IRONMAN Competition brings millions to Panama City Beach economy

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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Athletes from more than 70 countries and 45 states were preparing for Saturday's IRONMAN race in Panama City Beach.

"The atmosphere, it's just, everywhere is buzzing and they're working so hard. It's really hard for them and the heat as well here," Julie Wright, a tourist from the United Kingdom said.

According to officials from Visit Panama City Beach, the estimated economic impact is around $5 million.

"We've got perfect weather. We've had athletes here probably for about two to three weeks training and getting accustomed to our environment," Mario Gisbert, City Manager for Panama City Beach said.

Tourism officials say hotels filled up with athletes, their families, and volunteers. Some visiting said they enjoyed their time in Panama City Beach.

"Oh I think it's beautiful, it's beautiful," Sue Chetwyn said. She's visiting from the United Kingdom.

City officials say drivers experienced some traffic back-ups Saturday morning along the race route.