- Fea­ture: Iron­man Triathlon Re­turns to Coco

Roughly half the com­peti­tors will be Costa Ri­cans.

Howler Magazine - - Featured Contents - By Karl Kahler

If you're feel­ing in the mood to swim a mile, bike 56 and run 13, it's not too late to reg­is­ter for the Iron­man 70.3 half-triathlon in Costa Rica, tak­ing place June 24 in Playas del Coco for the sec­ond year in a row.

“I'm look­ing for­ward to hav­ing an­other great event,” said Wil­ber An­der­son, the

Costa Ri­can founder and CEO of Mi­ami Tri Events, an Iron­man li­censee that or­ga­nizes triathlons in Latin Amer­ica and the Caribbean, which will be hand­ing out $15,000 in prizes to the first five fin­ish­ers.

The race at­tracted a ca­pac­ity field of roughly 2,000 ath­letes last year, An­der­son said, and he's hop­ing to see the same in­ter­est this year. Top fin­ish­ers have a chance to qual­ify for the Iron­man 70.3 world cham­pi­onship in Novem­ber in Nel­son Man­dela Bay, South Africa.

The “70.3” stands for the num­ber of miles: 1.2 swim­ming, 56 bik­ing and 13.1 run­ning, in that or­der. Rac­ers start at the cen­tral beach in Coco, in front of the Paseo Amor de Tem­po­rada, and swim a big tri­an­gle in Coco Bay.

There'll be a big cor­ral that will re­lease 18 to 20 waves of 120-125 peo­ple ev­ery four minutes, based on their age, An­der­son said. There will be 32 life­guards, three jet skis, four boats and four scuba divers on hand if needed. (This triathlon costs up­wards of $500,000 to stage, he said.)

The soc­cer field in down­town Coco will be a tran­si­tion area where up to 2,000 bi­cy­cles will be stored. Com­peti­tors bike down the main street and up the big hill out­side Coco, all the way to Sar­di­nal and San Blas, and they have to do this loop twice.

Then they re­turn the bike to the tran­si­tion area, put on their run­ning shoes and head out for a 13.1-mile half-marathon, in part through the La Chor­rera res­i­den­tial area, again with a cou­ple of loops. The fin­ish line is right on the Paseo Amor de Tem­po­rada, the walk­way along the main beach in Coco.

So how was Coco cho­sen for this event? An­der­son is from Ala­juela, he's been swim­ming since he was 8, and he got hooked on triathlons around the age of 17. He started Mi­ami Tri Events close to 20 years ago and or­ga­nized the first Mi­ami triathlon. Four years later, he said, he was run­ning the largest Iron­man in the world, in Mi­ami, with 3,500 rac­ers.

To do a triathlon in Costa Rica, An­der­son said, re­quired close ac­cess to an in­ter­na­tional air­port, enough ho­tels to house all the com­peti­tors, a gi­gan­tic swim­ming pool like Coco Bay, and ter­rain that was scenic and chal­leng­ing but not too moun­tain­ous for the bik­ing and the run­ning.

Playas del Coco passed all these tests in fly­ing col­ors, and the 2017 event was a big suc­cess.

“The tem­per­a­ture is a lit­tle tough be­cause of the hu­mid­ity,” he al­lowed.

But hey, if you wanted to stay in your air-con­di­tioned ho­tel room all day watch­ing TV, you prob­a­bly wouldn't be a triath­lete.

Roughly half the com­peti­tors will be Costa Ri­cans, An­der­son said, and the other half from all over the world — 42 coun­tries were rep­re­sented last year. Some of the main coun­tries rep­re­sented this year so far are Costa Rica, the United States, Mex­ico, Gu­atemala, Nicaragua, Chile, Panama, Colom­bia, Hon­duras and Ar­gentina, plus Hun­gary, the Vir­gin Is­lands, Bar­ba­dos, Ber­muda and Brazil.

Last year the event pledged to do­nate money to build a foot­bridge be­tween the Paseo Amor de Tem­po­rada and points north, but or­ga­niz­ers were un­able to ob­tain the per­mits be­cause the bridge would have crossed a stream emerg­ing from a man­grove.

“I'm go­ing to go ahead and con­tinue sup­port­ing the com­mu­nity through schools,” An­der­son said. “Last year we do­nated sport­ing equip­ment, balls for foot­ball and all kinds of sports equip­ment. And we're go­ing to do­nate books and pens and other items that kids need at school.”

The ac­tion gets un­der­way at

6:15 a.m. on Sun­day, June 24. There will also be an expo June 22-24 in the Paci­fico Re­tail Vil­lage be­hind Hard Rock Café of­fer­ing all kinds of sports and nu­tri­tion equip­ment and sou­venirs.

The 2017 women's win­ner, Le­anda Cave of Louth, UK

Pho­tos cour­tesy of Mi­ami Tri Events

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