Nine incredible editions of The Coastal Challenge and in the words of race director, Rodrigo Carazo, ‘believe me, the 10th is going to be extra special’.
The Coastal Challenge has not been without some premier names from the ultra world in past editions, Scott Jurek raced in 2009 and Dave James has been a regular attendee for multiple years.
However, the 2014 edition of the race is going to see the race create a higher profile in the world of multi day racing. The announcement of Salomon sponsored duo, Philipp Reiter and Julia Boettger joining the race apparently is only the first of several big announcements that are due in coming weeks.
Rodrigo Carazo confirmed to me that the TCC is a passion for him and for the 10th edition of the race he wanted to ensure something special. When I asked him about the inclusion of Philipp and Julia he said, “It has always been a long term aim to have elite runners at The Coastal Challenge. We have had Scott Jurek in a past edition! It’s great to have Philipp and Julia join us and it will be great to see how they perform. However, TCC is all about enjoyment, participation and inclusion. Every participant will be treated the same. We will be one big happy family.”
It also appears that Philipp and Julia are only the first two names to be announced, I asked Rodrigo did he have any other surprises for us?
“Well, we have already made public that Brit, Jo Meek (interview HERE) will join us in Costa Rica. Jo was 2nd lady overall at the 2013 Marathon des Sables, so that will add some interest to the race. Also, we have some other ‘names’ from the ultra world to announce in the coming weeks. We are just making final preparations. It is all very exciting.”
Of course, Philipp and Julia need no introduction to the ultra running community. Philipp Reiter despite his youth has been competing on the ultra and Skyrunning calendar for several years with repeated impressive results. He has won the Zugspitze several times and just this year he won the 100km race. He is also a repeated winner at the multi day Transalpine race. However, Philipp is gaining a higher profile for consistently strong performances in the Skyrunner World Series.
I asked Philipp what had enticed him to race in Costa Rica?
“It sounds like a great adventure to me. Running eight days in the jungle, crossing rivers, hopefully seeing some wild and dangerous animals, sleeping in a tent-village and of course tasting some new food and local specialties. Running is such a great sport that we can all experience, I am really excited to share the trails with others who are equally passionate. It’s what I love and want to experience.”
Philipp already has experience of multi day racing. For example, he has raced Transalpine several times and been incredibly successful. When I asked him about the challenge of Costa Rica and the rainforest environment he looked excited.
“Yes, so far I have done some stages races in summer (4-Trails, Transalpine Run) and also a few in winter (Pierra Menta, Tour du Rutor) so I know how it feels to have a race day by day in a row. But as I have never been to Costa Rica and the jungle there, it’s definitely going to be a new challenge for me. It’s a very different climate and the terrain will be a challenge. I am sure at times it will be tough!
Of course one issue that may arise for those who live in Europe is the timing of the race, late January and early February, our weather is somewhat different to Costa Rica. I asked Philipp about cross training over the winter, as he is an experienced Ski Mountaineer. “Are you planning on doing any specific training for the TCC?”
“Yes, you are right, it’s the prime time of the SkiMo races and a lot of competitions take place. But for the Costal Challenge it’s not problem for me to skip these races. I usually have a lot of snow at this time of the year near my home and finding good trails can be difficult but I hope I can get some running in until January and maybe the ‘white gold’ will fall late this season? I recently saw some pictures of a guy from Norway cycling indoors with his down jacket on to prepare for the heat of Transvulcania (laughs) I am sure will also find a solution to prepare for the warm weather; running indoors in a Sauna?
On a final note, I asked Philipp what he was most looking forward to… the competition, a new place, travel or all those elements combined?
“It is more the experience in the jungle, a new area to explore, the wildlife and totally different nature.”
Julia Boettger is without doubt a lover of longer distances and enjoys multi days in the mountains, she has placed 2nd at the extremely tough 160km Diagonale des Fous on Reunion Island and just recently placed 3rd at the 80km Grand Raid des Pyrenees.
“I have never been to Costa Rica before. I am really excited to see the trails and landscape over there. The climate will be very different, the terrain and of course the culture and people. It is just a very nice mix of a lot of new things and impressions. I have never done a multi day race like this before; sleeping in tents next to the beach in a foreign country, spending some days with great people and becoming a “family”. It’s going to be really exciting”
And Julia is correct, it really is a great adventure that manages to combine many different elements. Runners have no need to be self sufficient, food is provided and all your belongings are transported to the next camp/ rendezvous point.
“It’s fantastic! It’s a great way to start a new year and a new season with some lovely running in beautiful locations. I am just fortunate to be able to do what I love. Running and then spending the rest of the day at a beautiful location, get some real food and not have to take care about anything else. Recovery will be so much easier for everyone each day.”
Like Philipp, Julia loves the mountains and technical terrain. The rainforests of Costa Rica do have some elevation but nothing like the Alps or Pyrenees. I asked Julia if she would do any specific training to prepare?
“Preparation will be different because the race is very early in the season. So for me it is hard to train in the mountains at this time of the year because we have a lot of snow. In winter I do a lot of cross country skiing and ski mountaineering. As the several stages of the race are not as long as the courses I normally do it will be easier to train for at this time of the year. I will do more running in the flat and get some speed work in.”
For many, a trip to Costa Rica is a once in a lifetime possibility. The ability to combine this trip with a passion for running is something that all participants will relish. Julia is no different!
“The combination of traveling to a new place, running on different trails and meeting new lovely people who are sharing our passion will make this very special. I think Costa Rica is a very interesting country with a lot of different aspects and surprises. So I am looking forward to this adventure, the warm sunny weather will also be a great break from cold misty weather in Germany.”
Steve Diederich, the UK agent for The Coastal Challenge is excited about the inclusion of Philipp and Julia (and maybe more?) and although race entry is now closed, Steve has made several places available to coincide with this announcement. In addition, a 5% discount will be offered to the first five applicants. Steve had this to say, “The Coastal Challenge has come of age and has joined the exclusive club of iconic multi-day ultras – with the added twist of a backdrop of some of the most breathtaking rainforest and coast on the planet and accompanied with now legendary catering that outclasses any other event. The TCC in 2014 is a vintage race in the making.”
Race dates: 2nd to 9th February 2014
If you would like to attend the 2014 event and take advantage of a 5% discount, please email email@example.com
The Coastal Challenge website HERE