A heavy downpour of epic proportions last night didn’t dampen the spirits of the runners as they departed Ventanas Beach for another tough day in Costa Rica. Mike Wardian and Jo Meek have held convincing leads from day-1, however, neither have had an easy journey. Both struggled on the early technical sections of stage-3 but rallied and found something in the tank to reclaim lost time and finish a tough day-3 with stage wins. Mikes run was a classic… pulling back 14-mins was truly a remarkable run.
Day-4 started and ended with technical sections. From the off runners would climb for over an hour on an overgrown forest path and then spend time going up and down in the plains before descending 3km on a tough trail that twisted, gnarled and one could almost say that the trails ‘bite back’. It was a day that Julia Bottger for the ladies would revel in and although the chances of pulling back her deficit on Meek was unlikely, I thought Julia might shine. By contrast, the middle section of the course would suit Wardian, but the tough climb and super tough final descent could potentially allow a stronger competitor on technical terrain to pull back time…?
At the summit of the first climb Reiter appeared first dripping in sweat in the early morning humidity. Wardian appeared 3-min in arrears and then Clark and Beneito appeared once again attached at the hip 5-mins in deficit. The race was on!
To my surprise Meek was having a great day… I don’t say that in a negative way but I certainly expected Bottger to take control on that first climb and pull away causing Meek to chase. “I loved today, it was a stage that had everything and the climbs weren’t so technical that I couldn’t use my strength and fitness,” said Meek.
On the rolling sections after the first climb Wardian once again started to close the gap. This guy is relentless…! Beneito and Clark seem to have found comfort in each others pace and certainly they move well together, however, as Wardian caught Reiter at CP3, the dynamic duo were starting to loose time on the other dynamic duo.
For the ladies race, it was starting to take a very familiar format; Meek lead Bottger and Bottger lead Veronica Bravo. Focused on the end goal, Meek runs scared and pushing, “Anything can happen and I need to run the way that makes me feel secure and while I feel good I will utilize it.”
Reiter and Wardian ran through the plains together until the final descent, as I expected, Reiter pulled away, “I wasn’t sure if we should run together” said Reiter “Wardian is so much fun to run with, he talks constantly and makes me laugh. On the descent I stopped for a short while but he was nowhere in sight so I pushed on.”
Reiter gained another 3-mins and considering his day-1 experience, his form and dedication has been remarkable. Beneito placed 3rd on the stage and unfortunately Clark had a tough day; he started to pass blood and therefore took his foot of the gas and walked in to the finish. Martin Gaffuri once again had another consistent day and his fifth place is secure.
Meek crossed the line first, followed by Bottger and Bravo finished 3rd. A big loss to the race and the overall GC was 2013 TCC champ, Gemma Slaughter. Unfortunately she had a tough night and was sick in the morning of the race… she did start but had to withdraw during the race.
With two days to go, the ladies race looks set. However, the men’s race is wide open; this has been one of the most exciting stage races I have ever had the pleasure to follow and it isn’t over yet!
- Philipp Reiter 4:19:11
- Mike Wardian 4:22:07
- Vicente Juan Garcia Beneito 4:32:14
- Nick Clark 4:54:59
- Marti Gaffuri 5:09:51
- Jo Meek 5:38:42
- Julia Bottger 5:44:55
- Veronica Bravo 6:12; 42
- Hailey Van Dyk 6:52:21
- Sandra Meija 7:16:51
GC to be confirmed