Located at the iconic Club La Santa resort, our training camp will provide you with all the knowledge, experience and practical training you need to make your next trail, ultra and multi-day adventure a success.
Hosted by IAN CORLESS, the training camp is the perfect place to hone your skills for multi-day, fast packing and running in general.
2024 LINE UP
ANNA COMET PASCUA, PIERRE MESLET,
LAUREN GREGORY and INGE NIJKAMP.
GUESTS – KEVIN WEBBER and STEVE DIEDERICH.
Anna Comet Pascua won the 2022 Marathon des Sables in a dominant performance. An experienced sky, mountain and ultra-runner, Anna is also a multi-day specialist with victories at The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica and the Everest Trail Race in Nepal. A runner for the Scarpa Team, it’s a pleasure to have Anna join us in Lanzarote.
Lauren Gregory ran the 2021 (toughest) Marathon des Sables and was first British woman and 8th in the women category. A personal trainer, Lauren will guide a run group, host yoga sessions will provide a talk.
Pierre Meslet joined the Lanzarote Multi-Day Training Camp in 2022 after placing 9th at the 2020 Marathon des Sables. His attendance was a success, not only from the perspective of leading a run group but also his profession as a physio – He was able to provide ‘on-site’ treatment for our training camp. Pierre is back in 2023!
Inge Nijkamp has been top-10 at Marathon des Sables and The Coastal Challenge. A qualified nutritionist, she will guide a group, provide a nutrition talk specific to multi-day running and be on-hand for one-to-one nutritional consultations.
Kevin Webber after a successful 2023 camp has requested that he come back in 2024 for more… In his words, “I just loved this, great location, great people, great running, what’s not to like?” He will once again guide a group, provide an inspiration and moving talk about running with a terminal cancer diagnosis. He has many stories to tell.
Steve Diederich is the UK agent for Marathon des Sables, The Coastal Challenge and Everest Trail Race, he will be on-hand to provide advice about all three races and answer any questions. Currently studying Sports Psychology and come Lanza 24 he will be qualified and on-hand to discuss the mental side of sport and running.
“I wanted to say a big thank you for this week – I’ve left so energised and inspired after the week… I thought the camaraderie from other runners was incredible. If felt as if everyone had left their ego at home which really made for such open and honest sessions. I hope you have the opportunity to reflect on how impactful and enjoyable the camp was. The fact that the organisation was seamless doesn’t just happen and I know the layers of detail and spreadsheets that go into an event like this. I’ll be back I’m sure and when I do get to the start line of MDS I will be much more likely to succeed based on all the advice.” – EB
The purpose of any training camp is to provide you with specific information and training designed specifically to help you with your future objectives. Although you may run (train) more in this condensed week, it’s not designed to break you! Therefore, all training sessions are flexible and you can dip-in and dip-out as required. Most importantly, just as in any race, we will have a very mixed ability base. You will therefore train at your appropriate pace with like minded people.
Each day will be broken down into one or two specific training sessions, one workshop and leisure time.
Lanzarote offers a variety of terrain that can be found in many desert races and therefore it’s the ideal training ground to prepare and acclimatise for an up and coming challenge. Club La Santa as a resort offers a great base and all facilities are included. This is great for relaxation, an opportunity to cross train or more importantly it’s perfect for friends and family to join you as a plethora of opportunities are available.
Tom Evans placed 3rd at the 2017 Marathon des Sables, the highest ever placing by a British male. His result was a complete surprise. He arrived on the start line an unknown, by the end of day one he was a dark horse turning the heads of journalists and runners.
It was no one day wonder. Evans matched the Moroccans stride-for-stride and pushed them all the way to the end. His result was a breakthrough performance!
Not happy to become a multi-day specialist, Evans has since tested himself in mountain races, the Eiger Ultra 101km and the CCC – in both races he placed 4th. With a road marathon coming up, Evans now looks ahead to 2018 and a multi-day training camp in Lanzarote (HERE) where he will coach and run, quickly followed by the 2018 The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica.
I caught up with Evans and fired of ten quick-fire questions.
Images from the 2017 TCC with Anna Frost, Anna Comet, Ester Alves, Jason Schlarb, Sondre Amdahl, Elisabet Barnes, Chema Martinez, Tom Owens and many more.
You placed 3rd at MDS this year, quite a result, what has the following months been like for you?
It’s been pretty crazy since that surprise result at MdS. This year, I wanted to find out more about my running and really learn what my strengths and weaknesses are. I raced in the Eiger 101km and the CCC. Both went really well considering 95% of my training is done in and around London. I have been juggling my military career with my new-found love of running.
How did you train for MDS and what top 3 tips worked that you can pass on?
My training for MdS was pretty limited as I was away with the Welsh Guards in the build-up to the race. I managed to get a week long trip to Lanzarote to focus on the race and get some quality miles in my legs. My top 3 tips are:
Train how you race. Train with the kit and food you are going to use.
Heat acclimatisation is so important. It can be done anywhere hot eg Bikram yoga!
Stay injury free. If you start developing a niggle, get it sorted ASAP! Better to turn up less fit but injury free.
You have followed MDS with mountain races, the Eiger and CCC, is this to broaden your skill set – what is the attraction?
Yes. I wanted to develop my running skills in all different environments. I love being in the mountains and discovering new places. The mountain races have really pushed me outside my comfort zone. I think to be a top quality ultra-runner you have to be a well-rounded athlete. I have learnt so much in the mountains that I will use in the rest of my career.
Technical trails, climbing and challenging terrain will be in abundance in Costa Rica, is that one of the attractions of the race?
I have always wanted to go to Costa Rica. I love traveling and I also love running so thought that this was a perfect opportunity. I am really looking forward to the varied terrain in the race and pushing myself to the limit.
What else attracts you to TCC?
TCC is an iconic race that attracts a great crowd. I have loved spending time getting to know lots of different athletes in the past 6 months. I love that everyone has come from a different background and all have such different stories to tell.
Heat and humidity in Costa Rica is brutal, very different to MDS and other races you have done – how will you prepare?
I am going to be doing lots of my winter training at St Marys University who have got one of the best chambers in the country. This will help me to understand the effect of humidity and heat on my body. I am also going to Lanzarote for the Pre-MdS training camp. This will give me a great opportunity to do some heat training in great company.
You are not self-sufficient at TCC so you can run free – is that an appeal or do you like self-sufficiency?
I am really looking forward to being able to run free and use the aid stations. I have heard great things about what is on offer at the aid stations, especially fruit, which is far more appealing to another energy gel! Having said that, I do like all the preparation for the self-sufficiency races. I am a bit of a sports science nerd and like doing all the research before the races.
Any races before TCC?
Yes, I am in my final block of training for Frankfurt Marathon. I am using this to focus on my speed and efficiency before going back to the longer distances. There are a couple of great UK races in December and January that I will probably look to use for training. I will also be racing the XC season, I think the fast training is really important, even for ultra-runners. I don’t want to race too much though, I want to make sure that I am fit and injury free on the start line in Costa Rica so I can give it my all.
What does the future hold beyond Costa Rica?
There are a couple of big races that I am targeting for 2018. The first being the World Trail Championships in Penyagolosa in May. After that, I am going to be focussing on fast 100k races, with ambitions to race in the 100km World Championships in September. I will also be doing a couple of UTWT and Skyrunning races, but haven’t fully worked out which ones. There are so many amazing races all over the world but I don’t want to race too much too soon!
And finally, Michael Wardian from the USA has won TCC and placed 3rd at MDS – he is back in 2018, is the battle on?
Michael is a fantastic athlete and one of my inspirations to get into running. It will be a honour to be on the start line with him in Costa Rica. I am really looking forward to the journey and I guess we will have to wait and see what happens!
The 2018 edition of TCC is already looking like a stunning race. Two-time MDS champion Elisabet Barnes will return to Costa Rica and the UK’s Marcus Scotney who won the Cape Wrath Ultra and the Dragons Back Race has his first TCC experience ahead of him. – read HERE.
TCC as it is affectionately known is a multi-day race starting in the southern coastal town of Quepos, Costa Rica and finishing at the stunning Drake Bay on the Osa Peninsula. It is an ultimate multi-day running experience that offers a new challenge even to the most experienced runner. Taking place over 6-days, the race hugs the coastline of Costa Rica, traveling in and out of the stunning Talamanca mountain range. Even the strongest competitors are reduced to exhausted shells by the arrival of the finish line due to the combination of technical trails, dense forest, river crossings, waterfalls, long stretches of golden beach, dusty access roads, high ridges and open expansive plains.
You can read and view images from the 2017 edition HERE
Twenty years, yes, twenty years the Dolomites SkyRace has existed – It’s a classic, no doubt! The simple ethos of starting low and getting high as quickly as possible and returning makes this race an ever present on the Migu Run Skyrunner World Series. In twenty years, a family has been built reflected in the Dolomites VK which is usually two days before the SkyRace and the many Children’s race that are run the day before.
Shadowed by the stunning peak of Piz Boe at 3152m, the town of Canazei hosts the start and finish of the race. At 22km in length, the race has 10km of climbing and 22km of descending. In principal, it’s a simple race that is made complex with the variables of weather, snow, ice, technical terrain, altitude and speed. It’s important to climb strong, however, the descent often proves to be a key deciding factor. What goes up, must come down and with 12km to play with, an exceptional descender can make any lost ground on the 10km climb.
4-hours 30-minutes are allocated for participants to complete the course starting and concluding in the Piazza. It’s a fast race and course records currently stand with Kilian Jornet and Megan Kimmel, their times 2:00:11 and 2:25:57 recorded in 2013 and 2015 respectively.
IMPORTANTLY the 2017 edition of the race will be longer at 23.5km with an additional 200m of vertical gain.
Added interest can be noted in the record for the ascent and descent, a key feature of this race. Augusti Roc Amador and Laura Orgue have recorded 1:16:47 and 1:29:30 of the ascent and Fabio Bonfanti and Angela Mudge hold the records for the descent, 00:43:35 and 00:58:47.
In 2016 Tadei Pivk and Laura Orgue were the champions recording times of 2:03:38 and 2:27:42 respectively.
The 2017 Edition
The 20th edition has one of the best fields ever assembled in the history of the Dolomites SkyRace. Over 100 elite runners will toe the line and therefore it is impossible to look at each runner individually. We will therefore concentrate on the potentials for top-3 and we will also look at the likely contenders for the top-10 who may well male top-5 and on a good day, may make the podium.
Notably, past winners Megan Kimmel, Emelie Forsberg and Kilian Jornet will not be running.
Tadei Pivk heads up the men’s race as the Skyrunner World Series past champion and defending champion of the Dolomites SkyRace. Tadei had injury issues earlier in the year but has now put them behind him with a great victory in Livigno SkyRace.
Marco De Gasperi is a legend in Skyrunning and recently just missed out on victory at Zegama-Aizkorri. Marco also came close to pipping Kilian Jornet for Dolomites victory a few years back and lost out in a head-to-head sprint for the line – could this be Marco’s year? It would be a popular victory!
Alexis Sevennec crosses between ski mountaineering and Skyrunning and excels at both. He has a solid history with the Dolomites race and in 2016 had great runs at Trofeo Kima and Limone.
Hassan Ait Chaou had a stunning 2016 and seems to be lacking that extra 5% this year, however, he can never be ruled out and the distance and format of the Dolomites race suits him.
Jan Margarit is one of the rising stars within the Salomon Team and has all the potential to have a great race here in Italy. He has been a little quiet in the 2017 so far – he will hopefully come fresh to Canazei.
Martin Anthamatten is past winner of the Matterhorn Ultraks and on his day, can go head-to-head with the best. Like Sevennec he is also a skier and ski mountaineer – the crossover with Skyrunning is a formula that has been proven to work.
Pascal Egli had a solid race earlier in the year in China at Yading SkyRun and has excelled at the Dolomites race in past editions. He is most definitely a contender for the top-5.
VK specialist Marco Moletto in many respects is a surprise entry for the SkyRace, however, we can expect to by one of the front contenders if not in the lead at the summit. The question will come in regard to his descending ability?
Remi Bonnet is now finding form after many injury issues in 2016. If we look back to 2015, this young Salomon runner was unstoppable at the VK distance and he scored impressive victories at Sky races at the USA’s Rut and Italy’s Limone. If he is in great shape, we can expect top-5 and a podium if not victory is a distinct possibility.
Micha Steiner has raced Dolomites on many occasions and is always in the mix for the top-10. Could this be the year for a break out performance?
Francois Gonon may well impact on the front of the race, on his day he can mix it with the best but I am currently unsure of his form? One to watch.
Kiril Nikolov raced in China earlier in the year recently had a solid race at the Olympus Marathon in Greece. Top-10 potential for sure.
Andre Jonsson keeps racing and racing an in the past two weekends placed 4th at High Trail Vanoise and last weekend placed 2nd at the Royal Gran Paradiso – both races long and tough. The pace at Canazei may well just be too much for a tired body but who knows… Andre could pull out a surprise performance.
Another VK specialist, William Bon Mardion is showing on the start list. Like Moletto, we can expect a strong performance in the first 10km’s of the race as they climb all the way to the summit of Piz Boe – how will the 12km drop to Canazei go?
Surprises could come from anywhere with a field that has so much depth and it may well be that I have missed some key names from the extensive start list. One thing is for sure, Saturday’s 20th edition is going to be an exciting race.
Laura Orgue returns as a past winner and the fastest female to the summit, The VK specialist who runs Sky races is the odds-on favourite for victory. However, she will have run the VK race the day before and that may just take the edge off?
Ragna Debats is on the start list and would almost certainly be a contender for the podium – she is having a great year! However, I believe she will miss the Dolomites and will be looking for some rest and recovery ahead of the Tromso SkyRace in early August.
Aitziber Ibarbia is always a contender at the Sky distance and we can expect her to make an impact at the front of the race.
Ekaterina Mityaev like Ragna Debats is on the start list and would be a contender for the top-5, however, she placed 3rd just last weekend at the Royal Gran Paradiso and I believe she will miss the Dolomites race.
Hillary Gerardi from the USA had a strong performance at Livigno SkyRace and went on to have some solid results at other races such as the Chamonix VK and Pierre Menta. I think she will be a surprise package in the race and will turn a few heads.
Addie Bracy also from the USA won the USA Mountain Running Championships in 2016, so, she has plenty of speed. Placing 10th at Zegama-Aizkorri would suggest that she still has something to learn on a real mountain. Dolomites will certainly test her but top-10 is on the cards.
Maria Zorroza finished just over 1-minute clear of Bracy at Zegama-Aizkorri and some 20-minutes off the winning time. Therefore, a top-10 is a distinct possibility and a top-5 would see her having a great day!
Norway’s Hilde Alders may well have a great race in Italy. The Dolomites course will suit the Mizuno sponsored runner.
Katrine Villumsen had a solid race behind Megan Kimmel and Ragna Debats in China earlier this year – if she has a good day, a top-5 is a distinct possibility and she may well just make the podium.
Ever-present Stephanie Jimenez has raced in Canazei many times and always is in the mix – I expect no different this year.
Anna Comet has been missing so far, this year in the Skyrunning calendar after concentrating on the IAU World Trail Championships – the Dolomites will see a return to her racing fast and light in a full-on mountain race.
Names to watch:
Laia Andreu, Victoria Kreutzer, Stine Haustreis, Lisa Buzzoni, Beatrice Delflorian, Francesca Rossi, Lara Mustat, Axelle Mollaret, Svetlana Buravova, Jennifer Asp, Chiara Gianola, Susanna Tervo, Lucia Dobrucka
Episode 130 of Talk Ultra brings you some audio from The Coastal Challenge with Sondre Amdahl, Jason Schlarb, Anna Comet and an in-depth chat with Cherie Soria and Dan Ladermann. We also talk with UK based fell and mountain runner, Jim Mann.
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Courtney Dewaulter ran 250km (155.3 miles) to set a new American record beating Sabrina Littles best by more than 3-miles. Dewaulter will join Katlin Nagy, Traci Falbo, Jenny Hoffman and Pam Smith in Ireland for the IAU 24-Hour Championships. – That is a seriously strong ladies team!
What a stunning race that turned out to be a Pau Calpell and Azara Garcia show. The two respectively lead from the front to take great victories. Pau (13:21) smashing the old course record set by Didrik Hermansen who placed 3rd in this years edition. Second place went to Lithuanian, Vlaidas Zlabys (13:35) who is going to be one-to-watch this year! Although Azara won the ladies’ race (16:25), she was 1-hour slower that Caroline Chaverots 2016 time. Chaverot dropped at 30km not feeling good! Andrea Huser placed 2nd (17:150 and Melanie Rousset 3rd (17:30).
The Coastal Challenge
Anna Frost won in 27:08. Anna Comet (Spain) and Ester Alves (Portugal) were second and third in 27:58 and 28:23, respectively. Tom Owens dominated the men’s in 22:29. Chema Martinez (Spain) 23:43 and Jason Schlarb 24:34 were second and third. We caught up with Sondre Amdahl, Anna Comet and Jason Schlarb for a post TCC chat.
00:25:10 INTERVIEW with Sondre Amdahl, Anna Comet and Jason Schlarb
At TCC Cherie Soria and Dan Ladermann were a constant inspiration to all competitors. Niandi caught up with them and ‘Coastal’ the dog, back in our hotel in San Jose.
01:30:14 INTERVIEW with CHERIE SORIA and DAN LADERMANN
Iditarod Trail Invitational
David Johnston once again won the 350-mile journey from Knik Lake to McGrath. Conditions this year were very tough with many drops. This is Johnston’s 5th victory – he finished in 5-days, 21-hours, 43-minutes. Second was Kyle Durand… 2-days later! I am not sure if any woman finishes, results don’t show this HERE
Red Mountain 55k
Once again saw ‘one-to-watch’ Hayden Hawks take another victory in 4:15. Rachel Cieslewicz won the ladies’ race in 5:38. Results HERE for the men and HERE for the ladies.
Way to Cool 50k
Cody Reed won in 3:16 and Megan Roche in 3:52 results HERE
Not many race results yet, still early in the calendar but if you are missing watching some of the top runners in the world, take a look at ski mountaineering. The cross over between mountain running and skimo is growing and growing – Kilian and Emelie have long been exponents but runners like Rob Krar, Nick Elson, Mike Foote, Jason Schlarb and so on are turning to skis over the winter months. Currently the iconic Pierra Menta is happening – it’s the Hardrock (on a much bigger scale) of skimo. Read here.
RUNNING BEYOND BOOK
I will be also going to Sofia in Bulgaria on the 17th, 18th and 19th March for a trail, mountain and Skyrunning expo.
Jim Mann is a low-key highly accompolished fell and mountain runner in the UK. However, he like to keep a low-profile. Recently, Jim completed all 3 UK rounds in 1 month… in winter! On the 22nd January Jim set a new winter record for the Charlie Ramsay Round completing it in 22:23. Three weeks later (11th February) Jim completed the Paddy Buckley Round in 21:37. And then theBob Graham Round in 20:26. I had to chat with him!
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Stage 6 of the Costa Rica Coastal Challenge 2017 aka “The Victory Loop” and epilogue to this gruelling multi-stage race started at 7am. This allowed runners to “sleep in” a little and get some much-needed recovery before the final sprint, well, half-marathon! The final stage is always relatively short and the same distance for Adventure racers and Expedition racers. Many take this final stage easier as by now the podium is pretty much a given. An additional incentive for outsiders to race this stage is guaranteed free entry to the winners of the stage in both the male and female categories as well as the winners of each category in the overall ranking. Some race volunteers also like to join the runners in the final stage as a gesture of solidarity.
The final stage is a 22.5km representation of the whole race with all the course elements thrown in: fire trail, a magnificent waterfall, forest single track, more fire trail, beach sections and a lovely final 10km along the coast on shaded single track. With a total ascent of 613m and a descent of 613m it is a relatively flat route. There was only one CP at 22.5km.
In the men’s race Tom Owens seemed relaxed chatting at the start and not too worried about racing. However, Chema Martinez had his race hat on and chased Tom right from the start egging him on. Chema had a lot of competition from the Costa Rican field especially Jorge Paniagua who joined the two leaders, battling it out with them until the final sprint, where the 3 finished barely a second of each other. Jorge was first, Chema second and to complete the stage podium Tom Owens in third position. The Costa Rican was delighted to gain a free entry to the 2018 edition and has promised to be back to perform even better.
Tom Owens was crowned 2017 champion and he was full of praise and thanks on the line.
“This has been an incredible journey. It’s a stunning and magnificent part of the world and the course, terrain, views and the racing has been world-class. I have been blown away by everything – the final stage was just stunning and it managed to compress the whole TCC experience in just 22km. I’d be back to TCC and Costa Rica in a shot…!”
In the Ladies field, Ester Alves led the race. She needed to defend her third overall position. Anna Comet followed in hot pursuit to secure her second position and not allow Ester to close the gap significantly in the overall ranking. Anna Frost then also gave chase. Elisabet Barnes who had intended to race this final stage very hard in a final attempt to secure third felt weak and tired.
“It is only once I started running hat I realized my body wasn’t responding and that my legs were tired, that I wasn’t going to be able to race this stage. I decided to consider it a recovery run as my focus is on MDS 2017 which is just round the corner. I didn’t want to compromise that.” – Elisabet Barnes
Ester Alves did not even stop at CP1 to replenish her water supply or drink.
“I decided not to waste any time and ran the last 10km full out skipping the water point. I had run out of water before the checkpoint but I wanted to gain as much time as possible. I squeezed my soft flasks but not a drop came out. It’s amazing what the body can do in this heat, running 10km on no water, when the mind takes control and the drive is there. I must admit it was very stressful and it is a stage I enjoyed last year.” – Ester Alves
Ester led the race until the finish completing this stage 9min ahead of second lady Melanie Langer (9th lady overall) who had run hard all day.
In the closing stages, Melanie took advantage of Anna Comet and Anna Frost relaxing into the finish with Sondre Amdahl – the trio had run together from half-way enjoying the closing of the 2017 TCC. Elisabet Barnes completed the stage 30min behind Ester in 6th place and 4th overall.
Anna Frost cried on the shoulder of race director, Rodrigo Carazo on the finish line.
“This has been a tough and emotional journey, three editions in the making. I have finally won the race I love! I think I am done, not with Costa Rica or the TCC – next time I will be watching and spectating though!” – Anna Frost
Nothing can describe the emotion of those finishing this tough 6-day multi-stage in some of the hardest conditions or the joy and relief on their faces on being handed the well-deserved finisher medal. Many have vowed to return to better their performances or tick this box.
Tonight (or this afternoon), will be a long night of post-race celebration where the ‘Imperial’ will flow and spirits will be high.
Jorge Paniagua 2:04:33
Chema Martinez 2:04:38
Tom Owens 2:04:39
Neruda Cespedes 2:06:54
Erick Aguero 2:14:39
Ester Alves 2:23:41
Melanie Langer 2:32:17
Anna Comet 2:32:33
Anna Frost 2:32:36
Katelyn Tocci 2:43:03
Overall Results for the 2017 The Coastal Challenge #TCC2017
1. Anna Frost (New Zealand): 27:08:41.9
2. Ana Comet (Spain): 27:58:45.4
3. Ester Alves (Portugal): 28:23:27.5
4. Elisabet Barnes (Sweden): 29:00:11.2
5. Katelyn Tocci (Costa Rica): 29:58:09.1
1. Tom Owens (Scotland): 22:29:45.2
2. Chema Martínez (Spain): 23:43:36.2
3. Jason Shlarb (USA): 24:34:57.0
4. Eric Agüero (Costa Rica): 24:57:43.3
5. Pancho Pinto (Ecuador): 25:43:37
Stage 5 of The Coastal Challenge saw the main players battling it out in a final attempt to put minutes in the bank and secure those desired podium places. The day started at 4.45am for the Expedition runners as they were transported by buses to the depart on a river in Sierpe. The Adventure Category runners who were doing 30km of the 49.8km course were taken by bus to catch a speedboat and were dropped of near CP2 on the course. None of the adventure racers complained about the “shorter” distance as they enjoyed a 40min speed boat ride with a refreshingly cool breeze and the river spray hitting their faces. Flocks of white egrets nestled in the trees along the early morning river and amphibious “Jesus Christ” lizards skimmed the surface of the river.
For most it was a tough day out. The course had been slightly modified since last year to include a longer beach section and more technical accents and descents in the jungle.
The race started with the first steep technical climb in jungle undergrowth to 300m, followed by an equally steep descent requiring runners to watch their feet for twigs, branches, vines and overhanging branches. Instructions had been given prior the race not to grab hold of anything like trees covered in sharp needle-thin thorns. After the first climb, a little respite at CP2 (Sabalo) at 17km and then a second very steep climb to 450m in 3km, followed by a 400m drop in 1.5km. After the technical jungle sections, the runners reached CP3 at 24.6km. Then the course took the runners on some fire trail, a right turn back into the jungle and climbing and descending in what felt like a pressure cooker in suffocating heat. After this followed a soft sand shaded track along the beach, a river boat crossing, some road and a finish on the beach in Bahia Drake Bay.
In the men’s race today, Tom Owens and Chema Martinez took the lead and ran together until CP1 at 9.1km. Chema had to work very hard on the technical climbs which are Tom’s playground. Tom seemed surprisingly relaxed as he ran effortlessly and nimbly up the dense jungle climbs. Chema, in contrast was struggling to keep up with the British fell-runner.
“I wanted to start strong today. The two climbs were tough. I was chasing Tom. This stage had changed since last year. I tried to keep up with Tom but I was battling. I kept him in sight until 25km and then I lost him.” – Chema Martinez
The two lead runners were followed closely by Jason Schlarb, who confessed he was starting to feel tired today and hadn’t got the miles in in preparation for the event. “I’ve been focussing mainly on ski-mountaineering.” Tom maintained the lead until he crossed the finish line, with Chema in second position and Jason Schlarb 3rd. Costa Rican Erick Aguero, who had been vying for 3rd overall, finished 6th today, which counts him out for a podium finish as tomorrow’s stage will be 22km. 2nd in the overall ranking, Chema was happy with performance today, feeling that he has improved his technical running skills since the 2016 edition.
“From September to December, I suffered from a Baker’s Cyst, due to a knee problem. I had it treated but could train properly for 3 months. Basically, I’ve had 2 months training for this and it’s a mix of road and trail, shorter distances and track. A week before the Costa Rica Coastal Challenge I did a half-marathon in Barcelona in 69min so I am back on form, even though my training hasn’t been race-specific.” – Chema Martinez
In the Ladies Race, Anna Frost and Elisabet Barnes set the pace at the start. Elisabet decided to run hard from the beginning and dropped Anna Frost before CP1. At CP2 she was well in the lead, followed by Anna Frost and Anna Comet. A few seconds at CP3 (24.6km) and Elisabet, who was still in the lead, was off looking very fresh and focussed. She was followed by Frosty, who spent a bit more time at CP3 before picking up her pace. Ester Alves entered CP3 looking surprisingly relaxed and unhurried.
“It was a good stage. I spent my time chatting with a Spanish runner from Barcelona. I was feeling very positive. Just after 25km, I overtook Anna Comet who was suffering from a stomach bug, then Anna Frost and on the second technical climb I overtook Elisabet. Raphael and I decided to nail it on the beach section. At the end of the beach section, we came to the river-crossing and had to wait for the boat which had just left to ferry across some runners. I was so frustrated thinking of all the time I was losing. We made it across and nailed the last 12.5km to the finish. I am happy with my second place today. I don’t think I was particularly strong today. I just think the other girls were tired. I’ve learnt to pace myself since my cycling days.” – Ester Alves
The overall podium for the men is almost a foregone conclusion with tomorrow’s stage being only 22km. In the Ladies Race, Anna Frost has a comfortable lead, as has Anna Comet who is second. The battle will be on for 3rd as Ester Alves has an 8min lead over Elisabet Barnes. Tomorrow Elisabet intends to wear her racing hat and attempt a podium finish.
Anna Frost 24:36:05
Anna Comet 25:26:12
Ester Alves 25:59:46
Elisabet Barnes 26:08:10
Katelyn Tocci 27:15:05
Tom Owens 20:25:05
Chema Martinez 21:38:58
Jason Schlarb 22:10:43
Erick Aguero 22:43:04
Francisco Pinto 23:27:30
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Stage 3 of The Coastal Challenge 2017 #TCC2017 started at Playa Dominical, a tiny Costa Rican seaside resort. At 5.15am sharp the runners gathered at the start to follow the Race director’s crew vehicle to the beginning of the infamous riverbed section. Until CP1 the runners had to contend with a 10-km stretch of boulder-hopping, swimming and basically weaving their way in-between massive boulders, slipping on mossy riverbed stones on an unmarked course. After CP1 the course took the runners up a steep relentless climb to reach CP2 at 23.2km and 900m+.
During this section the runners were rewarded for their efforts by two of the most scenic waterfalls on the course, allowing most the opportunity to cool their bodies as the heat set in. Even Jason Schlarb stopped racing to take in the breath-taking views: “This was my favourite stage. I enjoyed running up the creek bed. It was incredibly scenic and challenging. The waterfalls were awesome. I just had to stop and look even though Erick Aguero was chasing me.” CP2 was followed was followed by an even steeper technical and dusty descent from 800m+ to sea-level in 4km, taxing already tired legs from the boulder-bashing and climbing. At CP3, 32.5km into the race, the runners reached the “the tail of the whale” an exposed beach section on firm sand.
The 6km beach stretch was followed by a last steep jungle climb, where even the leaders had to dig deep into their last remaining reserves before reaching CP4 on the road home with 4km to go. A final right turn onto a stony dust road led them to the finish line at Bahia Ballena, “the bay of whales”.
Tonight’s camp-site and tomorrow’s start is adjacent to the Pacific Ocean and shaded by tall trees, home to indigenous monkeys and scarlet macaws. The total distance of Stage 3 was 43.9km and is considered one of the most technically gruelling and challenging of the race.
In the men’s race Tom Owens dominated the stage as expected smashing Ian Don Wauchope’s course record from 2016, looking surprisingly fresh on the finish line. He was first out of the river-bed at CP1 followed by Ecuadorian runner Francisco Pinto. Jason Schlarb exited the riverbed in third position. By the waterfall Tom Owens had already opened a big gap with his pursuers. Jason overtook Francisco and made it in second position to the first waterfall.
“I jockeyed between Ashur Youssefi and Erick Aguero. I broke away after the second waterfall and felt super confident on the descent. Then suddenly Erick came cruising by and gained 800m on me when we hit the beach. It was painful but then I caught him and next thing Chema Martinez flew by. Erick blew up on the beach. It was so hard getting up on the last hill before the road but I still managed to secure a third place after Chema.” – Jason Schlarb
Although there were no Costa Ricans on the podium today, Stage 3 was marked by a very strong Costa Rican presence led by Erick Aguero and Ashur Youssef.
In the Ladies Race Anna Frost dominated from the start, leading the ladies race to the river-bed. She was first at the first waterfall. Despite a strong lead, she had to push hard. “I twisted my ankle and my legs really felt it on the descent.” Second lady through the river-bed was Elisabet Barnes, which was a revelation and proved just how much her technical skills have improved since 2016 when she lost time on this section.
“I felt a lot better. The past 2 days I have had stomach cramps. Today I felt great. I was apprehensive about the river-bed and was happy to come out second. Funnily enough I enjoyed it. As I had anticipated Anna Comet passed me on the climb. I knew then that if I made it to the riverbed nobody would overtake me. Unfortunately, I got lost between CP2 and CP3 but this didn’t impact too much on my overall time. The near vertical climbs were killers and I found myself hanging onto branches. There were some really steep downhills and I just got on my butt and slid down the dusty descents.” – Elisabet Barnes
Elisabet kept her third place until the finish. Anna Comet finished in a strong second place. First Costa Rican lady was Katlyn Tocci.
Tom Owens (Scotland) – 4:55:52
Chema Martínez (Spain) – 5:16:22
Jason Shlarb (United States) – 5:21:35
Erick Aguero (Costa Rica) – 5:26:28
Francisco Pinto (Equator) – 5:28:56
Anna Frost (New Zealand) – 5:53:55
Anna Comet (Spain) – 6:05:23
Elisabeth Barnes (Sweden) – 6:20:14
Ester Alves (Portugal) – 6:30:00
Katelyn Tocci (Costa Rica) – 6:34:00
Daily reports and images will be posted on this website when connection allows.
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Stage 2 of the 2017 The Coastal Challenge was 39.1km long with 1898m+ and 1984m-. Starting on the beach near Rafiki Lodge, the racing started just as the dawn was beginning – excited runners waited nervously for the start to be given.
A few waves to the drone flying overhead and off they went zigzagging on a sandy beach trail which took them past Rafiki Lodge and up onto the first shaded relentless climb through jungle undergrowth.
It was muggy and the climb was steep taking the runners from sea level to 700m in 4km. After that a steep technical descent on dusty jungle trail to CP1, then the second monster climb of the day on more runnable terrain to reach one of the highest points on the course at 800m waited. This was followed by a very runnable fire trail descent to CP2 and from there on the course was fast exposed fire trail to CP3 followed by the 6km beach section with 2 inlet crossings to negotiate. The finish was at Playa Dominical.
In the men’s race the mountain-running specialists Tom Owens and Jason Schlarb took the lead from the outset setting a gruelling pace in an attempt to shake off their adversaries. They were followed very closely by one of the Costa Rican favourites, Ashur Yousseffi. As predicted Tom, an experienced fell runner, shook off the group in pursuit, opening an impressive gap. Chema Martinez tried to hang on but was not in his element on the first section of the course.
He later tried to close the gap on the flat and downhill fire trail but Tom didn’t give in, finishing the stage with a 13min lead on Chema.
“I felt better than yesterday. The 600m climb was not my strong point. Tom is just so much more competitive on that terrain. Compared to last year I feel a little more in control.” – Chema Martinez
Completing the podium was Jason who took 3rd place, 7min behind Chema. A great result after his detour on day-1! Ashur ended 4th after spending considerable time trading places with Chema. The other Costa Rican favourite Erick Aguero who had placed 3rd yesterday, finished 5th just 2min behind his compatriot. All in all, it was a very good day for the Costa Rican favourites.
In the Ladies race Anna Frost and Anna Comet, both experienced skyrunners, took the lead from the start. Frosty held the lead till the end, finishing a good 3-minutes ahead of Anna Comet. The latter was second until the first summit. She held second place all the way to the finish.
“It went well. I felt good at the beginning up the climb,” Comet said post race. “I tried to go faster uphill to put time in the bank. My strong point is technical terrain –steep climbs and descents.”
Costa Rican favourite Kateyln Tocci was 3rd lady to the summit followed by Ester Alves and Elisabet Barnes. As predicted Elisabet Barnes lost time on the climb and summited out of the top 5.
“Yesterday was great. I enjoyed the flat running and the later start. Today the climbs until CP2 were difficult. There was a lot of hiking. I didn’t enjoy it. After CP2 there were nice flat roads until the finish and the second downhill was not too technical. I had to work hard on the hills and quad-bashing technical descent to CP1. Having said this, I enjoyed it overall. Tomorrow will be a big challenge with the river bed and rock-hopping. The second half and the beach section will be better. This year I feel fitter and more heat-adapted. I gained 11 to 12 minutes compared to last year but the female field this year is stronger and much more competitive.”
Ester Alves, also an experienced sky and mountain runner, had a better day today. “I felt better and preferred the course today. I am still struggling with the heat and hydration. I’m not used to it. Tomorrow my body will dictated my race. It’s only day 3.”
Located next to the sea, Dominical provides a wonderful overnight stop. It’s an early start again tomorrow for stage 3. The day starts with a tough river bed scramble and then passing the stunning Nauyaca Waterfalls.