Timothy Olson to run The Coastal Challenge 2021 #TCC2021

Timothy Olson, San Jose at TCC 2018.

The 2021 ‘The Coastal Challenge’ is upon us! A six day, supported, 230.5km journey that takes runners from Quepos to the UNESCO heritage Drake Bay.

Over the years, TCC has grown in stature with an incredible list of athletes from all over the world, in 2020, Kaytlyn Gerbin and Cody Lind took the top honors. Unfortunately, due to Covid-19, the 2021 TCC will see a reduced capacity race that will primarily see local participants with only a very small contingent coming from other locations.

It’s fortuitous for TCC that 2018 participant and adidas Terrex athlete, Timothy Olson now bases himself in Costa Rica and therefore he will toe the line for the 2021 edition. The last time he raced at TCC he battled with Michael WardianHayden HawksTom Evans and Marcus Scotney. Unfortunately, Tim’s race was cut short after a bad fall on stage 4.

Tim relaxing in Costa Rica

I caught up with Tim to get his thoughts ahead of the race in February.

How was 2020 for you and how did you survive and motivate through the pandemic?

What a year, 2020 was a challenging year all around. It changed the way of life for many, I was extremely fortunate to enjoy running, good food and family right where we were living in Costa Rica. I shifted my focus from training for any particular race to just appreciating each moment I had, using running as a way to give thanks, praying for and uplifting humanity. Instead of focusing on fear and the unknown I felt motivated to spread encouragement and love. 

Priorities have shifted in 2020, what changes have you personally made?

I could definitely feel many major shifts in 2020, it was solid confirmation that my priorities were in the right place. I value time with family and loved ones, supporting local/organic & regenerative farming practices, deepening my meditation and running practice and continuing to do the internal work to be the best human I can be. 

Mindfulness is important for you; how did this help in 2020?

Mindfulness was the foundation in which I set my focus on daily. I started each morning of 2020 with meditation and mindfulness practice cultivating what I wanted to see in the world. I would contemplate all the drama in the world, notice how I felt and what would arise internally. Then I would take time to just sit with it no matter what arose. There were definitely dark times, I aimed to learn and grow through really feeling my emotions, taking the time to integrate life’s wild ride. I am grateful for it all and feel calm, grounded and confident as I embark on the next adventure of 2021.

Mindfulness was the foundation in which I set my focus on daily.

You are back in Costa Rica, it’s like a 2nd home – tell me why?

Right now, it is home. We fell in love with the tiny community where we live. The community here is family to me. I have some really good friends here and feel very fortunate to spend time with the working with and appreciating this rich valley.  Not many trails but really challenging dirt roads to keep the training rolling. I’ll run in and through the little mountains all the way to the Ocean and then back home, stacking up lots of vertical gain and some hot kilometers onto my feet. On the way I will cool off in a waterfall enjoy a platano and take in all the beauty around me. I’m so grateful for all the amazing places I am able to run and explore but the community of mindful people makes it home. 

You raced TCC in 2018, what brings you back?

Taking care of Unfinished business while celebrating this beautiful country and the joy of running. I sprained my ankle really bad here in 2018 and was not able to complete the final day. I was bummed but new I’d be back. I’m really looking forward to completing all the days. A few of the days we run through Dominical, near Nauyaca and to the Whales take and Uvita. I have run all over this area, I run close to Nauyaca daily and looking forward to sharing the trails with the local Ticos. 

2021 is going to be a year of more questions, if all goes well with Covid, what are your hopes and priorities?

Lots of questions but I will keep running and doing what I love no matter what. I’m hoping to return to the US and run a long trail. I’ve been thinking about doing the Pacific Crest Trail, a 2,650mile trail that goes from Mexico to Canada through some of my favorite places in the US. The pct means a lot to me and I look forward to completing it one, I’m hoping to do this on 2021 but with Covid I have other ideas if this falls through. When I run it, I want the adventure to uplift people, motivate, raise awareness and encourage people to get outside and do whatever makes them come alive. I want to do what is nest for humanity so we will see what happens this year, but I’ll continually keep spreading good vibes.

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 this Central American country.

The terrain is ever-changing from wide, dusty and runnable fire trails to dense and muddy mountain trails. Runners will cross rivers, boulder, 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 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 starts with the race starting with the arrival of the sun! The only way is up from the start with a tough and challenging climb to start the day. 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 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. Puma Vida.

Stage 4

It’s another tough start to the day with a relentless climb, but once at 900m the route is a roller coaster of relentless small climbs and descents, often littered with technical sections, rain forest, river crossings and boulders. At 30km, it’s a short drop to the line 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!

Follow #TCC2021

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Episode 183 – Kaytlyn Gerbin, Cody Lind and Janine Canham

Episode 183 of Talk Ultra brings you interviews with Kaytlyn Gerbin and Cody Lind, the winners of the 2020 The Coastal Challenge. We also chat with Janine Canham about her 7 marathons on 7 continents in 7 days. Speedgoat co-hosts.
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00:25:15 KAYTLYN GERBIN
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01:15:09 CODY LIND
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01:58:30 JANINE CANHAM
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Total 03:26:40
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The Coastal Challenge #TCC2020 – Stage 3 47.5km

The Coastal Challenge, Costa Rica’s number one multi-day race moved to stage 3 and it conformed that there are no guarantees when it comes to racing. It was a day of drama and problems as the ‘Expedition’ runners travelled 47.5km to Playa Ballena.

The iconic Nauyaca Waterfall welcomed the runners after 12km but first a technical run through a river bed was the first challenge. Local runner and past TCC participant, Erick Agüero used his local knowledge and experience to take a lead over the Scott Athletes, Cody Lind and Andy Symonds. Race leader, Mauricio Mendez followed closely behind. We were seeing the Costa Rican runner take the race on by the horns.

Equally, the women’s race had Natalia López Arrieta taking a lead over race leader, Kaytlyn Gerbin.

Behind, 3rd on GC, Abelone Lyng followed just behind Manu Vilaseca who seemed to be having a better day in adapting to the heat. Unfortunately, at the waterfall, disaster struck for Vilaseca with a broken lace system on her ‘BOA’ shoes. Luckily, one of the race team offered their own shoes as a replacement… Vilaseca could race on.

Agüero was running hard today and by checkpoint 2 he had a 6-minute lead over Lind, Symonds and Mendoza who were pursuing together. It soon became clear that Mendoza had issues by the expression on his face.

Lind and Symonds cooled over with a water pipe and left. Mendoza by contrast, sat on the ground, removed his shoes and grimaced with pain. It turned out after the race he had Tendonitis.

Arrieta and Gerbin charged ahead at the front of the women’s race but behind, course sabotage sent Vilaseca and Lyng off course for approximately 4km on very tough terrain. It was the kind of disaster that can lose a runner 45-minutes. Later, the impact was clear to see as Lyng, who would have finished 3rd woman on the stage, eventually finished a little farther back losing a chunk of unnecessary time and effort.

At Hermosa Beach and all the way to the finish line, Agüero hello off the Scott athlete charge and won the stage for a great Costa Rican victory, the result providing him the overall lead of TCC2020 by less than one minute, his overall time 11:47:50.

Lind and Symonds finished together and they now 2nd and 3rd on the overall GC with a time of 11:48:39 and 11:51:08 respectively. Unfortunately, Mendez lost a chunk of time and the overall race lead a currently a podium place. It was a disastrous day for the young Mexican runner.

“I had some discomfort in my feet from day 2 but I thought it was just tiredness, however, in the first 3-miles of stage 3 I knew my foot was not good,” Mendez said at the finish line. “I was chasing Erick with Andy and Cody but the pain was terrible. I took time out at CP2 to cool off my foot and massage it but the damage was done. Not finishing was not an option so I pushed on and finished the stage. I have spoken with the medics and I have tendonitis… So, I am unsure what stage 4 will bring?”

For the women, Gerbin caught Arrieta and applied the pressure, once again she pulled away for a third stage win in three days, she now has an overall time of 13:53:26.

Arrieta ran a strong race and finished the stage 3 with an accumulated time of 14:38:53.

Lyng, despite the run off-course still occupies the 3rd podium place with an accumulated time 16:48:21 but finished 4th on the stage (7:39:11) behind Viviana Piedra Solano.

Stage 4 tomorrow is a tough day as the runners start the day with a tough climb, they then stay high and finish the day with a descent to Palmar Sur, the distance 36.2km. The Adventure race will cover 16.5km.

Ranking:

Men:

Erick Agüero 4:59:39 – Leader on GC

Andy Symonds/ Cody Lind 5:03:14

Mauricio Mendez 5:42:36

Women:

Kaytlyn Gerbin 6:01:21 – Leader on GC

Natalia López Arrieta 6:22:18

Vivian Piedra Solano 7:17:03

Please support this website. I believe everyone deserves to read quality, independent and factual articles – that’s why this website is open to all. Free press has never been so vital. I hope I can keep providing independent articles with your help. Any contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to help finance regular content. Please support me on Patreon HERE.

The Coastal Challenge #TCC2020 – Stage 2 40.2km

The Coastal Challenge, Costa Rica’s number one multi-day race moved to stage 2 after the runners had a good nights sleep near the Savegre River in a purpose built campsite.

The heat of day 1 had taken its toll with runners retiring to sleep soon after dinner at 1900 hours. It was a hot night with little air and the 0330 wake up call came all too early for many. Breakfast at 0400 and then with the arrival of the sun, runners departed for 40.2km.

The early morning sun was magnificent and the Costa Rican landscape glowed as the rays illuminated the landscape.

The day started with almost a disaster with many of the top men, including all the top-4 contenders going off course with women leader, Kaytlyn Gerbin. They lost over 15-minutes and what followed was a hard chase into the long first climb of the day.

The men’s race came back together with race leader, Mauricio Mendez catching Erick Agüero who had initially gone wrong, realised his mistake early and turned back. Cody Lind and Andy Symonds chased with Scott Maguire running on his own further back.

For Kaytlyn, it was over 2-hours before she finally caught all the women, the 2nd placed woman on GC being Natalia López Arrieta.

With order resumed at the front, the race could continue as normal over a very tough course. Relentless fire road descents making the going hard both physically and mentally. Mendez finally made a move around CP3 and pulled away from Agüero while Lind and Symonds pursued together. They would stay this way all the way to the line. Maguire faded in the latter stages of the day as the heat and course took its toll, he finished 5th once again.

“I think I was a little too focussed and early on we went wrong… Crazy! We wasted at least 10-minutes. I was in a group and we all backtracked. It was 10km before I caught Erick with Scott. I was then running alone with Rick to CP3 and then I made a move. I was feeling good, my legs were tired and the heat did not seem as hot as day 1. I was really happy to get a 2nd stage victory, but I need to be smart for day 3, I know it will be tough, I have lots to learn!” – Mauricio Mendez

Once Gerbin had hold of the front of the race she extended the gap and her lead. She looked strong, focussed and relentless for the pursuit of the line and a stage 2 victory. Behind Arrieta once again ran strong for 2nd and Norway’s Abelone Lyng entered into a battle with TCC regular and past woman champion, Veronica Bravo. At the final two water crossings, Lyng lead Vero but the gap at best was only a minute. Lyng fought hard and finished 3rd ahead of Bravo’s 4th. Ashton Keck Keck who placed 3rd on tase 1 finished 6th in 5:32:21.

“Veronica caught me and she looked strong but on the final beach sections I pushed hard and caught her again,” said Lyng. “I wanted to be finished and Veronica was looking tired so I pushed hard. It was a tough race to finish a long day but I am happy with the result. I have been worried about the heat but my adaptation seems to have worked, it is very hot but I am feeling good, that makes me very happy.”

Ranking:

Men:

Mauricio Mendez 3:50:48 – Leader on GC

Erick Agüero 3:53:58

Andy Symonds/ Cody Lind 3:56:16

Women:

Kaytlyn Gerbin 4:33:17 – Leader on GC

Natalia López Arrieta 4:44:57

Abelone Lyng 5:12:20

Stage 3 of #TCC2020 will depart with sunrise once again, ahead 47.5km to Marino Ballena. The ‘Adventure’ category will run 12.7km starting from aid station 2.

Please support this website. I believe everyone deserves to read quality, independent and factual articles – that’s why this website is open to all. Free press has never been so vital. I hope I can keep providing independent articles with your help. Any contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to help finance regular content. Please support me on Patreon HERE.

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The Coastal Challenge #TCC2020 – Stage 1 33km

Runners departed San Jose at 4am for a 4 hour transfer to the coast for the start of the 2020 The Coastal Challenge, Costa Rica’s number one multi-day race.

It’s always a tough day as the runners depart the stage start after 0900 and the heat of the day is already intense.

It’s a day for caution!

From the off, the elite men pushed hard setting a relentless pace to checkpoint 1 with the UK’s Andy Symonds leading the way with Mauricio Mendez. Cody Lind and local, Erick Agüero followed. For the women, pre-race favourite Kaytlyn Gerbin lead from the front pulling away from Brazils, Manuela Vilaseca.

After checkpoint one, the heat was starting to influence the race with Symonds and Vilaseca both going through bad patches, this allowed Mendez and Gerbin to extend their leads.

Mendez took hold of the front of the race and the 2016 Xterra World Champion pushed home for the win looking very strong and relaxed in 2:44:35. The USA’s Lind moved in to second place with 2:49:08 and Symonds rallied in the closing stages to hold on the a podium place in 2:51:37 ahead of the local hero, Scott Maguire from Canada in 2:53:06. Local hero Agüero was 5th in 2:54:12.

“It was so hot today. Although a three hour race for me I treated it like an ultra and held things back. I never ran past water, I immersed myself all the time when I could. As the day progressed and I moved up through the field and finished 2nd, a good day!” – Cody Lind

Gerbin pushed for line with a convincing lead in 3:18:47 and behind her, Costa Rican runners, Natalia López Arrieta and Ashton Keck Keck placed 2nd and 3rd ahead of Norway’s, Abelone Lyng in 3:31:37, 3:48:09 and 3:56:49 respectively.

“I wanted a strong first day but I needed to respect the heat. A great deal if fire road today and that was tough…” Gerbin said after the finish. “But I have a lead now and I will run my own race each day. It was hot today, it needs so much respect.”

Ranking:

Men:

Mauricio Mendez 2:44:35

Cody Lind 2:49:08

Andy Symonds 2:51:37

Women:

Kaytlyn Gerbin 3:18:47

Natalia López Arrieta 3:31:37

Ashton Keck Keck 3:48:09

Stage 2 of #TCC2020 with depart with sunrise, ahead 40.2km to Dominical beach. The ‘Adventure’ category will run 17.4km starting from aid station 2.

#TCC2020

Please support this website. I believe everyone deserves to read quality, independent and factual articles – that’s why this website is open to all. Free press has never been so vital. I hope I can keep providing independent articles with your help. Any contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to help finance regular content. Please support me on Patreon HERE.

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The Coastal Challenge #TCC2020 – One day to go!

Welcome to Costa Rica. Welcome to the 16th edition of The Coastal Challenge #TCC2020

Runners from 16 countries are arriving in sunny Costa Rica, land of mountains and coasts, to run 230 kilometres and over 8700 meters of vertical gain in six stages. The Coastal Challenge is without a doubt much more than a challenge!

The 2020 edition holds a premium list of elite runners: Veronica Bravo, Manuela Vilaseca, Katlyn Gerbin, Cody Lind, Andy Symonds, Erick Aguero and Mauricio Mendez are amidst the elite field running the race.

Costa Rica is much more than rugged terrain and challenging trails, it’s a country which holds beautiful customs and warm people, tasty food and lots of smiles, it’s a country which will win the racer’s heart, they will go back home with dreams and memories of this great adventure.

#TCC2020
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10 Top Tips for Multistage and Multi-Day Racing

Running is running yes? Anyone can do it! Well I guess the answer is yes. However, variables come in to play. Running is broken down into many different distances, from 100m to 100-miles and beyond. The longer we run, the more the challenges and requirements on a runner change. Running for multiple days or running a multistage race on mixed terrain throws up many different scenarios. Over the years I have spoken with many champions who have raced in the sands of the Sahara, the forests of Costa Rica and the mountainous paths of Nepal. They all provide me with similar hints ’n’ tips to a successful multistage race.

TOP 10 TIPS FOR A MULTISTAGE

1 – RUNNING IN THE SAND

Desert races are very popular. Marathon des Sables for example is the father of multistage racing and over the years, many races have followed in the MDS format. A desert race is never all dunes but some races have more soft sand than others, so, be prepared. To avoid getting tired it’s important to read the terrain. Carve your own path running on fresh sand and when possible, run along the ridges. In smaller dunes (dunettes) it can be beneficial to run in tracks left by others, at all times, run light as though running on ice – you don’t want to sink in the sand!

2 – HYDRATION

Dehydration is a real risk in any race, particularly a self-sufficient race where water is rationed. The risks of dehydration increase when the mercury rises and a lack of cover comes. A desert for example will be open, have intense heat but humidity will be low. By contrast, a jungle such as those found in Costa Rica may well have plenty of tree cover and streams to cool off in but the humidity will be through the roof. In both scenarios it’s important to drink regularly. Take small and regular sips of water and supplement lost salt with salt tablets. Races like Marathon des Sables provide salt tablets at aid stations and they recommend dosage. Other races you will need to think of this and plan accordingly. Also think about food choices on the trail and when in camp – food rich in minerals and salts will also help you. Importantly, multistage racing is about management from day-to-day and this is what can trip people up. Think about the event as a whole and make sure you recover after each day – rehydrating is as important post a run as when running.

3 – BLISTERS

Many a multistage race is ruined by bad personal management of feet. Think about this well in advance of the race by choosing socks and shoes that work for you. Also choose shoes appropriate for the terrain you will be racing on. A shoe for MDS will be very different to a shoe for the Himalayas for example. By all means take advice on shoes from previous competitors BUT you are unique and your needs are unique. Do you pronate? Do you supinate? Do you need a low or high drop? Do you prefer a cushioned shoe or a more minimalist shoe? What about grip, do you need any? Do you need to fit gaiters? The questions can go on and on and only you can make a choice. If all this is new to you. Go to a running store that understand runners and can provide expert and impartial advice. They will assess you and your run style and provide advice. One consideration for multistage racing is that your foot ‘can’ possibly swell due to variables such as heat, running day-after-day and so on. Your foot will not go longer, but it may go wider. So, think about shoes that have some room in the toe box. Don’t purchase shoes that are 1 or 2 sizes larger – this is poor advice. Larger shoes will only allow your foot to move… a moving foot causes friction, friction increases the risk of soreness and soreness will lead to a blister. Also think about walking. Many people choose a shoe because they are good to run in… But how do they feel when you walk? Remember, a multistage race can involve a great deal of walking!

Do you have sensitive feet? If so, you can prepare your feet in the run-up to an event. Also make sure your nails are trimmed back. While racing, if you have blisters, stop and get them treated as soon as possible. Take responsibility and learn basic footsore before an event. You need to make sure you can make any necessary treatments. Finally, many races have a medical team that are provided to look after you and your feet. Don’t hesitate to use them, but remember, there may be a big line waiting. Self-care is an excellent way to make sure that you are ready to run in your own timeline.

4 – BALANCED PACK

Not all multistage races are the same. The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica, for example, is not self-sufficient so a runner only needs to carry liquid, snack food and any ‘mandatory’ kit. By contrast, a self-sufficient multistage race requires you to carry everything. A simple rule is keep everything as light as possible and keep your pack balanced. Luxuries really are luxuries in a race over multiple days so really ask yourself, do I need to take that? You will need mandatory kit as specified by the race and in addition you will need (as a guide):

  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping matt
  • Warm layer
  • Spare socks
  • Food (minimum calories are specified per day)

Clothes, shoes, hat, sunglasses –  but you will be wearing these so they don’t go in the pack.

That’s it. Keep it simple and if at all possible, get your pack with its contents as close the minimum weight as specified by the race.

By general consensus, a luxury item is considered a music player (or 2) such as an iPod shuffle.

Also remember that minimum pack weight will be without water, so, if your pack weighs 6.5kg, you will have to add 1.5kg on the start line on day 1. This is where a front pack or a pack where bottles sit on the front works really well. Bottles on the front help balance the front and the back and provide a greater running experience. Also, think about items your need whilst running… it’s not a good idea having them in the back, they need to be at the front so you can access them ‘on-the-go!’

Many packs are available to choose from and you will see two or three are very popular – WAA, Ultimate Direction and Raidlight. Choosing a pack is light choosing shoes; we are all personal. However, keep a pack simple, make sure it’s comfortable and make sure it has little or no bounce when running/ walking.

Consider joining a multistage/ multi-day training camp HERE

5 – PROTECT FROM THE SUN

The sun can be a killer in any race, single stage or multistage – use sun protection and apply it daily. Also use products like arm coolers, a hat and a buff. At aid stations or whilst racing, you can keep these wet which will help cool you. Particularly the buff. If you overheat, slow down and apply cold/ water to the back of the neck. Use UV protective clothing and the jury is out on if clothing should be tight or loose. This often comes down to personal preference.

6 – EAT WELL

Any multistage race is quickly broken down into three phases – running, eating and sleeping. Food is a really important part of any race as it has to perform many functions. Most importantly, it has to sustain you so you will need carbohydrate, protein and fat. Individual requirements will vary but carbs will restore energy, protein will repair and fat is essential as this is one of the primary fuel sources for a multistage race. Remember though, our bodies have an unlimited reserve of fat. It’s important to understand that your diet whilst training may well be very different to when racing. In training you may well have eaten less carbs to teach your body to use fat, but when racing, you need to recover and be ready to run/race again the next day. Have variety in your food as your palette will change with fatigue, dehydration and heat. Real foods are good but dehydrated food also has a place. You also need to decide if you will require a stove for heating water? Don’t think twice about stepping up a little on the organization’s requisite minimum daily dose of 2,000 calories a day, remember though, it’s all weight!

7 – REST

Rest is crucial and how much you get will depend on how fast you run. Front runners have no shortage of rest time, however, those at the back of the race get minimal rest. Make sure you have a good sleeping bag that is warm enough for you and is as light and packs small as possible. You can save weight by not carrying a sleeping matt – general consensus says that carrying one is worthwhile as sitting and sleeping is much more comfortable. Matts come in two types: inflatable or sold foam. Inflatable matts work really well, pack small but you run the risk of a puncture without diligence. Foam matts won’t puncture but they can be bulky.

Make sure you have a warm layer for comfort, temperatures drop with darkness. A jacket (usually down) will also allow you to add warmth while sleeping if required. A lightweight sleeping bag and down jacket is preferable (by general consensus) over a combination sleeping bag that turns into a jacket. A jacket and bag offers flexibility, weighs less and packs smaller but will be considerably more expensive.

8 – PACE

Remember that you have entered a race that lasts multiple days. Spread your effort and have the big picture in mind – pace yourself. Don’t set off too quickly and consider race profiles, distances and cut-off times. YOU take responsibility of when you need to be at checkpoints. A day with a great deal of climbing, soft sand or technical train will take longer, allow for this and be prepared. Most multistage races have a long day and it’s fair to say it is the most feared day – keep some energy back for that day. Remember, the long day often has a generous time allowance so don’t be worried by taking a sleep break midway through.

9 – KEEP ON TRACK

Most races will have markers for you to follow but be sensible and self-aware of the challenge. If a race requires you to carry a map and compass, then please understand how to use them. Carry a Spot Tracker for safety and if you use a GPS such as Suunto or Garmin, remember that these watches plot a route that you can use to backtrack. In a race like MDS it is difficult to go off course due to the volume of people, remember though that dunes are not way-marked and you will be given a bearing to run off. If you are alone or in the dark, an understanding of how this works is a positive.

10 – ENJOY IT

A multistage journey often offers so much more than any single-day race. It’s an experience like no other and friends made in the desert, jungle or mountains will stay with you forever. Also remember that this journey is a hark back to a more primitive and simple time – embrace that. Leave gadgets at home and live a simple life for a week – I guarantee it will change you!

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The Coastal Challenge 2020 #TCC2020 – Elite Line-Up Announced

The 2020 ‘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!

Over the years, TCC has grown in stature with an ‘A’ list of elite runners from all over the world. The 2019 edition was won by Ida Nilsson with a record time and Pere Aurell for the men. The men’s CR is still held by the UK’s, Tom Evans.

 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 this Central American country.

The terrain is ever-changing from wide, dusty and runnable fire trails to dense and muddy mountain trails. Runners will cross rivers, boulder, 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.

Irrespective of pace or effort, the Costa Rican coastline never stops providing inspiration. This is so much more than a race, It’s a journey, a running holiday and a voyage of discovery. Friendships made in the rainforests, on the beaches and in the camps are ones to last a lifetime – the race is one of survival, perseverance and enjoyment in equal measure.

 “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 will be back to TCC and Costa Rica one day, guaranteed!” – Tom Owens, 2017 Champion

THE 2020 ELITE LINE UP

Brittany Peterson

Burst on the global scene in 2016 with a win at Moab Red Hot %%km, placed 3rd at Speedgoat 50km, 2nd at the Rut and then 4th at Transvulcania in 2018. A top-ranked Skyrunner, in 2019 Brittany moved to longer races and won the iconic Bandera 100km. However, all previous results were surpassed in June when she ran the race of her life to finish 2nd at Western States 100.

Kelly Wolf

Kelly won the 2018 Lavaredo Ultra Trail and in the process, elevated her profile to a whole new level in Europe. She has won at Tarawera, placed 3rd at Transvulcania, 4th at Ultra Trail Capetown and most recently has won Kendall Mountain Run and Deep Creek Trail Half Marathon. Combining speed, endurance and technical running ability, Kelly is going to be one to watch at the 2010 TCC.

Katlyn Gerbin

 Kaytlyn joins the line-up of the 2020 TCC with an extremely solid and consistent resume, known in Canada and the USA for a string of top performances, it was a podium place (2nd) at Transgrancanaria that introduced her to worldwide attention. Winner of the Pine to Palm 100 in 2016, Kaytlyn has mixed races distances for the last 3-years, excelling at 50km and 100km with victories at Gorge Waterfalls and Sun Mountain amongst others. In 2017 she won Cascade Crest 100 but her calling cards are 4th place and 2nd place at the 2017 and 2018 Western States.

***** 

Julien Chorier

Julien is a true ambassador of the sport with a resume that many a runner would love to have just a tenth of. Name any iconic race and Julien will have raced it and most likely place on or around the podium. Career highlights are 1st at Hardrock 100, 1st at UTMF, 2nd at Transgrancanaria, 3rd at UTMB, 1st at MIUT and 6th at Western States. He is no stranger to multi-day racing having raced at Marathon des Sables Morocco and also, MDS Peru. It’s an honor to have Julien at the 2020 TCC. 

Jordi Gamito

Jordi should have toed the line at the 2019 TCC but injury prevented his participation. In 2020, he is back! He is a winner of the tough and challenging Everest Trail Race and has placed 3rd at the 2018 UTMB. In 2014, a 4th place at UTMB showed his potential to the ultra-running world and this was followed with 6th at Raid Ka Reunion. 3rd at the Eiger Ultra and 4th at Transgrancanaria. He is a big smile; infectious personality and he will embrace the challenge of Costa Rica.

Cody Lind

 Cody has been racing for some years but may well have only come on your radar after 2017 with a very committed foray in the Skyrunning circuit – He placed 8th at Tromso in 2017 and then followed the SWS circuit racing on iconic courses throughout the world. Recently he raced them Rut in the USA and came away with victory. Cody manages to mix speed and technical ability, it’s a perfect mix for the trails in Costa Rica

Andy Symonds (tbc)

 Andy is one of the UK’s greatest mountain runners. He has traditions in fell running and has mixed Skyrunning and ultra-running throughout a long and successful career. He recently placed 5th at UTMB after 3 attempts. He has raced Marathon des Sables and placed in the top-10 but Andy will always be considered a mountain specialist. He has won Lavaredo, placed 3rd at Marathon Mont Blanc, 5th at Transgrancanaria and has represented his country at many World Championships. The technical and demanding trails of Costa Rica with plenty of climbing and descending provide Andy a perfect playground.

Mauricio Mendez

Mauricio is a rising star from Mexico who is currently an Xterra World Champion. He joins TCC as somewhat as a dark horse but no doubt he will be the hope of the locals. He started running because of his Father and in his own words, is a dreamer!

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

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 of 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 realize 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 starts with the race starting with the arrival of the sun! The only way is up from the start with a tough and challenging climb to start the day. 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 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. Puma Vida.

Stage 4

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

Stage 5 

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

Stage 6

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

 The 2020 TCC starts in February as runners from all over the world will assemble in San Jose before transferring to the coast for stage 1 of the race starting on Saturday 8th. Year-on-year, the TCC has grown to be one of ‘the’ most iconic multi-day races. Once again, the elite line-up sets the bar, but the race is all about inclusion. Join the 2020 TCC and come experience Pura Vida!

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Multi-Day Racing – It’s not complicated

It’s Not Complicated…

Let’s get one thing clear, multi-day racing is simple, it is often over complicated and this creates too many questions and too much confusion.

Let’s hark back to Patrick Bauer’s pioneering days and simplify the process, just like he did. Over the years I have interviewed and chatted with many runners in bivouac and after racing who have done just that, they had applied simple logic and worked out what would work for them. 

Yes, they had taken advice, looked at websites, processed information but importantly they had found out what worked for them. They realized early on that they were an individual and as such, they needed a personal approach to multi-day racing and not a generic one. Not all multi-day races are the same, some are completely self-sufficient, some are semi self-sufficient and others are supported where all you need is transported for you.

When you break a race down, particularly a self-sufficient race, key things are really important:

Pack

Must fit and be comfortable when loaded. Have enough room (but not too much) for all your equipment and provide easy access to fluid. You must also make sure that your race number is visible as per race rules. Think about additional pockets, such as a waist belt for snacks.

Sleeping Bag

Lightweight, packs small and warm enough. I would always recommend a sleeping bag and jacket as it offers more flexibility, reduced weight and reduced pack size. Popular sleeping bags year-on-year are PHD, Yeti and OMM. Read HERE on how to choose a sleeping bag.

Clothes

You just need what you will run in. However, a spare pair of socks is often commonplace and many runners have one or all of the following: a warm base layer, a lightweight down jacket or waist coat, buff and maybe long lightweight pants. Remember, you have to carry everything, so, it’s all about getting the pack as close to minimum weight. At MDS that is 6.5kg plus water.

Sleeping Matt

It’s optional but a good nights sleep is important and usually those who do not take one wish they had. It provides comfort and importantly an insulating layer between you and the ground. Two options exist – inflatable and roll out solid foam. The choice is yours. The inflatable ones offer more comfort, more flexibility in packing but with poor admin, you do run the risk of a puncture. I’ve used inflatable for many years with no issue. A solid foam Matt will last the week with no risks of problems but they roll large and need to sit outside the pack.

Shoes and Gaiters

Shoes (more below) are personal, just make sure they have a good fit, appropriate drop for your needs and suit your run/walk style with enough durability for you. I say ‘you’ because someone like Rachid El Morabity can complete the whole of MDS race in say 21-hours whereas most people won’t even do just the long day in that time – his shoe shoe choice will and can be very different to what most of us need!

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The Coastal Challenge #TCC2019 – PHOTOGRAPHS

PHOTOGRAPHS #TCC2019 The Coastal Challenge

A portfolio of TCC2019 race images are now online, they ‘web’ resolution only.
High resolution images will be uploaded in due course when suitable wifi is available.
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GO : HERE