The Coastal Challenge #TCC2023 Preview

Countdown to the 2023 ‘The Coastal Challenge’ begins and today, we announce the elite line-up that will travel to Costa Rica to experience six days, 230.5km of racing and 9543m of vertical gain.

The ultimate Costa Rican multi-day adventure hugs the coastline of the tropical Pacific, weaving in and out of the Talamancas; a coastal mountain range in the Southwest corner of this Central American country. An ever-changing terrain challenges each participant, from wide, dusty and runnable fire trails to dense and muddy mountain trails. River crossings, boulders, swim through rivers, pass under waterfalls, survive long and 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.

TOP WOMEN

UTMB 2022 champion Katie Schide (The North Face) is no stranger to the challenges of distance or terrain. In recent years she has shot to fame with a string of high profile results with victories at Mont Blanc 90km, Val d’Aran by UTMB, MIUT 85km and of course, the most recent, UTMB. With results that date back to 2025, Katie is the ‘one-to-watch’ at TCC 2023.

“I’m very excited to explore Costa Rica on foot, to share a big week with so many other runners, and to challenge myself in a new place!”

Swedish athlete, Mimmi Kotka (La Sportiva) is excited to leave a cold and wintry Scandinavia to join the TCC line up. Victory at CCC in 2016 made Mimmi a star and since that start, she has topped the podium at Gran Trail Courmayer, Marathon du Mont Blanc, TDS, MIUT and recently, Lavaredo.

“Costa Rica is one of my bucket list destinations and the possibility to go there and run a stage race at the same time; a perfect combo! I have never done a multi stage race and this is also something that excites me. New experience, a new place and a new race format.”

Tomomi Bitoh joined the TCC line-up in 2022 but unfortunately contracted Coronavirus in the days before the race started. Once clear, she did join the race for a couple of stage but there and then, the Japanese athlete confirmed she would toe the line in 2023.

“I was able to run through the very beautiful ocean at TCC2022 but I only experienced a small part of the route. I’ll be running through it again this year, enjoying the scenery and appreciating the full point-to-point journey that TCC brings.”

TOP MEN

Peter van der Zon (Hoka) is no stranger to Costa Rica or TCC. He toed the line in 2022 and placed 2nd to an inform Hayden Hawks. With experience and now an understanding of the route, the conditions and what it takes to win, Peter will no doubt be returning looking for the top spot come Drake Bay and the conclusion of the 2023 race. He has recently placed 7th at Mozart 100 and won Istria by UTMB.

“I am looking forward to going back to TCC, the racing was hard but it felt like a big family adventure and of course i want to try to be number one this time. But seeing the competition I am up against, that will not be easy!”

Didrik Hermansen (Hoka) has been an ever-present on the ultra scene dating back to 2010. A breakthrough performance with victory at Lavaredo in 2015 paved a way to victory at Transgrancanaria and a 2nd place at Western States. Didrik is known for his fast pace and for sure will be one-to-watch at the start line in Quepos.

“Costa Rica looks so amazing. I have never run in that area and be able to combine running in a beautiful terrain over several days at new locations seems awesome. I will run the World Championships in Thailand this November, the climate will quite similar so that will be a good benchmark what to do and what to use come February 2023.”

Dani Jung (Scarpa) in recent years has gained attention due to a string of high profile results, victory at Raid de la Reunion and 4th at Hardrock 100. But Dani has been ticking of impressive results for many years, particularly in the skyrunning calendar with races such as Mega Ultraskymarathon, Hamperokken Skyrace, Royal Ultra Sky Marathon and USM.  The distance of TCC will not intimidate this Italian, however, a multi-day format is very different to one long race.

Sebastian Krogvig (Dynafit) heads up a Norwegian double act with Didrik. The duo will also be racing at the World Championships in Chiang Mai, so, as Didrik mentioned, they will both get an invaluable ‘heads-up’ on racing in heat and humidity ahead of TCC in February 2023. Sebastian had a breakthrough season in 2021 with 3rd at Lavaredo and victory at TDS during UTMB week. Recently he placed 2nd at Trail 100 Andorra by UTMB.

“I heard about TCC many years ago, I think first from the book “Running beyond” by you! TCC has always grabbed my attention, February is early in the year, so, there are not many races. For me, it will be a challenge, I’m usually home skiing in Norwegian winter and in 2023 I will be in an excotic race in the Jungle – it’s exciting! The landscapes and nature looks spectacular! The trails look challenging and fun, a perfect mix of racing and adventure.”

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 realise the heat and humidity is relentless. It’s a day for caution! 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 an early breakfast, around 0400, the race starts with the arrival of the sun! The only way is up from the start with a tough and challenging climb. It’s a tough day with an abundance of climbing and descending and a final tough flat stretch on the beach, just as the heat takes hold.

Stage 3

It is basically 25km of climbing topping out at 800m followed by a drop to 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.

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 Coastal Challenge was lucky to continue through the pandemic, of course we had restricted fields with 2022 signifying a return to normal. TCC is a unique race and one that we are passionate about. We created this race to show of Costa Rica and this beautiful coastline. The race travels in and out of the stunning coastal 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.”

Rodrigo Carazo, RD

*****

#tcc2023

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Ultra Skymarathon Madeira #USM2018 Race Summary and Images

The USM, Ultra Skymarathon Madeira – 55km of tough, challenging and mountain terrain to get over, the next race in the the Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series.

The 2018 edition was arguably the greatest field ever assembled at the USM with a who’s who of elite mountain runners. Heading up the men’s field was last years winner, Jonathan Albon. For the ladies, it was difficult to pick a favourite byut gut instinct said that either Emelie Forsberg on the recent IAU World Trail Champion, Ragna Debats, was the favourite.

Weaving up and down mountains, around beaches, through dense undergrowth, up a riverbed and of course plenty of climbing and descending, the USM course is a unique one – It’s not an ordinary Skyrunning course!

Experienced runners start a little slower for this race and Jonathan Albon and Ragna Debats did just that, placing themselves away from the first three over the early sections of the course, there is a reason…

The USM has a brutal start, just 1km to warm up and then a climb of 1400m. Light rain followed the runners over the early miles until they broke through the cloud – on the other side, blue skies and a different day.

A section of via ferrata at around 6km was followed by a little descending and a final push for the highest point of the day. Dmitry Mityaev from Russia was the first to arrive no doubt feeling confident after a great result at Transvulcania recently. Marco De Gasperi and Franco Colle followed and then Andre Jonsson and Jon Albon.

Emelie Forsberg lead the ladies to the summit and Mira Rai pursued with Ragna Debats a little further back. Emelie was on a mission and looked strong, Mira unfortunately was suffering with stomach issues and eventually had to ease off opening the doorway for Ragna to pursue Emelie. Behind Hillary Gerardi, Ekaterina Mityaev, Nuria Picas and many others followed.

Descending over the summit, the cloud inversion was clearly visible – the landscape awe-inspiring. It was quite special to see so many mountains and trails all above the cloud.

Running the ridges and several more climbing sections, the front of the race didn’t really change until they returned back to the coast. Franco Colle had dropped and now the men’s race had Dmitry leading Marco and Jonathan in 3rd- they were all close though. A descent to the sea was followed by a steep short climb and then another descent which was followed by a section of riverbed littered with boulders. Albon made his move, the obstacle course world champion was in his element and he pulled away from the other two with ease. Marco looked in trouble though and eventually he would ease back out of the top 5. Andre Jonsson though was revived, he moved from 4th and eventually would take a great 2nd ahead of the Russian and then Pau Capell and Dani Jung placed 4th and 5th.

Emelie lead through the riverbed but Ragna was close. With a tough climb to go, it was anyones race. Behind, Nuria Picas had moved from way back into 3rd and looked very strong. The battle at the front was intense and eventually Ragna opened a 1-min gap to finish ahead of Emelie.  Nuria Picas would hold on for 3rd.

“USM is one of if not the hardest races out there, I loved it last year and I loved it this year.” said Albon. “It is a course made for me with my obstacle course racing background and it was nice to race today tactically and it alcove together!”

 

For Ragna, “Emelie pushed hard and really wanted the win, she never gave up trying and it was so tough to finally make a move. It is so pleasing to win against such incredible competition.”

RESULTS:

  1. Ragna Debats 6:46
  2. Emelie Forsberg 6:47
  3. Nuria Picas 6:58
  4. Hillary Gerardi 6:59
  5. Ekaterina Mityaeva 7:01

 

  1. Jonathan Albon 5:48
  2. Andre Jonsson 5:55
  3. Dmitry Mityaev 5:57
  4. Pau Capell 5:58
  5. Dani Jung 6:07

RACE IMAGES AVAILABLE HERE

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