What a beautiful day! A short bus drive from camp to Sierpe; a ferry crossing to the other side of the river and on the stroke of 0600 runners departed on the journey to the beautiful and iconic Drakes Bay. It was already humid and as the sun burnt the morning mist away, temperatures rose.
If Philipp Reiter or Vicente Juan Garcia Beneito had any chance of taking overall victory away from Mike Wardian, they would need to work hard in the middle section of the course whilst running through the rainforest and plantation fields and hopefully gain enough time to put ‘Mr. Consistent’ in the hurt locker. The only problem in this scenario was Wardian! After CP2 he had gained a 3min lead and with a course profile that suited him down to the ground it was going to take a blow up of epic proportions to see him loose not only the stage but also the overall race. “I felt good man, I opened it up when the running was good and held on when the running was more technical,” said Wardian.
I have to say, Wardian has been an absolute star and a great ambassador for ‘our’ sport in this race. He’s pushed hard, fought back on tough days and irrespective of the outcome has had a huge smile on his face… okay, maybe he wasn’t smiling too much when he was 14-min down on stage-3 but he sure was at the finish when he not only pulled back the gap but went on for a joint stage win with Reiter.
Meek, as one would have expected, started the day at the front of the ladies race and although Bottger caught her back at CP3, Meek took the stage by the scruff of the neck and rand hard to the finish for another stage win! “I was hurting today and didn’t feel great. When Julia caught me at CP3 I panicked… I know it’s crazy as I had an hour lead but the racer kicked in and I flew out of the CP and buried myself to the line,” said Meek after the race.
Meek has been phenomenal in this race, like Wardian she had moments when things did not go well (stage-3 at the start) but Meek played to her strengths, pushed hard and has quite literally dominated from the front.
Clark ran easy today, his issues from yesterday strong in his mind, he just wanted to finish without causing any damage. He ran with Gaffuri for a while but later dropped to 5th.
Beneito however, seized the opportunity to run strong and pursued Wardian all the way to the line with Reiter running in 3rd place for most of the day. The lack of any steep vertical played into Wardian’s hands and once again he was first past the post; 2-stage wins and a joint stage win with Reiter, not bad for 5-days racing.
Reiter couldn’t close the gap on Beneito, so once again Beneito finished 2nd.
Once Meek had a ‘scare’ at CP3 she ran like a lady possessed and finished almost 5-mins ahead of Bottger and Bravo was 30-mins back. With Gemma Slaughter out of the race due to stomach issues, fellow Canadian and teammate, Van Dyk finished 4th on stage and this moves her up on the overall GC.
Drakes Bay, the mangroves, the rainforest, the plantation fields and the beaches are the best of Costa Rica. Today’s stage may have lacked elevation but it was replaced with beauty.
Stage-6 is a circular route of Drakes Bay and will be a victory lap for all runners. The overall GC is not going to change (barring a disaster) so it’s a great moment to celebrate the company of others and soak up the surrounding of the best of Costa Rica, The 10th edition of The Costal Challenge has been an epic!
- Mike Wardian 4:14:11
- Vicente Juan Garcia Beneito 4:23:19
- Philipp Reiter 4:25:56
- Marti Gaffuri 4:46:49
- Nick Clark 4:51:52
- Jo Meek 5:23:56
- Julia Bottger 5:29:11
- Veronica Bravo 5:57:43
- Hailey Van Dyk 6:40:52
- Kelly Ridgway 6:42:19