The Costal Challenge 2017 Stage 4
Words by Niandi Carmont. Images by iancorless.com
The best way to describe stage 4 is a potpourri of running experiences. Stage 4 which was 36.2km long started with the runners being dropped off by coach at the start Coronado. At 5:30 the start was given and after an initial warm-up on flat gravelly road, the runners went up a steep descent climbing until CP1 at 5.9km.
After CP1, the climb continued on single track in shaded and dense forest undergrowth. At 10km the runners reached the summit and highest point of the course. From there on followed a succession of rolling hills on an undulating course to CP2 at 12.7km. The course was a mix of grassy trail and forest fire trail. Temperatures at this height were a lot cooler and there was a pleasant breeze and quite a lot of shade until CP3 at 19.1km where the adventure category started.
After CP3 aka Donkey’s Hill, the runners continued on a relentlessly hilly rollercoaster course. At 24km the course took them down a grassy descent to a shaded river-bed section where the runners had to contend with running on slippery stony riverbed and across moss-covered rocks on the embankment, ducking jungle undergrowth and overhanging branches.
This provided most with respite from already soaring temperatures. The riverbed section lasted about 4km and was followed by a very steep climb and a few long hills, which offered little shade from the sun which was starting to beat down on already tired runners.
After a summit at 1000m, the runners started the final descent in what looked like an earthy tobogganing slope – a downhill vertical VK to reach sea-level in 4km.
After that followed a final river crossing and 3km through Palmar Sur to the finish line. Buses took the finishers to the overnight campsite along a river. The total ascent of stage 4 was 1767m and the descent 1770km.
True to his reputation, Tom Owens took the lead from the start running hard and was first at CP2 at the top of the initial climb.
“It was the nicest of stages. There wasn’t much flat. Temperatures were much cooler and I didn’t need to drink too much. Today there were lots of different types of running. The riverbed was really fun and I really enjoyed running past the Adventure Category runners and get all their support.” – Tom Owens
Jason Schlarb was in second position, followed by Chema Martinez who was working hard. In fourth was Erick Aguero who was looking very strong. After CP3 Chema was closing the gap on Jason who was “enjoying the trail” until he looked over his shoulder to see Chema ominously threatening his second place.
Jason put his foot down and reopened the gap, dropping Chema. Then Costa Rican Erick Aguero caught up with Chema in the descent to the riverbed securing third, pulling away comfortably in the riverbed section and nailing it on the ensuing hills.
“I am very motivated and proud of my performance so far. I turned on my phone yesterday and was amazed at all the messages of support I’ve had from the Costa Rican running community. I will give it my all to complete this race 3rd overall. A podium finish has been my objective from the start. I will have to work hard to close the gap with Chema tomorrow.” – Erick Aguero
Tom crossed the finish line first, followed by Jason Schlarb and to complete the podium today Erick Aguero. Chema Martinez was 4th and although he said he felt better he had to concede that he struggles to keep up when the trails become technical and hilly.
In the Ladies Race Anna Frost took the lead from the beginning. However, at CP2 and CP3 she only had a couple of minutes over Anna Comet.
“I was tired but I was cautious because of my ankle. I needed to save myself. I’ve been here three times and never finished so I am back to settle a score. I was careful on the descents. My mind was on my ankle all the time. I was so relieved to get to the bottom of the final descent. Usually I wouldn’t even think about it. I love technical descent. The uphills were a lot of fun today and I loved the riverbed section. That part is new – it wasn’t there 2 years ago. It was great just being able to cool down before the hills and the final stretch through the town which always seems to go on forever. I also spent a couple of minutes in the river crossing just before CP4. All in all, I am happy with my day. I just hope my ankle holds.” – Anna Frost
Elisabet Barnes finished fifth today after Frosty, Anna Comet came in second, Ester Alves was third and Costa Rican Katelyn Tocci fourth.
“I was concerned about the initial climb but felt surprisingly strong. I started running hard at the top to open up a gap. I was third at that stage, running with Ester Alves just behind Anna Frost and Anna Comet. At CP3 Anna Frost and Anna Comet were just minutes ahead. Before the descent to the river Anna Comet was 1min ahead. I remember getting lost here last year so I was extra careful. As I entered the riverbed I noticed Ester Alves behind me. She had gotten lost. I then raced the riverbed and power hiked the climbs. I needed to take a painkiller for my knee. After that I was ‘in the zone’. Ester was still behind me but I missed the turn to the final descent and lost 2km. It was too late, I had lost precious time and Ester had passed me to secure third. I tried to go down the final descent as fast as I could and took a second painkiller. Just before CP4 Katelyn Tocci passed me. She was running with her husband who kept looking behind his shoulder. I sprinted for the finished in an attempt to place 4th but finished just 10s behind Katelyn.” – Elisabet Barnes
Stage Results – Timings HERE
- Tom Owens
- Jason Schlarb
- Erick Aguero
- Anna Frost
- Anna Comet
- Ester Alves
Daily reports and images will be posted on this website when connection allows.