Coronado to Palmar Sur 37.5km
It’s routine now… the camp comes alive at 0330 as runners rise to prepare for a day ahead. Breakfast has been on the go since 0200. The catering team really are troopers!
Last nights sleep was awesome. The sound of the ocean accompanied us throughout… waves making a watery nursery rhyme to help us all drift off. The soft splashing of waves was interrupted by the chatter of Monkeys! We had invaded their environment and they were letting us know.
At 0500 the runners departed by bus for a short transfer to the race start some 20 minutes away. Temperatures were much cooler today, for sure, it would mean the early running would be much more pleasureable.
I headed up the course to CP3 approximately 20km from the finish. My intention was to run in from here and capture images from strategic locations as the race unfolded. With my first spot found; I waited. The early morning mist that had engulfed us started to burn away as the sun started to heat the atmosphere.
Dave James appeared on the horizon and danced his way towards me and then past me “I had forgot how beautiful it is up here man” he shouted.
“Your looking good Dave”
“Yeah, I feel good, just trying to enjoy the day”
Over twenty minutes later, Ismael and Henry arrived. Dave was killing it once again… he really is head and shoulders above the completion here and that is saying something, Ismael is no slouch!
After a short section of single track; a tough, technical and twisty descent dropped to a stream and then a tough long climb waited. The heat started to beat down. It was tough.
At the top of this section it was then mostly wide fire trail. Like a roller coaster it went up and down. A beautiful vista on the left with rolling hills and green pastures. To the right, dense jungle and an assault of noise. Terrain is good underfoot, to all intents and purposes its easy running. A right turn and then a long tough and technical descent through dense jungle to the final few road kilometers that would lead to the finish line.
I waited at strategic points, captured images and slowly moved forward to my own finish line. It was a tough day. I wasn’t doing much running today but even so; it took some time for runners to come to me. By the time I reached the finish only 10 had arrived.
I was fortunate to see Gemma Slaughter (Canada) arrive at the finish. She had placed 2nd on day 1, 2nd on day 2 and gave away the lead on day 3 in the final km’s (due to fatigue) to finish 4th. She put the record straight today though. She had not only won the stage but with a combination of her having a ‘good day’ and the other ladies have a ‘less good’ day she had taken the overall lead by 25 minutes.
I caught up with Gemma on today’s win:
Tell me about your strategy for today. You had a tough day yesterday, after leading pretty much all day you relinquished the lead in the final 6km?
You had no more aspirations?
“I knew how much I struggled yesterday. I have no objectives, as I don’t know my potential. I thought I had to make the most of the day and see what happens”
So you lead from the front today, did you keep looking behind?
“I looked for the first 4km and then I was on the trail… I was shocked at how tough that climb was. It was scrambling, knees on chest; wow!”
So at the top of the climb you then hit the rolling terrain, it is like a series of dippers?
“I walked the climbs and probably ran 80% of the flats and shuffled the downs”
Was your body hurting?
“My quads felt like they were being stabbed by knives, it was so painful. I was with Bryce and Brent from Canada”
Did they help pace you?
“I ran the downs faster but they climbed quicker, it evened out”
From checkpoint 3 what happened?
“I pushed on after eating and drinking. I walk at first and then ease myself back into running.”
How was the final descent?
“I felt like Kilian… arms in the air bouncing from rocks. It’s like dot-to-dot. My feet join the dots. Its so mental concentrating on the terrain I thought I need to push it and maximize time”
And did you find that descent difficult?
“ For sure, I thought I may hurt myself but hey, that’s the race…”
So, the final stretch was a couple K of road. Did you have it sewn up?
“No, it’s like dangling a carrot. I had no idea how far the finish was. I also had no idea how far behind the next lady was. I kept my pace and pushed on to the finish. Kids came out and waved and smiled. I took that energy and used it”
So you got the stage win today but you are now in the overall lead by 25 min?
“It doesn’t feel real. I don’t know how I feel. My friends are sharing all this on Facebook. I am so shocked… it hasn’t sunk in. I am done now.”
So tomorrow, defend or attack?
“Attack, always attack”
Finally Gemma tells me about the special story that brings you to The Coastal Challenge?
“Graham Snowden. He put our team together. About 10 months ago he asked me if I wanted to take part and I said yes. I am really new to running. This is my first race…”
Tell me about the other reason?
“Two things. My team, Tam, Tony, Graham, Shawn, Pavel and Marissa. We all want to support each other and that motivates all of us. The other one is test my own physical ability”
The men’s race barring a disaster is over. Dave James has a convincing lead that will not be relinquished. However, with two days to go and tomorrows long stage, anything can happen for 2md and 3rd.
The ladies race is far more open. Gemma now has a strong lead but as stage 4 shows, it only takes one person to have a good day and another to have a bad day for things to change dramatically.
Images from stage 4 can be viewed HERE
- Dave James 5:05
- Ismael Dris jnt 2nd 5:53
- Jose Lopez jnt 2nd 5:53 (now moved up into 3rd place)
- Gemma Slaughter 7:49 (now 25 min lead overall)
- Angela Mayer 8:45
- Irene Hale 8:46
Stage 5 is one of the most beautiful. The start can only be reached by boat so it’s an early start for everyone at the camp… I can’t help but think tomorrow’s blog my start with stories of fatigue and mosquitoes.