Marcus Scotney to join the The Coastal Challenge 2019 #TCC2019

The Coastal Challenge reaches new heights in 2019 celebrating 15-years of amazing racing.

The 14th edition completed in February 2018 at the stunning Drake Bay on the Osa Peninsula, was a record breaker! Yes, course records were broken daily and Tom Evans and Ragna Debats elevated the overall CR’s to a new level obliterating the 2017 records set by the UK’s Tom Owens and New Zealand’s Anna Frost.

Time never stands still and to make the 15th edition of TCC extra special, race director’s Rodrigo Carazo and Sergio Sanchez have confirmed a new incentive for the 2019 edition of the race.

A reward purse totalling $8000 will be up for grabs as the race gets underway from the stunning beaches of Quepos, Costa Rica.

Each day, $250 will be up for grabs should the stage course records be broken by the fastest male or female. For example, in 2018, Tom Evans broke every stage record, that would have been rewarded with a $1500 payout!

Should the overall course record set in 2018 by Tom Evans or Ragna Debats be broken in 2019, $2500 will be on offer. Should the male and female record go, that is a payout of $5000.

Feel like a fast start to 2019? It comes no faster than the 15th edition of The Coastal Challenge!

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, travelling 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 and the the 2018 edition HERE

Following on from the announcement that UTMB 3rd place and Everest Trail Race winner, Jordi Gamito will race in 2019 (Here) – We now announce the return of Marcus Scotney. Marcus is an experienced multi-day racer having won The Dragons Back Race and the Cape Wrath Ultra in the UK. He toed the line at TCC in 2017 and was gunning for the podium until a huge navigational error pulled him out of the classification – he is coming back to put the record straight!

What attracts you back to Costa Rica?

Undo the wrong turn I made in this year TCC, Costa Rica is an amazingly beautiful place to run with such friendly people.

This is the 15th edition of the TCC, a special one – what do you know about the race after racing in 2018?

It gets very HOT during the day and it takes you through stunning scenery with golden beaches, dense technical forests trails and rivers to cross and run up.

Heat and humidity will play a major factor in the race, how do you plan to adapt?

I hope to get into a heat chamber again and run with lots of layers on, and praying we don’t have such a cold winter in the UK than this year.

Ragna Debats and Tom Evans set incredible course records in 2017. There is prize money available for a new CR in 2019 – does that motivate you? Can you break the record?

Tom was on fire this year, him and Hayden raced as hot as the air temperature was, it will take some beating.

Multi-day racing brings many different challenges to a single-stage race – what are you most looking forward to? What are you most fearful of?

I’m looking forward to running such a beautiful and well organized race, being immersed in the jungle and the spectacular trails and beaches.

I’m most fearful of missing a pink tape ribbon and missing a turn, I wouldn’t live it down if I did that again!

The elite line-up is incredible for 2019, you will need to be in the best shape, does that excite you?

Yes I am super excited to be returning and running with and getting to know the other elite runners. Knowing the course now means I know what I need to focus on to improve on this years performance.

 

February is early in the season, what will your winter training look like, so you will be ready for February?

Lots of miles in the Peak District this winter, focusing on ascent each week and adding some tempo running into the mix.

And doing a pink ribbon awareness course; getting Jen to hang Pink Ribbons out on runs for me to follow and stay focused on.  

I am sure you have looked at past editions of the race, viewed the stages, the profile – it is a tough race that suits a rounded athlete. You need to be able to climb, descend, handle technical trail and run on the flat – where will your strengths be?

I know most of my way around the course now so know what to expect.

My strength is on the technical trail and the steep climbs, I will be working on my flat speed for the 2019 edition of the race.

 

What experience do you have of multi-day racing?

2016 – The Cape Wrath Ultra Trail

2017 – The Dragons Back Race

2018 – The Coastal Challenge DQ’d

2018 – Ut4M Challenge Grenoble

Racing starts very early in Costa Rica, with the sun! An early finish allows for relaxation on the beach, you can even have a beer – combining racing and relaxation is a key of TCC. It is a ‘Pura Vida’ race – tell us about your hopes and desires for the 2019 edition.

Not getting lost!!!!

What three music choices would sum up your racing style?

Senser – Stubborn

Nick Cave and the bad seeds – The Mercy seat

John Martin – Small hours  

Tell us about your nutrition and hydrations strategies for the race?

It gets very hot very quickly in the morning I will be drinking plenty of water, I will carry 3 soft flasks like this year and always keep a spare bottle filled. I will use a mixture of Clif Bloks and Mountain Fuel Jellies.

 

Tell us about key equipment such as shoes and apparel that you will use?

Scott Supertrac Ultra’s. Montane VIA Fang Shirt. Suunto 9

Open question – Feel free to tell us something, anything!

I will not get lost this year!

Tell us about your greatest achievement/ result in 2018?

2nd Cappadocia Ultra Trail

Please list a summary of your career highlights for 2017 and 2018:

1 – Winning and setting a new CR for the 2017 Dragons Back Race

2 – Running in the 2018 Coastal Challenge.

3 – 2nd 2018 Salomon Cappadocia Ultra Turkey

4 – 5th 2018 UtM4 Challenge Grenoble 160km

5 – 6th Mozart 100km Austria

6 – 1st Dark Peak Runners 50km

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The Coastal Challenge 2018 #TCC2018 – Stage 6

The 2018 The Coastal Challenge today came to an end on the stunning beaches of Drake Bay on the Osa Peninsula.

Tom Evans and Ragna Debats are the champions after a masterclass of multi-day running. The duo obliterated the 2017 records set by Tom Owens and Anna Frost. I think it’s fair to say, these records may be around for while!

The 22km final day is a stunning day, starting and finishing on Bahia Drake, the loop is like a mini Coastal Challenge all compressed into one stage. Waterfalls, rainforest, plantations, dusty fire trail, water crossings, beaches, coves and the stunning Pacific as a backdrop as the runners make the way to the finish.

Tom Evans wanted the course record and he ran today, once again with Hayden Hawks. The duo worked together, creeping in under the 2-hour mark and securing a place in history. Tom Evans as the champion and Hayden Hawks as the 2nd. Any other year and Hawks would be the champion, but as the American said, “Tom has been on fire and I have tried to push but really, I have been holding on!’

Previous TCC winner and course record holder Michael Wardian finished 3rd overall and then the battle for first Costa Rican was on – Erick Aguero dominated the day.

For the ladies’ it was a neutral day with the top-3 ladies running together for much of the stage. Finally, Ragna Debats finished hand-in-hand and third places Suzanna G finished 3rd.

The line was full of emotion as an epic journey has come to an end. The 2018 TCC will go down in history as the fastest ever.

2019 will see the 15th edition of the race and I believe we can expect something special!

For now though, it’s all about Evans and Debats celebrating victory. This evening, the awards will take place on the beach with a roaring camp fire.

What else would you expect?

PURA VIDA

 

  1. Tom Evans 1:59:54
  2. Hayden Hawks 1:59:55
  3. Erick Aguero 2:00:26
  4. Neruda Cespedes 2:09:09
  5. Michael Wardian 2:10:48

 

  1. Ragna Debats 2:27:57
  2. Ester Alves 2:27:58
  3. Suzanna Guadarrama 2:34:38
  4. Shannon Colley 3:08:39
  5. Kerri Treheme 3:09:35

 

OVERALL GC

 

  1. Tom Evans 21:44:11 new CR
  2. Hayden Hawks 21:48:36
  3. Michael Wardian 25:17:42
  4. Erick Aguero 25:36:15
  5. Neruda Cespedes 25:39:00

 

  1. Ragna Debats 26:14:39 new CR
  2. Ester Alves 29:59:42
  3. Suzanna Guadarrama 30:41:30
  4. Mirta Reaple 35:08:36
  5. Josephine Adams 36:07:38

 

Full results at www.webscorer.com

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The Coastal Challenge 2018 #TCC2018 – Stage 3

Day 3 of the 2018 kicked off at 0530 this morning and what lay ahead was a tough and challenging day of hills, technical trail, waterfalls, long dusty and stony roads and relentless beach – all intensified by Costa Rican heat and humidity.

The early trails leaving Dominical Beach take the runners into 10km’s of technical river bed. It’s all rock hopping and slip sliding away on the wet and greasy surface.

Nuayaca Waterfall is no doubt the highlight of the day, if not the race. The runners arrive down a small trail and the cascade greets them, they pass through and climb up a winding trail. From here on in, the terrain varies from rainforest, dusty access roads and technical Trail before the beach arrives with approximately 10km to go.

Now, the heat is intense, and the runners are sandwich pressed between sand and sky.

A small technical forest section leads to the highway and then the final km’s are passed on the side of the road before turning down an access road to the beach. It’s a brutal day.

It may come as no surprise that Ragna Debats dictated the day and the pace in the ladies’ race. it’s fair to say, that Debats has lifted this race to a whole new level, her times surpass all that has gone before. So much so, she is lying 6th overall. Today she pushed and pushed and placed 6th on the stage and 1-hour 10-minutes ahead of 2016 TCC champion, Ester Alves. She is putting on a masterclass!

Ester Aves as usual ran a solid race finishing in 6:45 with Mirta Reaple 3rd in 7:06 closely followed by Suzanna Guadarrama in 7:12. The final positions for 2nd and 3rd could prove to be exciting with two tough days to come.

For the men, Neruda Cespedes was the first to the waterfall closely followed by Tom Evans and Hayden Hawks. By the time cp2 arrived, it was all change with Hawks, Evans joined by Timothy Olson and Marcus Scotney. They pushed through the downhill trails to the beach and Evans and Hawks pulled away from Olson and Scotney.

Olson then made a break in pursuit of the duo leaving Scotney alone n 4th place. Disaster struck whom Scotney missed a turn, losing time, he opens up the doorway for Jorge Paniagua, Erick Aguero, Neruda Cespedes and Ashur Youssefi to go ahead of him. It was a huge mistake and he would finally finish 9th on the stage in 5:43.

Evans and Hawks continued to mark each other at the front and despite several attempts to push ahead of each other, the duo finished in 4:54. Olson finished 3rd in 5:02 and Jorge Paniagua flew the Costa Rican flag in 4th!

Tomorrow’s stage is 37km from Coronado to Palmar Sur

 

  1. Tom Evans 4:54:52
  2. Hayden Hawks 4:54:52
  3. Timothy Olson 5:02:04
  4. Jorge Paniagua 5:26:25
  5. Erick Aguero 5:33:36

 

  1. Ragna Debats 5:34:20
  2. Ester Alves 6:45:13
  3. Mirta Reaple 7:06:58
  4. Suzanna Guadarrama 7:12:38
  5. Gabriela Molina 8:17:43

 

Full results at www.webscorer.com

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The Coastal Challenge 2018 #TCC2018 – Registration

The 2018 The Coastal Challenge finally got underway today in San Jose, Costa Rica, as over 100 runners from all over the world came to packet pick up and registration for the 14th edition of the race.

As always, it was a mixture of nerves and excitement. The journey ahead, a stunning 6-days running along the coast of Costa Rica from Quepos to the iconic Drake Bay. Flanked on the right by the Pacific and to the left, the amazing Talamanca mountain range. 

The 2018 edition of the race has all the makings of a classic. The men’s field is arguably the best ever with Michael Wardian, Hayden Hawks, Tom Evans, Marcus Scotney and Timothy Olson.

Michael Wardian, TCC champion and previous course record holder.

Hayden Hawks 2017 CCC champion.

Tom Evans 3rd at MDS Morocco 2017 and 4th at CCC and the Eiger Ultra Trail.

Marcus Scotney winner of the Dragons Back Race and Cape Wrath Ultra.

The ladies’ race is equally impressive with past winner Ester Alves returning joined by Ragna Debats, Inge Nijkamp and Josephine Adams.

Ester Alves 2016 The Coastal Challenge champion.

Ragna Debats Skyrunner World Series champion 2017.

Inge Nijkamp 11th at MDS Morocco 2017.

Josephine Adams 6th at MDS Peru 2017.

Full preview HERE

Tomorrow, Sunday 11th, runners depart for San Jose at 0400 for the 4-hour journey to the coast.

It’s a tough day as the race will start at 0900, the sun will already be high in the sky and the heat intense. It’s a day when patience can prevail.

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The Coastal Challenge 2018 Race Preview #TCC2018

The 2018 ‘The Coastal Challenge’ is upon us! Six days, 230.5km of racing and 9543m of vertical gain, 9413m of vertical descent – TCC is more than a challenge!

Follow #TCC2018

Over the years, TCC has grown in stature with an ‘A’ list of elite runners from all over the world. The 2017 edition was won by Salomon International Athletes – Anna Frost and Tom Owens. For 2018, the race steps up a notch with arguably the greatest ever male field assembled for a multi-stage race.

The 2018 edition lists a who’s who of elite runners.

Michael Wardian, a past winner and yours record holder returns. The unstoppable Chema Martinez from Spain returns once again looking for that top spot. Rising GB star, Tom Evans heads for his first rainforest experience after planing 3rd at MDS in 2017. Add to this, the legendary and iconic Timothy Olson, Drgagons Back and Cape Wrath winner, Marcus Scotney and the USA’s rising star and fast-man, Hayden Hawks – needless to say, the rainforest of the Talamancas may be ablaze after these guys have forged a path through its stunning trails.

For the ladies’ Ester Alves returns, a past champion, Ester has just placed 2nd at the Everest Trail Race in Nepal. She will be joined by the Dutch mountain goat and fast lady, Ragna Debats. Our top three female contenders should have been rounded out by Elisabet Barnes but unfortunately, illness has taken its toll and she will not make the start in Quepos.

“Due to several occurrences of cold and flu in the last few months I have had to reevaluate my upcoming race schedule. I have raced nine demanding multi-stage races in the last two years and my body is telling me to back off a bit. I plan to come back stronger and one thing is guaranteed, I will be back at TCC2019 – It is a race I love!”

– Elisabet Barnes

The Race:

Stage 1 34.6km 1018m of vert and 886m of descent

Stage 2 39.1km 1898m of vert and 1984m of descent

Stage 3 47.4km 1781m of vert and 1736m of descent

Stage 4 37.1km 2466m of vert and 2424m of descent

Stage 5 49.8km 1767m of vert and 1770m of descent

Stage 6 22.5km 613m of vert and 613m of descent

Stats:

Total 230.5km

Vertical 9543m

Descent 9413m

Description

Hugging the coastline of the tropical Pacific, TCC is the ultimate multi-day experience that weaves in and out of the Talamancas; a coastal mountain range in the Southwest corner of Central America.

The terrain is ever-changing from wide, dusty and runnable fire trails to dense and muddy mountain trails. Runners will cross rivers, boulders, swim through rivers, pass under waterfalls, survive long relentless beaches and finally finish in the incredible Corcovado National Park, a Unesco World Heritage site with a stunning final loop around Drake Bay before departing for their journeys home via speedboat.

THE ROUTE

Stage 1 

It’s a tough day! Runners depart San Jose early morning (around 0530) for a 3-hour drive to Playa Del Rey, Quepos. It’s the only day that the race starts late and ‘in the sun!’. It’s the toughest day of the race, not because the the terrain or distance, but because of the time of day! The runners are fresh and feel great. That is until about 10km and then they realise the heat and humidity is relentless. It’s a day for caution – mark my words! The 34.6km is very runnable with little vertical and technicality – it welcomes the runners to Costa Rica.

Stage 2

From here on in, it is early breakfast. Around 0400 runners wake and the race starts with  the arrival of the sun! The only way is up from the start with a tough and challenging climb. It’s a tough day with an abundance of climbing and descending and a final tough flat stretch on the beach, just as the heat takes hold.

Stage 3

It is basically 25km of climbing topping out at 800m followed by a drop to the sea and a final kick in the tail before the arrival at camp. For many, this is a key day and maybe one of the most spectacular. Pura Vida.

Stage 4

It’s another tough start to the day with a relentless climb, but once at 900m the route is a rollercoaster of relentless small climbs and descents, often littered with technical sections, rainforest, river crossings and boulders. At 30km, it’s a short drop to the road and the finish at 37.1km.

Stage 5

The long day but what a beauty! This route was tweaked a couple of years ago and now has become iconic with tough trails, plenty of climbing, sandy beaches and yes, even a boat trip. The finish at Drake Bay is iconic.

Stage 6

The victory lap! For many, this stage is the most beautiful and memorable. In just over 20km, the route manages to include a little of all that has gone before. It’s a stage of fun and challenges and one that concludes on the beach as a 2018 medal is placed over your head – job done!

THE RUNNERS – MALE

 

Michael Wardian has won the race and set a course record. He knows the lay of the land and if anyone knows how to race hard, day-after-day, it is Mike. You can never bet against him and he always comes ‘to race!’ There is no sandbagging, no pretenses, just a full-on let’s race and let the best man win!

Hayden Hawks burst on the scene in recent years blazing a trail of fast running. He is one of the new breed of trail runner who is moving from the road/ track to the trails. That natural speed is making trail racing faster and faster. Hayden won CCC in 2017 – a huge win. He loves to train with big weeks and TCC will feel like a ‘training week’ but just a whole lot faster… he is a favourite for the win! 

Timothy Olson needs no introduction. This man blasted Western States to a whole new level and was the man to beat at any race. A tough 2016 started to overturn in 2017 with a slow but calculated return to form. One of the nicest guys out there, Timothy will bring his love for all things to TCC and will inspire with his feet and his heart. On his day, this guy could rip the legs off the competition.

Tom Evans burst on the scene in 2017 placing 3rd at Marathon des Sables. He played the Moroccans at their own game and had them worried. Interestingly, Michael Wardian also placed 3rd some years ago… Tom placed 4th at the Eiger Ultra and CCC and recently has earned a slot on the GB Squad for the World Trail Championships in May. He is fast and can run technical trails, he has the multi-day format nailed – it is going to be awesome!

Marcus Scotney has represented GB and has won ‘The Challenger’ at the UK’s Spine race, won the Cape Wrath Ultra and most recently, The Dragons Back Race – both of which are gnarly UK multi-stage races. Marcus has all the skills for a great race at TCC, the biggest question may well come with heat adaptation from a cold UK?

Finally, Chema Martinez is slowly but surely become Mr. TCC. He has raced many times and played 2nd year-on-year. Will 2018 be the year when he tips the scales in his favour? Who knows, one thing is for sure, he will race hard every day.

THE RUNNERS – FEMALE

Ester Alves has won the race before and last year placed 3rd. Recently, she placed 2nd at the Everest Trail Race in Nepal. Ester brings experience and excellent mountain/ technical running to TCC and as such, will always be a favourite for the win.

Ragna Debats in recent years has been a revelation mixing fast running (IAU World Trail Champs) with Skyrunning. On paper, Ragna is a hot favourite for victory in Costa Rica. The combination of speed and technical ability may well give her a supreme edge over the competition.

Inge Nijkamp placed 11th at Marathon des Sables and although she won’t appreciate me highlighting her name here, she will be one to watch. Her form, in her own words, “Is not what it should be,’ but, she has the ability and skill to certainly edge onto the podium should all go well.

Of course, we can not rule out the local talent who, over the years, has made the race exhilarating and exciting. We will update this report with a review of both the male and female talent once the race list has been confirmed.

Registration takes place on February 10th

Racing starts on the 11th

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Ragna Debats to join the 2018 The Coastal Challenge #TCC2018

Ragna Debats had a stunning 2017 racing all over the world in multiple Skyrunning events and distances – surprising that someone born in the flatlands of the Netherlands can run so well in the Mountains. It was a full year and one that at times could have so easily pushed her over the edge. However, Debats managed her time well and concluded her racing year with an epic journey to Nepal.

A break over the Christmas period and a return to consistent training, Ragna now sets her sights on Costa Rica and The Coastal Challenge. It will be a new challenge and one that should suit the Skyrunner well, the mixed terrain and technical challenges should suit her skill set.

In May, Ragna has her sights set on the IAU World Trail Championships.

I caught up with Ragna, with 1-month before Costa Rica it is all systems go.

You have had a great year – Skyrunning Champion, IAU World Trail top result and recently racing in Nepal – what has been a highlight?

For me personally, my highlights have been the Olympus Marathon where I won and set a new race record, High Trail Vanoise where I became EU Champ. The Rut, USA, I won and set a new race record too whilst having fun – a dream! However, I have enjoyed all of the races, 2017 was a great year!

Racing in Costa Rica will be very different but it will suit your skill set, what are you looking forward to?

I am looking forward to racing in a completely new scenery! I can’t wait to see the tropical rainforests and the beaches, it is going to be incredible.

Are you doing any specific training for the heat, humidity in Costa Rica – if so, what?

I have just started training again after a break over Christmas. Basically, I am working towards the IAU World Championship in May and during January and February I will mainly focus on strength training and volume, Costa Rica will work well in this plan, however, adapting to the heat will be difficult.

You have just done a multi-day race in Nepal, is multi-day something you’d like to do more of in the future?

Nepal was a great experience, mainly on a humane level and because it was a real cultural adventure. From a running prospective I was a little disappointed, but Nepal offered so many new challenges it was always going to be a learning curve. Also, the race concluded a long and hard year of racing.

Do you have a plan or strategy for Costa Rica, or will you take each day as it comes?

I hope I will feel like when I ran the Pyrenees Stage Run in 2017 where I could push every day and enjoy the race from the beginning until the end. We shall see what happens!

You will have strong competition from Ester Alves, Elisabet Barnes and more… does that excite you?

Yes, definitely! I’m always looking for good competition and I will revel in it. It’s exciting. 

Tell me a little about your preparation for Costa Rica – what are you doing at the moment?

At the moment, I am just getting back to regular training sessions after my running break and my Christmas holidays in Holland. But I feel really motivated to get into a good shape for 2018.

What will a multi-day race bring you for your plans later in 2018?

I think it will give me a good base for the season. After the race, I will start with specific speed work which will lead into the world champs!

What are the plans for 2018?

Until May I will be mainly focused on the Trail World Championship and afterwards I will follow the ISF World Series and the ISF World Championship.

Finally, what is your lifetime, long-term dream race or goal?

I would love to win the UTMB, the Trail World Championship and to become the overall World Champion!

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

Follow #TCC2018

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The Coastal Challenge

Facebook HERE

Website (UK) HERE

Website (Global) HERE

 

 

 

 

Anna Comet to run The Coastal Challenge 2017

©iancorless.com_AnnaComet (1 of 1)

The Coastal Challenge are pleased to announce that Anna Comet (Spain), two times winner of the Everest Trail Race will participate in the 2017 edition of the race.

A multi-day race over 6-days starting in the southern coastal town of Quepos, Costa Rica and finishing at the stunning Drake Bay on the Osa Peninsula, The Coastal Challenge is an ultimate multi-day running experience.

Intense heat, high humidity, ever-changing terrain, stunning views, Costa Rican charm, exceptional organisation; the race encompasses Pura Vida! Unlike races such as the Marathon des Sables, ‘TCC’ is not self-sufficient, but don’t be fooled, MDS veterans confirm the race is considerably harder and more challenging than the Saharan adventure.

©iancorless.com_TCC2016-0873

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 expansive plains. At times technical, the combination of so many challenging elements are only intensified by heat and high humidity that slowly but surely reduces even the strongest competitors to exhausted shells by the arrival of the finish line.

2017 will signify the ‘lucky for some’ 13th edition and building on the success of the 2016 edition, Central America’s most important multi-day race looks set to elevate itself to new heights with this first of six announcements about the elite field who will undertake the race next year.

©iancorless.com_AnnaComet (7 of 1)

Anna Comet in recent years has shot to fame as a trail and mountain runner after a very successful career as an Alpine skier and ski mountaineer. Her 2014 victory at the Everest Trail Race (also a multi-day race) paved the way for a strong and consistent Skyrunning year in 2015.

Born in Girona, the mountain has always been a passion for Anna. A 4-year stint living in the French Alps at 14-years old and 2-years in Andorra laid the foundations for selection for the Spanish National Team for Alpine Skiing. A 6-year career saw Anna race many European Cups and the FIS World Cup Races.

Injury unfortunately removed Anna from competitive sport for 4-years and when she returned, trail running and ski mountaineering were her chosen disciplines.

Although my heart says to me that I have to keep pushing on ski mountaineering competition, common sense and my mind are pushing me to focus all my efforts to one goal; trail running. I feel that this is what I have to do! – Anna Comet

Despite placing 6th on two occasions at Pierramenta, 2nd at Patrouille des glaciers and many top 10-places on the World Cup races, during the 2014 season Anna slowly moved purely to trail and mountain running. Victory at the 2014 Everest Trail Race confirmed she had made a wise decision.

*****

©iancorless.com_AnnaComet (3 of 1)

You have raced multi-day races twice before, the Everest Trail Race, on both occasions you won. What do you like about multi-day racing?

EN: I think there are two big special things: 1. there is more race strategy than in other races and 2. the contact and the experience with the rest of the racers is very special.

SP: Creo que hay dos cosas muy especiales: 1. hay más estrategia que en otro tipo de carreras y 2. el contacto y la convivencia con el resto de corredores es muy especial.

The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica will be very different to Nepal, what is the attraction?

EN: The biggest attraction is that it will be very different to Nepal and to all the other races I have done before; the terrain, the heat, the sea, etc.

SP: La mayor atracción es esto, será muy distinto que Nepal y que el resto de carreras que he hecho antes, el terreno, el calor, el mar, etc.

©iancorless.com_AnnaComet (2 of 1)

Like ETR, TCC is not self-sufficient, you dont need to carry all your equipment like MDS, is that more appealing? You are free to run!

EN: Of course yes! I like running free, you can run faster and one of the things that I like most of running is to run as fast as I can.

SP: Por supuesto! Me gusta correr libre, se puede correr más rápido y una de las cosas que más me gusta de correr es hacerlo tan rápido como pueda.

High heat and intense humidity makes the TCC an extreme challenge, will you prepare specifically for this?

EN: I would like to, but I think it will be impossible. In Catalonia where I live it is cold from November, so I will have to get used to the heat and humidity during my stay in Costa Rica.

SP: Me encantaría pero creo que será imposible. En Cataluña, donde vivo, hace frío a partir de noviembre… así que tendré que acostumbrarme cuando llegue a Costa Rica

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You have excelled at Skyrunning in recent years, will the combination of technical trails, water crossings, climbing etc, of Costa Rica appeal to you?

EN: I’m sure of it! I am really looking forward to going and running there!

SP: Estoy segura que si! Tengo muchas ganas de ir y correr allí!

TCC is almost 1-year away and you have a busy year ahead, what does your race calendar look like for 2016?

EN: This year I’m going to participate in all the races of the Skyrunner World Series. I am going to start in may with Transvulcania, then USM (Ultra SkyMarathon Madeira) in Madeira in June, Ultra Trail Vanoise (formerly Ice Trail) in Val d’sere in July, The Rut, USA in September and Ultra Pirineu, Spain in September again.

SP: Este año volveré a participar en las carreras del Ultra World Tour de la ISF: Empezaré en mayo en Transvulcania, después Madeira en junio, Val d’isère en julio, USA en setiembre y UP también en setiembre.

What are your long term goals with running?

EN: My goals for this season is to be the best that I can be in the Skyrunner World Series and of course, enjoy what I do!

SP: Mis objetivos para esta temporada es probar de volver a quedar entre las mejores de las world series y, por supuesto, disfrutar de lo que hago.

Do you have a dream race other than The Coastal Challenge?

EN: There are a lot of races around the world and a lot of nice places to go. I like to go step-by-step, I’ve been twice to Nepal and now I really want to go to Cost Rica.

SP: Hay muchas carreras y muchos lugares bonitos en el mundo. Me gusta ir paso a paso, he estado dos años en Nepal y ahora me apetece mucho ir a Costa Rica.

Ester Alves won the TCC in 2016, you have raced against her in Skyrunning races, should she return to Costa Rica to defend her crown, would you embrace the challenge?

EN: Of course! I like to compete against strong competition. I think it’s a chance to grow as athlete and to become better. And of course I will be happy to meet Ester in competition and then relax later in the camp chatting.

SP: Por supuesto! Me gusta competir con buenas corredoras. Creo que es la forma de crecer como atleta y mejorar día a día. Y por supuesto me encantará conocerla en competición y después en el campamento tranquilamente.

Anna, any final thoughts

EN: Since I decided to go to TCC next year I can’t stop watching videos and photos from there! I’m excited!

SP: Desde que he decidido ir a TCC el próximo año no puedo parar de mirar videos y fotos! Estoy emocionada!

©iancorless.com_AnnaComet (6 of 1)

In a very short space of time, Anna has elevated her status as one of the worlds best female Skyrunner’s as reflected in her 2015 results.

  • 2nd Transvulcania Ultramarathon, La Palma, Spain
  • 5th European Skyrunning Championships, Ice Trail Tarentaise, Val D’Isere, France.
  • 2nd Mont-Blanc 80km, Chamonix, France.
  • 4th Matterhorn Ultraks, Zermatt, Switzerland.
  • 1st Everest Trail Race, Nepal – new course record
  • Ranked 3rd lady overall in the ISF Skyrunning World Series 2015.

A full 2016 calendar lies ahead but rest assured, Anna will be firing on all cylinders for the 2017 edition of The Coastal Challenge which will take place Feb 10th – 19th, 2017.

All images ©iancorless.com – all rights reserved

Contact Information

Email: HERE

Website: HERE

Facebook: HERE

Twitter: @tcccostarica

Global Contacts: HERE

Follow #TCC2017

More information:

Read the full 2016 race story HERE

View and purchase images for the 2016 race HERE

You can read daily reports from the 2016 edition HERE

TCC_2017_JoinUs?

Ever wondered, what is too much in an ultra?

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Ever wondered, what is too much in an ultra?

Canadian, Mike Murphy last week ran The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica. He was having a battle royal with South African, Iain Don Wauchope. Showing real grit, on day two Mike pulled back a huge time deficit (due to going off course on day one) and took over the race lead.

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Mike then lost the lead again on day three. The stage was set for a head-to-head battle but Mike started to suffer… on the evening of day five (with just one day left) Mike was pulled out of the race by the medics and eventually ended up in hospital.

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All is okay and Mike is now back in Canada. But he just sent me this message:

“I’m ALIVE! Got home from the hospital (Vancouver) last night, and my issues/injuries seem to stable and/or improving. The list is:
Broken Radius, Arm/elbow infection, Heat stroke, Hyponatremia, Blood loss (causing anemia).”

Believe me, Mike is one of the most committed runners I have ever witnessed in a race. Costa Rica and The Coastal Challenge offered each and every competitor a unique set of challenges. Lets face it, that is the attraction isn’t it? Relentless heat, high humidity, long stretches of open beach, dense forest, fire roads, water crossings, technical river beds and a plethora of other challenges.

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But can you be too committed in a race?

Welcome your thoughts and have you ever pushed yourself too far?

MDS to TCC – Jo Meek Interview

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Who would have thought it, the 2013 Marathon des Sables turned out to be a great year for British performances. Danny Kendall placed the highest ever overall placing with 10th and Jo Meek placed 2nd lady overall. It was a stunning performance by a relatively unknown. Armed with a new belief in her ability, Jo will has now planned to switch from the heat of the Sahara and test herself in the heat and humidity of a Costa Rican rainforest at The Coastal Challenge. I caught up with Jo at the end of August and we had a chat about MDS and her expectations for TCC.

IC I bet April and the Marathon des Sable (MDS) seems such a long time ago?

JM Yes, it does seem ages ago. Considering I am walking now in late August in the pouring rain. It’s wet and miserable… it doesn’t seem that long ago in regard to memories. I just watched the video that was available for download and it brought it all back.

IC So sitting at home, watching everyone running in the sand with a tear in your eye?

JM Definitely no tear, I think I am happy not be running in the sand. I am still surprised how I adapted especially considering I am now at home running on the road again.

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IC Amazing eh that you can be in that environment, the sand, the wind, the bivouac, no washing, you are eating dried food and you adapt and then post race when we got in a luxury hotel, you said, you wished you could go back, you loved it didn’t you! You loved being in that environment. It was preferable to the clean hotel.

JM I did. Yes, I actually think I could be quite a ‘skanky’ person really. I am far happier roughing it than in luxury. I guess it sounds romantic but I like being at one with nature, eating, running and sleeping. Perfect. But I guess the other memory is the one from those clean white cotton sheets; that was quite special.

IC I have to say, the first shower, all that fresh hot water and then all the sand starts to escape from all the nooks and crannies. As you say, no more sleeping bags and a lovely comfy bed, it is quite a pleasure.

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JM My roll matt was about the size of A4 to keep it light and small, so my hip was pretty sore after a week in the bivouac. I have to say the cushioning of a bed was welcome.

IC The Bristh performed really well at MDS. No disrespect to you but we had no idea who Jo Meek was before MDS. We knew Laurence Klein was outright favorite and we knew Meghan Hicks was back, she had performed well previously but outside of that it was all unknown. On the first day you were up at the front and then continued to perform at the front of the race for the whole race. You had this great battle with Meghan. Laurence had a convincing lead but it all fell apart on the long day when she had to drop with dehydration. This opened it up for you and Meghan. Meghan had a great long day but I remember standing on the finish of the final day, it was the marathon distance, you nailed it. You said the marathon was your distance and you wanted to stamp your authority on it. You placed second overall, many look at MDS as one of those iconic mult- day races, how did you go from a relatively unknown to getting second. What was it in you that enabled you to focus and become so efficient in the sand?

JM A few things really. I am very good at setting a training plan and sticking to it. When I race, I always race. I don’t just enter to complete it. So, looking at the conditions I set myself up in a heat chamber and did training that was specific. I didn’t want heat to be an issue so I acclimatized. What was interesting over the six days was that I became less scared of what the heat could do. On the last day I thought, what have I got to loose. I do think back now and wonder could I have gone harder but it was an unknown. I didn’t know what would happen so I played cautious. Meghan taught me a lot without her realizing it. I followed her on a couple of stages and I watched how she tracked across the sand looking for the hard sand, even if it was out of the way. She would deviate and look for the harder and faster sand. Also her style, it’s a definite technique to sand running. You don’t want to be a toe runner.

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IC For sure, you need a flat foot.

JM Yes, you also want to shuffle. You don’t want big strides. A little like being in the army again. I learnt lots. I learnt also from training. I had done some awful ultras that were definitely worse than MDS. One race, a 40-mile race across Exmoor and the weather was awful… they said 40 but it was 43-miles I am sure. The last 3-miles were awful.

IC That can be good, a bad training experience. If you have had some tough and hard training and the race works out easier then that has to be a good thing. It’s a real positive.

JM I had no doubt that I wouldn’t finish the race. I had said that I wanted the podium at MDS but I had no idea what I based that on.

IC To put things in perspective you are a 2:46 marathon runner. Ability and speed are there. Many would die for a 2:46 marathon but also you are in the army. Does the combination of those two things make a good MDS runner?

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JM I think the marathon pace and training was key in terms of the speed. I didn’t have the same endurance as Meghan over the ultra distance. Many of the days were shorter in terms of ultra distance so I knew I had that potential. In terms of tent life and conditions, maybe the army helped but that is me… I like that. The army helped with discipline; eating, drinking and so on… it was feet first, food and then wash. You need to look after yourself.

IC Give us an insight into your background, you are a roadrunner really?

JM Yes, but I do like cross-country. I came second in the Nationals. Essentially I have done road running. I started in my teens to loose weight and then just kept going. I wouldn’t say I have natural talent in terms of speed but I have something that works, particularly over distance.

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IC How long have you been running?

JM 18 years, maybe 20!

IC So you have a great base of running and plenty of experience?

JM Yes. I always thought that maybe I should do ultra earlier and I thought, no rush! Particularly with how you develop with age and aerobic capacity. It seemed like the correct time for MDS. As you know, you don’t just enter MDS you have to enter years in advance.

IC Post MDS you really wanted to improve your marathon time. You put yourself on that path and recently you run a half marathon but you were disappointed with the performance. Many factors can affect a race, a conclusion you have arrived at is that you are now going to pursue trail and ultra running. So, you are going to another multi stage in early 2014 but this time you are going to a Rainforest. It’s a race that I was at earlier in 2013, The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica. Also known as the Rainforest Run. What’s the attraction?

Costa Rica

Costa Rica

JM I am always very attracted to a country that is hotter than the UK. That is a no brainer! It’s the challenge, the opportunity to compete in something so different. This race I don’t need to carry all my kit, so, unlike the MDS I will be able to just run but admittedly for repeated days. It will be interesting and it should mean I can go faster.

IC The race is very different to MDS. Some things carry over such as the multi day. As you say, you don’t need to carry all your kit but you do need safety kit, food, water and just essentials. But you are correct, all your clothing, tent etc is moved for you and then food is provided. It’s a hot and very humid environment and even when it rains it is not a problem, it is so warm. All the daily campsites are in beautiful idyllic places. It’s such a wonderful environment. It’s a great combination of providing daily challenging runs but with just a touch of comfort. It’s perfect for those who may want an introduction to multi day racing.

Costa Rice, The Coastal Challenge ©iancorless.com

JM In some ways it will feel easier but in an evening you will be able to eat as much as you like and so will the competition, in theory you are all the same come the following day. But at MDS it is about survival and balance. It is more about balancing and economy and how you ration your food and water.

IC The race has so much more elevation than MDS and in particular, the terrain is much more varied. You have single track, double track, rocky sections, forest, dense forest, beautiful beaches and then some tough climbs and descents. The next edition of the TCC celebrates its tenth year so it may have a little more climbing than normal, we shall see? The variety is amazing. If you are lucky, you’ll see wildlife. You hear it but don’t always get to see it.

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JM I’m so excited. I can’t wait. I have some road races to do in the coming months and then I will start my TCC training three months out. I will use a heat chamber again. The heat chamber I used for MDS prep was stuck on 80% humidity so I have an idea of what conditions will feel like and I know what my sweat rate is like.

IC Costa Rica is very humid. It is almost 100% but it is not unpleasant. You really do sweat all the time, particularly when running. You need to be on the ball and balance your hydration.

JM I like it harsh and hard conditions. In some ways, the harder the better.

Costa Rica, The Coastal Challenge ©iancorless.com

IC How do you prepare for a multi day race? In some ways you had to guess for MDS and that worked! So, what do you take away from that experience and what will you do in preparation for TCC. The longest stage is around 50k and not 80k so that will make a difference. As we have said humidity and terrain are the key differences and you won’t need to carry a heavy pack.

JM I will do far hillier off road training. For MDS I had to train with the weight too, however for TCC I will just use essential kit and I will do plenty of back-to-back training at a faster pace. I will try to replicate the race really. In some respects it won’t be too different from my marathon training. The key will be the back-to-back runs..

IC We have so many different ways to look at training. Some runner’s just head out of the door and run on feel. No time set, no distance set. It all goes on feel. Are you like this or do you have a plan that has everything planned out?

JM I work full time so I must have a plan. I don’t have the luxury to say go out and run for three hours when I feel like it. I have commitments. I get up at 05:30 and I do what I can and then I add to this at lunchtime or the evening if required. I make every session count so I fit in threshold running, speed work and so on. I need to be very specific. At weekends I have more time and if I need three days consecutive I take a day off work.

IC Do you do core stability, stretching, strength and core.

JM Oh yes, I am a proper geek when it comes to this. I am a physio too so I have no excuse. I stretch everyday, I do two strength sessions and I do two core sessions per week.

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IC Wow, you are the perfect example for all of us. So often I ask this question and I get a blank answer. We all know we should do it but few of us apply it!

JM I am disciplined and I see the benefits. You have to be disciplined but it still doesn’t stop me getting injuries.

IC Ah well, injury can be caused with so many factors.

JM For me it is usually over doing it or being tired.

IC Yes, distance and speed increase injury risk. Slower and longer has more impact but you don’t overstretch muscles or tendons. Listen to your body and all will be good.

JM I never listen to my own advice… I am lucky, we have a gym at work so it makes strength work easy. If I didn’t have that available it would maybe be harder. I have been strict with this for four to five months and I can feel the difference.

IC TCC is still months away, are you planning on doing any trail races for late season in the build up?

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JM Yes, I love to race. I will enter races, from experience, if I enter races too far in advance I get injured, so I have entered a couple of marathons on the road for training and speed. In December and January I will look for options. Of course, options are reduced and conditions will be a little different to Costa Rica.

IC Late and early season events do crop up specifically designed to help people get ready for MDS so you will have some choice. Final question, many may be reading this and they are going to MDS or they may be tempted by TCC. What advice would you give to these people?

JM It very much depends on what you want to get out of it? I shared a tent at MDS with people who wanted to just complete, they wanted to enjoy the race and that is what they did. Set an objective and train accordingly. Ultimately it is all about fun and enjoyment.

IC If you had to give three tips. Three lessons you learnt at MDS that you would take to any race.

JM Good question. I learnt specifics like running in the sand but I guess the need to watch and keep on top of nutrition. Start eating early and don’t wait. Also, keep any eye on hydration and drink to thirst and then finally enjoyment is key! You must enjoy it.

IC I am sure you’re going to really enjoy TCC and Costa Rica. Many thanks for the time and insight into your progression and have fun in the Rainforest.

JM Thanks, as you say, really looking forward to it. It will be a real adventure.

 Links and information:

  • Marathon Des Sables images available HERE
  • The Coastal Challenge images HERE
  • Entry for the Marathon des Sables is available through the UK agent HERE
  • The Coastal Challenge website HERE

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The Coastal Challenge – Day 1

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Not even a 4am start could dampen the spirits of the participants of the 9th edition of The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica.

Leaving the Best Western in San Jose some 100+ racers, crew and staff made the 2.5 hour journey to the coast and the start of the first stage at Quepos. A total distance of just under 34k this day was billed as an ‘easy’ day to allow the participants to adjust to the heat and humidity. Believe me, they needed it…

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Quepos is a small town on the coast of Costa Rica and the arrival of several buses was certainly a point of interest, pre-breakfast in this little town. Runners congregated at the start and prepared for the challenge ahead. Filling packs, getting bottles ready and nervously laughing.

 

 

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At 0900 they left the town and the first 10k was on road or pathway. Unusual you would think for a rainforest race? But a flat 10k of consistent surface is maybe just what all the runners needed to ease them into the day ahead. As expected Dave James hit the front and stayed in that place all the way to the finish.

Dave James dominating the race from the front

Dave James dominating the race from the front

I had gone to checkpoint 1 at 10k and then left following the course and ultimately would make the journey to the finish line under my own steam. My plan was to get into the jungle and then capture the runners as they approached.

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Coming from a cold winter in the UK the heat and the humidity hit me straight away. Within minutes I was soaking wet and remained that way for the whole day. The front runners seemed in control but very early on it became apparent that if you pushed too hard it was going to be a tricky day.

Follow the pink ribbons

Follow the pink ribbons

The course was a mixture of rocky fire trail and jungle. Apart from the heat the most notacable thing was the noise from the canopy. Millions and millions of insects created a chorus that was deafening.

As the course progressed and we descended down to the river, a metal bridge facilitated a safe crossing and checkpoint 3. From here it was just 6k to the finish.

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The Coastal Challenge team was already busy laying out peoples tents and arranging luggage so that it was ready for our arrival.

I have to say I was pleased to see the finish line. The heat really drained and as runners arrived you could see the stress and the impact on faces.

“This is the easy day” one lady said.

“Yeah, tell me about it… today is gonna be so interesting” replied another.

Cool campsite on the beach next to the river

Cool campsite on the beach next to the river

With a river to cool off in and food available the recovery process immediately starts. The runners, the team and the location is excellent. What more could you ask…

When the running is done, the relaxing begins

When the running is done, the relaxing begins

Dave James finished in 1st place in just under 3 hours (tbc)

T Dris had an excellent run to pull back into 2nd place. He had early gone off course in the day and when he passed me he said he had run an extra 6k! A top 10 finisher at MDS he has now 46 mins behind James.

In 3rd J Lupez finished just a handful of minutes behind Dris.

Stage Results

Stage Results

You can view The Coastal Challenge website HERE

Tomorrows stage is 39k with 2250m of ascent and we get underway early at 0530.

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