lifestyle, travel This is Cozumel

Cozumel is well-known for beautiful white sand beaches, friendly locals and underwater marvels, so you might wonder why anyone would have to endure it.

However, that's what more than 3,200 athletes are doing this year as they take part in the endurance races that the island is fast becoming famous for.

Three arduous international triathlons are being held on the island this year, which see some of the world's toughest atheletes battle it out as they swim, cycle and run their way round Cozumel.

Cozumel endurance races
Cozumel endurance races.

The Ironman 70.3 "half Ironman" was the first event this year, held on September 22. The exciting contest saw James Cunnama from South Africa and Annabel Luxford from Australia beating the field to win the men's and women's races respectively.

"70.3" is organized by the Ironman organization and refers to the total distance in miles that the athletes cover. It is half as long as a full Ironman triathlon event and, incredibly, saw the winners pass the finish line in less than 4 hours.

Cozumel triathlon
Cozumel triathlon starts.

Following this, last weekend the 2013 Cozumel Triathlon World Cup took place on the island, this time organized by the International Triathlon Union.

This race was shorter at 16 miles (25.7 km), but none the less grueling, as competitors unbelievably sought to complete the course in under an hour.

Javier Gomez from Spain won the men's race while London 2012 Olympic triathlon gold medal winner, Nicola Spirig from Switzerland, was not far behind to win the women's race. They completed the Cozumel circuit with times of 53 minutes 26 seconds, and 57 minutes 53 seconds, respectively.

As if these two enduring events haven't been enough excitement for islanders in 2013 already, a full Ironman triathlon will be held in Cozumel for the fifth time on December 1.

The longest of the three triathlons, Ironman Cozumel 2013 stretches a total of 140.6 miles (226 km), including a 2.4 mile (3.8 km) swim through the island's turquoise Caribbean waters, a 112 mile (180 km) cycle ride along spectacular coastline and a 26.2 mile (42 km) run along streets lined with cheering crowds ready for the finish downtown in the heart of Cozumel.

Cozumel ITU 2013
Olympic gold winner, Nicola Spirig, in Cozumel.

This year's race is set to be the biggest ever. Registrations sold out long ago and some 2,800 athletes are expected to take part.

Streets will be closed, tourists and locals will gather excitedly along the route and a party atmosphere will take over the island as the athletes sweat it out for first place.

So, get ready to decide what you'll do on your next visit to Cozumel: enjoy it, endure it, or both?

Photos: Larry Rosa / ITU Media.

Related Items:

Volunteers Help Make Cozumel Ironman Success Dec 2, 2012.

Cozumel Ironman Thrills Island Crowds Dec 11, 2011.

Local Competitors Delight Crowds In Cozumel Ironman Dec 9, 2010.

Athletes Prepare For Cozumel Ironman Nov 26, 2010.

Ironman A Spectacular Success Dec 11, 2009.

Island Endurance Test Aug 26, 2008.