Ironman 28 November 2010

Cozumel, Mexico is a United Nations named Island of Peace.

Almost all photos can be clicked on to see the larger version. They will open in a separate window which you can just close to get back to the main photoblog.

Here it is over a month after Ironman 2010 and I am just now getting this blog together. Many of you may know that I have been a pretty busy. But the story of my move is for another blog.

Last year when Ironman came to Cozumel, I was only slightly interested. I thought, well, since you can't drive anywhere or got to the beaches, I guess I will take photos. I quickly became a huge Ironman fan and took photos until well after dark, over 800 of them. This year I took even more and actually made it out by boat to see the start of the race. In addition, I have identified many of the athletes where I could read their numbers. This is no easy feat as the numbers are written on their bodies and get pretty blurred during the race. The little number banner is always flapping in the wind, so you rarely get a good look. But no complaining, it is a challenge that I have enjoyed. If you are an athlete and reading this, please pass it on to your Ironman friends because they may have their photos included. They also may find I have gotten the wrong names on some of you and would appreciate any corrections.

Let's begin with day's biggest winners

Andy Potts came in first in 8 hours, 15 minutes and 57 seconds. He was first at the end of the swim, really far out in front. He must have been a bit slower in the biking section because he was in the 4th position on the first lap of the running when he passed the Museum. But by the time they came back around he was solidly in front and remained that way. He, like many of the athletes, was slathered in sunblock which was also an identifying number block for me. There is a great article about his training in Popular Science magazine. He went from an overweight former swimmer to the athletic elete in less than 5 years. In the article his coach talks about keeping his heart rate at around 165 - having had a few treadmill stress tests, I know that is truly amazing. In the video of his finish his son ran out to meet him. An emotional moment for him and for the crowd. I think the grimace on his face as he comes by on the last part of his last lap tell us what a painful and extraordinary feat this was for him. Sandy Ham was in the recoverty area with him and had a photo taken which shows what a handsome upbeat guy he really is, but I didn't see evidence of that earlier in the race.

The athlete that I enjoy watching the most is Yvonne Van Vlerken. She makes it look so easy. And her devil cat theme and tattoos give me a giggle. She is amazingly fit and quite beautiful to watch. But under that pretty exterior is a true ironwoman. Last year she came in first of the women, and quite amazingly she came in 10th overall. This year she was again first of the women and 20th overall. She is the only woman athlete in history who has held the world record for both the half-Ironman distance (4:07:29 at 2006 Ironman 70.3 Antwerp) and the full Ironman distance (8:45:48 at 2008 Challenge Roth). When you watch her run, you don't see her struggling, she just flows along.

She had a hard start at the beginning of this year. Illness before one event saw her coming in 7th, going to the next event still not completely recovered ended in a DNF (did not finish) which was a real blow to her. But she is clearly back in her stride and performing at top level again.

Yvonne was born in the Netherlands and now lives in Austria. Her husband is Thomas Vonach and is also a successful triathlete.

You can't help but love her when you know that chocolate is her favorite food and she has a devil cat tattoo.

2nd in the men's was Michael Lovato from the United States. Michael Lovato is a 3 time top Ten Kona finisher, 2 time Ironman Champion, and 3 time National Champion. He lives in Boulder but winters in Austin, Texas. He and his wife have 2 dogs.


2nd for the women was Tyler Stewart from the United States. She and her husband, John, own a dog grooming, walking and boarding business in San Franciso called WAGS. So she has little time to do anything else other than to train. Growing up in Connecticut she was always athletic, but an intense fear of the water kept her away from any water involved sports. This is until 2005 when she did a triathelon on a dare and was hooked. She had an excellent career as an amateur and took the leap to pro in 2007. She was a top ten finisher at Kona. Tyler is 32.

3rd for the men was Eduardo Sturla from Argentina. He came running by first after the bikes at the Museum but at some point fell behind Andy and Michael to come in 3rd. He and Michael were running together for a time. He participated in his first triathelon when he was 16 years old, finished last in that one, but obviously has improved. In whatever his off season is, he spends it in Rio de Janeiro with his girlfriend and can often be found on the beach at Ipanema.

3rd for the women was Dr. Amanda Stevens who is from the United States and is an MD. She has had quite the year. Surgery and her wedding being the lowest and the highest points of the summer. Love her trademark cartoon face. Here she is eating on the fly. She plans to concentrate on her athletics for now and start practicing sports medicine at a later date. She knows that the window of opportunity to compete at the level she is now is limited. Dr. Stevens is a big promoter of young women in sports. Her personal web site highlights raising money for Girls on the Run, which is an organization that educates and prepares girls for a life time of self-respect and healthy living.

Coming in 4th of the men was Axel Zeebroek from Belgium. The information I could gather on him was rather sparse but here is what I got. He loves cooking and watching movies. He has had 3 stress fractures in the past 6 years. He has education in teaching and plastic art. He looks to me like he is loving the color of the water as he runs.

Sofie Goos was 4th of the women. She is also from Belgium. In 2008 and 2009, she was nominated for Female Belgian Athlete of the Year.

Next is Andriy Yastrebov from the Ukraine coming in 5th of the men. My research turned up very little about him, at least in a language I could read. But I did learn he has been competing in Ironman for many years.

Nicole Woysch from Germany was 5th for the women. I don't have a photo of her. Well, I probably do have a great photo of her but not one that shows her number, so I have no way to identify her. The same for the 6th man, Patrick Evoe from the USA and 6th of the women, Fiona Whitby from Canada.

But my luck changed with Petr Vabrousek, 7th, from the Czech Republic. I was pretty close to one of the tables with water, so I have a lot of the top athletes taking nurishment and a quick bath. Petr speaks five languages and has 2 master's degrees (accounting and marketing). He is married with one son and enjoys chess. Notice the "stockings" on his arms and legs. These are compression socks which are aimed at improving oxygen delivery to muscles, speeding lactic acid removal. It is also believed that they stabilize the lower leg for greater muscle efficiency.

7th of the women was Charisa Wernick. She talked her father into running a marathon and they competed together. Then her father found biking and got her into her first triathelon. So, the Chicago Triathlon was where father and daughter made their triathlon debut. She was wearing baggy soccer shorts on her borrowed bike with basket pedals, she quickly realized that having parachutes on each leg may not be the most aerodynamic. No matter, she was hooked and off and running. Look at her now, streamlined and aerodynamic. Charisa is married. She and Steve are the proud parents of 2 cats and she is an artist (oil painting).

8th in the men is Jozsef Major from Hungary. He is called an emerging talent. In 2009 he was plagued with misfortunes including an accident with a car. So many of the triatheletes talk about accidents and close calls with autos during their bike training. In Jozsef's case, he ended up with a dislocated shoulder, broken rib, fractured left hand , broken nose, damaged teeth, several cuts and bruises and my left lungĀ collapsed. He currently trains in Arizona.

Maria Omar from Argentina with 8th of the woman and eluded my camera or had an obscure number.

Okay, here we go, I must have 20 photos of Maximilian Longree from Germany. He was 9th and ever so photogenic. He and Andy Potts were both wearing red spandex, so I got lots of photos. Max is breathtakingly handsome and the press calls him fun-loving. He started running in his teens and gradually expanded his interests to Ironman. He has pretty much followed his older brother's athletic lead, but has completely come into his own. He loves cheeseburgers.

Carmenza Morales from Medellin, Colombia was 9th of the women. She is 44 years old and has participated in the Olympics.

Rutger Beke, last year's winner, came in 10th this year. He is from Belgium. Rutger is having a great career as a triathelete. He actually lived in Palo Alto, CA for a couple of years as a kid. His wife is a physiotherapist and I am guessing that comes in handy at times. Their 2 children will be prewired for sports since his wife Sofie is also a triathlete.

I missed Brooke Tvermoes from the USA who finished 10th of the women.

It has been my preference to stay away from the finish line of the race and instead be in the area of the museum. It gives me photographic oportunities of the struggle the athletes experience. So, I don't get to see the joy of the finish line. One woman gave us a feeling of what it would be like at the finish. I didn't get her number or name, but she sure displayed joy in her approach to the race. Thank you, whoever you are, for this fun moment.

This year I had the great good fortune to have Dianne Dul from the Northwest Territories of Canada stay next door to me. I got to interview her and follow her during the race. She is pictured to the right with her mother and Brandee who came to support her (along with her father and another friend, Jay Batten). Here she is teaching her mother to swim. Dianne works in a silver mine in Ft. Smith in an environmental capacity. She has had quite an interesing career. At one time she worked as a stage hypotist. In her position at the silver mine, she has had to be the person that watches over the people taking samples to be sure that a Grizzly Bear doesn't sneak up on them. And indeed, bears have tried to do that on her watch.

Experiences like that may be why she takes the Ironman competition so casually. But she didn't always. Since a near drowning experience years ago, Dianne has been very afraid of the water. But Ironman intrigued her and once she decided to do it she came to the states and was coached to overcome her fear of the water and get the training to compete. One of her friends said she trained 2 years to have a "mid-life crisis". So at age 40 she entered her first Ironman and finished. Ten years later, she counts Cozumel as her 20th. That is more than one a year and Dianne works full time. In fact, she had to leave Monday morning to get back to work on Tuesday. She tells me her motivation for doing the races is to keep the pounds off and be able to eat and drink what she wants. Hear her for yourself here. Because of the difficult weather conditions that far north, she doesn't do the kind of intense training that most triathletes do. But, she isn't really trying to win her age group, just finish. She has finished all but 3 of the competitions she has started. She DNF once because of illness (swallowed too much sea water) and another because of a bad bike accident.

She goes at the race with steady determination. She takes a long time on the swim, so she is in the dark when she finishes the running. This year she did it in 15 hours, 9 minutes and 23 second. A bit off Andy Pott's pace of 8:15:57. She had to keep moving for nearly 7 hours longer than he did. But don't be fooled by the time she she took to finish. Dianne is very fit. She finished up after 10 at night (I couldn't last past 9:30). She didn't savour the finish for long, she got her bike and brought it back to the casa. Then she proceeded to take it apart, pack it and get to bed around 2 am. She was back up at 6 am to get ready to go. She stopped over at my place to say goodbye at 9 am and I would not have believed that she had done the race the day before had I not seen it for myself. She was perky and energetic -- just full of life. So my hat is off to her and all the amazing people that can call themselves Ironman competitors.

To the left is Dianne's bike. She has cleverly rigged up a liquid delivery system that brings fluids from the back of the bike up to the front. She has done this in such a way that she doesn't have to move out of the full throttle peddling position to take on fluids. That means no twisting or even slowing down. This is an enormous help during the biking part.

Another reason I am so slow in putting this out this year, besides moving back to the states 2 days after the race, is that I have been taking more time to try to identify people in the photographs. It is pretty rare when you can get a clear number for identification, so it is a real piece of detective work to figure things out.

So here we go. First, the start...the elete started first and were already past the buoys and heading back before the regular athletes started. They waited quietly and then they were off in a cloud of spray. Dianne's family and a group of us rented a boat and captain from Sea Robin and watched the race from the water. I highly recommend it. When everyone took off they looked oh so much like the baby turtles on the east side of the island when they are released and heading for the ocean.

I have set up a web page with photos of everyone I could identify. So if you have friends that participated in Ironman, please send them this link. If you can identify any of the "unknowns", please let me know so I can update the page. You can email me at           Here are some of the highlights.

The best clues as to who is doing well in the race are the cameramen that are following the leaders. It really helped. But for me, being at the museum as the first of the runners came by really helped. My friends, Lynda, Juen, Maria, Rick and others cheered them on with gusto in English, Spanish and French.

To the left Rick cheers on fellow Canadian, Michael Marshall.

I believe the man with the orange "Little Ceasars" outfit is one of the top finishers, but I could never find a number for him. So, it is a mystery.

To the left is Ricardo Cardeno from Colombia. He finished 13th. He and many others in the race got sunburned even with lots of stuff plastered on their faces.





Local favorite, Jaime Mezo finished better this year than last year at 11.52. He runs with such joy, well at least until after dark,then with such determination. There were quite a few local participants this year but I wasn't able to find them in any of my photos. Two of them are: Scuba Tony Anschutz (who finished in 12:11), Dailene Erickson (who finished in 13.50 hours) very impressive for their first race.






To the left, Samuel Silva from Brazil.

To the right Bret (Kristy) Kevitt from the USA

Dusten Fox from the USA on the left.

To the right Grit Hagen from Spain

Maria Lopez from Mexico on the left.

Lynette Borup from the USA

Once it got dark, the real race began (in my opinion). These folks know they won't be top finishers, but they persevere and put out all their effort to finish.

On the left is Lew Bauer from the USA. Lew is in the 50-54 age class.

Cha Vazquez from Mexico is on the right.

And at some time in the evening, the giddiness starts to come out bringing a levity to the real struggle that many of the athletes are experiencing.

This adorable nina was very eager to pass out water to the athletes and gave a big kiss to one of them.

Don't know about you, but I can really feel the pain of the woman on the right.

Sombrero, marachas and all for Adrian Redondo from the USA.

To the left a local favorite, Susan Hobson Navas, from the USA. Susan calls herself a "smile pacer" and, yup, the smile is still there well into the evening. She lives in Connecticut with her husband and 2 children.

And one of the amazing men and women amputees that raced that day. I can't even imagine how difficult, especially the swim.

Rocio Ore from the USA is taking a minishower.

David Shaw from Alaska was surprised when a fellow Alaskan was cheering him on.

Robert Diday from the United States was one of the older contestants at 67. He kept plugging away and finished just shy of the midnight cutoff.

Beth (left) and Scot (right) Refsland from the United States are having an Ironman honeymoon. Married on Nov. 10, 2010.

The conditions were about perfect for the 2nd Cozumel Ironman. All I can say is thank God we didn't have a norte. Here is the waterfront at 6:30 am. Even the Greenpeace ship was waiting for the action to begin.

If you were a participant in Ironman 2010 and your photo wasn't here. Please see

Once again, thank you Juen for editing and for your storehouse of island trivia.