Cozumel, Mexico

Palfrey Blog October 2016

Caribbean Calling Again – Cozumel, Mexico.

The World Aquathlon Championships.

As I briefly mentioned in my last blog in August, Chris and I had been to a few aquathlons around Australia. We travelled to the Queensland Sunshine Coast, Hobart, Tasmania and Sydney, NSW.

These aquathlon races were the state championships where points from our respective placings went towards qualifying for the Australian Team to compete at the World Triathlon Championships in Cozumel, Mexico in September. Chris and I were both excited to be selected in the aquathlon team (2.5k run, 1k swim, 2.5k run) and continued training in earnest for our events in Cozumel.

We expected the humidity would be high and temperature hot in Cozumel as September is towards the end of their summer and still inside the hurricane season. After spending around 30 years living in tropical Townsville we are well aware of the toll that this kind of heat and humidity can take on the body, we were sure to do a few extra training runs during the heat of the day at our hometown in Central Queensland.

Triathlon Australia World Championships Age Group Team 2016
Triathlon Australia World Championships Age Group Team 2016

We then learned of our wave start times….Chris was to start at 9.10 am and my start time was 10am! Oh boy, we’d be running and swimming in conditions similar to a sauna!

We arrived in Cozumel a few days ahead of our race to get some rest after the long journey from Australia and to try to acclimatize to the hot and humid conditions since we were just coming to the end of our winter back home.

Having spent so much time living in the tropics (which is very unhelpful for cold water marathon swimming), we felt we may be able to handle the heat a little better than some athletes from cooler climates.

Parade of Nations, Cozumel, Mexico.
Parade of Nations, Cozumel, Mexico.

The aquathlon was the first event on the program… even before the opening ceremony! Which was awesome! Chris and I were finished competing the first day of the five days of competition and could relax after our event. We thoroughly enjoyed participating as members of the Australian Team in the Parade of Nations and the opening ceremony. We stayed late at the pasta dinner to enjoy the presentations of the aquathlon and spent much of our time in Cozumel watching the world’s best triathletes compete and cheering along our fellow Aussies in the age group triathlon events.

“So how did you do?” I hear you ask.

We did great thanks!

Chris was hoping to make top ten in his age group, he held back a little on the first 2.5k run due to the heat, he had a good swim passing a few athletes and a couple of others passed him. Having held back on the first run leg Chris had plenty in the tank for the second 2.5k run and finished with one of the fastest 2nd run splits in his age group. All in all Chris had a very strong race and was very happy finishing in 4th place in a time of 40:06.

I toddled around the first 2.5k run course and hit the water about midfield for the 1k swim. I knew this was where I had to put in my best effort and hit the swim hard.

Penny towards the end of the 1k swim leg. Photo credit 2DIGITAL.
Penny towards the end of the 1k swim leg.
Photo credit 2DIGITAL.

I passed all but one of the women in my wave and was aware that my competition would now be chasing me down from behind. I put my head down and ran, the sun was hot, heat radiated up from the road beneath my feet, and the air was hot and moist. My plans to skip the water stations were thrown out of the window just a few hundred meters into the second run, I then decided I’d take water…in both hands at every aid station!

About halfway into my second 2.5k run the expected sound of footsteps on the road behind me appeared. Two women locked in a run battle slipped past me, just the beginning I suspected. Fortunately for me these ladies were not in my age group and I was sitting in second place with the woman who exited the water first still ahead. I had expected this athlete would be ahead of me, a fine swimmer and runner, who’d just moved up into my age group after winning the world championships in Chicago last year.

Eyes on the finish line. Photo credit 2DIGITA
Eyes on the finish line. Photo credit 2DIGITA

On I ran, grabbing water when I could. The finish line grew closer, around the last bend in the course, and there it was a hundred meters ahead of me. Can I run any faster?  Can I dig a little deeper I asked myself? The answer today was yes! And so I did. I finished second in my age group at the World Aquathlon Championships! My time was 42:00, I had more than surprised myself and was delighted. Two years ago I couldn’t run 500m!

Post race finishers medal. Photo credit selfie ;)
Post race finishers medal. Photo credit selfie 😉

In a nutshell we had a wonderful time in Cozumel. We were proud and honored to be representing Australia. We thoroughly enjoyed racing and watching so many amazing athletes, both elite and age groupers compete on the ITU world stage.

ITU World Championship Trophy.
ITU World Championship Trophy.
Presentation Time. (Men & women together).
Presentation Time. (Men & women together).






The Grand Canyon.
The Grand Canyon.
Rainbow over the Grand Canyon complete with a rare Californian Condor with a wingspan of 2-3 meters.

But we were not done yet….Chris and I flew from Cancun, Mexico to Phoenix, Arizona, USA. We hired a car and drove up to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon where we spent a few days hiking. These were very memorable moments, we were lucky with the weather and the scenery was nothing short of spectacular!

We are back home again now, training and planning for the year ahead. We both go up an age group next year which Chris is happy about. ….And I wonder when those beautiful blue Caribbean waters will call us back again…

Related links;

Thanks for reading, Penny.

Cozumel, sunset over the Caribbean.



Open water swimming crossings and races in Australia and around the world. Stories and reports of our adventures in and out of the water.