Normally known as one of the fastest IRONMAN courses on the planet, with a swim current that often resembles something closer to a lazy river, IRONMAN Cozumel is generally where the professionals close out their season with a fast race.
However, there were some fears ahead of the start that the weather would play a bigger part than usual in Mexico, with torrential rain and wind pummelling the athletes ahead of the starting gun going off.
Thankfully, the race did eventually go ahead, albeit with the pro men and women’s starts delayed by over 45 minutes. Judging by their performance, however, the delay was nothing more than a small inconvenience for winners Magnus Ditlev (DEN) and Gurutze Frades (ESP), as both stormed through the field to take convincing victories.
In the water, Belgian Pamphlet Pareyn led out of the water with a lightening quick 41:28, followed closely by a big lead group of six, which included American interests Andy Potts and Rudy Von Berg, plus IRONMAN Sweden runner-up Pieter Heemeryck.
Over two minutes down, pre-race favourite Ditlev looked to be in good company coming out of the swim, with triple IRONMAN Switzerland champion Jan Van Berkel coming out just a body length ahead of the Dane.
Into T1, the main pack got out on to the road without a hitch, as the gap back to Ditlev grew by another 30 seconds, with the deficit to the Challenge Roth winner now at 2:37. Having come out of the water 1:30 down from Sam Laidlow in Kona, Ditlev will likely be disappointed with his swim in Cozumel, but will at least have something to focus on over the off season.
Once on two wheels, however, Ditlev as per usual came into his element. By mile 25, the PTO ranked #3 athlete had cut the deficit to 45 seconds, as the main group of nine failed to make their pack advantage stick. By 34 miles, Ditlev had successfully bridged up to the back of the main pack, before powering down and putting his foot down over the next 30 miles, as he put a minute into the likes of Potts and Von Berg by the 64 mile mark.
Behind Ditlev, the gaps started to appear in the chase pack by mile 74, as Heemeryck and Potts broke away from the rest of the chase pack in an attempt to hold the gap to Ditlev to within a minute. In the end, the Dane’s bike prowess was too strong, with Heemeryck coming in two minutes down, as Potts and Von Berg rolled into T2 almost five minutes off the pace.
On to the run, Ditlev showed the work he’s put into his run over the past 18 months hasn’t gone to waste, as he continued to put time into his closest competitor Potts. Unfortunately, Heemeryck only made it to the first checkpoint before dropping out, thus leaving the battle for the minor places wide open.
It was the Swiss Van Berkel who made the biggest impact on the run, as his 2:50 split took him straight through the field to second, but not before he gave Ditlev a scare over the last few kilometres. With the time gap coming down quickly with less than 5km to go, Ditlev rallied and managed to hold off Van Berkel to take the tape for his first ever IRONMAN win.
Behind Ditlev and Van Berkel, Fernando Toldi of Brazil impressed with a third place performance, after running his way on to the podium with a 2:53 marathon. In fourth was Fabian Dutli of Switzerland before the top five was rounded out by Austrian Michael Weiss, who came from a long way back to get into the money.
The pace was hot from the off in the women’s race as Italian Margie Santimaria led out of the water in 46:27. Behind her, 2012 Olympic Silver medalist Lisa Norden of Sweden enjoyed a tow from the Italian to come out of the water on her feet, as the pair put close to two minutes into the rest of the field in the water.
By the time the chase pack of Ewa Komander of Poland and German duo Anne Reichsmann and Svenja Thoes came into transition, Norden and Santimaria were well up the road, with Norden having swiftly dropped the Italian once the pair got on to two wheels.
By 25 miles, Norden had put a stunning four minutes into Santimaria, who had been caught by Thoes but was still maintaining the gap back to Komander and Reichsmann. Unfortunately for Thoes, she lost five minutes between miles 25 and 34, as Norden widened her gap to seven minutes from Santimaria.
It was really starting to become the Lisa Norden show in Cozumel, with the Swede enjoying an incredulous 14 minute lead over second placed Reichsmann at mile 74, with no signs of slowing up.
Into T2, Norden dismounted with over 15 minutes back to Reichsmann, with the rest of the field, including talented runners Frades and Kyrie Simpson, over 21 minutes back. Whilst Frades quickly began to claw back time, she still found herself over 14 minutes down at the halfway mark, having moved into second after dropping Simpson and storming past Reichsmann.
Whilst it was clear Norden was struggling out on the run course, she battled ferociously over the last ten miles, bravely clinging for as long as possible, after Frades made the pass at mile 21 and Simpson started taking chunks and chunks out of her slim lead.
At the finish, it was world #30 Frades who took the tape, as Norden hung on to second by less than a minute as Simpson just ran out of road in a late charge to catch the Swede. In 4th was the hard-battling German Reichsmann with Joanna Ryter of Switzerland rounding out the top five.
IRONMAN Cozumel Results 2022
Sunday 20 November 2022 – 3.8km / 180km / 42.2km
- 1. Magnus Ditlev (DEN) – 7:50:42
- 2. Jan Van Berkel (SUI) – 7:53:20
- 3. Fernando Toldi (BRA) – 7:54:00
- 4. Fabian Dutli (SUI) – 7:55:04
- 5. Michael Weiss (AUT) – 7:56:55
- 1. Gurutze Frades (ESP) – 8:40:47
- 2. Lisa Norden (SWE) – 8:46:36
- 3. Kyrie Simpson (AUS) – 8:47:36
- 4. Anne Reichsmann (GER) – 8:56:57
- 5. Joanna Ryter (SUI) – 9:18:00