Ironman Cozumel Race Course Preview

>> Sunday, March 01, 2009

As many of you know, Pharmie and I took a trip to Cozumel about 6 weeks ago. I promised a Ironman Cozumel race course preview, and here it finally is.

Here’s the only race map I could find, and it’s pretty darn small and hard to read:


Umm, there’s water. You get wet.

However, when Pharmie and I were snorkeling just about a mile off the shore (and about 5 miles south of the IM swim area), we encountered an unexpected issue. While swimming at the surface, we would suddenly feel little stings on random parts of our body - probably about an average of 1 every few minutes. Apparently, there were little shredded pieces of jellyfish all over. Without seeing anything, we were running into these tiny pieces and getting stung. Here’s what Pharmie’s forearm looked like the evening after we got back from snorkeling:

Notice how they stung in a little “row” in spots where she hit an entire tentacle.

And here’s MY forearm 8 DAYS AFTER I GOT STUNG:

Yeah, still there after 8 days. Still itchy. The funny thing was that they were fine from days 2 though 7, then on day 8, they flared up again on both Pharmie and I. Weird. And itchy.

Anyway, back to the island... we couldn’t see these things stinging us - we were just suddenly hurting. It sucked, but we weren’t going to drown because of it. When we got back to the boat, they sprayed us with vinegar, which REALLY helped the stinging.

According to their site, IM COZ is NOT “wetsuit legal.” Which sucks if there are little jellyfish pieces. If you don’t have a thin “speedsuit” style wetsuit (which you can use in NON-wetsuit legal triathlons), I would consider getting one to help avoid these stings. But I have no idea if this is an issue in the IM swim area, which was a few miles from where we swam.

Just my 2 cents. The swim is the scariest part. Those damn jellys. Other than that, the water is clear and warm. Here I am about 12 feet down:


Flat as Keira Knightley’s chest. Really. AND on a pretty good road! Here’s a view of the road right around the bike start:

Flat! Wide! And (relatively) smooth!

Here’s Pharmie when we were out on a run on the “frontage road” around mile 10 of the bike. Notice the frontage road we were on SUCKS, but the main road next to us (which bikers will be riding on) is in great shape:

And here’s the course once we turned around to head back (crappy frontage road in front of us, smooth main road to the far right):

At the turn-around point near the center of the island, the road is new, wide, and smooth. (It was recently rebuilt after a hurricane a few years back.) Here’s the road near the turn-around (it was raining this day):

A few bike points:

- I think there are areas where the road is not as good, but for the most part, it’s in really good shape. The east side of the island could have the worst roads.

- You’ll have a great view of some beaches and amazing shoreline on the east side of the island. Enjoy it!

- The island is so flat and open, that there’s a good chance that it will be windy.

- There’s NO shade on the bike - you’re in the sun the entire time, so slather on the sunscreen.

Finally, Pharmie and I can’t imagine many cheering sections on the bike. There’s no way for people to get out to the course without using the course as their means of transportation (there’s basically just that one road that wraps the island). We bet there’ll be people at the turn-around, but not many other places on the route.

(BTW: I talked about the “turn-around” point on the bike, and you hit that twice. The bike course is out-and-back times 2. Just be warned. If you’re the type that gets bored on a ride where you have to repeat some areas, you could start to get bored on this course where you’ll be seeing the same thing 4 times!)

RUN: 26.2 MILES:

It’s gonna be flat. And humid. And there will probably be little shop-keepers trying to get you into their store by saying, “Everything’s almost free!” (there are signs everywhere that say that - in fact, you might come across one near some shops on the bike course where you turn inland that is spelled “Ole Most Free!”)

The run heads north into and through town. We aren’t 100% sure, but we think this must be on “the main road” which is in good shape. It’s an “out and back” run, and it will PROBABLY be pretty full of spectators.

Here’s the road in town, with 2 huge cruise ships docked in the water. The road is stamped concrete, and in good shape. (I imagine running “out” on the road nearest to me, and running “back” on the far side of the road)

Obviously that photo was taken at night. That’s when many of you age-groupers will be finishing. (I’m not teasing you - just look at my IM WI finishers photo in the upper right sidebar...)

So that’s about it. Pharmie and I are NOT doing this race, and we will NOT be there to cheer. But since we vacationed down there a few weeks back, we thought we’d snap some photos and take a look at the course for those of you who are racing. Enjoy it!! Have a great race in paradise!!

(BTW, here’s the direct link to this post:
Send that link to anyone you know who’s doing this race. They might find a little tid-bit of something helpful.)


LittleRachet 11:06 AM, March 01, 2009  

Thanks for the preview! The insight about the jellyfish could prove to be invaluable! Glad you guys enjoyed your vacation, and even thought about us IMCOZ folks!

Kim 11:25 AM, March 01, 2009  

fantastic preview steve!! i am worried about the jellys so im glad you mentioned it - when we were in costa rica, getting stung was horrible! i will look into a skin suit - or whatever is allowed. so excited that it's flat and the roads are well-maintained! thanks again!!

Chloe 11:26 AM, March 01, 2009  

Ugh - I HATE those little jelly fish. We have those around here as well. You can't see them to avoid them - and they itch and hurt like heck! BUT they are only here certian times of the year. Hopefully it's the same down there for those racing!

Unknown 11:27 AM, March 01, 2009  

Ouch! I am afraid of touching seaweed in a MN lake. *shudder* I can't imagine being stung by mini jellyfish.

Steve Stenzel 11:51 AM, March 01, 2009  

Oh yeah, and Pharmie told me that I forgot to mention this: no matter what you've heard, peeing on the jellyfish stings will not help - so don't do it.

Just a little FYI.

Unknown 12:20 PM, March 01, 2009  

Peeing on a jellyfish sting may not help, but it makes you sound cool when you tell people. ;-)

X-Country2 1:24 PM, March 01, 2009  

One of the main reasons I can't do tris is because I don't like no knowing what's in open water. Jellyfish?! Shudder. :o)

Jo Lynn 1:29 PM, March 01, 2009  

I sat on a jelly fish, in Jamaica, three hours prior to my wedding. They don't feel good! :o

GoBigGreen 2:58 PM, March 01, 2009  

Wow, good for you ...that is a cool post and i am sure those that are going will thank you. I am looking at some funny pics from early tennis days...for your challenge you mentioned. I cant say I ever did anything too weird. Like climbed the fence and got stuck on it, or fell over the net or.but i have a cute/oh so old pic of me ball girling for Chris Evert and that is too funny. I will have to show it to you sometime. I am not sure what is more funny, ME, or Chris, in the days before tennis players looked like they could also do an IM. She is FLABBY! not me, I was in 6th grade, I just look like a dork!

teacherwoman 3:17 PM, March 01, 2009  

If no wet suits are allowed, you would never find me swimming that much in that water!

SWTrigal 3:23 PM, March 01, 2009  

Maybe I said this before but there is "Jellyfish Repellent" sunscreen that I used for IMFL a few years ago (did not get stung). I have heard it works quite well:

Michelle 3:27 PM, March 01, 2009  

Thanks Steve. Good info for SOMEONE who is doing the race!!!

Guess that means not me!!!

Brent Buckner 3:39 PM, March 01, 2009  

Good scouting!

Thimble jellyfish nymphs cause issues, and are quite able to get into wetsuits - to keep them out one requires (drysuit-type) seals at the wrists and ankles, and a dam at the neck.

Anne 3:53 PM, March 01, 2009  

Who on earth told you to pee on jelly fish stings?!

Meat tenderizer = the cure, though that's when a full jelly fish stings. Who was shredding these? And why????

I Run for Fun 3:56 PM, March 01, 2009  

Great preview! Shredded jelly fish??? Bizarre!

LHE 4:16 PM, March 01, 2009  

i have actually heard about the peeing on jelly fish stings too. It's the amonia that helps. there is a kind of jellyfish (that we enountered cabo that are called razor jellyfish - they just sort of swim around you and cut little slices in you. I was standing in the tide, got out and it looked as though i had shaved my legs - badly - all those little blood trickles..

Calyx Meredith 7:02 PM, March 01, 2009  

Well if vinegar works and pee doesn't then that's good news! (Vinegar being easier to come by and more pleasant to boot!) We have been to close by Cancun a bunch of times in September and October and have never seen or felt even one jelly fish. Maybe they're seasonal or just that localized?? Thanks for posting about the course. I only wish I was one of the ones who needed it!

Christie 7:52 PM, March 01, 2009  

Flat as Keira Knightley’s chest.

LOL! This cracks me up.

Marlene 8:08 PM, March 01, 2009  

OMG, I can't believe those jelly stings! Ouch!

Gerry 12:11 AM, March 02, 2009  

Random thing which I came across and thought you might enjoy reading about it since it involves poop and weird contraptions -

Shelley 8:47 AM, March 02, 2009  

Very nice pics...wish I was someplace warm again..sigh!

FLATOUT JIM 8:53 AM, March 02, 2009  

Hey, I remember that dock with the cruise ships. It's about two blocks away from Senior Frogs, right?

I remember the dock. I don't remember Senior Frogs. I do remember the headache the next day!

greyhound 9:07 AM, March 02, 2009  

No like jellies. Speedsuit it is.

greyhound 9:08 AM, March 02, 2009  

Oh, and I always like Keira Knightly's chest. Bigger is not always better, either in boobies or bike courses.

ShirleyPerly 9:33 AM, March 02, 2009  

Great preview! Bummer about the jellies but Cozumel is certainly not the only place where they can be a problem.

Susi 10:12 AM, March 02, 2009  

i admit it, the jellyfish part kind of scares me... but thank you and pharmie so much for taking the time to drive the course and take photos. i'm doing im cozumel this year so this is great info!! too funny about keira's chest too, LOL.

Leslie 10:22 AM, March 02, 2009  

Hi Steve!

Thanks for the insight into the race, every little bit helps on race day! Yikes about the jellyfish though....ouch!

CoachLiz 5:20 PM, March 02, 2009  

Hey, Keira Knightly has more boobs than I do. So I guess the bike and run course is as flat as my chest.

Thanks for all the great photos and scouting for the race. I will be looking into a speedsuit and that jellyfish repellant that SWTrigal was talking about.

One Month to New Orleans!!! Now if you could just find alligator repellant...

Lindsay 4:25 AM, March 03, 2009  

the swim portion of a tri has been intimidating enough, don't need jellyfish bits too! think i might have to pass on this one. love that you took the time from you trip to check out the course though, such hardcore athletes!

Trishie 6:22 AM, March 03, 2009  

awesome, thanks! IMCOZ here I come !

LittleRachet 9:58 AM, March 03, 2009  

After doing some research, I found a repellent called Safe Sea. I'll be sure to have this with me on race day!

For any other IM Coz'ers out there, stop by and say hi! Join us!

sRod 2:58 PM, March 03, 2009  

Thanks for writing this up (and then clarifying that you are not doing it). It's pretty to look at, but sounds like a bitch in person.

SingletrackJenny (formerly known as IronJenny) 6:19 PM, March 04, 2009  

Thanks Steve!
I am hoping it's a seasonal thing - those Mexicans wouldn't invite us down there in jellyfish season. Would they? i'll have to ask TriNick at
I also was wondering - why did the welts get all puffy on the 8th day? Sounds like an incubation period for a subcutaneous critter.
Just a thought. te-he-he

21stCenturyMom 10:25 PM, March 04, 2009  

That sounds awful - really. Best of luck to anyone doing that race. I think the jellyfish repellant would work (Nancy Toby swam through a whole flotilla of jellys at some race and didn't get stung) but that flat bike course - no thank you. I need some hills and some shade.

At least there are shops full of almost free stuff! That and the umbrella drinks might make it all worth it.

Unknown 4:47 PM, July 16, 2009  

The Thimble Jellyfish are seasonal.
In November the water will be cooler, probably windier, and it is the end of Hurricane Season.

April/May diving in Coz we descend through the jellies. Do not worry, they won't be there.

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Anonymous,  4:31 PM, December 14, 2009  

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Anonymous,  7:51 PM, January 23, 2010  

Keep on posting such articles. I like to read blogs like that. By the way add more pics :)

Anonymous,  5:17 PM, December 16, 2014  

I just did IMCOZ and got stung continuously throughout the swim. I passed out and crashed on the bike landing me in the hospital with numerous injuries. Did the jelly fish stings cause this? Most likely, I can't figure out what else could have.

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