Panama City Beach – Florida Ironman Winners 2009

PANAMA CITY BEACH — If you were on the beach yesterday at a Panama City Beach Condo  http://www.bestpanamacitybeachcondo.com  and didn’t watch the Florida Ironman here is what happened.

Florida Ironman results from the News Herald…Kirill Kotshegarov came to America for the first time this week, and all he got was an Ironman Florida championship.

The 23-year-old Estonian set the tone for a day full of firsts with a win in his Ironman debut Saturday. Not far behind Kotshegarov was Maxim Kriat, a Ukrainian triathlete who also was competing in his first Ironman.

While the men were welcoming rookies to its fraternity, the women watched as Sofie Goos, a relative unknown from Belgium unseated the favorite, five-time winner Bella Bayliss, who fell behind in the swim and ended up a victim of Ironman’s five-win jinx. No triathlete has won a race more than five times, excluding the World Championship.

But as Bayliss limped off, Goos was celebrating her first Ironman win with her father, brother and boyfriend in just her fourth year as a triathlete.

“I’m getting stronger every year, every month actually,” said Goos, 29, who won in 9 hours, 8 minutes, 38 seconds, 3 minutes off the course record. “The second loop when I had to go back (was the hardest). I saw Bella getting angry. It’s amazing (to beat her). I was not really busy with that. I just wanted to get the slot for Hawaii.”

Nothing was new about Tamara Kozulina’s day, however. She finished second here for the second consecutive year in 9 hours, 12 minutes, 47 seconds, about 2 minutes better than her time in 2008.

Kozulina came from behind to catch Bayliss at mile 23 of the run and then pulled ahead to better the local favorite, who finished in 9:13:52.

“I felt strong all the time,” said Kozulina, a Ukrainian native who now lives in Clermont. “I kept my pace. My mistake is to always push hard at the beginning. When I first started doing Ironmans I always went hard at the beginning.”

Kotshegarov’s training schedule kept him busy before he made the trip to Clermont three weeks ago. On top of going to school and studying environmental technology, Kotshegarov spends about 30 hours per week training.

Working with his teammates, Kotshegarov set his goal at breaking 9 hours. Winning his first Ironman wasn’t anywhere near his focus, and when he fell ill earlier this week, it was almost out of the question. But Kotshegarov caught leader Luke McKenzie on the bike and trailed him until Mile 7 of the run.

“I decided to go hard on bike and see how I could hold out on run,” Kotshegarov said.

It worked, and he won in 8:24:29.

Third-place Massimo Cigana understood how training could affect his performance. He’s competed in half-Ironman distance races before, and said he could win with his body, not his head. But in full-distance Ironmans, he needed his head as he completed the 140.6-miles in 8:28:04.

Kriat’s second place finish was a product of patience, on Saturday and all his life. He started training for Ironmans at age 15 with his eyes on competing at 18. But his father told him if he raced at 18, he wouldn’t be able to race again, and that he had to wait until he turned 25.

So shortly after reaching his father’s age of Ironman consent, Kriat finished second in his first Ironman in 8:26:51.

“This is the best day of my life,” Kriat said. “This Ironman is my childhood dream.”

Congratulations to all who participated!!

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