Ironman Cozumel 2012: Detailed Race Results and Analysis

As fast as I streamlining the process of Ironman results retrieval and analysis I add new graphs to the mix. Ironman Cozumel was raced yesterday and as usual, for those looking for a more useful format than the athlete tracker provides, I’ve extracted the full results, tabulated them and uploaded them to my Google Drive. That was the easy part. Then I worked through my growing series of charts to compare this year’s Cozumel event with previous races.

Ironman Cozumel 2012: Distribution of Finishing Times and Splits

The fourth running of Ironman Cozumel appears to be typical of the course. In fact the only difference that really stands out is the slower swim distribution when compared with the previous three years in the charts below. Outside of that the shapes of the varying finisher distributions vary subtly and less significantly. Perhaps 2012 was slightly slower, but I’d not be willing to commit myself to this.

Ironman Cozumel 2009: Distribution of Finishing Times and Splits
Ironman Cozumel 2010: Distribution of Finishing Times and Splits

Ahead of the race I briefly looked at the average finishing times for the top 20 athletes in each age group as a means to estimate the kind of performance required to place or to qualify. Having such a short race history I was wary of putting to much faith in the predictive power of the Cozumel results so far, but updating the graphs from last week by overlaying the finishing times from the weekend suggests that the averages might not have done such a bad job. There are exceptions – if you were hoping to podium in the men’s 18-24 division you would have needed a significant step up in performance over previous years and this year’s female 25-29 division completely failed to meet past standards. There are no safe bets, particularly at the very front-of-pack or in older or younger age groups, but the minimums as goals would tend to ensure a placing within the top 20.

Ironman Cozumel: Comparison of the 2012 top 20 performances by male age group against average, minimum and maximum for the event
Ironman Cozumel: Comparison of the 2012 top 20 performances by female age group against average, minimum and maximum for the event

Not perfect, but then you never know who will turn up in a given year. It suggests that at the very least these charts are useful as a more calculated estimate of the times needed to qualify or place on the podium. Minimums are the safer bet, but even then, on the right day they might also be significantly beaten.

Finally the look at the pro race and how that unfolded over the course of the day. The usual mess of spaghetti for both mean and women although it has to be said those who finished in the top 5 all raced consistently. Among the men we see the 13 mile wall which strips the field down as many fall significantly off the pace for the remainder of the race.

Ironman Cozumel 2012: Performance of the Male Pros
Ironman Cozumel 2012: Performance of the Female Pros

More pictures, fewer words today. I’ll confess with no athletes racing there this year Cozumel didn’t rank high on my priorities. Interesting to see the application of the average place times charts and pleasing to find that at least in some instances they weren’t far out. The next event, bringing a close to the year’s races, will be my favourite: Ironman Western Australia. Having raced there myself I’m looking forward to examining historical performances at that event and seeing how 2012 compares.

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  • Rob Knell

    Greetings from Cozumel
    Tough day yesterday. The swim was quite rough, making sighting hard, and there was a strong current on the last leg which a lot of the weaker swimmers had trouble swimming against. Word is that several hundred DNF-d on the swim, with a lot missing the cutoff. The bike was hot and windy and on the Northerly leg of the bike the wind was a full headwind rather than the usual crosswind, so a total of 60 km into the wind. The Southerly leg is on the other side of the island and has trees on each side so there isn’t much of a tailwind. The weird everyone is using is “tough”. I came aiming for 10.30 & I’m very satisfied with 10.58.


  • Hi Rob,

    Thanks for the info and clearing up details on conditions. The swim looked distinctly slower this year, although the bike/run was bit more subtle i was guessing that conditions weren’t that kind this time round.

    Can’t say how many DNFed on the swim as the athlete tracker doesn’t indicate DNS in the results, but of 2664 potential starters only 1941 recorded a swim time, 723 athletes would be a high rate of DNS so the swim must have been harsh.

    well done on the 10:58 in those conditions, sounds like a tough day.


  • Rob Knell

    Hi Russ

    Would you mind checking the link to the google docs spreadsheet? It puts me through to IM Arizona and I can’t figure out if it’s possible to get to IM Coz from there.


    Rob, now back in the UK but without luggage or bike… which should be arriving tomorrow according to BA…

  • Rob,

    Thanks! My mistake, must have pasted in the link from the wrong window, now fixed the huge error! Link in article now works, but just in case, the actual Cozumel results are here: Ironman Cozumel 2012: full results and splits.



  • Mike Coborn

    This was my 1st attempt @ ironman, Thought it would be a good goal as I turned 60 this year. I am one of those D-Q’d as I was about 18 minutes over the cut off. I did get blown off course and was hearded back on course by the life gaurds, and it felt like I was not making much forward progress against the current. Had never really done much swimming in the ocean other than the practice swim a couple of days earlier.Conditions were much different than at the Y back home…I was really disappointed I missed out on cruising arround the island on my bike, but maybe I will try another IM sometime

  • Hi Mike,

    Sorry to hear about your DNF – tough day. And it definitely was a tougher than normal day, especially in the swim. You can see in the first chart for the 2012 race that very few swimmers went faster than 55 minutes, much lower than in previous runnings of the events, everyone was slowed by the currents. Sea swimming is a very different experience and skill to swimming in a pool or even a lake, the addition of currents and chop can make for a much tougher 2.4 miles.

    Hope you give it another go sometime.


  • Mike Coborn

    Thanks, I feel unfullfilled,and I am sure I will attempt another.

  • Marianne Baker

    I am also another DNF. I have done 5 half ironmen in Lakes all in about 45 min, so I was not expecting the possibility of DNF. The last 1/2 mile against the current I just felt like I was swimming in a endless pool!! I rounded the bouy coming back against the current in 63 min, thought I was doing well. This was my first Ironman and my husband who I taught to swim 4 years ago finished!! I had a pitty party for a few days and then signed up for Los Cabos!!! My question is it better to go closer to shore or stay out by bouys if you have a choice. Seems like talking to others the current is worse out by the bouys. Any advise for Cabos?

  • Hi Marianne,

    Currents in open water can vary so it can be hard to say where the strongest currents will be found. In a lake there are obviously none to be concerned about, in a rive the current is always stronger in the centre and weaker near the banks, but in the sea it can vary. It might be worth seeing if you can find some local knowledge of the way the tides tend to behave.

    Having trained and raced in Lanzarote a lot I know that the sea swim there can have very different conditions and currents year on year (although nothing as severe as those in Cozumel), so in the sea it’s very hard to predict. I would take heart though that Cozumel this year was unusually tough – that’s definitely what you should expect from a sea swim in an Ironman.