Soon after that hike we bought hilltop property in Juan Gallego with a view of nearby Isla Grande, the northernmost point of Panama. From the Christ statue on the reef at Isla Grande to Puerto Lindo, near where Primo was at anchor, was 2.4 miles, the swim distance for the Ironman. These tropical waters were where Columbus had anchored on his Fourth Voyage to the Caribbean. I wanted a property that would be a training campsite for Kona, for us and for others. It would be nice to have a little house there where we might stay if we should sail the boat elsewhere. For now our home was on our anchored boat in nearby Linton Bay. We had been to many triathlon sites and this geography was some of the best we had seen anywhere for triathletes.
We entered a triathlon at a U. S. Army base in Panama. Some athletes were Panamanians. Most were US. military who had done triathlons elsewhere. We knew the military triathletes would be gone by 1999. We wanted to design a tropical course triathlon to help us to train to take part in the 20th Anniversary Ironman in Kona, Hawaii. And we wanted to give a boost to the sport of triathlon in Panama. The country of Panama had never been represented on the roster of athletes at the Ironman World Championships at Kona. What could we do to change that?
Where we lived on the Atlantic side of Panama was a wonderful place. That part of the Province of Colon is an area rich in historic remnants, tropical waters, plants and animals all about and stories to go with them all.. We wanted to show it off to Panamanians and to international visitors. We knew from experience that a popular international triathlon could boost the economy of a region. We talked about the potential tourism benefits with friends and neighbors on the coast. We mapped out a challenging one-way course that would start at Isla Grande and end past the city of Portobelo in Buenaventura. The Spanish Main Triathlon would take place within the boundaries of the Portobelo National Park.