The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of Ironman Cozumel, Mexico.

by Luis Alvarez

Luis Alvarez and PerfectAmino in Cozumel Mexico, Ironman Champion

As always, let’s start with logistics. Cozumel is located in Mexico, which is my home country. Cozumel is an island separated from the Mexican territory or main land and there are 3 ways to get there:

First, - which I recommend, is to take a direct flight from any city of USA to Cozumel.

The second option: surely your travel agency will suggest to arrive to Cancun and from there go to Cozumel, try to avoid it because it can be a big hassle!. You will have to land in Cancun, buy a bus ticket (you may wait minutes or hours in order for the bus to depart), and then take the ferry in Playa del Carmen to arrive to Cozumel island. You make 1hr drive from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen and from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel you make about 45 min by ferry. The sea can be choppy and you can get dizzy or it is a small chance they might cancel the transfer by ferry.

And the third option is landing in Cancun and take a small plane (mosquito) to Cozumel.

Arriving at Cozumel airport, everything is very close on the island. There are hotels in walking distance from the Expo and from the finish line. My personal suggestion: Cozumel Palace, an all inclusive hotel which is very close to the finish line.

Inside the island taxis are expensive. One of the bests hotels on the island is the Hotel Presidente, located in the middle between the expo and the swim start (6K); or the Fiesta Americana, (altough this is not my favorite).

What I do is to rent a motorcycle/scooter and move around in it. Major hotels rent scooters for 25-30USD per day.

THE GOOD

What can I say? It is the pretiest swim in any IM in the world. This IM is a real paradise. If you're a scubadiver don' t miss the opportunity to spend more days to do so, since Cozumel is a scuba diving top place, as good as the great barrier in Australia.

I think that in general terms, with good weather conditions, this is a friendly IM; there are no climbing or ascents in the bike, the run portion is flat as a pancake which consists in 3 laps in which you get the chance to see and pass by your family and friends and the weathe, although hot, it is not as extreme as in Hawaii.

One of the best things of this IM is the local people and the cheerings from everyone in town. Another one is the scenic view that you can enjoy during almost all of the bike tour.

In this competition (as in all competitions) in the km 90 there is a station for bike special needs. There is also one in the km 21 for run special needs.

THE BAD

As good island its climate has no word of honor. Sometimes the day before the competition the swimming practice has been canceled, but we have been lucky all these years and the swim portion has never been cancelled. What did change was the swim course (which by the way, I liked more the former one) now, for the most part of it, is in favour of the tide.

The wind is always blowing and when it blows against you, you can go 10 miles per hour on the flat. Sometimes the wind fails to be in favour, and instead it blows from the side which can be annoying.

For the running part, (I don’t know if it is good or bad) some years it has rained. It can be fun, but if you want to break down your time this can increase your time in a competition.

THE UGLY

There is little drafting control, it has happened that 40-50 persons crowd at the starting line and I think that this is not quite fair for those who are competeng for a place in Hawaii.

Another ugly thing is that one of the years in which I participate there were lots of mosquitoes after the sunset. So if you plan to make more than 11 hours in the IM, I will suggest that you put a lot of repellent and if you invite family or friends, give them another bottle of it!. 

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Some useful tips:

  • There are several small restaurants in dowton where family and friends can watch the competition and enjoy it. There is one in particular that has a view to the road where you can watch the race while sipping a beer.
  • There is transportation from the major hotels to the swimming area. As you have to deliver your bike on Saturday, a good idea is to go pedalling between 6 and 10 km and go back using public transportation. What I did is that my girlfriend went along with me in the scooter and I took the bike, which saved me lot of time.
  • Rent a scooter to do a full loop of the island, altough it would be better if you do it in your bike; as training and to feel the wind.
  • Don't forget to take your PerfectAmino tablets from BodyHealth. I take 10 tablets 1 hr before the race, then 5 every 4 hours and again after finishing the competition, I take 10 more.   If you want to recover faster, for 5 days at least 10 PerfectAmino a day. This has kept me injury free for the last 10 years.
  • If you plan to do more than 11 hours put on a light jacket because at night it cools.
  • Try to train in flat windy places.
  • Don’t forget to bring your PADI/NAUI scuba diver certification.
  • And for my last recommendation: if you’re coming to Ironman Cozumel, visit the incredible Mayan ruins and pyramids at Chichen Itza, one of the Seven New Wonders of the World (ask in your hotel, there is a 45 min flight that takes you from the island to the ruins). Also, maybe plan to spend some time in Mexico City were you have many things to do: visit archeologic sites such as Teotihuacan, one of the 2nd largest pyramids in the world just 1 hr far from Mexico City, there are lots of excellent museums, downtown is beautiful, and of course try our many restaurants.

It’s up to you to decide.

I hope to see you all this year because of course I’m already registered again for this beautiful IM!!.

– Luis

You can follow Luis Alvarez on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/Luis.Alvarez.IRONMAN