Sunday’s Ironman 70.3 in Cozumel marked a truly inspirational result for not only the TriCozumel team, but the entire community of Cozumel. The success and engagement of triathlon within this community should serve as a model for what the WTC could be doing on a worldwide basis.
While it was a successful day for the Sutto squad race-wise, I want to focus on the underbelly of why it was a terrific day for the island of Cozumel and the sport itself.
In Andres Castillo we have a decent, hard working pro athlete who on Sunday went out and gave it his all for his family, his team, and the 120 kids of the Tres Hermanos Foundation Swim, Bike and Run program. He finished 7th in a 4-hour display of magnificent courage only to again be paid zero dollars for his efforts. It is a crying shame, but don’t cry to much for Andres as he was paid in much more significant currency. This season he took up the role of head coach of the Junior Elite program of the Tres Hermanos Foundation and while it wasn’t easy to let go of some of his own individual ambitions in the sport, he did and went to work with the kids who belonged to this social program. I was so proud to see him finish, totally disorientated from the heat, only to be back on the course within 5 minutes encouraging his own charges who three seasons ago couldn’t swim or run, or even know what a triathlon was apart from watching the ‘rich guys’ with their shiny bikes come to the island to do this crazy race.
To announce that a member of his team, Alan Carrillo, not only made the full distance but won the 18-24 division and finished 17th overall in a great performance must have been so satisfying for him and I hope gives him much pride in the fact he is now making a difference in other peoples lives.
I’ll also mention Brooke Brown, who went on to finish fourth in the 70.3 women’s professional division, is the Foundation’s nutritionist and regularly gives talks to the kids about their diet and better options they should be following. This was not only a race result, this was a community result that sees triathlon making a difference to the health of their island.
One statistic that is very telling to the difference triathlon is making in the island’s mentality to exercise and sport in general: When the first race was held here there only just four locals entered. Yesterday 140 Cozumel residents toed the start line. While Tres Hermanos receives no money for its work with the kids from WTC, nor do any locals get any financial relief to do the race in their own island, it is a testament of how triathlon can be used within communities to make a difference on so many levels.
Thank you to Governor Roberto Borge of Quintana Roo and the Mayor of Cozumel, Mr Freddy Marrufo, for making this all possible.