The Coastal Challenge 2019 #TCC2019 – BREAKING NEWS!

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!

With only 120 places available, the 2019 edition of the race looks set to be a record breaker on every level.

Fast man and repeat TCC competitor, Chema Martinez has already confirmed he will toe the line. He missed the race in 2018 and after seeing the epic race by Tom Evans and Hayden Hawks unfold, he knew that he would need to come back!

In breaking news, we also announce here that Ultra-Trail Cape Town winner Lucy Bartholomew, will join the Pura Vida party as we roll out from the Pacific Ocean come February 2019.

Lucy is a rising star of the ultra-trail world and the Salomon team. She has an infectious smile, a bubbling personality and an abundance of natural born talent that will no doubt set the trails on fire as she makes her way over 234km’s of Costa Rican rainforest, beaches, waterfalls, river beds and dusty fire trails.

Lucy started running to spend more time with her Dad and going against the wishes of her father, she toed the line of Australia’s only multi-day race, the 250km Big Red Run aged just 17-years! She won it! What has followed is an inspiring journey.

Make sure you follow up next week as we interview Lucy about her rise in the sport and what it is about Costa Rica and The Coastal Challenge that has enticed her back to multi-day racing in 2019.

Follow #TCC2019

IG @thecoastalchallenge

You can read all about the record breaking 2018 edition below

Race Reports and Images

Day 1 HERE
Day 2 HERE
Day 3 HERE
Day 4 HERE
Day 5 HERE
Day 6 HERE

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


Total 230.5km

Vertical 9543m

Descent 9413m


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.


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!



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.


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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Daily reports, results and images on THIS website

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Race website HERE

Timothy Olson joins the 2018 The Coastal Challenge is #TCC2018

With just 1-month to go to the 2018 The Coastal Challenge, #TCC2018 – Race director, Rodrigo Carazo, is pleased to announce that TNF athlete, Timothy Olson, will join the line-up for the race. It has been said, year-after-year that ‘this’ TCC is the best… Without doubt, 2018 has the greatest line-up in the race’s history!

Joining Timothy Olson on the start line in Quepos this coming February will be past winner and previous course record holder, Michael Wardian here. Fast-man and 2017 CCC champion, Hayden Hawks here. The Cape Wrath Ultra and Dragons Back Race champion, Marcus Scotney here. The flying Brit, Tom Evans here, who placed 3rd at the 2017 Marathon des Sables – the highest ever placing for a British runner at the race. Chema Martinez, the speedy Spaniard once again returns to TCC, he has placed 2nd many times, can he win in 2018? Finally, Sondre Amdahl here who raced TCC in 2017, has recently made the podium at Everest Trail Race and has an illustrious resume at ultra-distance races, UTMB and Western States to name just two.

The ladies’ race is also set to be a classic with previous 2015 champion, Ester Alves here returning after placing 3rd in 2017. MDS two-time champion, Elisabet Barnes here, also returns to Costa Rica, however, illness post Everest Trail Race in November may will impact on her chances for the podium, in her words, “Preparation for TCC this year has been poor with two bouts of cold and flu, I am seriously behind but I love Costa Rica and the race, so I don’t want to miss it!” Finally, Skyrunner 2017 World Series champion, Ragna Debats here, will have her first taste of Costa Rica and its amazing landscape after an incredible 2017.

They say it is hot in Costa Rica – with this line-up, the trails between Quepos and the finish at the stunning Drake Bay can expect to be scorched as these fast guys and girls blaze a trail over this iconic multi-day event. As the locals say, “Pura Vida!”

I caught up with Timothy, after a tough 2016, 2017 saw a return to form for the American. It was my first question, how was 2017?

2017 was a solid year, I hope to build on that health and fitness and have a strong 2018. It is always nice to get a good win against solid competition and I achieved that. I plan to continue to train smart and have lots of fun getting in long runs in the mountains.

You have recently been training in Chile, how was that experience?

Chile was great, it was fun to explore and have a fun Holiday with my family there. I did a TNF Endurance Challenge race and then after the race I took some time off and enjoyed some chill runs with my wife and kids. So there wasn’t much training, I hope to get back to Chile and explore the mountains down south. 

You have signed up for TCC to kick-off 2018 – what is the attraction?

Costa Rica is an amazing place filled with life, lush greenery and so many amazing places to explore. I’m excited to try a stage race, push myself with some fast runners and enjoy nature and chill beach camping

We have quite a line-up for the 2018 race – Tom Evans, Michael Wardian, Marcus Scotney, Hayden Hawks, Sondre Amdahl, Chema Martinez and more… The local competition will be strong too! It is tough way to start a year – do you embrace that?

That is quite the lineup! Just like any race, I line up and try to give my best, I don’t really concern myself with other competition. However the competition does motivate me to be in good shape and work on my speed game to be ready to go. This will be a great opportunity for me to push harder at the start of races to keep contact with the leaders. This will be a challenging yet fun way to start the year. 

Costa Rica – hot, humid and challenging, In many ways it sounds perfect for you?

We’ll see, I don’t mind heat, but day after day of intense running and heat can catch up to you. I hope to race smart and be mindful that we’ll be racing for 6-days. I do like a good challenge, so I’m excited to see how it plays out. 

What are you most looking forward to at the race? The reason I ask,  family is joining you beforehand – is that a bonus or distraction?

The family will travel back to the States when I start the race. Traveling with family definitely has its distractions to my training and sleep schedule but it sure is fun to experience this world and travels together. It definitely enriches the experience having family around, but I’m excited for a week focused on running for the Costal Challenge. 

Mindfulness, tell me what it brings to your racing and your life in general.

Mindfulness is a practice of being aware of your body and mind – connecting them together with your breath to focus and bring ones attention into the present moment. I feel like running and being in nature encourages me to be present and appreciate each moment. In training and racing, the practice of breath awareness and focus allows me to push myself and train hard when it’s called for. My practice of mindfulness through meditation plays a tremendous roll in both my training and life in general. Being mindful of my training encourages me to prioritize recovery and chill days too which keeps me healthy and helps me continue to enjoy running. With kids, jobs and the chaos of life, my meditation practice allows me to be present with my family and when challenging moments arise, I use my practice and instead of reacting unconsciously in those moments I can respond appropriately and make wise choices.

Is this your first multi-day in the style/ ethos of Marathon des Sables?

Yes, I did TransRockies a while back but wasn’t really racing. I had a fun partner and we had a great experience but I’m excited to try it out with a little more effort. 

Any plans for other multi-day races?

Not as of now, but if some multi-day race offers me a solid deal to come out and join I’m more than open to more of these.

What does 2018 hold beyond TCC.

I’m really excited for this next year of racing. After TCC I think my next big race will be Madeira 115k in April. I haven’t figured out much after that, but I’m looking at UTMB. Still open to suggestions that I should consider. Maybe the Broken Arrow Sky race in Tahoe in June. It should be a great year and I look forward to pushing my limits in 2018. 


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

Twitter @talkultra

Instagram @iancorlessphotography

The Coastal Challenge

Facebook HERE

Website (UK) HERE

Website (Global) HERE

Tom Evans to run the 2018 The Coastal Challenge

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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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:

  1. Train how you race. Train with the kit and food you are going to use.
  2. Heat acclimatisation is so important. It can be done anywhere hot eg Bikram yoga!
  3. Stay injury free. If you start developing a niggle, get it sorted ASAP! Better to turn up less fit but injury free.

  1. 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.


  1. 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.


  1. 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.


  1. 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.


  1. 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.


  1. 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.


  1. 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!


  1. 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

Follow #TCC2018

Twitter @talkultra

Instagram @iancorlessphotography

The Coastal Challenge

Facebook HERE

Website (UK) HERE

Website (Global) HERE

The Coastal Challenge 2017 #TCC2017 – Stage 6 Results and Images


The Coastal Challenge 2017 Stage 6

 Words by Niandi Carmont. Images by iancorless.

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.

iancorless-com_tcc2017-6894In 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.




Stage Results

  1. Jorge Paniagua 2:04:33
  2. Chema Martinez 2:04:38
  3. Tom Owens 2:04:39
  4. Neruda Cespedes 2:06:54
  5. Erick Aguero 2:14:39
  1. Ester Alves 2:23:41
  2. Melanie Langer 2:32:17
  3. Anna Comet 2:32:33
  4. Anna Frost 2:32:36
  5. 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

All results HERE

You can also follow on Facebook HERE, on Twitter HERE and on Instagram HERE

#TCC2017 concludes, get ready for #TCC2018

Want to run The Coastal Challenge 2018 #TCC2018 entries will open soon through the official channels. Only go to

Stage Results

  1. Jorge Paniagua 2:04:33
  2. Chema Martinez 2:04:38
  3. Tom Owens 2:04:39
  4. Neruda Cespedes 2:06:54
  5. Erick Aguero 2:14:39
  1. Ester Alves 2:23:41
  2. Anna Comet 2:32:33
  3. Anna Frost 2:32:36
  4. Katelyn Tocci 2:43:03
  5. Ana Gonzales 2:43:31

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.


The Coastal Challenge 2017 #TCC2017 – Stage 5 Results and Images


The Coastal Challenge 2017 Stage 5

 Words by Niandi Carmont. Images by

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.iancorless-com_tcc2017-5096


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.


Overall Results

  1. Anna Frost 24:36:05
  2. Anna Comet 25:26:12
  3. Ester Alves 25:59:46
  4. Elisabet Barnes 26:08:10
  5. Katelyn Tocci 27:15:05iancorless-com_tcc2017-5285
  1. Tom Owens 20:25:05
  2. Chema Martinez 21:38:58
  3. Jason Schlarb 22:10:43
  4. Erick Aguero 22:43:04
  5. Francisco Pinto 23:27:30

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The Coastal Challenge 2017 #TCC2017 – Stage 3 Results and Images


Costa Rica Coastal Challenge 2017 Stage 3

Words by Niandi Carmont. Images by

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.


Stage Results:

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

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The Coastal Challenge 2017 #TCC2017 – Stage 2 Results and Images


Costa Rica Coastal Challenge 2017 Stage 2

Words by Niandi Carmont. Images by

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.

iancorless-com_tcc2017-0564A 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.

Stage Results

Tom Owens (Scotland) – 3:44:52
Chema Martínez (Spain) – 3:58:14
Jason Shlarb (United States) – 4:05:43
Ashur Youssefi (Costa Rica) – 4:08:49
Erick Agüero (Costa Rica) – 4:10:36

Anna Frost (New Zealand) – 4:28:00
Anna Comet (Spain) – 4:37:23
Ester Alves (Portugal) – 4:55:43
Katelyn Tocci (Costa Rica) – 5:02:17
Elisabet Barnes (Sweden ) – 5:06:48

Overall Classification (Here)

  1. Tom Owens 6:29:37
  2. Chema Martinez 6:46:09
  3. Erick Aguero 7:13:18
  4. Jason Schlarb 7:15:20
  5. Ashur Youessefi 7:37:04
  1. Anna Frost 7:42:49
  2. Anna Comet 7:58:46
  3. Elisabet Barnes 8:26:13
  4. Ester Alves 8:33:17
  5. Katelyn Tocci 8:47:52

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The Coastal Challenge 2017 #TCC2017 – Stage 1 Results and Images


Katelyn Tocci – Costa Rican hope for the podium.

Costa Rica Coastal Challenge 2017 Stage 1

Words by Niandi Carmont. Images by

Heat, humidity and hydration warnings by race director Rodrigo Carazo signified the start of the 2017, The Coastal Challenge – now in its 13th edition.


Time to cool off…

The start of the 34.6km stage was on the beach at Playa Del Rey and temperatures were already soaring at the start where runners were dropped off after a 4-hour coach journey from San Jose. The first section until CP1 was extremely runnable fire trail. Many were still adapting to the heat and held back. In the men’s race Tom Owens set the pace and literally flew off with Chema Martinez hot on his heels. Local Costa Rican Erick Aguero followed closely. In the ladies’ race Elisabet Barnes took the lead on the flat fire track followed by Anna Frost and Ester Alves.


Elisabet Barnes

 “It was hot,” Frosty said. “I felt terrible for the first 15km on the flat. As soon as I got to the hilly section I felt better. I didn’t want to blow up this first day so I tried to be sensible. Elisabet was flying on the flat section. I passed her after CP1 on the climb. We ran together until CP2 and then I took the lead.”


Ester Alves and Anna Frost chasing Elisabet Barnes

Ester Alves tried to keep up with the duo but was soon outdistanced and overtaken by Anna Comet who looked surprisingly fresh and unaffected by the heat. Frosty won the first stage with a 5min lead on Elisabet Barnes with Anna Comet completing the podium just 2min behind. Ester, defending 2016 ladies’ champion was philosophical about her performance today: “It’s the first stage and I had lots of fun. You have to accept the good days and bad days. I haven’t planned a strategy for tomorrow. Just having fun.”

With her preference for technical courses and Stage 2 being much more challenging than today, she will be well-served. Elisabet Barnes was very happy with her second place and performance, finishing the stage 25min faster than last year.

After CP1 the course took the runners on a climb to 450m with a drop down to CP3 at 29.5km. It was on this first climb through jungle undergrowth and in the heat that novices and those who had forgotten to pace themselves and keep body temperatures down, really suffered.


Tom Owens in the early km’s after the start

In the male field Tom Owens had a small gap over Chema Martinez . At CP2 and 19km into the race, they arrived together and then Chema, who boasts a 2:08 marathon PB, left first in an attempt to open a gap on the fast and dusty roads on what was very runnable downhill fire trail. However, Tom managed to hold on to him.


Chema Martinez

The course ended with a hilly single track shaded forest section, a little add-on and alteration introduced in 2016 to avoid too many fire trail and road sections with a slippery river crossing to the finish near Rafiki Lodge along the river.


Jason Schlarb in the rainforest section after CP1.

The day was not without incidents with Jason Schlarb missing a turning and the bright pink fluorescent markers just after CP3 and taking a big detour, adding on extra miles and ending up 25min behind Chema Martinez. “I was 10min behind Chema Martinez and in 3rd place after CP3,” Schlarb said. “I missed the turning and ran along the river and back onto the road where a crew vehicle pointed me in the right direction. I went from 3rd to 6th position and lost 15min.” 2015 ladies’ champion, Veronica Bravo from Chile also went off course after CP3 finishing 6th today.

Veronica Bravo just before going off course.

Veronica Bravo just before going off course.

Men’s Race

Tom Owens: 2:44:45

Chema Marinez: 2:47:55

Erick Aguero: 3:02:42


Women’s Race

Anna Frost: 3:14:49

Elisabet Barnes: 3:19:24

Anna Comet: 3:21:23


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The Coastal Challenge 2017 #TCC2017 – Pre Race


Runners have arrived in San Jose and the 2017 of The Coastal Challenge is now building up to what is anticipated to be one of the most competitive editions of this race ever.

Chema Martinez - San Jose

Chema Martinez – San Jose

The men’s race sees the return of Chema Martinez who raced in 2016. He has experience of the course, the heat and the humidity and that will prove invaluable. However, Sondre Amdahl from Norway and Tom Owens for the UK arrived in Costa Rica one week ago to spend time on the coast and adjust to the heat – they will provide strong competition.

Tom Owens

Tom Owens

Hardrock 100 winner, Jason Schlarb arrived just 1-day before the race from the snows of Colorado, he may be in for a surprise on day 1 as the heat hits.

Jason Schlarb loosening up on San Jose trails.

Jason Schlarb loosening up on San Jose trails.

Local competition is expected to come from Ashur Youssefi-Dizagetakieh who has raced at TCC on several occasions, he knows the course, is adopted to the heat and will be a strong presence at the front of the race.


Ashur Youssefi-Dizagetakieh


Erick Agüero

An unknown to Europe audiences, Erick Agüero from Costa Rica will take part in his first multi-day experience here at TCC and race director, Rodrigo Carazo says, ‘he’s one to watch!’

Of course, a surprise can come from anywhere… the 2017 edition of the race has the most Costa Rican’s ever entered in the race and strong representation comes from Spain and the UK.


Anna Frost

For the ladie’s last minute entry of Anna Frost has certainly made the other female competitors, stop, look and ask questions about the form of the New Zealand. This is ‘Frosty’s’ third time racing at TCC and is third a charm?

Ester Alves

Ester Alves

2016 champion, Ester Alves has returned and without doubt she will be looking for repeat victory. She will have her hands full with the return of the 2015 champion, Veronica Bravo from Chile and 2015 Marathon des Sables champion, Elisabet Barnes who also raced here in 2016.


Elisabet Barnes

Anna Cometi from Spain has won the Everest Trail Race on two occasions so she knows how to race over multiple days, the big question will come in regard to her adaptation to the heat and humidity. One last name to look out for will be Katelyn Tocci.

With 22-countries represented, the 2017 edition of TCC is going to be a classic! Will it be the most memorable? Time will tell.

With registration taking place today, Saturday 11th. Runners have loosened up on the local trails to freshen up from travel. Race briefing is this evening and then tomorrow it’s a 0400 start to head to the coast and the start of the race.

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