Happy memories from Ironman Cozumel race day, 2013. Photo: Nick Morales
This past week the triathlon world was abuzz over the results of Kristian Blummenfelt and Sara Svensk winning Ironman Cozumel in record times. In fact, both setting new world best times for Ironman sanctioned races, with Blummenfelt's 7hr 21min also the fastest ever over the distance.
Cozumel is one of my favorite places, our squad base for the best part of 2 years and many from our Tri Cozumel team racing (and winning) on the island; the full and 70.3 distances as well as ITU World Cups. We conducted our own grassroots race weekend in 2014, The Taste of Cozumel.
A few race facts about Cozumel:
The Swim - On a bad day the current runs at about 1 meter per second, so with it's now point-to-point current assisted swim, athletes proceed to get floated down with the tide. Basically, there is no swim, you get wet.
The Bike - The biggest hills in Cozumel are the two speed bumps on the road coming into town. Don't be fooled though, because on a bad day the wind is every bit as strong as Kona - and 8 out of 10 days the wind blows! However, on the two windless days, the bike loop is a giant 60km velodrome - put it in the biggest gear and just hang on. Squaddies used to pray for those days in camp. It was fast and furious.
The Run - It's hot and humid. How hot? Damn hot! However, 2 days a month it would rain and the temperature would drop 15C, the humidity would plummet as well. Athletes prayed for these days too!
Now don't get me wrong, we love Cozumel. It's the best North American winter training playground I've been to. We all miss it badly. But if you get the perfect day, where the current is running, the wind is not blowing and the rain comes, I can understand Ironman not rushing to ratify the World Record achievements.
That is the course facts! Now to the athlete - Kristian Blummenfelt. I wrote a blog 5 years ago alluding to the facts that 'The new era is here'
2016 article: 'The new era is here'
I'm not a 'told you so' guy - but I told you so!
It is clear and easy to understand the new reality. This guy is the new Olympic champion. The best of the best. Make no mistake, he is the new Alister Brownlee. No disrespect to Alister, as Kristian has got a long way to go to match Alister yet. However in a single race, he matches Alister and Simon Lessing for speed. Time will tell, but he is on his way!
But coach, what about the 2hr 34min run? It's unheard of!
No it isn't, his training partner Gustav Iden ran similarly in Florida 2 weeks before.
Some 12 years ago, I copped a lot of flack due to comments regarding the underachieving male pros over the Ironman distance. I told my male squad that the true time, if the men were matching the women's performance like Chrissie Wellington, they should be running 2hr 35mins to 2hr 36mins. The average standard should be 2hr 38mins and nothing less. To quote - "boys, you are kidding yourselves". That didn't go down well at the time I can assure you. However it was my reality.
Do I think Kristian's run was unrealistic? Not for one second. He is a champion and I'm told is a champion trainer too. The new age has been here for a while now, just that nobody has been listening.
The good news is Mr Blummenfelt now has everybody's attention. Well done to him and his mate Gustav. The Ironman triathlon community has just been woken up to the new reality. We now have no weaknesses tolerated at the top of the performance tree.
Don't let the course deceive you, as he is the real deal.
Just the way I see it.