The Coastal Challenge – Stage 4 – Ventanas Beach to Sierpe

Philipp Reiter TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Philipp Reiter TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

A heavy downpour of epic proportions last night didn’t dampen the spirits of the runners as they departed Ventanas Beach for another tough day in Costa Rica. Mike Wardian and Jo Meek have held convincing leads from day-1, however, neither have had an easy journey. Both struggled on the early technical sections of stage-3 but rallied and found something in the tank to reclaim lost time and finish a tough day-3 with stage wins. Mikes run was a classic… pulling back 14-mins was truly a remarkable run.

Morning in the rainforest, 6am TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Morning in the rainforest, 6am TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Day-4 started and ended with technical sections. From the off runners would climb for over an hour on an overgrown forest path and then spend time going up and down in the plains before descending 3km on a tough trail that twisted, gnarled and one could almost say that the trails ‘bite back’. It was a day that Julia Bottger for the ladies would revel in and although the chances of pulling back her deficit on Meek was unlikely, I thought Julia might shine. By contrast, the middle section of the course would suit Wardian, but the tough climb and super tough final descent could potentially allow a stronger competitor on technical terrain to pull back time…?

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Clark and Beneito TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Clark and Beneito TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Mike Wardian TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Mike Wardian TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Philipp Reiter TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Philipp Reiter TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

At the summit of the first climb Reiter appeared first dripping in sweat in the early morning humidity. Wardian appeared 3-min in arrears and then Clark and Beneito appeared once again attached at the hip 5-mins in deficit. The race was on!

Jo Meek loving stage-4 of TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Jo Meek loving stage-4 of TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

To my surprise Meek was having a great day… I don’t say that in a negative way but I certainly expected Bottger to take control on that first climb and pull away causing Meek to chase. “I loved today, it was a stage that had everything and the climbs weren’t so technical that I couldn’t use my strength and fitness,” said Meek.

Mike Wardian pulling back time on Reiter TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Mike Wardian pulling back time on Reiter TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

On the rolling sections after the first climb Wardian once again started to close the gap. This guy is relentless…! Beneito and Clark seem to have found comfort in each others pace and certainly they move well together, however, as Wardian caught Reiter at CP3, the dynamic duo were starting to loose time on the other dynamic duo.

Beneito and Clark TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Beneito and Clark TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

For the ladies race, it was starting to take a very familiar format; Meek lead Bottger and Bottger lead Veronica Bravo. Focused on the end goal, Meek runs scared and pushing, “Anything can happen and I need to run the way that makes me feel secure and while I feel good I will utilize it.”

Julia Bottger TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Julia Bottger TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Victoria Bravo on her way to the high point of the course TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Victoria Bravo on her way to the high point of the course TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Reiter and Wardian ran through the plains together until the final descent, as I expected, Reiter pulled away, “I wasn’t sure if we should run together” said Reiter “Wardian is so much fun to run with, he talks constantly and makes me laugh. On the descent I stopped for a short while but he was nowhere in sight so I pushed on.”

Philipp Reiter powering up a climb TCC2 ©iancorless.com

Philipp Reiter powering up a climb TCC2 ©iancorless.com

Reiter gained another 3-mins and considering his day-1 experience, his form and dedication has been remarkable. Beneito placed 3rd on the stage and unfortunately Clark had a tough day; he started to pass blood and therefore took his foot of the gas and walked in to the finish. Martin Gaffuri once again had another consistent day and his fifth place is secure.

Nick Clark showing the fatigue of hard days and heat TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Nick Clark showing the fatigue of hard days and heat TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Martin Gaffuri TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Martin Gaffuri TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Meek crossed the line first, followed by Bottger and Bravo finished 3rd. A big loss to the race and the overall GC was 2013 TCC champ, Gemma Slaughter. Unfortunately she had a tough night and was sick in the morning of the race… she did start but had to withdraw during the race.

Carlos Sa (leading) midway on stage 4. He's feeling the effort of his overlong first day! TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Carlos Sa (leading) midway on stage 4. He’s feeling the effort of his overlong first day! TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

With two days to go, the ladies race looks set. However, the men’s race is wide open; this has been one of the most exciting stage races I have ever had the pleasure to follow and it isn’t over yet!

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Clark at a water crossing TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Clark at a water crossing TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

RESULTS Stage-4

  1. Philipp Reiter 4:19:11
  2. Mike Wardian 4:22:07
  3. Vicente Juan Garcia Beneito 4:32:14
  4. Nick Clark 4:54:59
  5. Marti Gaffuri 5:09:51
  1. Jo Meek 5:38:42
  2. Julia Bottger 5:44:55
  3. Veronica Bravo 6:12; 42
  4. Hailey Van Dyk 6:52:21
  5. Sandra Meija 7:16:51

 GC to be confirmed

Men

  1. Wardian
  2. Beneito
  3. Reiter

Ladies

  1. Meek
  2. Bottger
  3. Bravo

The Coastal Challenge – Stage 3 – Dominical Beach to Ballena Beach

Mike Wardian exiting the riverbed section TCC2012 ©iancorless.com

Mike Wardian exiting the riverbed section TCC2012 ©iancorless.com

What a day… it was always going to be spectacular. A long-stretch of running through a riverbed that involved multiple water crossings, rock hopping and climbing. A steady climb to the impressive waterfalls followed by more technical twisting climbing. A fast descent, climbing and the a long stretch of stunning beach that would be undertaken just as the heat of the day took hold.

The star of the day; was a dog! Yes folks, a dog. As the race departed Dominical Beach a little dog joined Philipp Reiter, Nick Clark, Mike Wardian and the rest of the elite male field and he ran all the way to the line some 50kms away; incredible.

Running through the river bed overall GC leaders Jo Meek and Mike Wardian struggled with the technicality of the terrain. At the end of the riverbed section, Gaffuri, Clark, Reiter, Beneito and Sa and had gained 10-mins effectively placing Beneito as race leader whilst on the course.

TCC2014 Stage 3 ©iancorless.com

TCC2014 Stage 3 ©iancorless.com

Experienced adventure racer, Veronica Bravo excelled in the tough and harsh conditions and reveled at the opportunity to show her skill. Equally, Julia Bottger started to put time into female race leader Meek. At the waterfall section, Bravo had a convincing lead but any chance of her ability to pull back 90-mins looked limited. Bottger had started to gain a few minutes on Meek and it was quite apparent from Meek’s face as she arrived at the waterfalls that the early part of the course had tested her.

Veronica Bravo TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Veronica Bravo TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

From the waterfalls the guys held it together. They were putting time into Wardian but as Clark went on to say post race. “I think we were taking it just a little too relaxed. We were comfortable and not pushing.” When Wardian arrived he was 14-min in down and looking a little worried. The race was on!

Julia Bottger crossing the rocks at the waterfall section TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Julia Bottger crossing the rocks at the waterfall section TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Bottger was having a good day and was well aware that she needed to gain time before the long beach section that would allow Meek to open up her stride and find her natural flat running pace. However, after catching Bravo, Bottger made a navigational error that paved the way for Meek to regain the lead and push on to the finish for another stage win and a substantial gain of time over Bottger and Bravo. In camp, Meek was looking weary, “I had to dig deep today. I found the riverbed so difficult. It’s just not my natural talent. I pushed hard out of the waterfall section to ensure that I gained time back. By the time I hit the beach I knew I just needed to run as hard as possible. However, 12km’s of beach in mid 30’s temperatures are not something you take lightly.”

Jo Meek exits the waterfalls TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Jo Meek exits the waterfalls TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Bottger had a sense of frustration, “I was feeling good today. I made a wrong turn and lost a junk of time working my way back on to the course. I have no doubt that Meek would have caught me on the beach section though… that’s trail running!”

Philipp Reiter in the riverbed TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Philipp Reiter in the riverbed TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

In the men’s race, Wardian somehow closed a 14-min gap on a small group of leaders made up of Reiter, Beneito and Clark. “I looked around and Mike was there. I couldn’t believe it. I really thought we had him on the ropes” said Clark.

Costa Rican Beaches - stunning but hot! TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Costa Rican Beaches – stunning but hot! TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

The four entered the beach section and were running neck and neck for a couple of km. “Reiter and myself started to push each other and Beneito and Clark started to fade” said Wardian, “It was a matter of gritting your teeth and hurting.”

“I could hold on no longer” said Clark, “Reiter and Wardian started to pull away and Beneito and myself dropped off. The heat got to me further and I faded again allowing Beneito to pull away from me. It was a darn tough day out there.”

Reiter and Wardian pushed each other to the line, neither able to pull away. Both should be applauded for incredible racing and powers of recovery… Wardian for pulling back an incredible 14-min deficit on the stage and Reiter for recovering from a poor day-1 to potentially move himself back in contention on GC.

Racing days don’t get much better than this!

RESULTS Stage-3

  1. Mike Wardian 5:16:52
  2. Philipp Reiter 5:16:52
  3. Vicente Juan Garcia Beneito 5:19:27
  4. Nick Clark 5:27:16
  5. Marti Gaffuri 6:01:27
  1. Jo Meek 6:39:59
  2. Julia Bottger 6:47:26
  3. Veronica Bravo 6:59:43
  4. Gemma Slaughter 7:40:57
  5. Hailey Van Dyk 8:12:58

PS – apologies for the late upload, internet connection is sparse and very slow.

The Coastal Challenge #TCC2014 – Stage 5 Preview

tcc-stg-5

Day 5 – Sierpe to Bahia Drake

Another long day at 47.5km but what a day and what a course awaits; the route provides a pure rainforest experience. Much of today’s route is in accessible by vehicles. In truth, they only true way to navigate this course is by foot or by boat. The trails are dense, technical and muddy but they interspersed with dramatic water crossings, plantations, small villages and as the stage comes to a close the sea awaits and the stunning Drakes Bay. It’s a paradise. The day starts with a short transfer and water crossing by boat. This is necessary to get all the runners on the correct side of the water. Leaving Sierpe a 5km climb awaits, from the summit, the route very much drops down to the finish with short sharp climbs at 22km, 39km and 43km. Three checkpoints at Sabalo (16.1km), Florida (26.2km) and Guerra (36.1km) are followed with a final water station at 41km. Today is arguably the toughest day for the TCC staff and team as gaining access to the course and route is extremely difficult.

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#TCC2014

The Coastal Challenge – Stage 2 – Rafiki Lodge to Dominical Beach

Philipp Reiter TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Philipp Reiter TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Sleep is a precious commodity in any multi-stage race. The ability to recover from one day’s effort and then go again requires discipline not only in training but also the ability to get to sleep early and ensure a full battery charge for the next day!

At The Costal Challenge, this ‘strength of will’ is tested to the max… each day starts at 0330 to ensure an adequate breakfast and a race start that coincides with the sun. It’s important; the heat beats down here in Costa Rica with a strength and power that can wilt the most ardent sun worshiper.

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Today’s route involved two tough climbs in succession and then a long drop down to the coast before a final 8-km along the beach that involved two water crossings.

The last water crossing less than 1-km form the finish #TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

The last water crossing less than 1-km form the finish #TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

The 10th edition of the TCC was always going to be a stunning race; the quality of the elite line up was second to none. Stage 2 did not disappoint…

From the off, Wardian, Gaffuri, Clark, Reiter, Beneito and Sa marked each other’s move on the tough first climb. It was all-together at the summit with just seconds spreading the whole group. Gaffuri, loving to run downhill fast moved to the front and pushed hard but even Sa who must have been feeling his ‘extra’ miles from the previous day matched his effort.

Martin Gaffuri TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Martin Gaffuri TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Meek opened up a gap in the ladies race right from the start but today’s stage was for more to the liking of Bottger and although initially Meek gained some time, the gap was matched and held.

Jo Meek on the second climb TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Jo Meek on the second climb TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

At the checkpoint before the second climb, the banter in the men’s race was superb. So much so, Reiter, Wardian and Gaffuri thought an impromptu sprint trying to be first for the water was a good idea…

Sprint for the aid station. TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Sprint for the aid station. TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Reiter was first to leave the aid station and he committed himself. He started to open up a gap and push. A remarkable run considering on day-1 he suffered in the heat; not helped by long travel and little sleep.

Clark and Wardian pursuing Reiter at the bottom of the second climb TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Clark and Wardian pursuing Reiter at the bottom of the second climb TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Continuing to open up a gap, one would have assumed that Reiter would have succumbed to Wardian’s natural speed when on the flat. However, in the final 8-km’s of beach, Reiter pushed on and held for a great stage win. Wardian placed second and Beneito and Clark finished together taking 3rd and 4th. The men’s race without doubt is poised for some heated competition over the coming days; Wardian leads Beneito and Clark by 3:42, Reiter is just over 22-mins back after his unfortunate day-1. I wonder, can Reiter pull back that time? It would take something remarkable from Reiter in this quality of field. Nick Clark post race said, “Wardian didn’t close on Reiter as we expected in those e final stages, he may have gained a little more time on me but a time gap of 4-mins is easily pulled back. It’s all to up for grabs.”

Julia Bottger on the second climb TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Julia Bottger on the second climb TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Bottger caught Meek on the second climb and lead much of the way on the descent; however, with approximately 20-km’s of relatively flat road and beach to the finish we all expected Meek to open up a gap and start to pull away. She certainly opened a gap and enough of a gap to secure a comfortable stage-2 victory, however, it wasn’t a performance of complete dominance as expressed on day-1. Post race I asked her how she felt, “That was a tough day. You can’t run those climbs; it’s all about economy of effort and hiking. I am less used to technical descents so I played safe, however, over the last km’s I could get in my run stride and take the lead again.”

Jo Meek just before the finish TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Jo Meek just before the finish TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Meek has a 46:02 lead going into stage-3 and barring a disaster; I can’t see her loosing such a margin. She no longer needs to be aggressive and certainly, Meek can ease off a gear and see if Bottger wants to take up the challenge to pull back time.

Veronica Bravo TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Veronica Bravo TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Third place lady, Veronica Bravo is now 1:32 in arrears and has a comfortable margin of almost 50-minutes over 2013 The Coastal Challenge winner, Gemma Slaughter for 3rd place.

RESULTS Stage-2

  1. Philipp Reiter
  2. Mike Wardian
  3. Vicente Juan Garcia Beneito
  1. Jo Meek
  2. Julia Bottger
  3. Veronica Bravo

General Classification after Stage 2

  1. Mike Wardian 7:14:05
  2. Vicente Juan Garcia Beneito 7:17:47
  3. Nick Clark 7:17:48
  4. Philipp Reiter 7:36:27
  5. Martin Gaffuri 7:45:37
  1. Jo Meek 8:40:45
  2. Julia Bottger 9:26:47
  3. Veronica Bravo 10:12:57
  4. Gemma Slaughter 11:02:34
  5. Wendy Tseng 11:35:13

 

The Coastal Challenge – Stage 1 – Quepos to Rafiki Lodge

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HOT! Hot racing and hot temperatures. The 10th edition of The Coastal Challenge was always going to be a competitive race and stage-1 did not disappoint.

Departing from the beaches just outside the center of Quepos at 0930, the heat of the day was already beating down. Broad smiles, arm waves and cheers were immediately followed a rush for the head of the race.

Martin Gaffuri and Nick Clark TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Martin Gaffuri and Nick Clark TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

As expected, the elite runners dictate the early pace with Mike Wardian immediately taking the front of the race closely followed by Martin Gaffuri and Nick Clark.

Jo Meek TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Jo Meek TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Jo Meek started conservatively finding her legs after the long journey from San Jose. However, once she had found them, she pressed on the gas pedal and didn’t let up. Entering the dense forest canopy at just over halfway into the days stage she had that ‘glare’ I had witnessed at the 2013 Marathon des Sables. Completely focused on the task at hand, Jo was calm and relaxed and looked surprisingly in control despite of the oppressive heat. “It pays to get adjusted to the heat before you come out here” said Jo, “I have been doing heat chamber session in the UK to prepare myself; it works!”

At the same point in the course for the men’s race, Mike Wardian had a 45-second lead over a pursuing Martin Gaffuri and Nick Clark…. Less than a minute in arrears, Carlos Sa and Vicente Juan Garcia Beneito chased.

Carlos Sa TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Carlos Sa TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Dense jungle, the noise of the wildlife and the oppressive heat tested each and every participant. “I wasn’t prepared for that,” said Martin Gaffuri, “I was running well and then suddenly just felt a switch turn off. I knew it wasn’t liquid or food as I had kept on top of both; it was the heat… I was overheating and I just needed to cool down”

Crossing the river to CP3, Mike Wardian had taken the lead once again after a little toing and froing with Nick and Vicente. Carlos Sa was running in fourth and Martin Gaffuri was fighting the pressure of the heat. At the line, Mike had pulled out 3-minutes over Nick and Vicente. However, the big looser of the day was Carlos Sa. With just a few 100-meters to go he made a disastrous navigation error and somehow managed to do an extra 20-30km…. missing from the finish he arrived several hours later.

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Jo Meek dominated the ladies race on the first day putting 30-minutes in to Julia Bottger and Veronica Bravo.

Veronica Bravo TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Veronica Bravo TCC2014 ©iancorless.com

Day-1 at The Coastal Challenge is always a tough day. It may only be just over 30-km’s but the travel, early starts and oppressive heat really do take the toll. In camp post run, runners unpacked tents, ate food and raised their legs just with one thing in mind; recovery.

Stage-2 at just under 50-kilometers with two tough climbs will be a challenge. However, a 0530 start will allow everyone an opportunity to ease into the day. The sting comes towards the end of the day as participants enter a long stretch of beach that takes them to the finish. For many, this will be just when the sun is at its highest and most harmful.

RESULTS Stage-1

1. Mike Wardian (USA): 3:03:30
2. Vicente Juan García (España): 3:06:23
3. Nick Clark (UK): – 3:06:23

1. Jo Meek (UK): 3:31:45
2. Julia Bottger (Germany): 4:13:20
3. Verónica Bravo (Chile): 4:29:48

Anna Frost followed the race route offering support and encouragement. Obviously frustrated and not being able to run but embracing Costa Rica….

PURA VIDA

Anna Frost TCC204 ©iancorless.com

Anna Frost TCC204 ©iancorless.com

Anna Frost – The Coastal Challenge pre race interview #TCC2014

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The Coastal Challenge welcomes Anna Frost for the 10th edition of the race. Frosty always smiling, always happy unfortunately though has some unfortunate news to share with us all before this years race.

We wish you all the very vest of luck Frosty!

The Coastal Challenge, Costa Rica celebrates its 10th anniversary with an incredible line up.

TCC Banner

The 2014 edition of The Coastal Challenge, Costa Rica gets underway in less than 1-week. Runners from all over the world will arrive in San Jose in preparation for the journey down to the coast to Quepos and the 10th edition of the “TCC”.

“It’s a decade of exploring, adventuring and discovering Costa Rica and the beginning of a bright new decade to come!” Rodrigo Carazo

Rodrigo Carazo (Costa Rican architect and adventure racer) and Tim Holmstrom (race director and Lost Worlds Racing founder) have pulled together an incredible field for the race and without doubt it will arguably be one of the most competitive multi-day races of 2014.

“Reaching the 10th edition is a milestone that is both humbling and gratifying. It is a privilege and not to one to be taken lightly.  It represents a massive amount of work over those 10-years by all those involved.  As it transformed from concept to a fully realized dream, we had no idea it might weather all storms and remain 10-years later as a race that could attract runners from all over the world.  We are happy and grateful to have made it this far, accomplishing much with little more than hard work, persistence and vision. We look forward to many more years to come and making many more new friends from around the globe.” Tim Holmstrom

Elite runners will toe the line in Quepos with everyday runners, they will all have one purpose in mind, to embrace the tough and technical challenge that lies ahead of them and enjoy every moment. For many, to be on the start is already a victory; the journey will provide the icing on the cake.

Steve Diederich (http://www.thecoastalchallenge.co.uk) the UK agent for the TCC had this to say, “The Coastal Challenge has come of age and has joined the exclusive club of iconic multi-day ultras – with the added twist of a backdrop of some of the most breathtaking rainforest and coast on the planet and accompanied with now legendary catering that outclasses any other event. The TCC in 2014 is a vintage race in the making.”

Known locally as the Rainforest Run, the TCC is a 236km stage race over 6-days that weaves in and out of a lush and tropical Pacific coastline. The Talamancas – a coastal mountain range spread across the southwest corner of the country – provides not only a stunning backdrop but also many of the tough and technical challenges that the runners will face on a day-to-day basis.

Beaches that last km after km are interspersed with dirt tracks, mountain paths, dense jungle, ridges, water crossings, open plains and highland; Costa Rica is bursting with variety. In addition, add 40deg temperatures and high humidity, the TCC is no easy challenge.

Unlike other multi day races, the TCC is supported. Each day camp is moved ahead and awaits the runner’s arrival at the finish. Running light and fast, runners are able to keep equipment to a minimum and as such, racing is extremely competitive. The 2014 edition of the race is proving to be extremely exciting, particularly when one looks at the line up of runners.

Gemma Slaughter ©iancorless.com

Gemma Slaughter ©iancorless.com

Gemma Slaughter from Canada is returning as defending champion of the race. By her own admission she is a newbie to ultra running. One year on, Gemma has embraced the challenge to return to coastline of Costa Rica for what she calls, “the opportunity of a lifetime”. However, Gemma will have her hands full. Julia Bottger (Germany), Anna Frost (New Zealand) and Jo Meek will create a stunning spectacle and highly competitive race. To put this in perspective, we only need to look at some of the career highlights of these incredible ladies:

Julia Bottger ©iancorless.com

Julia Bottger ©iancorless.com

Julia Bottger

Julia is a strong and fierce runner. By her own admissions, she may not be the fastest runner on a course but she brings great strength, endurance and grit. Julia loves tough and challenging courses, without doubt she will embrace the TCC. Career highlights: TranMatinique winner 2013, Ultra Trail Atlas Tarabouki winner 2013, 2nd Sardona Ultra Trail 2013, 2nd Grand Raid des Pyrenees 2013 and in addition to these incredible results, Julia has placed 2nd at the super tough Tor des Geants in 2010 and placed 3rd at Diagonale des Fous in 2012.

“My training is going very well. As our winter is not really a winter this year I could run a lot in the mountains and do some cross training. But I noticed that my winter break was a bit too short. Last race in Martinique is not long ago. As well as I would like to focus on the Transgrancanaria race in march I have a bit of a problem on what kind of training to focus on.. But I feel great and healthy – that’s the best. I am really looking forward to the warm temperatures, beaches, new country and new people. And I am excited about doing a stage race again – has been a while. It is different from Ultratrails and very challenging. I love sleeping in a tent, having a very simple life out in the nature – so the Costa Rica Coast Challenge sounds like great fun.”

Anna Frost ©iancorless.com

Anna Frost ©iancorless.com

Anna Frost

Anna has had a tough 2013 fighting recurring injuries but the end of 2013 and the beginning of 2014 has allowed Anna to find a great place, not only physically but mentally. It’s going to be a pleasure to have ‘Frosty’ on the trails of Costa Rica. Career highlights:  Transvulcania La Palma winner and course record holder 2012, winner Speedgoat 50k 2012, winner La Maxi Race du Lac d’Annecy 2012 and 2nd Cavalls del Vent 2012.

“I am just super excited to be in a new and wonderfully exciting place – Costa Rica – with new and old friends. got my bikini and snorkel packed, oh and I guess some running gear would be good too!

Jo Meek ©iancorless.com

Jo Meek ©iancorless.com

Jo Meek 

Jo Meek comes to the TCC as a relatively unknown runner, however, a stunning and strong performance at MDS in 2013 confirms that Jo will be pushing hard at this race and for me, she is a hot favourite for victory! Career highlight: 2nd overall 2013 Marathon des Sables.

“I am busy packing my bag ready for this amazing experience that lies ahead of me. I am a little nervous because I want to race the best I can but more excited than anything else. As I reflect back on my training I  am pleased. It has gone really well and because of it I qualified to represent my County (Devon) and then the South West Region which was a privilege with these ageing pins of mine.”

On a final note, we have just had news that Veronica Bravo (Chile) will attend the race. This adds a new and exciting element. Veronica is famous or should I say infamous for suffering frostbite in 2006 and then returning to running after fourteen operations. After 19-months of recuperation she returned to racing.

The men’s race is looking to be a classic in the making, defending champion and multiple TCC winner Dave James is not returning to Costa Rica, this therefore leads the door open for not only a new winner of the TCC but maybe a course record… who knows.

Philipp Reiter (Germany), Nick Clark (UK), Martin Gaffuri (France), Mike Wardian (USA), Carlos Sa (Portugal) and Vicente Juan Garcia Beneito (Spain)

It’s a top quality field!

Philipp Reiter ©iancorless.com

Philipp Reiter ©iancorless.com

Philipp Reiter 

Philipp is an incredible talent. His growth in the professional ranks for such a young age has had many look twice and draw comparisons with his Salomon teammate, Kilian Journey. Philipp races hard but knows how to relax and enjoy the experience too. Costa Rica is going to be a dream come true for young German. Career highlights: Winner Salomon 4-trails, multiple winner of Zugspitz, winner of the TransAlpine and many more.

“I am very excited – in exactly ONE week I am sitting in the plane to central America! This year the winter here in Bavaria (south Germany) is unusual warm and almost no snow, which is very bad for skiing but good for trail running. As I usually barely run in winter time (1-2 times a month) I have done more km’s than the years before and it feels much better (if my feeling is right). I am worried about the climate change and the jet-lag of the long travel (27 hours from door to door) as I have only ONE day to make my body adapt to the 30°C and the high humidity. But I am so looking forward to explore jungle trails, see the beauty of the rainforest and to get to know new runners from all over the world! The tropical plants and wildlife is said to be unique, no need to mention the beaches of the Pacific ocean. Another thing I am afraid are snakes (brrrr) and I don’t hope to see any of them.”

Nick Clark ©iancorless.com

Nick Clark ©iancorless.com

Nick Clark 

‘Clarky’ comes to Costa Rica and the TCC as one of the most respected 100-mile runners in the world. His 2013 performance in the Grand Slam of ultra running (4 100-mile races) was nothing short of spectacular. His consistent performance at Western States 100, Hardrock 100 and other tough and challenging events places him at the ‘to-watch’ list irrespective of the race or the distance. TCC will be no different. Career highlights: Wasatch 100 winner, 2nd Leadville 100, 3rd Vermont 100, 1st Fuego Y Agua and that is just 2013

“I am very much in base-building mode for the summer season right now, and really only starting get back after it in late December after a long break post Grand Slam. That said, I have been trying to put together a few longer back-to-back runs the past few weeks to try and replicate a bit the daily grind of a stage race. Other than that I’ve been logging lots of easy paced mileage with a focus on vertical gain. I feel like I’m in decent shape, if not particularly sharp, which should be just fine for a longer stage race like the Coastal Challenge.”

Martin Gaffuri ©iancorless.com

Martin Gaffuri ©iancorless.com

Martin Gaffuri 

Martin had a breakthrough in 2013 participating on the ISF Skyrunner® World Series. Without doubt, Martin will add a surprise element to the racing and who knows, he may just turn a few heads. Career highlights: 7th Ice Trail Tarentaise, 8th UROC, 13th TNF50 and 21st Transvulcania La Palma

“So, one week to go… training only just started again after a 3 weeks break in December and all my long runs have been performed in the snow. I’m just coming home from a night out so at this very moment I’m feeling pretty… drunk. I’m most looking forward to catching up with good friends and make new ones and I’d say my only concern about this week will be to deal with mosquitos!”

Mike Wardian ©iancorless.com

Mike Wardian ©iancorless.com

Mike Wardian

What can you say about ‘Wardian. He is a prolific runner from anything from a 5k to the 135m Badwater Marathon. He is unstoppable; racing week in and week out he will often race 2-3 times a week. He has speed and endurance and in addition knows how to race over multiple days as he showed by placing 2nd overall in a previous edition of the Marathon des Sables. Career highlights: 3rd JFK50 2013, 2nd UROC 2011, 2nd IAU 100km 2011, 3rd Badwater, 11th Comrades and 3rd Marathon Des Sables plus many, many, more.

I am most looking forward to pushing my body for a week straight and to see how it does with the terrain, heat, climbs, descents, and for course the recovery…that is always interesting me.  I am also looking forward to exploring the countryside, mountains and Rain forests of Costa Rica, I have been to Costa Rica a few times but never for very long and each time I go I know I am missing a lot so this time I hope to get an even fuller and more robust experience.”

Carlos Sa ©iancorless.com

Carlos Sa ©iancorless.com

Carlos Sa

Started running ultras in 2008. In a relatively short period of time, Carlos has established himself not only as one of the top multi-day racers in the world but also as great runner in the mountains. Repeated top-10 performances at Marathon des Sables and TNFUTMB will without doubt mean that his presence will be felt a the front of the 2014 TCC. Career highlights: 4th UTMB 2012, 5th UTMB 2011, 8th Marathon des Sables 2011 and 1st Grand Raid des Pyrenees.

“I haven’t done any special preparation for the TCC. I am currently doing my normal day-to-day training for a mountain race. My objective is to enjoy this hard race, and have an adventure in a different environment. I have been told Costa Rica is unique. I would like to be in the first 5, but we shall see, I have not run any race since the last UTMB and I’m far away from my optimum capacity.”

Vicente Juan Garcia Beneito ©iancorless.com

Vicente Juan Garcia Beneito ©iancorless.com

Vicente Juan Garcia Beneito

Vicente may well not be a runner you know… however, you should! Coming into the TCC he is arguably the most prolific and successful multi-day racer around. Just recently he was the winner of the Grand To Grand Ultra in Utah and winner of Ultra India Race 2014. He has raced in Chile before and I can’t help but think he will make his presence felt each day as the racing unfolds at the 10th edition of The Coastal Challenge. Career highlights: Winner of the 4 Desert Races in 2012 – Atacama (CETRhile), Gobi (China), Sahara (Egypt) and Antartica. NB* Ryan Sandes is the only other under to achieve this but Vicente is the only person to do this in one year!

The stage is set for the 2014 The Coastal Challenge. The action starts on Sunday February 2nd and culminates at the incredible Drakes Bay 6-days later.

Daily updates will be available on via iancorless.com website and on twitter @talkultra

In addition, the TCC Facebook page HERE will have updates.

Follow #TCC2014

READ THE ARTICLE IN SPANISH HERE 

#TCC2014 Corredordemontana

Anna Frost, Nick Clark & Michael Wardian join the line up for the 2014, The Coastal Challenge, Costa Rica

Gemma Slaughter, The Coastal Challenge, ©iancorless.com

The words are still ringing true in my ears, ‘the tenth edition of The Coastal Challenge is going to be special, very special indeed’.

Just two months ago we announced that Philipp Reiter and Julia Bottger (both Salomon) would join Jo Meek (2nd lady at the 2013 Marathon des Sables) and 2013 ladies TCC winner, Gemma Slaughter in the line up of the 2014 TCC. Today we go one step further…

TCC 2014 iancorless.com

Anna Frost (Salomon), Michael Wardian (The North Face) and Nick Clark (Pearl Izumi) have confirmed participation in the 2014 edition of the race making it one of the most competitive multi day races on the calendar for 2014. Rodrigo Carazo, race director for the TCC confirmed that it is a ‘dream come true’ to have such a quality field at the race.

‘I have raced in Costa Rica before doing The North Face Endurance Challenge Costa Rica in 2013 and I was lucky enough to have won it and I love racing in heat and humidity, makes me feel like home as Washington, DC gets sweltering in the summer months.  I just try and stay small and move fast…’ Mike Wardian

The warmth of Costa Rica, blue skies, varied terrain; it’s a wonderful way to start a new year. The multi day format of the TCC allows all involved an incredible challenge.

Anna Frost ©iancorless.com

Frosty (Anna Frost) when I spoke to her was really excited at the challenges that would lie ahead. ‘Costa Rica is exotic to me. A place I have never been but it intrigues me with images of its beautiful coast lines, native bush that seems a little bit like home (NZ) to me and the bright clear blue sea that is so luring. So when I heard there was a stage race that covers this coastline I wanted to know more.’

Frosty has raced over multiple days before, in early 2013 she participated in Chile and as we chat, she is currently in Nepal at the Manasulu Trail. One of the best female runners out there she is also a threat to many of the men she races as she proved with her stunning victory at the 2012 Transvulcania La Palma.

Anna Frost ©iancorless.com

‘Stage racing is so fun. You are really going somewhere and you get to see so much along the way. The camps between stages are wonderful for spending time with new and old friends. It is really a challenge to get up each morning with aches and pains and stiffness from the days before but you know the whole team feels like that too so you just get moving and really enjoy the day.’

Michael Wardian is equally no stranger to multiple day racing. He is the highest ever placed American at the Marathon des Sables securing 3rd overall at the 2010 edition. He is also a prolific racer, he has been a 50km champion three times, he has held multiple world records, raced the 135-mile Badwater Ultra Marathon in Death Valley and by contrast ran 2:21 at the US Olympic Trials in Houston, 2012.

Mike Wardian iancorless.com‘I definitely enjoy the challenges of multi-day races as there are a lot of factors to account for besides just running and that intrigues me and inspires me. I think of all the things I learned in my previous outings at multi day races; to be as light as possible and balance your energy expenditure throughout the race but also, and this is a little contrarian, but to push more than you think possible because it is possible to recover quicker than you think. I also, take care of the small things because over a week of racing they can make all the difference.’

The Coastal Challenge ©iancorless.comThe Coastal Challenge is not self sufficient, it’s about covering distances in an efficient manner and as fast as possible but at the end of the day, your food is prepared and you can sleep and relax in your own tent, does that mean we can expect some fast running?

‘I actually have only done one multi-day without having to carry a kit, the Himalayan 100 Mile Stage race in India and without the responsibility to carry all you gear for the week, I expect the pace to be wicked fast and I am looking forward to pushing it.’

Michael-boys 2013-big sur

Michael will not have his own way at TCC, for sure Philipp Reiter will also be keen to push the pace but 2013 Grand Slam participant, Nick Clark will be joining the party in Costa Rica and if anyone knows how to run hard over multiple days, it’s him! In 2013, ‘Clarky’ raced Ian Sharman over four 100-mile races in 12-weeks. It was an incredible battle and one that made everyone in the ultra world turn around with open mouths. Not only did Sharman and Clarky beat the previous best accumulative time but they both each had victories and in the end it came down to the wire for the overall title. A title, which Sharman just won.

ForesthillWS2013 Nick Clark iancorless.com

I asked Clarky about Costa Rica and how he will adapt for the heat and humidity for the 10th edition of the TCC?

‘I actually haven’t been to Costa Rica before. Last year I raced in Nicaragua at the Fuego y Agua 100k. Nonetheless, I’m sure conditions will be much the same. Coming from mid-winter in Colorado, the transition to 95+ degree heat and high humidity in Central America is very tough, but I felt like I handled it decently last year. January and February have always been base-building months for me as I prepare for goal races in the summer, so I definitely won’t be sharp, but any time I toe a start line I have my race face on. That will be the case in Costa Rica for sure, especially as it looks like there will be good competition to race against.’ 

NickClarkLS50_2012 Nick Clark iancorless.com

You have a reputation for being one of the best 100-mile runners out there, but what about multi day racing, is that something you have done before?

‘I’ve never done a multi stage race before, so I’m excited to work through some new race dynamics and strategies. I have also never been to Costa Rica, so I’m really looking forward to the vacation aspect too, especially as I’m planning on bringing out the whole family.’

©copyright .iancorless.com.P1070278

That is a great aspect of the TCC race. It’s possible to bring families and the team are able to provide logistics and entertainment outside of the racing. It’s a fantastic selling point. As a runner you can fulfill your passions and desires but not at the expense of family time.

The Coastal Challenge, Costa Rica ©iancorless.com

On a final note, I asked Clarky and Frosty what plans lie ahead for 2014. TCC is in February, so, a full year awaits!

‘Firstly, fingers crossed my body is healthy! And then I have so many things I want to achieve. I really want to race Hardrock 100 so I need to qualify with a 100-miler. I haven’t decided which one yet but maybe Wasatch. The new Buffalo Stampede Sky Run, Transvulcania, Mt Blanc 80km are all on my list, it’s very exciting!’

Frosty has a passion to run but her running is so much more. It’s about experiences, making friends and spending quality time, something that she is convinced she will find in Costa Rica.

Clarky loves to race and race hard, having consistently been close to winning at the iconic Western States, I wondered if that would become a primary target for 2014, after alI, he wouldn’t have three 100’s to follow it?

‘I plan on running Western States again in June, Hardrock 100 if I get in through the lottery, and then the Steamboat 100 in the fall. Other than that, I’ll be looking to take on a couple of FKT (Fastest Known Times) adventure routes in the mountains.’ 

The stage is set for the 2014 edition of the race. It will, without doubt be the most spectacular edition of the race and possibly the fastest. It’s not too late to get a last minute entry before the prices go up.

Steve Diederich, the UK agent for The Coastal Challenge has made several places available to coincide with this announcement. In addition, a 5% discount will be offered to the first five applicants.

Steve had this to say, ‘The TCC in 2014 is a vintage race in the making. Joining an exclusive club of iconic multi-day ultras, the excitement of what the 10th edition has in store really is something that we all can’t wait to see unfold’

Race dates: 2nd to 9th February 2014

If you would like to attend the 2014 event and take advantage of a 5% discount, please use the contact box below.

The Coastal Challenge website HERE

IMAGES FROM THE 2013 EDITION ARE AVAILABLE HERE

SNAPPED – Running Fitness June 2013

One of my images from the 2013 ‘The Coastal Challenge’

“Some races have mountains; some have dense forest; some have beach running; and some, like Costa Rica’s Coastal Challenge, have it all!”

The brainchild of Costa Rican architect and adventure racer, Rodrigo Carazo, the ninth edition of this epic race covered 236k over six days. Starting in Quepos on the coast, and travelling down the coastline of Costa Rica, moving in and out of rain forests and covering a total vertical gain of over 30,000 ft to finally arrive at the stunning Drake Bay.

Entries for 2014 are now available at: www.thecoastalchallenge.co.uk

Running Fitness, June 2013

Running Fitness, June 2013