Not even a 4am start could dampen the spirits of the participants of the 9th edition of The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica.
Leaving the Best Western in San Jose some 100+ racers, crew and staff made the 2.5 hour journey to the coast and the start of the first stage at Quepos. A total distance of just under 34k this day was billed as an ‘easy’ day to allow the participants to adjust to the heat and humidity. Believe me, they needed it…
Quepos is a small town on the coast of Costa Rica and the arrival of several buses was certainly a point of interest, pre-breakfast in this little town. Runners congregated at the start and prepared for the challenge ahead. Filling packs, getting bottles ready and nervously laughing.
At 0900 they left the town and the first 10k was on road or pathway. Unusual you would think for a rainforest race? But a flat 10k of consistent surface is maybe just what all the runners needed to ease them into the day ahead. As expected Dave James hit the front and stayed in that place all the way to the finish.
I had gone to checkpoint 1 at 10k and then left following the course and ultimately would make the journey to the finish line under my own steam. My plan was to get into the jungle and then capture the runners as they approached.
Coming from a cold winter in the UK the heat and the humidity hit me straight away. Within minutes I was soaking wet and remained that way for the whole day. The front runners seemed in control but very early on it became apparent that if you pushed too hard it was going to be a tricky day.
The course was a mixture of rocky fire trail and jungle. Apart from the heat the most notacable thing was the noise from the canopy. Millions and millions of insects created a chorus that was deafening.
As the course progressed and we descended down to the river, a metal bridge facilitated a safe crossing and checkpoint 3. From here it was just 6k to the finish.
The Coastal Challenge team was already busy laying out peoples tents and arranging luggage so that it was ready for our arrival.
I have to say I was pleased to see the finish line. The heat really drained and as runners arrived you could see the stress and the impact on faces.
“This is the easy day” one lady said.
“Yeah, tell me about it… today is gonna be so interesting” replied another.
With a river to cool off in and food available the recovery process immediately starts. The runners, the team and the location is excellent. What more could you ask…
Dave James finished in 1st place in just under 3 hours (tbc)
T Dris had an excellent run to pull back into 2nd place. He had early gone off course in the day and when he passed me he said he had run an extra 6k! A top 10 finisher at MDS he has now 46 mins behind James.
In 3rd J Lupez finished just a handful of minutes behind Dris.
You can view The Coastal Challenge website HERE
Tomorrows stage is 39k with 2250m of ascent and we get underway early at 0530.