Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Ironman Cozumel

Drawing on Endurance Corner's collective years of experience and access to an extended network of some of the most knowledgeable racers, we wanted to provide our best recommendations for approaching some of the biggest races around the world.

Here, we profile Ironman Cozumel in Cozumel, Mexico.




Travel and Accommodations
There are several options for traveling in and out of Cozumel. One option is to fly directly into Cozumel which is serviced by American Airlines from Dallas and Miami. The other option, which is usually much cheaper, is to travel into Cancun Airport. However, if you fly into Cancun, you will have to take a 45-minute bus/cab ride to Playa Del Carmen and take the ferry over to Cozumel Island. This will almost certainly require a full day’s travel so keep that in mind when doing cost comparisons. If you decide to fly into Cancun, you will have a ton of options for transportation to Playa Del Carmen and if you wait to book at the airport, you might find it a little overwhelming. I have used Entertainment Plus when traveling into Mexico and have found it to be a great option. If you can book with some others, you can get the cost down considerably. Tribike Transport is a great option to avoid lugging around a bike box with all the traveling.

Once on the Island of Cozumel, the number of accommodation options are also plentiful. Many of the all inclusive resorts are popular with athletes because food and lodging are combined. Keep in mind that most of these options are located well out of town so a taxi service will be needed for the expos, bike check in, and other race venue visits. If you choose to stay in town, you can find a wide range of hotels in the city and near the expo. There is a great grocery store downtown, also near the expo.

Pre-Race Workouts
The swim venue (out of town) has practice swims on both Friday and Saturday morning (check the Athlete Guide for times). Most of the beachfront resorts have small areas for swimming that are roped off (I have been scolded for going outside of them, but other places might be different).

The bike course can be easily ridden from many of the resorts that are out of town, but when riding near town, be very careful and keep your wits about you. Taxis, mopeds and pedestrians are everywhere and it can be a little chaotic. Do not take chances while you are there and make sure you are clearly seen.

Running can be done easily whether in or out of town.

Weather
Cozumel is a tropical island so be prepared for warm and humid conditions. There is also a possibility for rain, which can fall heavily as it did in 2011. You will almost always have wind from the E/NE direction which will can be a significant variable during the bike leg.

Race Morning
The swim start/T1 is located out of town and to the north of most of the resorts. The host hotels have buses to transfer athletes to transition, but otherwise there are plenty of taxis to get you to the race site. Give yourself a little more time than you might at other races.

Swim
The IM Cozumel swim is a one-loop course. You beginning by heading north, then a short stint to the west, then a long back stretch to the south before turning back north and finishing near the start area. The water is warm (low 80s) and the clarity is excellent, which makes for a really nice non-wetsuit swim. Currents can play a role in the swim so times can be faster or slower than you might typically see at other races depending on their favorability.

Bike
The bike course consists of nearly three full loops of the bottom half of the Island of Cozumel. The bike course is completely flat and the main element of difficulty comes when you ride on the east side of the island. The course take you very close to the water’s edge and the you are completely exposed to the ocean and the wind coming off of it. The course is shut down to traffic, but when you ride through the urban parts of the course there can be a fair amount of pedestrian traffic so be aware and do not simply hammer with your head down through town.

At Bike Special Needs, all bags will be hanging on racks with hooks off of the bike course. Be prepared to stop and potentially get off your bike if it is something you plan to use.

Run
The run consists of three out and backs of a little under 9 miles. The far side of the course can be pretty lonely, but every time you come back to town your spirits will be lifted considerably by the crowds. The locals in Cozumel come out and support this race in great fashion so soak up that energy when you can and let it carry you through the difficult moments of the day.

The course itself is primarily flat with a few dips with elevation changes because of rain drainage. It is warm and muggy on the run so get plenty of fluids and I would suggest starting the run with your own water bottle or hydration belt.

Post-Race
What to do after the race? Pretty much anything and everything fun is available in Cozumel, from diving, snorkeling, parasailing, fishing and more. If you just want to chill on the beach and drink margaritas, that is certainly available. In fact, it’s pretty much impossible to not have fun after a race in Mexico. You raced hard, so go enjoy yourself.


Justin Daerr is a professional athlete and co-owner of Endurance Corner. He has raced Cozumel twice with a personal best finish of 6th overall in 2013
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