in the world.

Robert also thought it was very important that they hired a coach.   “Hiring a coach was a huge shortcut for us. Jeff and Annie Bowman helped us understand pacing, nutrition, and training to prepare us to start the event healthy and to complete it feeling good enough to enjoy crossing that finish line.”

I also asked what was the toughest part of the day for each of them.  Kory answered “The last six miles of the run. The end was in sight but it was still 6.5  miles away.”  Robert answer was “The third quarter of the marathon run. The course was 13 miles out and back. Leaving the finish area to go back out 6.5 miles to the last turnaround was the hardest part. For the last quarter, running back the last 6.5 miles was tough, but each step brought me closer to the finish line.

Kory Skrob

Swim – 1:27:01

Bike – 6:17:39

Run – 4:24:59

Total with transitions: 12:33:55

Robert Skrob

Swim – 1:34

Bike – 6:24:17

Run – 5:30:42

Total with transitions: 14:00:55