The small island of Cozumel,which is located just off the Eastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula on Mexico’s Caribbean Sea,plays host to the Ford Ironman competition each November. It includes a men’s race and a women’s race,which are both held on the island,a popular destination among international travelers for its stunning beaches,first-rate snorkeling and laid-back,yet luxurious atmosphere.
The race this year included 50 qualifying spots for the upcoming Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona,HI,next year. It began with a mass-start swim in the Caribbean,followed by a 180 km cycling course through the southern part of Cozumel real estate on flat,newly paved roads,before ending with a flat,fast run along the Caribbean. The last part of the course is always lined with spectators,who come to watch more than 2,500 of the world’s best athletes compete in the northern hemisphere’s last Ironman race of 2012.
According to the official Ironman website,“the two-transition course in Cozumel will begin with competitors taking a single-loop swim within the protected waters of the spectacular Reefs of Cozumel National Park.” The swim is one of the race’s major highlights and requires the athletes to navigate minor currents and surges as they swim.
The bike portion of the race takes competitors along the coast and through the town of San Miguel de Cozumel. Mexico’s outgoing President Felipe Calderon inaugurated new sections of the bike trail in early November,when he rode 40 miles with several endurance athletes. The new trail runs along the island’s perimeter road,which is used in the Ironman Competition.
Finally,the athletes run along a route lined with supporters who create a festive atmosphere as the competition comes to a close. The finish line is located at San Miguel de Cozumel’s City Hall and a $75,000 prize purse is up for grabs.