The Coastal Challenge 2016 #TCC2016 – The Full Story


The 2016 The Coastal Challenge was an incredible race, year-on-year the race grows and it is now one of the most respected multi-day races on the calendar. Following the classic multi-day format, runners travel in the south of Costa Rica on foot covering approximately 250km’s. Like races such as Marathon des Sables, the TCC is not self-sufficient. Don’t be fooled into thinking that this makes the races easier… read on!

View the full 2016 The Coastal Challenge image gallery HERE


“Hugging the coastline, the race travels in and out of the stunning Talamanca mountain range via dense forest trails, river crossings, waterfalls, long stretches of golden beaches backed by palm trees, dusty access roads, high ridges and open plains. At times technical, the combination of so many challenging elements is only intensified by the heat and high humidity that slowly but surely reduces even the strongest competitors to exhausted shells.”



“Encapsulating the true sense of adventure, TCC requires a runner to be more than ‘just’ a runner. The race manages to make or break the most experienced competitor. Hopping from rock-to-rock, traversing a ridge, clambering over slimy boulders, swimming river crossings or running up and down single or double track, the race truly requires a rounded athlete to gain victory.”



“The men’s race looked all set for a group run to the line with Don-Wauchope, Calisto and Martinez running side-by-side over all of the first 25km. Don-Wauchope safe in 1st place, Calisto safe in 2nd and Martinez no threat to the overall standings.”


“But where was Sa?”


“Sa was trailing a few minutes back. When the trio entered the river bed, Sa apparently flew past like a man possessed. It was a last ditch effort to secure 2nd place ahead of Callisto.”



Demand for the 2017 The Coastal Challenge is already high with pre-requests and provisional bookings. Entries open in the UK and Europe this week via

Why not take part in our 2017 Multi-Day Training Camp which takes place in January each year? Details are available HERE

Interested in The Coastal Challenge 2017? Use the form below to secure one of the 100 available places


Transgrancanaria 2016 #TGC16 – Race Preview

©iancorless.com_Transgrancanaria15-6747March rolls around once again and with it, the Transgrancanaria. Arguably, the Canarian island of Gran Canaria kicks off the serious European racing calendar with the Transgrancanaria and 2016, like all previous years, once again has a quality line up.

On first impressions, the male and female elite field may not have the depth of some previous editions, but those who are racing bring a high pedigree to the race and the action at the front, as always, will be fast and tough.

Transgrancanaria is a tough, tough course with some brutal and relentless climbing, particularly in the opening kilometers under darkness. What follows is a rollercoaster of Canarian landscape that leads the runners from the north of the island, all the way down to the south, with a finish close to the sea. It’s a logical and pleasing crossing of the island.

Past editions of the race have been criticized for the final 10-20km that involved running in what felt like a concrete tube, I have been informed that a new finish route is planned and so therefore we can expect finish times different to previous editions.

This route, the island, the weather and the unpredictable nature that a 125km route brings guarantees that we are in for a special battle. Now in its 3rd edition as part of the UTWT (Ultra Trail World Tour) the 2016 Transgrancanaria will be an exciting race.


Heading up the male line-up is 2015 champion, Gediminas Grinius. We coined a phrase last year that Gediminas has become the #GrinReaper. He lived up to that reputation in the 2015 race when he closed like a demon to win the race against a world-class field. Gediminas has been a revelation over the past 2-years and his rise in the sport has been great to watch. Without doubt, he is a hot favourite for the 2016 win.



Didrik Hermansen and Sondre Amdahl will not be far behind Gediminas, this duo raced side-by-side in 2015 and on that occasion, Hermansen took the 2nd podium place. He followed this with a win at Lavaredo and 3rd at UltraVasen. This duo have had an equally impressive rise in the sport over the last 2-years, particularly Amdahl who races regularly. He follows up Transgrancanaria with his first multi-day race; Marathon des Sables. Sondre placed 4th at Transgrancanaria last year and 4th at UTMF, his best result coming at Hong Kong 100 where he placed 2nd.

An exciting prospect is the USA’s Seth Swanson. Seth is very much a runner who is below the radar in Europe, however, his podium (2nd) back-to-backs at Western States elevate him to a complete surprise package on the Canarian trails of Gran Canaria. The big question will come with the relentless hands-on-knees climbing that Transgrancanaria brings. Of course, he placed 4th at UTMB so I have it on good authority that Seth can look after himself… one to watch for the win! ©iancorless.com_EcoTrailMadeira2015-9101

Julien Chorier always impresses me on tough and technical courses, in addition to his all around climbing ability, he can run with the best too. His experiences on Gran Canaria are also good (2nd in 2014 behind Ryan Sandes), he knows the course, he has been on the podium and we can expect a top drawer performance that will contest the podium once again. Julien placed 6th at Western States, so if he is in a neck-to-neck with Swanson later in the race, my money is on Swanson. ©iancorless.com_Transgrancanaria15-6897

Antoine Guillon is a UTWT regular and in the past has raced every race in the calendar, he often misses the big victory because of this but his consistency is 100%. You can almost predict that if injury does not hit h will be in the top-10 and has a good chance of top-5. He placed 3rd last year and also won Raid de la Reunion. ©

Like Swanson, Yan Long Fei will also be another surprise package for the podium and potential win. His gentle rise in the sport has been special to watch and his recent 2nd place result in Hong Kong 100 will boost his confidence for Transgrancanaria. ©iancorless.com_ITT2015-0065

Andy Symonds is back on form after extended injury and this course will suit the Brit who lives in France. The only question may come with the distance and potential time on feet, 125km is a long race for Andy but he does have plans to extend his range and Transgrancanaria is a good place to start. Andy had 5 victories in 2015, the last coming at Ultra Trail Atlas Toubkai ahead of Julien Chorier. He also completed the super tough and technical ELS2900. ©iancorless.com_Transgrancanaria15-7329

Yeray Duran represents the local talent; he always performs well on a race that may well be the highlight of his year. Other top names to watch are Pau Capell, Toti Bes, Jordi Camito, Pau Bartolo and the return of Sebastien Chaigneau.

*Late additions to my entry list come no bigger than Miguel Heras (ouch! if he is on form he could crush it), Jonas Buud is super fast and can climb as we have seen at UTMB and Skyrunning hot shot Franco Colle will love this 8000m+ course.

Nuria Picas heads up the ladies’ field and is the two time defending champion. I wouldn’t want to bet against her on this course and one only needs to look at her pal mares for a confirmation of her ability. Nuria had 4 victories in 2015 that included Grand raid Reunion, arguably though her most impressive year is 2014 with 7 victories and 2nd at UTMB.

Caroline Chaverot has been a revelation over the past 2-years and her growth in the sport phenomenal. Like Nathalie Macular, she is a wife and a mother who manages to race at the highest level. Caroline placed 2nd behind Picas in 2015 but went on to win at Lavaredo and the Eiger Ultra Trail. I saw Caroline in December while I was in La Palma, she was training on the Transvulcania route. If it all comes together, she can win and certainly make the podium.

Uxue Fraile has always impressed me with her waiting game and patience. She is not the fastest lady in the race but she has the patience and the long game. She proved this in 2015 with a victory at UTMF and 2nd at UTMB. Axe’s last time at Transgrancanaria was in 2014 with 6th place, I think the podium may well be hers in 2016.


Andrea Huser placed 4th at Transgrancanaria in 2015 and then followed up with 12 races where she ranked in the top-5 at all of them with Matterhorn Ultraks the exception where she placed 8th. One would arguably say that she races too much… she is relentless. I get tired looking at her result sheet but an early season race may well mean she is fresh!

Silvia Trigueros may mix things up for the podium as her recent 3rd place at Hong Kong 100 confirms. This result is backed up with a solid 2015 and in particular a top result at UTMB where she placed 4th.

Dong Li placed 3rd last year and backed this up with strong performances at TNF100 in Australia and the 80km Mont-Blanc.

Lisa Borzani recently placed 2nd at Hong Kong 100 and therefore this elevates her to a contender for the Transgrancanaria podium. However, her results do seem to blow hot and cold, this is reflected with 14th at the Eiger and 10th at Lavaredo.

Manuela Vilaseca placed 5th last year and with this lady’s line-up, I think we can expect a repeat performance. Her 5th place at Lavaredo backs this up as does her 10th at UTMB.

The wild card is Angela Shartel who I know little about but her results are impressive; 1st Bear 100 mile, 1st Cruel Jewel 100 mile, 1st at Crown King Scramble 50k and that is just 2015 – watch this space.

Race website HERE

Racing takes place this coming weekend March 4th – 6th and you can view images, read reports and follow the racing on all my usual channels.

Twitter – @talkultra

Website –

Instagram – @iancorlessphotography

Facebook –

Logo Transgrancanaria

4KVDA – 4K Alpine Endurance Trail Valle d’Aosta


3-9 September 2016

25,000 m D+ 200 miles Start and Finish CogneAosta Valley – Italy

BREAKING NEWS March 15th 2016

Regarding the Tor des Géants ® – Regione Valle d’Aosta issue, The Ordinary Tribunal of Turin – Company Division has accepted the appeal presented by VdA Trailers.

The Tribunal of Turin considers the actions of the Region regarding Vda Trailers and the Tor des Géants® to be damaging and harmful and considers the 4K race organized by the Region to be harmful of the rights of VdA Trailers and of the normal operation of the Tor des Géants ®2016, since it overlaps it regarding route, length, altitude difference and duration.

Specifically, the Tribunale prohibits, effective immediately, the Autonomous Valle d’Aosta Region and the Forte di Bard Association from accepting registrations and collecting the related registration fees for the “4k Alpine Endurance Trail Valle d’Aosta” event planned from September 3 – 9, 2016.

In addition, the Tribunal prohibits the Autonomous Valle d’Aosta Region and the Forte di Bard Association from making any reference to the “Tor” or the “Tor des Géants” in the presentation, promotion and publicizing of the “4k Alpine Endurance Trail Valle d’Aosta” event, including the use of the expression and the brand of “Tor des Géants®”.

Finally, the Tribunal prohibits the Autonomous Valle d’Aosta Region and the Forte di Bard Association from engaging in any actions which might hinder the organization or execution of the Tor des Géants®, such as that, in particular, of issuing declarations aimed at leading people to believe that the Tor des Géants®2016 will not be held, or that it has been or will be replaced by another event organized by the Region, or to make declarations regarding the “limited safety” of the “Tor des Géants”.

This decree has become law with immediate effect.

The Autonomous Region of the Aosta Valley is organising an endurance trail running event to be raced clockwise along the Alte Vie 1 and 2 high-mountain trails, at an altitude between 300 and 3,300 msl. A 350 km circuit with 25,000 m. elevation gain which starts and ends in Cogne, in the heart of the Gran Paradiso National Park.

It was the need to make the best use of all the various synergies involved and to focus particularly on the safety and spectacularity of the competition that prompted the Autonomous Region of the Aosta Valley to launch its own project, taking over the organisation of the event and actively involving the whole territory.

These are the main innovations:

  • Obligatory GPS device provided to every runner
  • Possibility of participating individually or in pairs
  • Greatest possible care taken in laying out the course
  • Obligatory small crampons, supplied in the race bag
  • Monetary prizes for those who finish in the first few places in the overallrankings according to the Itra Regulations
  • Alternative routes available in the event of bad weather
  • Random antidoping tests
  • Skin Tattoo with the route elevation profileThe competition can accept up to a maximum of 1,200 runners and is a semi self-sufficiency event. In order to enter, athletes must be at least 21 years old in 2016. Accompaniment is permitted, without transport service or transfer of material.The route highlights key elements of the Region’s rich historical, cultural and natural heritage: as well as the famous Fortress of Bard it touches on well- known tourist destinations such as La Thuile, Courmayeur, Breuil – Cervinia, Champoluc, Gressoney and Cogne, and also gives both athletes and spectators the chance to discover some rather less renowned but outstandingly beautiful spots.The most precious contribution will come from the over 2000 volunteers who will be supporting and assisting the athletes along the route and together with them at least 100 mountain experts. A compact group with a single grand objective: to ensure that the race is a unique and unforgettable experience for everyone and that it takes place in the safest possible conditions.

    Illustrious, silent spectators of the event, the majestic “4K” of the Aosta Valley: Mont Blanc, Matterhorn, Monte Rosa and Gran Paradiso.

    The race will take runners on an unforgettable journey amidst the marvels of the Aosta Valley Alps, in the company of warm, friendly crowds of spectators who will be lining the route to cheer them on. An extreme experience awaits them, a real physical, introspective and emotional voyage in which mental as well as physical endurance will be a decisive factor.

4K Alpine Endurance Trail Valle d’Aosta is a tough, fascinating competition, raced in a breathtaking natural setting. Ready to accept the challenge?

Pre-registration opens on the 1st of March 2016 at 12 noon on the site and will close on the 25th march 2016 at 12 pm. The draw is due to take place on the 26th of March at 1 pm.

The registrations can be accomplished from the 27th march 2016 to the 20eth april 2016.

Individual participation fee: € 550,00


As a footnote, I am a little confused! the Tor des Geants despite rumours of being cancelled (?) has gained sponsorship from Montane and (according to the website) is still scheduled to take place in September. 2400m and 330km in the valley Aosta….

More news HERE

Rab Mountain Marathon™ 2016 – Open for Entries



The 2016 Rab Mountain Marathon™ will be the 10th edition of an event that has gained an enviable reputation as the ‘friendly mountain marathon’, with its famously relaxed atmosphere, flexible start times and incredible run of good weather weekends!

Today the organisers have announced that the 2016 event will see the introduction of 4 new Linear Courses, following the traditional Elite, A, B and C course structure. Most interestingly, a ‘GPS’ Linear Course is being launched, that unlike the other courses, will allow the use of GPS navigational devices, and is intended to be a pathway for novice participants to enter their first mountain marathon.


Continuing with the theme of innovation, the organisers are also introducing GPS Tracking for all the teams, on all the courses. The GPS Trackers will not assist with navigation but will enable the event to be followed live via the website.


For entries before the end of March, the organisers have frozen the 2015 entry fee, which means that with the addition of the new courses and GPS Tracking, the Rab Mountain Marathon™ is easily the best value event of its kind.

Praise for the 2015 event, the second organised by Ourea Events, was once again superb. Tim Nichol who was participating in his first Rab Mountain Marathon™ said,

“Many thanks for organising such a great weekend in Snowdonia. It was my first Rab MM, but it definitely won’t be my last. The organisation overall couldn’t be faulted, the marshals were really friendly, the course well designed, the atmosphere was relaxed and friendly and the weather was the icing on the cake”.

Race Director Shane Ohly said,

“It is fantastic to get such consistently great feedback from our participants, but I am far from complacent, and have been considering careful how the event will evolve. As such, I am delighted to announce the introduction of Elite, A, B and C Linear Courses and an innovative new GPS Linear Course for the 2016 event. At the same time we are introducing GPS Tracking of all teams”.


The introduction of the new GPS Linear Course is a first for mountain marathons and sure to raise a few eyebrows in the traditional map and compass camp, but Ohly explained his thinking,

“I am looking to the future, and attempting to attract new participants into Mountain Marathon events. I want the events’ courses to be both modern and relevant for all participants and audiences, and I consider the integration of technology as a part of everyday life.”


“That said, my position on the use of GPS navigational devices on our other courses is clear. They are not allowed at all. Although these ‘traditional courses’ do not allow a GPS navigational device to be used, we can enable a great solution that embraces latest technology: Many competitors might want a GPX track of their weekend to upload to their training diaries and to share on social media, and this can be acquired from the GPS Tracker data post-event. It’s another great reason for introducing GPS Trackers to the event, which all soloists and teams will carry.” 

According to the organisers, the introduction of the GPS Trackers will have a significant but subtle effect on the event. First and foremost, it adds a layer of safety by allowing the event team to monitor the location of the participants, but it also allows the participants to summon help using an SOS button in the event of an emergency. The live feed from the Trackers will enable friends and family of the participants to engage with the event in new and exciting ways. During the event – for monitoring and public engagement – the GPS Trackers provide a public record of all routes taken, and can enable the organisers to detect if a participant has been into an Out of Bounds area or through an ‘uncrossable’ boundary – likely to result in disqualification. Lastly, with a GPX download and ‘Replay’ feature it is possible to review the weekend’s activity. This excellent functionality has been developed with the great assistance of Open Tracking.


Shane Ohly continued,

“The GPS Trackers provide an obvious safety benefit, but they also allow the event to reach out to wider audience of the outdoor community and the friends and family of the participants. I think this is very important for keeping the event relevant, modern, and for attracting new participants into this exhilarating outdoor sport.” 

In more detail, the updates to the 2016 event include:

New Elite, A, B and C Linear Courses

  • Elite Course – Estimated winning time: 11 hours over two days
  • A Course – Estimated winning time: 10 hours over two days
  • B Course – Estimated winning time: 9 hours over two days
  • C Course – Estimated winning time: 9 hours over two days

The Elite, A, B and C Course are linear courses where participants must visit a certain number of checkpoints in the correct order – as defined by the organisers. The linear courses still have route choice between controls and are suited for those that wish to try something less complex than the Score Courses, when it comes to topographic decision making! Approximate length and height gains over two days would be:

  • Elite Course – 70km with 3,500m ascent
  • A Course – 60km with 2,800m ascent
  • B Course – 50km with 2,500m ascent
  • C Course – 40km with 2,000m ascent

New GPS Linear Course

This innovative new course is ideal for novice participants and offers a linear route that is a similar standard to a regular mountain marathon C Course. The aim of the GPS Linear Course is to offer a pathway for new participants to get into mountain marathons. This is the only course where GPS devices that aid navigation are allowed.

This GPS navigational device could be a traditional GPS pouch-and-handheld, a wristwatch GPS or a smartphone! Some participants will certainly choose to use a device that can be uploaded with topographic mapping, but please note that presently this would likely be Ordnance Survey or Open Mapping, and not a digital version of Harvey’s mapping. All participants receive a Harvey’s waterproof paper map – including the GPS Linear Course participants.

GPS Trackers

All teams (pairs and solo’s) will be issued with a GPS Tracker that must be attached to their rucksack for the duration of the event. The GPS Tracker allows the organisers, friends and family to follow the teams’ progress live and in real-time. A GPX download of every teams route and ‘Replay’ function of the race will be available shortly after the finish. Any team crossing an uncrossable boundary or passing through an Out of Bounds Area may be disqualified, even days after the event has finished, based on their GPS track.

Looking forward to September!

The organisers believe that these updates for 2016 will improve the event yet further, and broaden the appeal without compromising the core elements that make up the ‘Nature of the Challenge’. The combination of the new Linear Courses and GPS Tracking with the price freeze for early entries, makes the Rab Mountain Marathon™ easily the best value event of its kind and we very much hope that you will be able to join us this September.



Key Event Information
Date: Weekend 24th 25th September 2016
Venue: Within 90 minutes drive of Manchester / Final venue disclosed 1 month prior to the event.
Courses: Elite, A, B, C, GPS, Long Score and Short Score
Entry Fee: From £54.00

Planning a Training Week by Marc Laithwaite


In recent articles we’ve talked about how to plan you training and how to look ahead with target goals in mind. Marc Laithwaite now narrows our focus and takes a look at a single week of training and how you should plan it for maximum benefit.

What’s the purpose of the session?

I’ve mentioned many times that one of the key issues with the way people train, is that they do their easy stuff too hard and their hard stuff is too easy. This generally results in most of the training being done in a ‘middle zone’. Before you plan your week, you need to consider the objective of each session as that will influence the optimal day and time.

High Intensity Intervals / Hard Sessions

‘HIT’ or harder sessions are designed to be carried out at a HIGH INTENSITY. For this reason, you can’t plan them on the days following other hard sessions, you must be rested for these sessions or you will not be able to produce the required intensity, whether that be running speed or cycling power output.

Low Intensity Endurance Sessions

The lower intensity endurance sessions can be done on days following harder sessions, it’s ok to complete these when tired. You can slow down and complete the distance comfortably, without having to push yourself.

Time Of Day

It is generally easier to complete higher intensity sessions in the evening, as our bodies are more awake. It’s often more difficult in the mornings, although some ‘morning people’ don’t have an issue. Completing longer endurance sessions in the morning isn’t an issue as the intensity isn’t very high. There is also a benefit to doing longer and easier sessions in the morning as you can do them ‘fasted’ and encourage fat usage. One of the problems relating to this is that most races are in the morning, so at some point in the season, there may be real benefits to switching higher intensity sessions to mornings.

Single Sport Example:

For single sport athletes, the planning is relaively simple. You can have 2-3 harder days, broken with easy/rest days:

Mon: Easy run / ride (AM)     Strength (PM) – depending upon time of year
Tue: Hard intervals / training (PM)     (May be affected by strength)
Wed: Easy run / ride (AM)
Thur: Hard intervals / training (PM)
Fri: REST / Very easy run / ride (AM)
Sat: Hard Intervals (AM)
Sun: Easy long run / ride (AM)

Multi Sport Athletes:

If you’re training for triathlon, it becomes a little more difficult. Here’s an example based on 2 key swim/cycle/run sessions and includes strength for this time of year:

Mon: Swim (AM)     Strength (PM)
Tues: Easy long run (AM)
Wed: Swim (AM)
Thur: Cycle Hard Intervals (PM) – Option of 30 minute run to follow
Fri: REST or Swim (AM)
Sat: Run Hard intervals (AM)
Sun: Easy long ride (AM)

Strength Training

If you are doing strength training, this can leave you feeling very ‘heavy’ for 24-48 hours after a hard gym session. You firstly need to consider the time of year (block of training). If you are still in your base phase, you can swap a harder ride/run session for a strength session or fit in the strength on your easier / recovery days. If this is your strategy, you should expect to feel heavy on the following days and you may not perform at your optimal level. As the season approaches, you may need to reduce strength to hit your target training times in the more intense sessions.


Take a look at your training week and ask the following questions:

1. What sessions do you need to be doing at this time of year to hit your goals?
2. On which days are the key sessions where I need to be performing at high intensity?
3. If so, have you got an easier day before and after?
4. Can you change the time of day to benefit the session?
5. Are your easier / longer days planned to follow the harder days?
6. Are you doing those easier / longer days at the correct / low intensity or just racing your mates?

Critically, ask yourself the question, is there a clear difference in intensities between your training sessions. Are your longer sessions easy and your shorter sessions near maximal, or are they all falling into that ‘middle zone’ where the easy is too hard and hard is too easy?

This article as first posted on the Endurance Store Blog

Read related articles here:

Planning a Running and Racing Year HERE

To Base Train or not to Base Train HERE

Base Training HERE

How long should the long run be? HERE

In addition, I wrote several articles on walking and how important it is to practice this for:

Ultra running HERE

Walking with poles HERE

Walking efficiency when climbing HERE

About Marc:

Sports Science lecturer for 10 years at St Helens HE College.

2004 established The Endurance Coach LTD sports science and coaching business. Worked with British Cycling as physiology support 2008-2008. Previous Triathlon England Regional Academy Head Coach, North West.

In 2006 established Epic Events Management LTD. Now one of the largest event companies in the NW, organising a range of triathlon, swimming and cycling events. EPIC EVENTS also encompasses Montane Trail 26 and Petzl Night Runner events.

In 2010 established Montane Lakeland 50 & 100 LTD. This has now become the UKs leading ultra distance trail running event.

In 2010 established The Endurance Store triathlon, trail running and open water swimming store. Based in Appley Bridge, Wigan, we are the North West’s community store, organising and supporting local athletes and local events.

Check out the endurance store HERE

Endurance Store Logo

The Coastal Challenge 2016 #TCC2016 – Stage 6 Results and Summary


Images available for personal and commercial use HERE

The stunning Drake Bay hosted the final day of the 2016 The Coastal Challenge. It’s an idyllic location located within the Osa Peninsula. Turquoise seas, blue skies and lush tropical vegetation make it one the most iconic places in Costa Rica.

The final day is to all intents and purposes a victory lap. Racing only really takes place if overall top positions are close, in the 2016 race, gaps between the top 3 were wide enough to make the day neutralised. However, despite this, Chema Martinez from Spain wanted to run and from the sound of the gun at 0615 he pushed hard at the front of the race and crossed the line alone for the final stage victory.

Iain Don-Wauchope, kicked back, puled out his GoPro and let the runners go ahead of him; it was a day of fun ahead.

Carlos Sa pushed the pace in one last effort to maybe take 2nd but when Gonzalo Callisto caught him and ran at his side with 50% of the day covered, they eased back and enjoyed the run for home.


The ladies race was well and truly over and Elisabet Barnes and Ester Alves ran the whole stage together, side-by side and they soaked up the Costa Rican ambience. They partied while running.


The final day is not without challenges though, an early run through a river bed, the crossing of a waterfall, hot running through open plantations and then a return journey to the beach finish at Drake Bay while weaving in and out of the stunning coastline.

The 2016 TCC will be remembered quite simply in just a few words:

Brutal, Beautiful and Hot!

It may well have been one of the hottest editions and word in and amongst the camp confirms that the race really has been a true test. MDS 2015 champion and Oman Desert Cup Champion, Elisabet Barnes, confirmed the thoughts of many on the finish line:

“This has been possibly one of the best races I have ever run. It has so much variety, so many challenges, no two days are the same and I have well and truly been pushed beyond my limits. The combination of such mixed terrain, intense heat and high humidity really do this make this race an ultimate challenge. But in and amongst this, the camp is relaxed, the food provided by the race incredible and the whole Costa Rican experience is one I will not forget. It has been special, really special.”


Damian Hall from the UK has placed in the top 50 at UTMB, been on the podium at The Spine and The Dragons Back and he also found TCC a true test placing 5th overall.

“The heat has been punishing, combined with humidity was brutal. The terrain has been so varied, it’s runnable at times but then other times you are just drawing along. It’s a seriously challenging race and the line-up has been top quality, I am really happy with 5th. The camp sites are amazing, the food has been brilliant and all-in-all it’s been a fantastic experience.”

Iain Don-Wauchope and Ester Alves are the 2016 champions, but to be honest, it may well sound like a cliche, any runner who survived this incredible 6-day experience deserves the ultimate respect.

It has been an awesome edition and talk now turns to 2017. Who will be back? Word in camp just hours after the race confirms that a few familiar names will return…

The overall standing in the ladies’s race are now:

  1. Ester Alves 33:04:32
  2. Elisabet Barnes 33:46:20
  3. Amy Gordon 42:18:15

Full ladies’s results HERE

The overall standings in the men’s race are now:

  1. Iain Don-Wauchope 24:25:11
  2. Gonzalo Calisto 25:27:38
  3. Carlos Sa 25:46:59

Full men’s results HERE

Stage 6 is a wonderful looped lap of drake Bay – a victory lap.

Full race results HERE

The Coastal Challenge 2016 #TCC2016 – Stage 5 Results and Summary


Images available for personal and commercial use HERE

Today was hot, very hot and very long! The longest stage of the 2016 The Coastal Challenge may well have been one of the most beautiful but 50km under the intense Costa Rican heat really did test every single runner int the race.

For the first time in the races’ 12-year history, the stage had an extra 4km. It doesn’t sound a great deal but at times it was technical and in addition, a new long beach section, a water crossing via boat and a stunning wooden rope bridge added to the days attractions.


The cool temperatures from the 0530 start soon disappeared and the intense, uncompromising heat arrived to punish the runners, the only consolation coming at the end with the stunning Drake Bay.


Chema Martinez finally found his Costa Rican legs and ran the stage side-by-side with race leader, Iain Don-Wauchope. They looked to be cruising on what was a very tough day. Don-Wauchope having run and won TCC in 2015 could appreciate the new course:

“The new additions are really stunning, no fantastic. But they are tough and challenging. The beach section was extremely tough due to the high tide. We had to run the tree line which made it difficult. But it’s a beautiful new addition to the race.” – Iain Don-Wauchope.

Crossing the sea to river inlet by boat, Both Martinez and Don-Wauchope took an extended break to cool off and then finished off the stage in style by cruising to the line together.Gonzalo Callisto finished 3rd and secured his 2nd overall.


It was a similar story in the ladies race however it was less planned. Ladies race leader Ester Alves took the lead relatively early on and at one point had extended her lead to approximately 30-minutes. A couple of navigation errors reduced this to just 1-minute in the latter stages of the race and with just 8km to go, Elisabet Barnes and Alves ran together to the line.


“It was the correct thing to do,” Alves said after the race. “There was nothing left to race for in the final km’s and I enjoyed the time talking with Elisabet.”

It was a sentiment echoed by Elisabet Barnes:

“I was feeling very rough this morning with a very dodgy tummy and took me 20km’s to feel good. Ester pulled away and there was nothing I could do. I eventually caught her but we once again entered a very technical section and she once again pulled away. We finally came together again after the rope bridge with 8km to go, running together was a pleasure after a great battle. Today was beautiful but so hot!”

The race concludes tomorrow with what will be a victory lap of Drake Bay and the National Park. The 2016 TCC has been an incredible race; very tough but many will remember it because of the intense heat.

The overall standing in the ladies’s race are now:

  1. Ester Alves 7:42:49
  2. Elisabet Barnes 17:42:49
  3. Tbc

Full ladies’s results HERE

The overall standings in the men’s race are now:

  1. Iain Don-Wauchope 5:4130
  2. Chema Martinez 5:41:30
  3. Gonzalo Calisto 5:52:16

Full men’s results HERE

Stage 6 is a wonderful looped lap of drake Bay – a victory lap.

Full race results HERE







The Coastal Challenge 2016 #TCC2016 – Stage 4 Results and Summary


Images available for personal and commercial use HERE

The 2016 ‘TCC” (The Coastal Challenge, moved inland today for 35km’s of relentless climbing, at times technical trail and a brutal descent that hammered tired legs all the way to the finish line. The early morning start of 0530 guaranteed the runners a good 1-hour window of cool temperatures but as they climbed higher and higher, low cloud sheltered them but eventually the cloud burned away and searing heat punished the runners.

Ester Alves made her mark on the race today by extending her lead by over 30-minutes, however, the winning margin doesn’t tell a true story. Elisabet Barnes fought very hard early on the keep Alves in sight and hopefully pull away, however, technical trail and a long section in a very technical river bed ruined any chance.

Alves was in her element; comfortable with Skyrunning and mountain races, she pushed at a comfortable pace and never looked in any discomfort on the challenging terrain. Although she had a 10-minute lead in the river bed section at approximately 30km covered, it was on the final descent (almost 1000m) were the real gap was opened. Barnes said post race:

“I hated that final descent, I was out of my comfort zone and I knew any chance of catching Ester was over. I took my time and made my way down without injury.”

Alves finished the stage and many commented how relaxed she looked and how well she has adapted to the heat after a tough day 1. A real point of topic is how little she has been drinking… a no, no for the local but it has worked for Alves.

“Every stage I have anticipation, I never know what to encounter… roads, forests, rivers or trails. It has been amazing. I wasn’t ready for the heat but as the days pass I am getting better and better. I love the heat. I trained before the race for 30km run sessions on little water and that has worked well here. Everyone has been amazed how little I am drinking but it has worked. I like to go simple; fast and light! The competition with Elisabet has been great. She has won MDS and that inspires me, she has been a great competitor. I think if we were in the desert I am sure she would pull away from me but here I love the technical trail and that has been a great advantage for me.” – Ester Alves

The overall standing in the ladies’s race are now:

  1. Ester Alves
  2. Elisabet Barnes
  3. Amy Gordon

Full ladies’s results HERE


The men’s race looked all set for a group run to the line with Iain Don-Wauchope, Gonzalo Callisto and Chema Martinez running side-by-side over all of the first 25km. Don-Wauchope safe in 1st place, Callisto safe in 2nd and Martinez no threat to the overall standings. But where was Sa?


Sa was trailing a few minutes back.

When the trio entered the river bed, Sa apparently flew past like a man possessed. It was a last ditch effort to secure 2nd place ahead of Calisto.

“We were having a great run, relaxed, chatting and just a great day on the trails and then Sa flew past us,” Don-Wauchope said. “He really mixed things up and as he pulled away I went with him. He was really motoring. We started to pull away and I felt good. Eventually I pulled away and Calisto bridged the gap back to Sa. The downhill at the end was tough as it was so rutted but I was glad for another stage victory” – Iain Don-Wauchope.

All credit to Sa for making a move and throwing it all on the line. Tomorrow is the longest stage of the week and I wonder if Sa will have another go? The longer the stage, the better he gets and heat is no issue as he proved by winning Badwater 135.


The overall standings in the men’s race are now:

  1. Iain Don-Wauchope
  2. Gonzalo Calisto
  3. Carlos Sa

Full men’s results HERE

Stage 5 starts is the longest day of the week and leads into the stunning Drakes Bay. Everyone is tired now, no exhausted! It’s going to be a tough day.

Full race results HERE

The Coastal Challenge 2016 #TCC2016 – Stage 3 Results and Summary


Images available for personal and commercial use HERE

Today was always gone to be a tough one and it lived up to expectations. Departing Dominical beach, the runners very quickly entered a river bed that lasted for km after km. Rock hopping, running through flowing river water with slimy slippery rocks, it was just perfect terrain for South Africa’s ‘The Otter’ previous course record holder, Iain Don-Wauchope.

Running in his element, Don-Wauchope opened up a gap almost immediately and by the time he reached the stunning waterfalls, he had time to dive in the lagoon and pose for a photograph before moving onwards and upwards on the trail. Running with apparent ease Don-Wauchope continued to open up a gap on Gonzalo Callisto and Carlos Sa. This course and its variety is made for Don-Wauchope’s running style and just as in 2015, he pushed the pace all the way to the long and lengthy final beach section before climbing through a small hilly section of rainforest and finishing a triple of stage wins.

“I made sure I covered myself with water every 5mins or so on the beach. It was so hot and it seemed to go on forever. The highlight of the day was the waterfalls though. In 2015 I was too busy racing and I didn’t have time to soak up the location. This year I promised myself I would take a swim and climb on the rocks.” – Iain Don-Wauchope

Sa and Calisto weren’t hanging around, not at all. They were gently running the climbs and pushing as hard as they could under the intense heat and humidity. Running side-by-side, they have most certainly become good friends on this TCC journey.


From Calisto’s perspective, his lead over Sa is enough to secure 2nd place and I am sure he plans to just mark Sa and respond to any surges. Will Sa try to take 2nd away? His best chance will come tomorrow on the very undulating 4th stage.

The overall standings in the men’s race are now:

  1. Iain Don-Wauchope 11:42:01
  2. Gonzalo Calisto 12:32:18
  3. Carlos Sa 12:38:08

Damian Hall from the UK moved up into 5th place after a great  run today, his overall time is 13:45:36

Full men’s results HERE

The ladies race was always going to be exciting today and as expected, Ester Alves opened up a gap on Elisabet Barnes in the opening riverbed section. At the waterfalls, Barnes trailed by 7-minutes. It was a good result, the gap could have quite easily been larger. After the climb out and following the 2nd waterfall, Barnes started to pursue Alves and eventually caught her 3km before Cp2.


“I caught Ester just before the Cp but unfortunately it was followed with a s series of technical terrain and she started to open up a gap again; all the handwork to a certain extent was wasted. By the time I reached Cp3 just before the beach, the gap was 6-minutes,” Barnes said post race. “I felt good though and I thought to myself, this is great, it’s a long beach section that is runnable and I was convinced I would close the gap and with luck, I may catch her. But unfortunately she ran well and I didn’t run to expectation. It was just so hot and relentless. Thank goodness the small lagoon was at the end so that I could cool down.”



Alves ran a great race and looked strong on the beach maintaining a good pace and cadence. She was obviously very happy with her day once past the finish tape:

“It was a beautiful day and I am really happy. The course was stunning and the variety was just incredible. The beach was beautiful but too long… I couldn’t wait for it to end!”

Alves now leads Barnes but anything can happen. It just takes a bad moment or a bad day for all the good work to be lost. Day 4 has plenty of climbing and day 5 plenty of running. It’s wide open and very exciting.


The overall standing in the ladies’s race are now:

  1. Ester Alves 15:59:12
  2. Elisabet Barnes 16:10:38
  3. Amy Gordon 21:06:44

Full ladies’s results HERE


Full ladies’s results HERE

Stage 4 starts with a tough climb and finishes with a steep technical descent. Between the two are rolling hills and pastures made of runnable trails.

Full race results HERE

More images to follow when I have suitable wifi – apologies