Costa Rica Coastal Challenge 2017 Stage 1
Words by Niandi Carmont. Images by iancorless.com
Heat, humidity and hydration warnings by race director Rodrigo Carazo signified the start of the 2017, The Coastal Challenge – now in its 13th edition.The start of the 34.6km stage was on the beach at Playa Del Rey and temperatures were already soaring at the start where runners were dropped off after a 4-hour coach journey from San Jose. The first section until CP1 was extremely runnable fire trail. Many were still adapting to the heat and held back. In the men’s race Tom Owens set the pace and literally flew off with Chema Martinez hot on his heels. Local Costa Rican Erick Aguero followed closely. In the ladies’ race Elisabet Barnes took the lead on the flat fire track followed by Anna Frost and Ester Alves.
Ester Alves tried to keep up with the duo but was soon outdistanced and overtaken by Anna Comet who looked surprisingly fresh and unaffected by the heat. Frosty won the first stage with a 5min lead on Elisabet Barnes with Anna Comet completing the podium just 2min behind. Ester, defending 2016 ladies’ champion was philosophical about her performance today: “It’s the first stage and I had lots of fun. You have to accept the good days and bad days. I haven’t planned a strategy for tomorrow. Just having fun.”
“It was hot,” Frosty said. “I felt terrible for the first 15km on the flat. As soon as I got to the hilly section I felt better. I didn’t want to blow up this first day so I tried to be sensible. Elisabet was flying on the flat section. I passed her after CP1 on the climb. We ran together until CP2 and then I took the lead.”
With her preference for technical courses and Stage 2 being much more challenging than today, she will be well-served. Elisabet Barnes was very happy with her second place and performance, finishing the stage 25min faster than last year.
After CP1 the course took the runners on a climb to 450m with a drop down to CP3 at 29.5km. It was on this first climb through jungle undergrowth and in the heat that novices and those who had forgotten to pace themselves and keep body temperatures down, really suffered.In the male field Tom Owens had a small gap over Chema Martinez . At CP2 and 19km into the race, they arrived together and then Chema, who boasts a 2:08 marathon PB, left first in an attempt to open a gap on the fast and dusty roads on what was very runnable downhill fire trail. However, Tom managed to hold on to him. The course ended with a hilly single track shaded forest section, a little add-on and alteration introduced in 2016 to avoid too many fire trail and road sections with a slippery river crossing to the finish near Rafiki Lodge along the river. The day was not without incidents with Jason Schlarb missing a turning and the bright pink fluorescent markers just after CP3 and taking a big detour, adding on extra miles and ending up 25min behind Chema Martinez. “I was 10min behind Chema Martinez and in 3rd place after CP3,” Schlarb said. “I missed the turning and ran along the river and back onto the road where a crew vehicle pointed me in the right direction. I went from 3rd to 6th position and lost 15min.” 2015 ladies’ champion, Veronica Bravo from Chile also went off course after CP3 finishing 6th today. Men’s Race
Tom Owens: 2:44:45
Chema Marinez: 2:47:55
Erick Aguero: 3:02:42
Anna Frost: 3:14:49
Elisabet Barnes: 3:19:24
Anna Comet: 3:21:23
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