THE CHAMPION RETURNS – ESTER ALVES and The Coastal Challenge #TCC2017

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Ester Alves a former road cyclist from Portugal, who represented her nation at the 2009 UCI Road World Championships and ladies winner of the 2016 The Coastal Challenge has confirmed that she will return to Costa Rica in 2017 to defend her crown.

It was a tremendous experience. Every day is like your last day, and after the end of each stage, you have only few hours to reborn, to recover. It’s an amazing transcendent experience. Similar to a cycling stage race…. You always give your best for each stage and then you just hope your body will recover as soon as possible.

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The Coastal Challenge is 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. Considered by many an ultimate multi-day running experience, it challenges even the most experienced runner.

Everything is special, the heat, the forest, the solitude of the race, the hot pacific sea, the intimacy between organisation, camping, athletes, workers and locals from the little villages. The closeness between my new ‘coastal family’ was enormous and in a week of racing and relaxing you create bounds for life… it’s what makes the race so special.

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‘TCC’ is not a self-sufficient race, but don’t be fooled, MDS and other multi-day veterans confirm the race is considerably harder and more challenging than many other adventures they have participated in. It’s a race that can provide a steep learning curve. Intense heat, high humidity, ever-changing terrain and the need to adapt, Ester says in 2017 she will be better prepared.

I will try to go to Costa Rica or I will do some specific training using heat sessions at home. Maybe a sauna will be a good idea as it is winter in Portugal in the key training phase. In 2016 I went from 8 º C To 34 ºC, the first day was tough! Each day I adapted to heat and the my body recovered better, to make this adaptation in advance would be very beneficial.

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Hugging the Talamaca coastline, the TCC travels in and out of the stunning mountain range that runs parallel to the sea. Dense forest trails, waterfalls, river crossings, long stretches of golden beaches, an abundance of palm trees and many winding and interconnecting dusty access roads provide a unique challenge.

Every day I ended  a stage with the feeling of lungs burned and legs tired, and in the next day I was running again with a reinforced motivation. I can’t wait to return.

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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.  In 2017, Anna Comet, 2x winner of Everest Trail Race and someone you have raced against in Skyrunning along with Elisabet Barnes will be present. When Ester was asked  about the challenge, she replied:

I will run with all my soul and strengths as always, but next year with more knowledge I can hopefully enjoy the forest and the trails even more, TCC is just a wonderful experience.

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With victory in 2016 secured, Ester has a busy year ahead racing in the Skyrunner World Series, something she has embraced, particularly in 2015 where she had great success at races such as Transvulcania. Many runners however will sign up for the 2017 TCC with little or no experience of Costa Rica, the heat, the humidity and the terrain; what advice would Ester give them?

Train hard and consolidate the marathon distance before the race and prepare the body for the heat and dehydration. Also teach your body to be more economic, it’s a long and difficult race!

A long year ahead but Ester is already looking into the distance, thinking of the heat, the humidity and the beautiful surroundings that Costa Rica provides.

The Coastal Challenge is more than a race, it’s an experience, it something to be shared. It provides closeness and an intensity of feelings that will never be forgotten… I wish to be there right now.

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Contact Information

Email: HERE

Website: HERE

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Twitter: @tcccostarica

Global Contacts: HERE

TCC_2017_JoinUs?

More information:

Read the full 2016 TCC race story HERE

View and purchase images from the 2016 TCC race HERE

You can read daily reports from the 2016 TCC edition HERE

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BARNES is BACK! The Coastal Challenge 2017 #TCC2017

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2017 UK registrations now open HERE

The Coastal Challenge are pleased to announce that Elisabet Barnes (Sweden/UK)), female winner of the 2015 Marathon des Sables, Oman Desert Marathon and runner up in the 2016, The Coastal Challenge will return once again to Costa Rica in 2017.

“TCC is a magical race and this has been echoed by so many participants after the 2016 edition. I loved the variety of the course, the challenges in terms of heat, humidity and terrain and the friendly atmosphere. I am really looking forward to returning in 2017 already!”

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 that offers new challenge even to the most experienced runner.

“I now know what aspects of the course and the terrain I coped well with and what aspects I can improve on.” Elisabet said after the 2016 edition. “The good thing is that I have quite a few improvement areas on this type of terrain so if I manage to do specific enough preparations there is certainly potential to do better next time around. I think this is encouraging and it will help me develop as a trail runner, broadening my skill set.”

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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.

“Not carrying equipment makes the running easier and that is nice of course. However, if I look at my strengths I like the completely self-sufficient races too. I am tall and strong and I run well with a backpack. In many cases this means I can get a relative advantage over runners who are less experienced running with a pack or who have a smaller frame than me. I still felt that the TCC was a tough race due to the humidity and terrain and if it was self-sufficient it would be incredibly hard.”

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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.

“You always have an advantage when you have done a race once. I know the course and the challenges better now. In terms of the heat and humidity I found it tough but not a major problem. Time was a limiting factor before the race but ideally I would have spent a bit more time acclimatizing to the conditions.”

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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. The race has already announced that Anna Comet, winner of the 2014 and 2015 editions of the Everest Trail Race will participate in 2017. 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.

But Elisabet Barnes is a multi-day expert and before 2017 comes around, a very busy calendar awaits:

“First I am going back to Marathon des Sables in April and it will be my third race. I am looking forward to it and I predict a very competitive women’s race this year with several top runners coming back from previous years and also some new, extremely competent runners participating. It should be interesting. After this I am going to Richtersveld Transfrontier Wildrun in South Africa in June, followed closely (1 week!) by the Big Red Run in Australia. Later in the year I am going to the US for Grand to Grand. I am very excited about all of these races and the year ahead.”

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The 2016 edition of TCC tested Elisabet and unlike the MDS, the race is not self-sufficient. In many respects it was a learning curve but 2017 will be very different.

“The TCC is not self-sufficient so you can afford to take some more luxuries like a fresh set of running gear for every day, a few pairs of shoes etc. Also not having to cook reduces admin time in camp and means you can spend more time relaxing. From the perspective of the terrain it is completely different with a lot more ascent and descent and technical parts of trail. It requires a different skill set than running in sand and over flat hard packed desert terrain. Finally, the humidity makes it a different beast. Heat is always tough but when you add humidity you have another element to deal with and possibly have to monitor your body even more closely. The same is true with all the water you run through which means that your feet are wet pretty much 100% of the time.”

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Anna Comet will no doubt push Elisabet every step of the way on the 2017 TCC journey and of course, at this stage, other female elite racers may decide to enter the race. The TCC has a long history of top female competition – Anna Frost, Jo Meek, Julia Better and Nikki Kimball to name just a few. Of course, Elisabet’s main concern may well be the possibility that 2016 champion Ester Alves from Portugal may return?

“It was great to race against Ester in 2016. She is a lovely girl and a genuinely nice person. I am very happy for her that she won the race. I now know more about her strengths relative mine and how I can improve to reduce the gaps that led her to victory. I know that Ester is very focused though, so should she decide to return I am sure she will work very hard to keep improving too. If our paths don’t cross in TCC next year, I am sure we will see each other in another race before long.”

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In a very short space of time Elisabet has rose through the ranks to be one of the most respected multi-day races in the world. A very busy 2016 will only add to that reputation! The 2017 TCC is already looking like an incredibly exciting race.

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Contact Information

Email: HERE

Website: HERE

Facebook: HERE

Twitter: @tcccostarica

Global Contacts: HERE

TCC_2017_JoinUs?

More information:

Read the full 2016 TCC race story HERE

View and purchase images from the 2016 TCC race HERE

You can read daily reports from the 2016 TCC edition HERE

 

Anna Comet to run The Coastal Challenge 2017

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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.

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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.

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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.

*****

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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?

The Coastal Challenge 2016 #TCC2016 – The Full Story

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The 2016 The Coastal Challenge was an incredible race, year-on-year the race grows and it is now one of the most respected multi-day races on the calendar. Following the classic multi-day format, runners travel in the south of Costa Rica on foot covering approximately 250km’s. Like races such as Marathon des Sables, the TCC is not self-sufficient. Don’t be fooled into thinking that this makes the races easier… read on!

View the full 2016 The Coastal Challenge image gallery HERE

TCC

“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 plains. At times technical, the combination of so many challenging elements is only intensified by the heat and high humidity that slowly but surely reduces even the strongest competitors to exhausted shells.”

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READ PART ONE – HERE

“Encapsulating the true sense of adventure, TCC requires a runner to be more than ‘just’ a runner. The race manages to make or break the most experienced competitor. Hopping from rock-to-rock, traversing a ridge, clambering over slimy boulders, swimming river crossings or running up and down single or double track, the race truly requires a rounded athlete to gain victory.”

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READ PART TWO – HERE

“The men’s race looked all set for a group run to the line with Don-Wauchope, Calisto and Martinez running side-by-side over all of the first 25km. Don-Wauchope safe in 1st place, Calisto safe in 2nd and Martinez no threat to the overall standings.”

 

“But where was Sa?”

 

“Sa was trailing a few minutes back. When the trio entered the river bed, Sa apparently flew past like a man possessed. It was a last ditch effort to secure 2nd place ahead of Callisto.”

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READ PART THREE – HERE

Demand for the 2017 The Coastal Challenge is already high with pre-requests and provisional bookings. Entries open in the UK and Europe this week via www.thecoastalchallenge.co.uk

Why not take part in our 2017 Multi-Day Training Camp which takes place in January each year? Details are available HERE

Interested in The Coastal Challenge 2017? Use the form below to secure one of the 100 available places

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The Coastal Challenge 2016 #TCC2016 – Stage 6 Results and Summary

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Images available for personal and commercial use HERE

The stunning Drake Bay hosted the final day of the 2016 The Coastal Challenge. It’s an idyllic location located within the Osa Peninsula. Turquoise seas, blue skies and lush tropical vegetation make it one the most iconic places in Costa Rica.

The final day is to all intents and purposes a victory lap. Racing only really takes place if overall top positions are close, in the 2016 race, gaps between the top 3 were wide enough to make the day neutralised. However, despite this, Chema Martinez from Spain wanted to run and from the sound of the gun at 0615 he pushed hard at the front of the race and crossed the line alone for the final stage victory.

Iain Don-Wauchope, kicked back, puled out his GoPro and let the runners go ahead of him; it was a day of fun ahead.

Carlos Sa pushed the pace in one last effort to maybe take 2nd but when Gonzalo Callisto caught him and ran at his side with 50% of the day covered, they eased back and enjoyed the run for home.

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The ladies race was well and truly over and Elisabet Barnes and Ester Alves ran the whole stage together, side-by side and they soaked up the Costa Rican ambience. They partied while running.

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The final day is not without challenges though, an early run through a river bed, the crossing of a waterfall, hot running through open plantations and then a return journey to the beach finish at Drake Bay while weaving in and out of the stunning coastline.

The 2016 TCC will be remembered quite simply in just a few words:

Brutal, Beautiful and Hot!

It may well have been one of the hottest editions and word in and amongst the camp confirms that the race really has been a true test. MDS 2015 champion and Oman Desert Cup Champion, Elisabet Barnes, confirmed the thoughts of many on the finish line:

“This has been possibly one of the best races I have ever run. It has so much variety, so many challenges, no two days are the same and I have well and truly been pushed beyond my limits. The combination of such mixed terrain, intense heat and high humidity really do this make this race an ultimate challenge. But in and amongst this, the camp is relaxed, the food provided by the race incredible and the whole Costa Rican experience is one I will not forget. It has been special, really special.”

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Damian Hall from the UK has placed in the top 50 at UTMB, been on the podium at The Spine and The Dragons Back and he also found TCC a true test placing 5th overall.

“The heat has been punishing, combined with humidity was brutal. The terrain has been so varied, it’s runnable at times but then other times you are just drawing along. It’s a seriously challenging race and the line-up has been top quality, I am really happy with 5th. The camp sites are amazing, the food has been brilliant and all-in-all it’s been a fantastic experience.”

Iain Don-Wauchope and Ester Alves are the 2016 champions, but to be honest, it may well sound like a cliche, any runner who survived this incredible 6-day experience deserves the ultimate respect.

It has been an awesome edition and talk now turns to 2017. Who will be back? Word in camp just hours after the race confirms that a few familiar names will return…

The overall standing in the ladies’s race are now:

  1. Ester Alves 33:04:32
  2. Elisabet Barnes 33:46:20
  3. Amy Gordon 42:18:15

Full ladies’s results HERE

The overall standings in the men’s race are now:

  1. Iain Don-Wauchope 24:25:11
  2. Gonzalo Calisto 25:27:38
  3. Carlos Sa 25:46:59

Full men’s results HERE

Stage 6 is a wonderful looped lap of drake Bay – a victory lap.

Full race results HERE

The Coastal Challenge 2016 #TCC2016 – Stage 4 Results and Summary

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Images available for personal and commercial use HERE

The 2016 ‘TCC” (The Coastal Challenge, moved inland today for 35km’s of relentless climbing, at times technical trail and a brutal descent that hammered tired legs all the way to the finish line. The early morning start of 0530 guaranteed the runners a good 1-hour window of cool temperatures but as they climbed higher and higher, low cloud sheltered them but eventually the cloud burned away and searing heat punished the runners.

Ester Alves made her mark on the race today by extending her lead by over 30-minutes, however, the winning margin doesn’t tell a true story. Elisabet Barnes fought very hard early on the keep Alves in sight and hopefully pull away, however, technical trail and a long section in a very technical river bed ruined any chance.

Alves was in her element; comfortable with Skyrunning and mountain races, she pushed at a comfortable pace and never looked in any discomfort on the challenging terrain. Although she had a 10-minute lead in the river bed section at approximately 30km covered, it was on the final descent (almost 1000m) were the real gap was opened. Barnes said post race:

“I hated that final descent, I was out of my comfort zone and I knew any chance of catching Ester was over. I took my time and made my way down without injury.”

Alves finished the stage and many commented how relaxed she looked and how well she has adapted to the heat after a tough day 1. A real point of topic is how little she has been drinking… a no, no for the local but it has worked for Alves.

“Every stage I have anticipation, I never know what to encounter… roads, forests, rivers or trails. It has been amazing. I wasn’t ready for the heat but as the days pass I am getting better and better. I love the heat. I trained before the race for 30km run sessions on little water and that has worked well here. Everyone has been amazed how little I am drinking but it has worked. I like to go simple; fast and light! The competition with Elisabet has been great. She has won MDS and that inspires me, she has been a great competitor. I think if we were in the desert I am sure she would pull away from me but here I love the technical trail and that has been a great advantage for me.” – Ester Alves

The overall standing in the ladies’s race are now:

  1. Ester Alves
  2. Elisabet Barnes
  3. Amy Gordon

Full ladies’s results HERE

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The men’s race looked all set for a group run to the line with Iain Don-Wauchope, Gonzalo Callisto and Chema Martinez running side-by-side over all of the first 25km. Don-Wauchope safe in 1st place, Callisto safe in 2nd and Martinez no threat to the overall standings. But where was Sa?

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Sa was trailing a few minutes back.

When the trio entered the river bed, Sa apparently flew past like a man possessed. It was a last ditch effort to secure 2nd place ahead of Calisto.

“We were having a great run, relaxed, chatting and just a great day on the trails and then Sa flew past us,” Don-Wauchope said. “He really mixed things up and as he pulled away I went with him. He was really motoring. We started to pull away and I felt good. Eventually I pulled away and Calisto bridged the gap back to Sa. The downhill at the end was tough as it was so rutted but I was glad for another stage victory” – Iain Don-Wauchope.

All credit to Sa for making a move and throwing it all on the line. Tomorrow is the longest stage of the week and I wonder if Sa will have another go? The longer the stage, the better he gets and heat is no issue as he proved by winning Badwater 135.

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The overall standings in the men’s race are now:

  1. Iain Don-Wauchope
  2. Gonzalo Calisto
  3. Carlos Sa

Full men’s results HERE

Stage 5 starts is the longest day of the week and leads into the stunning Drakes Bay. Everyone is tired now, no exhausted! It’s going to be a tough day.

Full race results HERE

The Coastal Challenge 2016 #TCC2016 – Stage 3 Results and Summary

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Images available for personal and commercial use HERE

Today was always gone to be a tough one and it lived up to expectations. Departing Dominical beach, the runners very quickly entered a river bed that lasted for km after km. Rock hopping, running through flowing river water with slimy slippery rocks, it was just perfect terrain for South Africa’s ‘The Otter’ previous course record holder, Iain Don-Wauchope.

Running in his element, Don-Wauchope opened up a gap almost immediately and by the time he reached the stunning waterfalls, he had time to dive in the lagoon and pose for a photograph before moving onwards and upwards on the trail. Running with apparent ease Don-Wauchope continued to open up a gap on Gonzalo Callisto and Carlos Sa. This course and its variety is made for Don-Wauchope’s running style and just as in 2015, he pushed the pace all the way to the long and lengthy final beach section before climbing through a small hilly section of rainforest and finishing a triple of stage wins.

“I made sure I covered myself with water every 5mins or so on the beach. It was so hot and it seemed to go on forever. The highlight of the day was the waterfalls though. In 2015 I was too busy racing and I didn’t have time to soak up the location. This year I promised myself I would take a swim and climb on the rocks.” – Iain Don-Wauchope

Sa and Calisto weren’t hanging around, not at all. They were gently running the climbs and pushing as hard as they could under the intense heat and humidity. Running side-by-side, they have most certainly become good friends on this TCC journey.

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From Calisto’s perspective, his lead over Sa is enough to secure 2nd place and I am sure he plans to just mark Sa and respond to any surges. Will Sa try to take 2nd away? His best chance will come tomorrow on the very undulating 4th stage.

The overall standings in the men’s race are now:

  1. Iain Don-Wauchope 11:42:01
  2. Gonzalo Calisto 12:32:18
  3. Carlos Sa 12:38:08

Damian Hall from the UK moved up into 5th place after a great  run today, his overall time is 13:45:36

Full men’s results HERE

The ladies race was always going to be exciting today and as expected, Ester Alves opened up a gap on Elisabet Barnes in the opening riverbed section. At the waterfalls, Barnes trailed by 7-minutes. It was a good result, the gap could have quite easily been larger. After the climb out and following the 2nd waterfall, Barnes started to pursue Alves and eventually caught her 3km before Cp2.

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“I caught Ester just before the Cp but unfortunately it was followed with a s series of technical terrain and she started to open up a gap again; all the handwork to a certain extent was wasted. By the time I reached Cp3 just before the beach, the gap was 6-minutes,” Barnes said post race. “I felt good though and I thought to myself, this is great, it’s a long beach section that is runnable and I was convinced I would close the gap and with luck, I may catch her. But unfortunately she ran well and I didn’t run to expectation. It was just so hot and relentless. Thank goodness the small lagoon was at the end so that I could cool down.”

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Alves ran a great race and looked strong on the beach maintaining a good pace and cadence. She was obviously very happy with her day once past the finish tape:

“It was a beautiful day and I am really happy. The course was stunning and the variety was just incredible. The beach was beautiful but too long… I couldn’t wait for it to end!”

Alves now leads Barnes but anything can happen. It just takes a bad moment or a bad day for all the good work to be lost. Day 4 has plenty of climbing and day 5 plenty of running. It’s wide open and very exciting.

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The overall standing in the ladies’s race are now:

  1. Ester Alves 15:59:12
  2. Elisabet Barnes 16:10:38
  3. Amy Gordon 21:06:44

Full ladies’s results HERE

 

Full ladies’s results HERE

Stage 4 starts with a tough climb and finishes with a steep technical descent. Between the two are rolling hills and pastures made of runnable trails.

Full race results HERE

More images to follow when I have suitable wifi – apologies

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The Coastal Challenge 2016 #TCC2016 – Stage 2 Results and Summary

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Images available for personal and commercial use HERE

It was an 0345 start to day 2, a 0400 breakfast and then a 0530 start with the rising of the sun. Camp 1 bivouac was in an idyllic location next to the Savegre river and it appeared that everyone had had a good night, if not a little too short for some!

Departing camp, the course went immediately up with a long climb that was at times technical. Iain Don-Wauchope feeling very content after day 1 unfortunately rolled his ankle very early on and was forced to tike some time out due to dizziness. This allowed Carlos Sa and Gonzalo Callisto to pull away. However, as the summit of the climb approached, Don-Wauchope had clawed his way back to the duo and was looking strong.

In the ladies race, day 1 leader Elisabet Barnes was well aware that day 2 would be a battle due to the technical uphill start. Ester Alves comes from a Skyrunning and mountain running background and therefore, the early sections of the course played into her hands. At the summit, Alves had a lead of approximately 7-minutes and the ladies race was on!

The heat had arrived and with it the humidity. It was going to be a hot day and with no clouds in the sky, the conditions would be relentless for the runners.

Don-Wauchope bided his time and decided at Cp2 it was time to apply the pressure:

“I rolled my ankle on day 1 and protected it. To roll it again on day 2 was just annoying. Having taken some time to compose myself and close the gap back to Sa and Calico, I decided that my moment to extend my lead was from Cp2. I upped the pace and Sa went with me. He held on for quite sometime before I finally make the gap. I was protecting my ankle all the day though. To win again feels great. I still think the racing is not over, Sa and Calico look strong.” – Iain Don-Wauchope.

Don-Wauchope pulled away and Sa and Calico ran together in pursuit. Calico looked relaxed all day and was often seen running with a GoPro. He is racing, no doubt but he’s also enjoying the journey.

The overall standings in the men’s race are now:

  1. Iain Don-Wauchope 6:30:56
  2. Gonzalo Calisto 7:05:14
  3. Carlos Sa 7:10:56

Full men’s results HERE

Alves was in her element on the mountain terrain and used it to her advantage to slowly close the gap between her and Barnes. As the running became more consistent, Barnes started to slowly cut away at the gap Alves had created. We all soon realised that we had a real race on our hands.

“I felt much better in the heat today,” Alves said. “This course and place is amazing, the views are incredible and I am loving the race. To win today’s stage is a real bonus.”

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It was a sentiment echoed by Barnes, “The course is incredible but extremely tough. Combined with the heat and the humidity it’s just brutal. I knew that I was always going to lose time this morning on that technical climb and I have to accept that Alves is stronger than me on those sections. I used my running speed to close the gap today but over the final km’s on the beach when I had hoped to push harder, I had nothing left to give. It’s very close now with another very technical start to tomorrow’s stage; I have a race on my hands.”

Alves looked strong over the final 10-15km’s of today’s route, several river and sea crossings spiced up the race and the action but she didn’t waiver.

The overall standing in the ladies’s race are now:

  1. Elisabet Barnes 9:01:20
  2. Ester Alves 9:02:53
  3. Amy Gordon 11:15:53

Full ladies’s results HERE

Stage 3 is a tough day and the longest so far. The early stages of the race are very technical with a long run through a river bed that includes scrambling. The crossing of a waterfall and an extremely tough climb and then a long descent to the beach with a short final road section to camp. It’s a day where Don-Wauchope will be put under pressure but the real race will come between Alves and Barnes. Expect Barnes to lose time early on and then the big question will be, can she close the gap and reel Alves in.

Full race results HERE

The Coastal Challenge 2016 #TCC2016 – Stage 1 Results and Summary

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Images available for personal and commercial use HERE

Iain Don-Wauchope return to the heat, humidity and rainforests of Costa Rica and despite below par training in the build up to the race, repeats his 2015 first day with a blistering performance against a world-class field that left his nearest rival 19-minutes back at the finish line.

Lady on fire, Elisabet Barnes, followed up her 2015 MDS victory and Oman multi-day race with a strong first day performance ahead of Portugal’s Ester Alves.

The day started at 0345 with an early call and a 3-hour transfer from San Jose to the coastal town of Queopos. The race started at 0930, the only day that the race will have a late start. All other days start at sunrise due to the heat and humidity.

Each year the race director Rodrigo, warns the runners of the heat, the dangers of dehydration and how important it is to start slow and ease in to the day. Boom… the race started and as in every other year a lead group of men shot off the front at a super fast pace. The inevitable explosions started to happen from just 6km and a very savvy Iain Don-Wauchope used his experience from last year and slowly but surely puled away opening a 6-minute gap just after PC1 and he continued to extend this all the way too the line.

“You wouldn’t believe how little running I have done. I am not sandbagging. Today’s run came from somewhere… maybe a little help from above. I am really happy with the run but as we saw in 2015, day 1 is just 1 day. The men behind are world-class and they could pull back my lead with just one day.” – Iain Don-Wauchope

Chema Martinez and Gonzao Calisto were chasing hard but it was very apparent that 2:08 marathon runner,

 

Martinez was suffering in the heat.  Calisto continued to chase trailing Don-Wauchope by 19-minutes at the line.

Carlos Sa closed with a consistent paced run to place 3rd. Martinez unfortunately slowed as the day progressed and struggled on the final technical descent the followed with a water crossing to the finish line.

“From 6km I had nothing. It was just an awful day and on the final descent, I couldn’t run, I just had to walk. At the finish the doctor looked at me and my blood pressure was low – it’s all down to the heat and humidity; a rally tough day!” – Chema

Overall men’s results here

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Elisabet Barnes ran with Portugal’s Ester Alves in the early stages but the heat soon took hold and the high humidity caused Alves to slow, Without increasing her pace, Barnes slowly pulled away and continued to do so all the way to the line to secure a first stage victory.

Elisabet Barnes, “I knew it was going to be hot but I was surprised by the heat at the start. I enjoyed the stage, all very runnable and the 2nd half was tougher than the first; more undulations. The humidity made what was already tough, tougher and apparently it was a little cooler today because of cloud cover. I have a small lead but as we have seen in the men’s race, anything can happen, I will take one day at a time but it was a good start.”

Alves held on for 2nd place and although looking relaxed at the finish, she did say the heat and been a limiting factor today.

Amy Gordon ran a solid pace for 3rd overall on the ladies category.

Overall ladies results HERE

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Tomorrows stage will be 38km and the estimated start time is 0530.

Lead From Behind by Niandi Carmont

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“It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur.” – Nelson Mandela

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I just so love this quote by Mandela one of history’s truly great legendary and inspiring leaders. This guiding principle is what no doubt helped Mandela lead South Africa towards the democracy it is today, even from behind the secluded prison bars of Robbin Island.

Leading from behind is one of the most effective, rewarding and empowering leadership strategies. It goes against the traditional image we hold of great leaders, leading the troops from the front by setting the example.

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As a coach during a 2016 training camp for multi-day racing and specifically the Marathon des Sables (here), I had the opportunity to put this into practice. Marathon des Sables or “MDS” as it is affectionately called by most aficionados is a gruelling self-sufficiency multi-stage running event which takes place every year in April in the Sahara. The event is celebrating its 31st year this year and will gather over 1300 international participants at the start line on 8 April. Participants are required to carry a minimum weight of 6.5kg with a minimum calorie allowance of 2000Kcal/day covering a total distance of 250km with temperatures exceeding 45C over dunes, jebels and scorched sun-dried salt lakes.

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The pre-race training camp last week in Lanzarote provided participants with an opportunity to run long distances on consecutive days in the heat and on demanding terrain simulating that encountered in the Sahara. It also allowed them to test their equipment and exchange with coaches on nutritional and hydration strategies.

Attendees were divided into groups of differing ability depending on the objectives they had set themselves.

“Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish.” — Sam Walton

Coaching one of the groups provided me with one of the most insightful weeks on leadership, mentoring and providing feedback. How do you support and develop each participant in the group giving them the self-confidence to learn and grow? This is where leading from behind comes in. At times I would be running ahead setting the pace. Then I would slow down and run in the group egging them on to the next landmark. Other times I would drop down to the back of the pack and let them set the pace. After all isn’t it all about a balance between pushing people outside their comfort zone because you know this is what will help them have the strength to face adversity in the challenge they have set themselves? Then again you also need to be there to monitor their progress and not push them beyond their limits or dampen their enthusiasm. A fine line!

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A good leader is also a good listener. Managers are advised to listen 70% and speak 30% when providing feedback. It is surprising what you learn from coachees when you listen actively. I learnt a wealth of useful information listening to each participant in my run group. Listening gave me a better understanding of the difficulties of each and everyone: ranging from juggling personal and professional commitments to finding the time to train, fitting training around consecutive business trips, adopting a healthy nutritional strategy with a demanding work schedule and business dinners, dealing with sports injuries due to increased mileage, apprehension of the unknown, fear of failure, professional stress impacting on training performance…the list is endless. But listening helped me to be specific in my advice.

“A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be.” — Rosalynn Carter

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A leader should also enhance competitiveness. Many in my group had set out with the objective of completing Marathon des Sables and getting that beautiful big shiny medal handed over to them by the race Director Patrick Bauer, ticking MDS off on their bucket-list of ultra-running achievements and adding it to their run CV. I know the runners in my group will cross that finish line but I also know that they can achieve much more. They showed that tenacity, grit and determination in training that will take them to the finish line at MDS.

“The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men, the conviction and the will to carry on.” – Walter Lippman

And so my final message to my coachees after a week of learning from them about leadership, mentoring and providing feedback is:

“I won’t be there with you at the start-line although I’d love to be but I will be be tracking your progress live on-line and living every minute of the MDS experience with you.” – Niandi

 

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If you would like to join our 2017 Multi-Day Training Camp, please go HERE

View images from 2016 HERE

View daily images and summaries from 2016 HERE