TOUR de France legend Lance Armstrong has made an extraordinary return to a sport he did as a teenager, finishing second to New Zealand's former Olympic gold medalist Bevan Docherty in the Panama 70.3 triathlon.
Docherty (3hr 50min 13sec) beat Armstrong (3hr 50min 55sec) after overtaking the American on the running leg of event, which was raced in searing heat. Armstrong led Docherty after the cycling leg, but the New Zealander made up ground on the 21-kilometre running leg and passed Armstrong 2.5 kilometers from the finish.
The seven-time Tour de France winner will contest Ironman France (double the distance of the 70.3) in June in an attempt to qualify for this year's Hawaii ironman on October 13.
Behind Armstrong, Australian Richie Cunningham arrived with a time of 03h52:59, and Dominican Rasmus Henning, the first Latin American to cross the finish line, arrived on fourth place, with a time of 03h53:38.
Among women, the winner was Canadian Angela Naeth, with a time of 04 hours, 15 minutes and 31 seconds, followed by Americans Kelly Williamson (04h19: 11) and Margaret Shapiro (04h19: 34).
The Panamanian triathletes did an outstanding performance, winning several categories in their respective age group slots and qualifying for the World Cup 70.3 in Las Vegas.
The Ironman name has become synonymous with the pinnacle of athletic endurance. Ironman and Ironman 70.3 finishers proudly lay claim to being among the fittest athletes in the world.
The point-to-point 1.2-mile (1.9 km) swim took place in the Pacific Ocean with water temperatures around 78° Fahrenheit (26° Celsius). Athletes and spectators enjoyed the amazing background, which included the Eighth Wonder of the Modern World, the Panama Canal, and overlooking the transition area, the newly constructed Biodiversity Museum.
Next, athletes had to bike a 56-mile (90 km) course that utilized the Bridge of the Americas—which connects Central and South America—as they made their way to the Pan American Highway and through the forest that protects the biodiversity and Panama Canal watershed. Returning to transition, competitors passed by Panama City’s downtown area along the Cinta Costera, with the districts state of the art buildings that emerge on the shores of the Bay of Panama.
The run course took those racing on a 13.1 mile (21 km) run through the Amador Causeway, a major tourism area surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, where athletes and spectators watched the ships transit in and out of the Panama Canal while enjoying the beautiful view of the modern and cosmopolitan Panama City. Runners returned to the transition area to start the second and final loop.
Salo Shamah, General Manager of ATP, said that these quality events will continue taking place in Panama, as it is a beautiful and suitable place for great events.