It was an early start (0300) leaving San Jose and heading to the Pacific Coast for the stage 1 of the 2023 The Coastal Challenge starting at Del Rey beach, Quepos.
This year, the shorter Adventure category and the longer Expedition category would run different distances for stage 1. In the past, they have run the same course.
Expedition would run 41km with 1071m vertical gain and the Adventure, 32km.
Getting underway before 0800, the rewards were blessed with cooler’ temperatures for the first hour, however, cooler is all relative when on the coast, it was still hot!
Overnight, Sebastian Krogvig unfortunately had picked up some sickness, although feeling generally okay, it was clear as the stage started he was not 100%. He struggled with any pace, it was a tough day…
Didrik Hermansen though set his stall out from the start setting a strong pace. He was followed by Dani Jung, Mathieu Blanchard and Peter van der Zon.
It wasn’t long before Didrik and Mathieu broke away.
For the women, Katie Schide and Marianne Hogan ran together and behind, Tomomi Bitoh followed.
Checkpoint 1 and there was no change, the pace by Didrik and Mathieu was fast.
As the race progressed, Didrik and Mathieu took a wrong turn and lost in the region of 1.5km allowing Peter and Dani to take the lead. They chased, caught them and then once again pushed ahead in 1st and 2nd.
Peter started to struggle in the heat and Dani started to hold on to the duo. However, Mathieu found the energy to break away and take victory on stage one, closely followed by Didrik and Dani.
“Very happy, a hot day. In Canada it was -40, today 40-degrees here, that is a big change…. My body handled the waether today. It’s a big Tropical environment, wonderful trees, amazing bridge and waterfalls.” – Mathieu Blanchard
Katie and Marianne finished together, Katie looked happy to be done, she had also struggled with some illness and fought hard throughout the day.
Tomomi came in securing 3rd place, all smiles. Last year, Tomomi caught Covid one day before the race and had to miss four stages, this year, she is so happy to be back.
Faces told the story at the finish, the heat and the humidity had taken its toll, it always does on stage 1, it’s such a shock to the system without pre-acclimation, something that Marianne and Mathieu had done.
“I heard the sound of animals in the jungle, I turned to Peter and said this is incredible, ‘This is much more atmosphere than UTMB!” – Dani Jung
Stage 2 tomorrow is 40km and 1828m+
- Mathieu Blanchard 3:36:08
- Didrik Hermansen +1m 27s
- Dani Jung +1 28s
- Marianne Hogan 4:13:01
- Katie Schiede 4:13:01
- Tomomi Bitoh 4:42:50
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Congrats to the winners today.
Wereld can we find the results of all the runners?