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Ironman Cozumel: Mixing race and vacation

If you're looking for an early winter escape, Ford Ironman Cozumel is a race worth considering.


If you are up for an early winter escape, that combines a late season international Ironman held on a tropical Island famous for its beaches, underwater reefs and sun, Ford Ironman Cozumel is race well worth considering.

Ironman Cozumel has quickly established itself as a popular and affordable destination race for North Americans. Competitors are treated to a picturesque racecourse in a safe, culturally rich community that offers unwavering support for the race.

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Where and when

This year’s Ironman Cozumel will be held on Sunday, November 27, on the Island of Cozumel, positioned 20 kilometres off the east coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. The Island is 16 kilometers wide and 46 kilometers long. It has earned international acclaim as one of the premier diving destinations in the Western Hemisphere. Thousands of vacationing divers are attracted annually to the second-largest barrier reef in the world. The oceanic reefs are the home to countless species of fish, sponges, anemones and coral and boasts 60 meters of underwater visibility.

The daily average temperature for Cozumel in late November varies between 23 and 30 degrees, ideal conditions for an Ironman.

Getting there and traveling around

Traveling directly to Cozumel is relatively easy as the Island is serviced by a number of major American airlines. Flying from Canada will usually require at least one connecting flight out of one of the major airline hubs in the USA. Another flight option is through Cancun, with either a 20-minute flight to Cozumel on a regional airline, or a 60-minute ferry ride to the Island. You will want to plan your trip early as the race is typically held over the American Thanksgiving weekend.

Once you are in Cozumel, local travel is uncomplicated. The island is small and the roadway system is easily navigated so renting a car is a stress-free option. Taxi travel is strictly regulated, abundant and offers an inexpensive alternative to local transportation.

Where to stay

Many lodging options that suit a wide range of budgets and needs are available, whether traveling as a group, family, couple or by yourself to Cozumel. While you may choose to stay right in city of San Miguel for the convenience of being close to the race site, expo and race dinners, there are also many accommodation possibilities outside the city.

Hotel and resort choices are plentiful and cover everything from cozy and quaint to lavish and luxurious. Much of the Cozumel lodging features sweeping ocean views that offer easy or direct access to beaches. You can elect to stay at one of the many all-inclusive resorts or find a self-sufficient room, condominium or private rental.

For those who are inclined to be self-sufficient, San Miguel has two major national food stores (Chedraui and Mega) located in close proximity to the race expo and number of popular hotels and condominiums. There is an endless selection of restaurants once you are on the island, too. Prima’s Restaurant on top of the El Cantil Condos or Kinta’s and Kondessa’s in downtown San Miguel have proven to be popular choices. Try venturing to Casa Denis, Wet Wendys or Los Otates if you want to experience where the island residents dine.

The course

The two-transition course in Cozumel commences with a single looped swim within the protected waters of the reefs of Cozumel National Park, located in Chankanaab Park Beach. The non-wetsuit swim is as close to swimming in a fish bowl as one can get.

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The 180-kilometer, three-lap, bike features breathtaking views along the coast. What the bike course lacks in elevation gain is made up by the gusting side winds. The bike/run transition area is located at the City Hall Square in San Miguel. The three-lap marathon run is hot, flat and fast. Throughout the race you will enjoy unrelenting community crowd support.

Things to do before and after the race

There are plenty of activities for your non-competing family or friends (in addition to spending time on the beach). There are numerous historic sites throughout the island that offer a look at Mayan culture, structures and artefacts.

Diving and snorkelling is another must-do adventure. You can do this by renting a mask and fins to explore the underwater life from any beach, or accessing world famous dive sites with the one of the many dive charter companies.

Other more adventurous pursuits include all-terrain vehicle, dune buggy and jeep caravan jungle tours, deep-sea fishing, surfing and kite boarding, swims with dolphins, motorcycle or horseback touring and hiking.

Ford Ironman Cozumel has sold out in years past and race officials anticipate they will close all registration for this year’s race by mid-July.

Go to www.IronmanCozumel.com for more details.