Not sure if it’s a good thing or a bad thing, but 3-4 hours broken sleep seems to be no problem here in Costa Rica. The catering team were crashing pans and chatting at 0200 as they prepared our 0400 breakfast. No animal sounds or crashing waves to break the slumber, today it was the pitter-patter of rain. Not large quantities, it was splash, splash, splash, splash; big drops of rain. When I opened my tent a mist covered the camp providing an eerie feeling to glow of headlamps.
Today’s stage required a short bus transfer and then a ferry to the race start. We transferred, waved the runners off and then had the use of a speedboat to make our way to CP2. No roads to this location…. I have to say the boat trip was a real treat. We saw the sunrise and wildlife emerge for a new day. The driver showed off a little by opening the throttle and weaving from right to left. At our stop point we transferred to the grounds of a private house and set up. I ran into the trail heading toward CP1 to pick my spot and await the front-runners.
At 0600 the runners departed. Dave James had had rough night with broken sleep and was feeling a little under the weather. Would this provide an opportunity for Ismael?
Todays course had less elevation but some of the most beautiful scenery. Dense rainforest with muddy/clay trails, single track that widened to double track and fire trail. Farming fields with long grass and lush vegetation. Water-crossings of varied in size and length. Just before the finish, a small section of road and a few hundred meters of idyllic beach. It had everything.
Running a little behind predicted time, Dave arrived with Ismael just behind. This was about 1km before CP2 and just over 2 hours into the race.
“Looking good Dave” I shouted… no response! Mmm he’s not having a good day I thought to myself. Despite what internal dilemmas he may be having he moved from left to right foot with ease. As Ismael passed, he waved with a big smile. He was obviously enjoying the day and course.
Next to arrive was Jose Lopez who is currently placed 3rd overall. He was certainly finding the tough and slippery clay trail less to his liking than James and Dris. I ran into CP2 with him and then left ahead to capture additional images.
The sun was rising high now and provided greater light as it broke through the patches in the dense canopy above. A small descent with slippery clay provided an opportunity to get an image of Henry Monestel. I then decided to run with him through to the next CP some 10km away.
The canopy provided some great shade but when you moved out into the open sections, the sun hit and it hit hard. The difference between the two must have been 20 degrees! The logical thing is to run the shade and jog/ powerwalk the sun sections. It worked well. Every now and again I went ahead, captured an image and then ran with Henry again. The many streams provided an opportunity to completely submerge us and reduce our core temperature or take of a hat and soak it, so important when the heat and humidity is so high.
CP3 arrived and no other runners were in sight. I decided to push on keeping Henry for company. Up trail and down trail, Palm trees everywhere. The diversity and difference in the vegetation is incredible. In no time CP4 arrived and I waited a little while in the hope I would see some other runners.
Rodrigo Curazo, RD for the race told confirmed that Dave was struggling. He had arrived at the CP just behind Ismael but they had left together. Lopez currently in 3rd was also struggling. Ultimately the overall positions in the race wouldn’t change but certainly the fight for overall 3rd place was on.
A steep climb straight out of the CP and then the trail dropped to a small village, a right turn and then a water crossing. It was the final section of the race now and a short stretch of road provided access to an awesome stretch of beach and the finish of stage 5.
Dave and Ismael ran the beach together with Ismael taking the stage win by 1 second. Lopez held on to 3rd place despite his issues.
For the ladies, Gemma Slaughter did exactly what she said she would do and attacked! Behind Hale and Meyer worked together to hopefully pull back some time but it was all to no avail. Gemma ran onto the beach beaming safe in the knowledge that had she not only won the stage but also confirmed that her consistency will almost certainly secure her the overall win now. By the time Hale & Meyer crossed the line (together) they were another 35 minutes behind giving Slaughter a 1-hour margin.
The setting for today’s stage was a remarkable testament not only to the diversity and beauty that Costa Rica offers but also a testament to Rodrigo and his team who provided access to trails that nobody runs on. The final setting at Drakes Beach is a picture postcard setting and our campsite is little more than 100m from the waters edge.
Days running and relaxing afterwards don’t get much better than what The Coastal Challenge have offered today. Apparently, tomorrow’s stage, a circular loop back to our campsite is also ‘special’. I can’t wait. We also get another night at this incredible campsite.
Tomorrows stage is the final of the race and a loop circuit back to our day 5 campsite.
A full set of images from day 5 can be viewed HERE
Results for stage
- I Dris 11:11
- D James 11:12
- J Lopez 12:17
- G Slaughter 12:57
- I Hale 1:32
- A Meyer 1:32