The Coastal Challenge #TCC2015 Day 2 Savegre Valley to Dominical Beach



TCC 2015 Day s Savegre Valley – Dominical Beach


2250+ ascent

Days don’t come much more exciting than day two of The Coastal Challenge… could Frosty pull back the time lost to Veronica Bravo? Could Mike Murphey refocus after going off course on day 1, loosing a chunk of time to Iain Don Wauchope and then going into the red trying to pull back time?

Well the simple answer is yes!

Both Frosty and Mike Murphey showed incredible powers of recovery and lead the race  from the front.


Frosty took an early lead from Veronica Bravo and slowly but surely extended her lead as day-2 threw everything at her; tough climbs, sections of fire trail, gnarly descents, km’s of fire trail, water crossings and then a long hot stretch of relentless beach.


“Today was true Costa Rican; jungle, trail, beaches and wonderful people… oh, and darn hot! I felt good for 20km but I didn’t like the fast section of road but I was able to push to the end. A good day” – Anna Frost.

As the finish came, Frosty had clawed back all lost time on day-1 and took the overall lead of the ladies classification. Veronica Bravo didn’t have a bad day… Frosty was just having a great day. Veronica looked strong and relaxed mile-after-mile and always gave a smile.


Nikki Kimball rounded out the top-3 for the ladies and as we expected, Nikki is just pacing herself. Post race Nikki said, “I am just off ski’s and the heat and humidity is relentless. It’s so different to Marathon des Sables where the heat is dry. But then again, I am not in the shape I was in for the 2014 MDS?”


Mike Murphey pushed and pushed, slowly pulling away and extended a lead over Joe Grant who he had run with over the first climb and descent. Running so hard in this heat, humidity and with such mixed terrain was a consummate performance. Mike certainly showed his speed, endurance and commitment, so much so it gave Mike a course record for the Savegre Valley – Dominical Beach stage. Mike had said the previous day,

“I love some motivation and to chase, so I plan to go for it. I need to pull back the time I lost from going off course and then gain some time for the lead. I love that.”


Joe Grant had felt really good and matched Mike step-by-step in the early stages while Iain Don Wauchope (day-1 stage winner) chased some 90-seconds to 2-minutes back. But Joe rolled his ankle and then had to run cautiously.



Eventually, Joe and Iain joined forces and ran the final stages together but Mike was long gone… they crossed the line almost 30-minutes back confirming Mike as the new race leader with Iain in 2nd and Joe in 3rd.



1-Mike Murphey – Canada- 4:03:57
2- Joe Grant – UK – 4:32:22
3- Iain Don Wauchope – South Africa – 4:32:22


1st – Anna Frost – 4:57:20
2nd – Veronica Bravo – 5:21:05
3rd – Nikki Kimball – 5:35:10

Overall classification to follow (times)

Mike Murphey and Anna Frost are current leaders.




Joe Grant and Speedgoat Karl prepare for The Coastal Challenge 2015

Karl MeltzerThe 11th edition of The Coastal Challenge 2015 (#TCC2015) is just weeks away. For those in the know, the TCC is a gruelling multi-stage race that takes place along the tropical Pacific coastline of Costa Rica. The 230km route weaves in and out of the Talamancas (a coastal mountain range in the south west corner of the country) providing a true multi terrain experience.

A point-to-point race, the course starts in Quepos and finishes in the stunning Drakes Bay close to the border of Panama. Simple in concept, the TCC provides an extreme challenge that tests each individual runner. Participants will need to balance the distance, severity of the terrain and tropical climate to reach the finish line.

If you enjoy long distance running and adventure then The Coastal Challenge is for you and will prove to be a tremendously rewarding achievement. Jungle and rainforest trails, mountain trail and single track across ridge lines, highlands and coastal ranges; pristine beaches, rocky outcroppings and reefs, river valleys, river and estuary crossings. It’s an amazing course.

Following on from the incredible 10th edition line up (2014) that included Philipp Reiter, Nick Clark, Julia Boettger, Veronica Bravo and men and ladies victors; Michael Wardian and Jo Meek, race director, Rodrigo Carazo has once again provided a stunning line up for 2015.

Two of the male contenders for overall victory in the 2015 edition are Joe Grant and Speedgoat Karl Meltzer. I caught up with them to find out how training has gone in the final build up to the race.


Speedgoat Karl Melter – Hoka One One, Red Bull

Karl, you have your mojo back! Is the TCC directly attributable for that? 

I definitely have my mojo back.  I am looking at the TCC as a great week of running, with some harder runs, some good runners to run against, and to hopefully not get ‘chicked!’ Which I suspect I will.  The race has motivated me to come to Zion Canyon and run some multi-long days in January which is great.  I also look at it as an interesting test of my fitness.  I’ve had 3 decent months so far, with the exception of a mildly aggravating neuroma, which will never go away, so I will just continue to run and manage it.



You are no stranger to running day after day having done the AT (Applachian Trail) and Red Bull Pony Express, have you done anything specific in training for TCC? 

The AT and the Pony Express trail, being much longer days than the TCC really aren’t that comparable.  The Pony was a cakewalk because it was not a race. The AT was just about surviving the distance daily.  The TCC is much shorter and faster each day,   The real key is recovery, so I suspect, I’ll be sleeping plenty and resting a great amount after each day to see how that pans out.


I’ve been toying with recovery the past month after long runs. I will likely take in some Ultragen and remain motionless for about 30 min. Eat more. Take a nap with legs elevated for about 2 hours. Then go for a walk about 1-2 miles to loosen the legs again… then eat again!  At least that’s the plan for now. I”m sure it depends on what’s going on too, but the nap is important as well as the walk later in the day.

Any other tips for all those taking part?

Don’t drink as much beer as I will.  🙂  Enjoy more than anything and try and plan to be the “chaser”, not the “chasee” after day 3.  I’m hoping to be the guy who gains momentum after day 3, rather then going out with the fast guys on day 1 and frying myself.  It’s far more entertaining for me to run that way.


Joe Grant – Buff, Arc’teryx, inov-8


You have been back home training in the snow on skis and the ‘phat’ (fat) bike. Will that all work well for your run legs at TCC?

I find that both the ski and biking help develop a lot of power while minimizing the impact on the body you get from running. I can get a lot of vertical in, have a good long day of training where I feel tired, but not banged up. At this point in the year, I think it’s a very sustainable practice and will set me up nicely for spring/summer racing. TCC will definitely be a bit of a shock to the system, particularly the heat, but that’s partly why I’m interested in the race as it will be a great early season training boost.

Are you doing any specific preparation for the heat of TCC?

I did go down to Arizona to visit my uncle over the New Year. I was hoping to get a bit of heat training in down there in the desert, more of a mental thing really to break out of the winter cycle back home. The weather was surprisingly cold though and I only got one warm day of running in shorts. Heat is certainly my biggest concern for the race.

Joe Grant

Multi day racing will place different demands on you in comparison to one long push (like in a 100-mile) do you have any thoughts or strategy for TCC?

I’m approaching the race like a demanding week of training with slightly longer mileage and more intensity. What I’ve found in multi-day races (in a single push) is that even a small amount of sleep and rest can do wonders for recovery. I’ll just need to remind myself during the race, that even if I’m feeling particularly bad on one day, good food and solid rest can really turn things around on the next. It’s a patience game and being able to spread your effort out evenly over the course of the 6 days.

Any tips for anyone taking part in a similar event?

I’d recommend really paying attention to all the little details that can improve your comfort and recovery during the week. It’s easy to be too tired to clean your shoes or tend blistered feet or chaffing after a strenuous stage, but taking care of those little things will pay off. It’s worth having clean, dry clothes to change into particularly at night to get good rest and feel ready to tackle the next day.


The 2015 #TCC2015 starts on January 31st and finishes on February 7th. Daily reports and images will be available on this website and you can follow Facebook and Twitter #TCC2015

The Coastal Challenge Facebook page is HERE and the race website is HERE

Route book and profiles available on PDF Here


The Coastal Challenge – Day 3


Dominical Beach to Ventenanas Beach, 48km

Ants, ants everywhere! But hey, that’s camping right? These little fellas are small but they bite! I made the big mistake of leaving my bag open… it turned into a little ‘night club’ for the little critters. So, 0330 this morning as my alarm went off was all about getting rid of the darn things before I could do anything.

The camp is a buzz early morning. Anticipation for a new day, nerves of what lies ahead and tired bodies ‘testing’ quads and calf’s to see if they will function today. Yesterday saw four drops and several people move down from the Expedition category to the shorter, Adventure category.


I left at 0500 to arrive at a trailhead and then I had a 4-5km run in along the race route to the Nauyaca Waterfalls… impressive! I had to run the trail with a head torch. It was thick, deep, slippery clay and with reduced visibility one could say it was fun!

TCC stg 3

Today’s route, the longest so far, had the first imposed cut offs, 7 hours at CP2 and 9 hours at CP3.

The route had a real mix of terrain today. Dense forest, waterfalls, river crossings, and a very long beach section that would be taken in the heat of the day. Many of the runners had some worries of what would lie ahead.


At 0545, with the rising of the sun, the ‘gun’ sounded and they were off. We anticipated the first runner at the waterfalls at approximately 0700. Dave James arrived on the dot… the stage 2 decision to run with Ismael was not being applied today. He arrived looking sharp, fast and focused. He navigating the crossing quickly and was up the trail in a flash. He later told me that he had worked out from the previous day that Ismael was not as good on the ‘ups’, so, he decided to push hard early, hold a gap and then try to beat his own CR for the stage.

iancorless.comP1060084 It was over 10 minutes later before Ismael Dris arrived looking less comfortable. He was more thoughtful with his foot placing’s and in contrast to Dave James you could see him loosing fractions of time with each foot strike.


Because the waterfall section was so early in the stage I stayed to see all the runners through. I was rewarded to see the sun rise above the falls and provide us with some of the most remarkable light.


Rob Harsh from Boulder, Colorado gave me an insight into the day.

How was the early section from the start to the waterfall?

 “I started easy, very comfortable. It was mostly double track. It was nice and cool, Loads of sounds from the forest. Under foot the terrain was rocky, rough and hard”

And then you arrived at the waterfall; tell me what that was like?

“Awesome, one of the best I have seen. I jumped in too cool down but I wanted to savor the moment. It felt like healing water”

From the waterfall you had to climb up to the next checkpoint?

“Yes, really pretty. Dense rainforest. Green, dark and mossy. Loved it! Then it opened up and we ran a country road”

That road lead to the first high point, did you get good views?

“Great views, rolling hills and the forest in the distance. We could also see the next climb but temperatures at this stage were still cool”

And the climb to the second and final summit?

“It was long and plenty of bushwhack. That’s what I want though… it was hard. The vines grabbed our feet. I was alone for this section. It was great to listen to the sounds, the descent was brutal. Really steep in sections. It shattered your muscles. I was glad to see the beach”

The beach… that was some long hot beach hey?

“I probably ran three quarters of the beach. But it was really hot water. It was hotter than running at Badwater…” really, hotter than Badwater? “Yeah, the humidity down here is just sapping. It is unbearable. You have to pay so much attention to hydration”

Did you take a dip at the end of the beach?

“For sure, it felt like a spa. The suffering ebbed away as we soaked”

And then you had a short and some dense forest to the road?

“Yep, super dense. Lots of wildlife and you had to almost cut your way through”

How did you feel on the final 4km road section?

“Ecstatic, for the first time that section was shorter than predicted. The finish was a welcome sight. It was a great day”

How do you feel for tomorrow, it’s a shorter day but more climbing?

“I think I have my groove now. I am sore, tired but I have no feet problems. Gonna stay steady and enjoy the scenery and hopefully enjoy the finish”


From the waterfall, I ran back to the car and then went to the start of the Adventure Race (and CP3 for the Expedition).




I now ran the entire Adventure section capturing images of runners as they progressed along the Playa Hermosa and then Playa Uvita. It was now mid morning and the heat was beating down. It was really hard work. At the end I waited in the shade to capture Dave James and Ismael as they ran towards me. Dave arrived still looking incredibly strong. He had gone off course and was really frustrated but his lead was secure. However, id pre race objective of maybe setting a new CR was gone. After the race I asked what happened “Some of the course markings had been moved which is very unusual for this race. I wasted time finding my way back to the route. These things happen but I was feeling really good”


His lead was secure; Ismael was nearly 30 minutes behind.


At the finish weary and tired runners arrived in dribs and drabs expressing the satisfaction of having endured a tough but beautiful day in Costa Rica.


Tents were pitched and food was consumed. Our campsite today was next to the beach and as the sun set, we had the treat of Humpback Whales swimming close to the shore.


What a day! Pura Vida.



  • Dave James
  • Ismael Dris
  • Henry Monestel
  • Angela Mayer
  • Irene Hay
  • Trisha Perez

Times to follow (apologies)

Overall Results at the end of stage 2:


  • D James 7:57
  • I Dris 8:43
  • H Monestel 10:09


  • T Peres 12:03
  • I Hale 12:40
  • S White 12:49

A selection of images from the day can be viewed HERE

Day 4 is another tough stage with a tough climb and then a series of peaks at altitude and then a VERY steep descent.

TCC stg 4

The Coastal Challenge – Day 2

Saverge Valley to Dominical Beach via Brujo, Dos Boscas and Hatillo


The sound didn’t stop… a million ‘Chichara’ echoed into the night providing the most awesome soundtrack to a night in a tent! Believe it or not, most people hit the sack by 1930hrs. For a few adventurous runners it was 2000hrs.

The heat had subsided but it was still a warm and humid night. Tents are pitched ‘inner’ only so as to allow for more airflow and sleeping bag? No, no, no… most definitely not required.

TCC stg 2

0330 alarms disturbed the now quiet beach. The Chichara had finally gone for some RnR, it was our turn to disturb them. The kitchen staff had once again done an incredible job. These guys are doing an endurance event themselves. Cook breakfast for 0400, pack up and load up, move to the next stage finish, unpack and set up and then start cooking ready for the arrival of the runners. Provide lunch and then cook dinner. The next day, do it all again.


I went ahead of the race today, as I wanted to climb to the second summit at 760m and capture images on the way as the front-runners came towards me. This section of the course had dense forest, mud and a whole mixture of different terrain. It was ‘proper’ jungle! I was on the trail by 0630 and I anticipated the front-runners around 0815.


Back at camp runners assembled and started at 0545 with the start of a new days light. The sky was red… it was going to be a hot day. Total distance for the day was 39km but CP1 and CP2 although only 11k apart on this terrain and with the heat, this is quite far. Carrying enough liquid was essential.


Day 1’s eagerness was tempered with a little carried over fatigue and the realization that this was going to be a much harder day. Dave James in the lead by 46 mins overall was going to run with Ismael Dris today. He had said to me the night before “I have no need to run any harder that Dris wants too, it will be nice to spend time with him on the trail”.


Like clockwork they arrived at my ‘hiding place’ at around 0825. Dave, looked very relaxed and in control with no shirt and two hand bottles. Dris looked less secure as he immediately fell behind. They sped past with Dave stopping for a moment “make sure you go up Ian, the trail is awesome, some really dense undergrowth” and they were off!


Monestel and Lopez placed 3rd and 4th and held these positions to the end. Dripped in sweat they ran along the trail eyes focused on each step ahead.


I headed up the trail and the undergrowth closed in. It was really great to see. Noises wrung out from all around me. You can’t pinpoint anyone sound, it’s just a carcophony of noise. However the roar I had heard earlier (twice) did prick up my ears.


Just before I reached the summit a bunch of runners came through, obviously using the approach of safety in numbers. And then the first lady, Tricia Lopez from Costa Rica.


I continued up the trail and then turned and started my run back to the finish line. The objective to track Tricia and get a selection of images and then leapfrog to get some images on the beach.

iancorless.comP1050662By this stage Dave and Ismael had finished the day in just over 5hr (5:01), 3rd place Monestel arrived 1hr and 20 mins later.

The beach section, although completely flat seemed to be the ‘gripe’ of the day. By this time runners were dehydrated, tired and just wanted to finish. However, it did have a couple of great water crossings to help cool everyone down,




Tricia held on to her advantage and crossed the line first lady at 1:14 pm, some 2 hours and 22 mins after the lead men, Angela Mayer from the USA and Gemma Slaughter finished in joint 2nd just 10 minutes behind Tina. They had definitely closed over the latter stages.


The Coastal Challenge is all about participation and as Kami Holtz, Pam Nielsen (both from Minnesota) and Helen Lavin (California) all first timers at The Coastal Challenge are as they say themselves, ‘middle of the packer’ but they had a great day finishing in just over 8 hours – “It was a challenging course, it was muddy, technical with tough climbs but we are rewarded with beautiful views. It is what we are here for. However, the beach at the end went on forever. Plus the sun was up at this point just beating down on us.”

You can see a full set of images from today HERE

Results and other additional race information are available on the race website HERE


Stage 3 is a longer and tougher stage. Starting at Dominical Beach we head up and up to a highpoint of 800m but this terrain includes river running and some stunning waterfalls. At 48k it will test already tired runners and again, we have another beach finish.

TCC stg 3