1 Dec 2024

Let’s race… IRONMAN 70.3 Acapulco

Making a name for itself as the OG international tourism destination in the heyday of Hollywood glamour, the sparkling coast line of Acapulco now plays host to an IRONMAN 70.3 race which is only growing in popularity. From what to expect from the course, to where to stay and the must-do race-cation activities. Get ready to race IRONMAN 70.3 Acapulco with our comprehensive race guide.
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Jenny Lucas-Hill

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Writer and long course triathlete Jenny Lucas-Hill guides you through everything you need to know about racing IRONMAN 70.3 Acapulco.

Situated a few hours away from Mexico City and made famous by the jet set in the 1950s and 60s, Acapulco soon became known as Mexico’s original party town. And now this beach resort with its crystal clear bay, luxury hotels and impressive skyline dominated by the Madre del Sur mountains is host to a popular middle distance triathlon.

Get set to achieve your goals in Mexico’s original party town

Location - Beach-side triathlon party

Acapulco is located on Mexico’s Pacific coast, with 50km of beaches stretching along the impressive coast line. Once a playground for the likes of Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley, this lively city is now host to an IRONMAN 70.3 which gives athletes the opportunity to experience the crystal clear waters and the rolling hills from a different perspective.

Soaring cliffs make way for sandy bays and blue lagoons, with luxury hotels and high rises dividing the coast from the steep rise of the greenery-clad Madre del Sur Mountains. And while the city may still be known for its buzzing night life. There’s also plenty on offer for outdoor adventure lovers – perhaps most famously, a trip to the La Quebrada cliffs where fearless cliff divers entertain onlookers – a tradition started in the 1930s.

The race itself starts near Marina Cabo Marques with a bay swim, before venturing out into the rolling hills on the bike and finishing with a run along the palm tree-lined Costera de las Palmas road close to the lively heart of the city.

Why race... IRONMAN 70.3 Acapulco

Turquoise waters, palm tree-lined avenues and your pick of beaches to relax on post-race. Here are the top 3 reasons to get your name on the IRONMAN 70.3 Acapulco start list.

Beautiful bay swim
Fun, scenic bike course
Beach getaway, but only a few hours to explore Mexico City

Course - Rolling hills

Race day at IRONMAN 70.3 Acapulco starts with a beautiful swim in the calm waters of the bay. The bike course starts with a short, sharp uphill that will definitely wake your legs up. But soon settles down into gentle rollers that make for a fun ride. Finish up with a flat run along the palm-tree lined avenue as you tick off the final miles between you and the finish line party.

Swim - 1.2 miles / 1.9km

The swim at IRONMAN 70.3 Acapulco starts in Playa Majahua, next to Marina Cabo Marques. A rolling start format is implemented, meaning no 'washing machine' effect and a calm start to race day. The course is an anti-clockwise single loop format. Expect sparkling, clear water - and a non-wetsuit swim. The average water temperature is typically 29C/84F so get used to swimming without the assistance of neoprene!

BIke - 56 miles / 90km

It's worth noting that the bike course at IRONMAN 70.3 Acapulco features a short, sharp 600m hill climb almost immediately as you exit T1, followed by what IRONMAN describe as a 'bumpy descent'. Once that's out of the way, the course flattens out for a stretch - giving you a great opportunity to get settled into your pace and get some nutrition on board before you start to encounter the gently rolling hills. The two lap format takes you on an out and back away from the coast, but you'll be glad to know you only have to scale that hill climb at the start once! The total ascent for the bike course is 415m/1361ft so it's rolling enough to keep things interesting, without any major hills to slow you down.

Run - 13.1 miles / 21.1km

The run course is a fast, flat out and back two-lap course along the palm tree-lined avenue in Acapulco's hotel district. Aid stations are positioned every 0.6 miles, and the format means the run course is super spectator-friendly.

Race training & prep

Heat prep is a must when it comes to getting ready to race at IRONMAN 70.3 Acapulco, with the warm water swim and an average air temperature of 31 degrees C. Given that the race takes place in December, for those of us travelling from the Northern Hemisphere – indoor training might be the best option to get acclimatised.

The swim is almost guaranteed to be non-wetsuit, so make sure you get used to swimming without the additional buoyancy of neoprene and try to focus on optimising your body position in the water during training. The bike course isn’t overly hilly, but there are a few rollers. So try to ride on similar terrain in training to get the legs ready. The run course is flat, so the heat will be the main factor to contend with on race day. Practice a fuelling and hydration strategy in training so you can run strong to the finish line.

Travel & accommodation

With an international airport nearby, most major airlines operate flights to Acapulco. And Mexico City’s international airport is also only a few hours’ drive away. Meaning wherever you’re travelling from, getting to Acapulco is relatively straight forward.

Once you’ve arrived, your best bet is to stay at one of the official IRONMAN partner hotels which are all in close proximity to the race start. The Princess Mundo Imperial is a great option for a stress-free race experience, as this is where registration, race briefings and the awards ceremony will all take place. But you can also get special rates for competitors at the nearby Palacio Mundo Imperial and Pierre Mundo Imperial.

Spectators - Best places to soak up the race day action

Spectators have plenty of opportunity to cheer their athlete on and be part of the buzzing atmosphere on race day. Head down to the Majahua beach shore in the morning to watch the swim start. Then take a stroll back into town and spend the day exploring Les Palmas Boulevard – a spot where you’ll be able to see the athletes multiple times during the bike and run legs. Refuel at the local bars and restaurants, or head down to one of the beaches to catch some rays while your athlete chases their next IRONMAN 70.3 PR.

Race-cation - From vintage glamour to wild explores

A beach-side getaway it might be. But Acapulco has something for everyone when it comes to taking time out to enjoy yourself post-race. It’s won a tourism award for Central America & Mexico’s best city break 3 years in a row, and there’s also an annual music festival (Tropico Festival) which takes place close to race weekend.

Adrenaline junkies shouldn’t miss out on a trip to Xtasea Park – where you can test your nerves by taking the world’s longest zipline over the sea. It’s probably best to leave diving off the famous La Quebrada cliffs to the professionals. But you can take an evening tour to watch the spectacle at sunset as the divers soar from the cliffs into the ocean, while you enjoy fine dining at the cliffside La Perla restaurant.

For a taste of the old Hollywood glamour that put Acapulco on the map back in the heyday of the 50s and 60s head to The Baby’O Acapulco for your post-race celebrations. Founded in the 70s, named after a Dean Martin song and once frequented by the likes of Sylvester Stallone and Elizabeth Taylor, the popular night club strives to maintain some of that old school glamour.

If retail therapy is in order, the La Isla shopping village has everything from fashion stores to fine food and entertainment. But if you want a more at one with nature experience, it’s worth exploring a guided horseback ride to see some of unspoiled beaches and more remote areas of Acapulco.

Get set to achieve your goals in Mexico’s original party town

Stunning beaches and soaring cliffs set the scene for your best IRONMAN 70.3 performance yet. Come for the race, stay for the atmosphere.

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