Ok, let's be honest, when we do a triathlon, we don't just race to race. We crave an adventure (not a lost bike or missing C02 cartridges kind of adventure, a real adventure). An experience to tell stories about to those who spent their Thanksgiving doing the normal Holiday sit down dinner around a table filled with turkey and mashed potatoes. Well, if you're looking for a different way to spend Thanksgiving next year, Ironman Cozumel might just be your 140.6 miles of fun. I signed up for Cozumel in July, which was in itself, a pleasant surprise. I enjoyed not having to be on the computer at 12:00 noon pounding away at the mouse to let me into active.com an entire year early. When I realized that Kona was just not in the cards this year, I wanted something different, interesting and exciting to look forward to end the season. After completing this race as my second Ironman, it was JUST what the doctor ordered.
There are a couple of ways to get this race, and some are more logistically challenging than others. One option that may prove a bit cheaper for some is flying into Cancun and taking the ferry over to the Island. While this may be more economical, you have to weigh the cost of getting to ferry, with your family, and your luggage, and your bike in tow. I read on a few sites that you do have to be careful about the leaving times and it can be a long day of hauling large heavy items and crying kids in the sun. If this is not on your race plan, then consider the option of flying right into Cozumel airport. This can be done by either by booking flight and hotel separately, or like we did, through a travel site with an all inclusive package. The advantage to our choice was less time spent in transit and the transport directly from Cozumel airport to your hotel. This all inclusive package included our airfare, food, drinks, and because the Iberostar Hotel was a host hotel, some mechanical service on Thursday & Friday pre-race, transport to the bike drop-off on Saturday, and start line on Sunday (just for the athletes, not your Uncle Jack and Grandma Betty). There are many hotels around the southern side of the Island (you ride right by them on race day), which provide a peaceful setting and less hustle and bustle than those crawling with athletes in town. However, prepare yourself for some pretty hefty taxi prices as you go to registration or race day meetings. Unfortunately, Taxi's ran $25.00 each way, so we were pretty careful about how many trips we made into town.
The volunteers for this race exceeded my expectations from the check in to the finish chute. Despite the small language barrier (which really didn't exist because most people we encountered were bi-lingual), they were helpful, courteous and happy to have us in town. In terms of the race, having been both to Kona and now to Cozumel (and this may be sac-religious so those who consider Kona sacred should cover their ears), the water in Chankanaab Park may have actually be clearer and more beautiful than Kaulia Bay. However, during my practice swim I did encounter what would be my first, but unfortunately not last, collision with tiny jelly fish that feel like a small mosquito bites. Although I didn't enjoy them in practice, on race day it was much more of a quick shock and then a forgotten encounter as I moved on quickly to following the feet in front of you. Do you want to have a PR Ironman swim? Well, if the current is right, you've found your swim at Ironman Cozumel! The large oval shaped course brings you against the current for the first very short stretch to the first couple left hand turn buoys. Once you make the turns, the longest part of this swim is with the current. Finally, once making the final turn toward the park you can see a very large underwater Jesus statue gleaning with beams of light. Needless to say, it is pretty surreal.
The bike course is flat, but also deceivingly difficult, due to the winds coming off the water (which at times is so close that it can break against the rocks and spray your bike!). The first two of the three loop bike course are 39 miles. You'll be happy that the third loop is only 33 miles, as the sun starts beating down on your back and the temperature rises. The aid stations were plentiful and well stocked with Gatorade, water, gels and everything else you might need. While the wind drops your speed on the south side of the island, you are rewarded with spectacular views. When you finally make the turn toward town a nice tailwind to carries you into the screaming crowds of Mexico "Vamos! Vamos!"
Although once again flat, this ironman run is not for the faint of heart. The course is three times an eight mile loop, out and back run. Running out of T2, the best thing you can do is be well fueled and hydrated. All the fluids on the course are purified. The water actually comes in long plastic tubes (think ice pops when you were a kid). I became a huge fan of the water tubes because if you made a small enough hole in the top, you could run with water in your hand as you sucked it down between aid stations. The crowds in town were absolutely spectacular. Even when running out edges of the loops, I found people standing at all of the hotels were outside and cheering on the athletes. One professional male on his second loop beside me actually yelled for "Coka"(which is Spanish for Coke) and missed the hand off. One of the volunteers actually grabbed a glass and ran as hard as he could to catch up and handed it off until he got what he needed. It was pretty spectacular and this same hospitality was seen throughout our stay. When the sun started sink lower in the sky around 3:30pm, everyone in the race breathed a sigh of relief. The weather cooled to 78 degrees and the humidity waned to more tolerable conditions.
When you finally make your way through the crowds, who have a "tour de France" type feel during the town loop, you can see other competitors finishing on the big screen in front of you. On your last loop you come into town and this is where it hits you, the finish line is within reach. Turning the corner and seeing stands on both sides of the finish filled with screaming fans lifts you and carries you on cloud nine to the line. You cheer, they cheer back and by their reaction I would have thought I was the first female they had seen all day. It was pretty special. In case you couldn't tell, for the experience, the memories, the culture, and most of all, the people of Cozumel, Mexico I would highly recommend this as an A+ end of season race. It's difficult, but it sure is rewarding. For me at least, it was the perfect way to cap off the 2010 season.
This is lucky number 1313 signing off! Thanks for reading!
Kim Schwabenbuaer, RD, LDN
Founder, Fuel Your Passion, LLC
Registered Dietitian - USAT Level One Certified Triathlon Coach - Elite Triathlete - Speaker - Model
Fuel Your Passion was created out of a love of all things athletic and a belief that by fueling your body with the right foods and fluids before, during and after training and competition you can increase your energy, improve your performance, and help you lead a healthier lifestyle. www.fuelyourpassion.net
We congratulate Kim on a great report and race. What she didn't tell you was the facts:
Swim: 59:37, Bike: 5:27:49, Run: 3:30:33, Finish: 10:03:59
Rank: 124th Overall, W30-34 Age Group: 1st Place