2015 and 2017 Marathon des Sables ladies champion Elisabet Barnes will join 2016 Cape Wrath Ultra and 2017 Dragons Back Race champion Marcus Scotney on the start line in Quepos for the 2018, The Coastal Challenge.
TCC as it is affectionately known is a multi-day race starting in the southern coastal town of Quepos, Costa Rica and finishing at the stunning Drake Bay on the Osa Peninsula. It is an ultimate multi-day running experience that offers a new challenge even to the most experienced runner. Taking place over 6-days, the race hugs the coastline of Costa Rica, traveling in and out of the stunning Talamanca mountain range. Even the strongest competitors are reduced to exhausted shells by the arrival of the finish line due to the combination of technical trails, dense forest, river crossings, waterfalls, long stretches of golden beach, dusty access roads, high ridges and open expansive plains.
The 14th edition of the race is set to be a classic in the making with the confirmation of Barnes and Scotney. Barnes is a two-time winner of the iconic Marathon des Sables and is a two-time finisher of the TCC – 2015 and 2016.
Bitten by the Costa Rica bug and the ‘Pura Vida’ lifestyle, Barnes has repeatedly said that the Central American race is her most favourite.
“Costa Rica is a magical place and the TCC is spectacular in so many ways. I work hard in this race because technical running is not my strength, but I love the fact that I get to push my boundaries and challenge myself. The course is just breath taking with great variety, always interesting but not always easy! After a tough day on the trails you are rewarded with yet another stunning campsite, a warm welcome by the dedicated volunteers, and excellent food provided by the hard-working catering team. It’s a race that every runner should add to their bucket list.”
The race looks set to elevate itself to new heights in with the confirmation of Marcus Scotney. Scotney is a highly-respected runner within the UK who has on multiple occasions represented his country on the world ultra-stage. In recent years, he has participated in multi-day races – The Cape Wrath Ultra in Scotland and The Dragons Back Race in Wales. Both races are tough, technical races with many 1000m’s of vertical gain. Scotney won them both and now looks forward to testing himself in the high heat and humidity of Costa Rica.
‘The Coastal Challenge has been on my bucket list of races since 2014, it looks like an amazing beautiful race with a stunning mixture of trail, beach and jungle running. I can’t wait to visit Costa Rica and experience the culture and run a multi-stage race which has a brilliant reputation. I am sure it will live up to that reputation and all that I expect; I feel very privileged to run the race.’
Unlike races such as the Marathon des Sables, TCC is not self-sufficient. Don’t be fooled though, the racing, terrain, heat and climbing make the stages considerably harder and more challenging than the Moroccan adventure.
“Not carrying equipment is convenient, as is having access to your gear so you can run in fresh clothes every day and change for camp,” Barnes says. “However, the terrain is at times far more difficult than in MDS, and when adding to that the high humidity, you really have a challenge on your hands. Still, I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a week”
Will it be third time lucky for Barnes in Costa Rica, who knows? She certainly has knowledge of the course, an understanding of how to run in the heat and yes, she also knows how to maximize her time to make the most of her racing experience. For Scotney, the challenge will be a new one. He will love all the faster sections of the course where he will be able to unleash his natural running speed. The challenges will come with the technical terrain and of course the heat combined with the humidity.
The 2018 edition of TCC is already looking like a stunning race and in the coming months, several other elite athletes will be announced who will participate in this classic race.
Stage 5 of The Coastal Challenge saw the main players battling it out in a final attempt to put minutes in the bank and secure those desired podium places. The day started at 4.45am for the Expedition runners as they were transported by buses to the depart on a river in Sierpe. The Adventure Category runners who were doing 30km of the 49.8km course were taken by bus to catch a speedboat and were dropped of near CP2 on the course. None of the adventure racers complained about the “shorter” distance as they enjoyed a 40min speed boat ride with a refreshingly cool breeze and the river spray hitting their faces. Flocks of white egrets nestled in the trees along the early morning river and amphibious “Jesus Christ” lizards skimmed the surface of the river.
For most it was a tough day out. The course had been slightly modified since last year to include a longer beach section and more technical accents and descents in the jungle.
The race started with the first steep technical climb in jungle undergrowth to 300m, followed by an equally steep descent requiring runners to watch their feet for twigs, branches, vines and overhanging branches. Instructions had been given prior the race not to grab hold of anything like trees covered in sharp needle-thin thorns. After the first climb, a little respite at CP2 (Sabalo) at 17km and then a second very steep climb to 450m in 3km, followed by a 400m drop in 1.5km. After the technical jungle sections, the runners reached CP3 at 24.6km. Then the course took the runners on some fire trail, a right turn back into the jungle and climbing and descending in what felt like a pressure cooker in suffocating heat. After this followed a soft sand shaded track along the beach, a river boat crossing, some road and a finish on the beach in Bahia Drake Bay.
In the men’s race today, Tom Owens and Chema Martinez took the lead and ran together until CP1 at 9.1km. Chema had to work very hard on the technical climbs which are Tom’s playground. Tom seemed surprisingly relaxed as he ran effortlessly and nimbly up the dense jungle climbs. Chema, in contrast was struggling to keep up with the British fell-runner.
“I wanted to start strong today. The two climbs were tough. I was chasing Tom. This stage had changed since last year. I tried to keep up with Tom but I was battling. I kept him in sight until 25km and then I lost him.” – Chema Martinez
The two lead runners were followed closely by Jason Schlarb, who confessed he was starting to feel tired today and hadn’t got the miles in in preparation for the event. “I’ve been focussing mainly on ski-mountaineering.” Tom maintained the lead until he crossed the finish line, with Chema in second position and Jason Schlarb 3rd. Costa Rican Erick Aguero, who had been vying for 3rd overall, finished 6th today, which counts him out for a podium finish as tomorrow’s stage will be 22km. 2nd in the overall ranking, Chema was happy with performance today, feeling that he has improved his technical running skills since the 2016 edition.
“From September to December, I suffered from a Baker’s Cyst, due to a knee problem. I had it treated but could train properly for 3 months. Basically, I’ve had 2 months training for this and it’s a mix of road and trail, shorter distances and track. A week before the Costa Rica Coastal Challenge I did a half-marathon in Barcelona in 69min so I am back on form, even though my training hasn’t been race-specific.” – Chema Martinez
In the Ladies Race, Anna Frost and Elisabet Barnes set the pace at the start. Elisabet decided to run hard from the beginning and dropped Anna Frost before CP1. At CP2 she was well in the lead, followed by Anna Frost and Anna Comet. A few seconds at CP3 (24.6km) and Elisabet, who was still in the lead, was off looking very fresh and focussed. She was followed by Frosty, who spent a bit more time at CP3 before picking up her pace. Ester Alves entered CP3 looking surprisingly relaxed and unhurried.
“It was a good stage. I spent my time chatting with a Spanish runner from Barcelona. I was feeling very positive. Just after 25km, I overtook Anna Comet who was suffering from a stomach bug, then Anna Frost and on the second technical climb I overtook Elisabet. Raphael and I decided to nail it on the beach section. At the end of the beach section, we came to the river-crossing and had to wait for the boat which had just left to ferry across some runners. I was so frustrated thinking of all the time I was losing. We made it across and nailed the last 12.5km to the finish. I am happy with my second place today. I don’t think I was particularly strong today. I just think the other girls were tired. I’ve learnt to pace myself since my cycling days.” – Ester Alves
The overall podium for the men is almost a foregone conclusion with tomorrow’s stage being only 22km. In the Ladies Race, Anna Frost has a comfortable lead, as has Anna Comet who is second. The battle will be on for 3rd as Ester Alves has an 8min lead over Elisabet Barnes. Tomorrow Elisabet intends to wear her racing hat and attempt a podium finish.
Anna Frost 24:36:05
Anna Comet 25:26:12
Ester Alves 25:59:46
Elisabet Barnes 26:08:10
Katelyn Tocci 27:15:05
Tom Owens 20:25:05
Chema Martinez 21:38:58
Jason Schlarb 22:10:43
Erick Aguero 22:43:04
Francisco Pinto 23:27:30
Daily reports and images will be posted on this website when connection allows.
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Ester Alves a former road cyclist from Portugal, who represented her nation at the 2009 UCI Road World Championships and ladies winner of the 2016 The Coastal Challenge has confirmed that she will return to Costa Rica in 2017 to defend her crown.
It was a tremendous experience. Every day is like your last day, and after the end of each stage, you have only few hours to reborn, to recover. It’s an amazing transcendent experience. Similar to a cycling stage race…. You always give your best for each stage and then you just hope your body will recover as soon as possible.
The Coastal Challenge is multi-day race over 6-days starting in the southern coastal town of Quepos, Costa Rica and finishing at the stunning Drake Bay on the Osa Peninsula. Considered by many an ultimate multi-day running experience, it challenges even the most experienced runner.
Everything is special, the heat, the forest, the solitude of the race, the hot pacific sea, the intimacy between organisation, camping, athletes, workers and locals from the little villages. The closeness between my new ‘coastal family’ was enormous and in a week of racing and relaxing you create bounds for life… it’s what makes the race so special.
‘TCC’ is not a self-sufficient race, but don’t be fooled, MDS and other multi-day veterans confirm the race is considerably harder and more challenging than many other adventures they have participated in. It’s a race that can provide a steep learning curve. Intense heat, high humidity, ever-changing terrain and the need to adapt, Ester says in 2017 she will be better prepared.
I will try to go to Costa Rica or I will do some specific training using heat sessions at home. Maybe a sauna will be a good idea as it is winter in Portugal in the key training phase. In 2016 I went from 8 º C To 34 ºC, the first day was tough! Each day I adapted to heat and the my body recovered better, to make this adaptation in advance would be very beneficial.
Hugging the Talamaca coastline, the TCC travels in and out of the stunning mountain range that runs parallel to the sea. Dense forest trails, waterfalls, river crossings, long stretches of golden beaches, an abundance of palm trees and many winding and interconnecting dusty access roads provide a unique challenge.
Every day I ended a stage with the feeling of lungs burned and legs tired, and in the next day I was running again with a reinforced motivation. I can’t wait to return.
At times technical, the combination of so many challenging elements are only intensified by heat and high humidity that slowly but surely reduces even the strongest competitors. In 2017, Anna Comet, 2x winner of Everest Trail Race and someone you have raced against in Skyrunning along with Elisabet Barnes will be present. When Ester was asked about the challenge, she replied:
I will run with all my soul and strengths as always, but next year with more knowledge I can hopefully enjoy the forest and the trails even more, TCC is just a wonderful experience.
With victory in 2016 secured, Ester has a busy year ahead racing in the Skyrunner World Series, something she has embraced, particularly in 2015 where she had great success at races such as Transvulcania. Many runners however will sign up for the 2017 TCC with little or no experience of Costa Rica, the heat, the humidity and the terrain; what advice would Ester give them?
Train hard and consolidate the marathon distance before the race and prepare the body for the heat and dehydration. Also teach your body to be more economic, it’s a long and difficult race!
A long year ahead but Ester is already looking into the distance, thinking of the heat, the humidity and the beautiful surroundings that Costa Rica provides.
The Coastal Challenge is more than a race, it’s an experience, it something to be shared. It provides closeness and an intensity of feelings that will never be forgotten… I wish to be there right now.
This is Episode 106 of Talk Ultra. This show is all about The Coastal Challenge multi-day race in Costa Rica. We talk in-depth about Niandi’s experience and we bring you a selection of interviews to give you a feel for the race.
Book writing – RUNNING BEYOND will be released in November 2016 by Aurum Publishing.
00:01:04 Show Start
ACONCAGUA – Fernanda Maciel established the first women’s FKT on , Aconcagua, earlier this month and I caught up with her immediately afterwards.
Fernanda said at the time should the weather be okay for a 2nd attempt that she would return. Return she did to established the first women’s FKT on the longer route. She traveled from the Horcones entrance gate to the summit and back – 60 kilometers and 4,100 meters of climb in 22:52. The mens record is almost have this time set by Karl Egloff who took the record from Kilian Jornet
ADDO ELEPHANT in South Africa
“As the only national Park in the world that offers visitors a chance to see the ‘Big Seven’ (elephant, lion, leopard, rhino, buffalo and the southern right whale and the great white shark in the marine area), we’re thrilled to be hosting the race again this year,” says Fayroush Ludick, SANParks Regional Communications Manager. “Because athletes will be running through areas of the park that they wouldn’t traditionally have access to, they will experience the park and its residents as never before.”
1 – Bennie Roux and Tom Adams finished together 21:45:08
2 – Chris Darke 22:24
3 – Ryno Griesel 24:55
1 – Linda Doke 29:25:34
2 – Kim Van Kets 33:34:12
ROCKY RACCOON 100
1 – Ian Sharman 13:45, Paul Terranova 2nd and Will Swenson 3rd.
1 – Sabrina Little ran the 2nd fastest lasted time of 14:55, Amy Clark and Olga Buber were 2nd
Notably, WSER legend Gordy Ainsleigh ran 28:31 to gain his WSER entry slot which many feel should have been guaranteed anyway!
Jonas Buud won the race in 8:00 followed by David Bryne in 8:22 and Ryan Sandes 3rd in 8:30
Fiona Hayvice won the ladies race in 10:34 despite Ruby Muir leading for much of the race and then dropping with injury. Melissa Robertson and Fiona Eagles placed 2nd and 3rd with 10:56 and 11:24.
This weekend as the show comes out Transgrancanaria will be staring and it is quite a stacked field, certainly the first big race of 2016. Read the preview HERE
The Coastal Challenge are pleased to announce that Anna Comet (Spain), two times winner of the Everest Trail Race will participate in the 2017 edition of the race.
A multi-day race over 6-days starting in the southern coastal town of Quepos, Costa Rica and finishing at the stunning Drake Bay on the Osa Peninsula, The Coastal Challenge is an ultimate multi-day running experience.
Intense heat, high humidity, ever-changing terrain, stunning views, Costa Rican charm, exceptional organisation; the race encompasses Pura Vida! Unlike races such as the Marathon des Sables, ‘TCC’ is not self-sufficient, but don’t be fooled, MDS veterans confirm the race is considerably harder and more challenging than the Saharan adventure.
Hugging the coastline, the race travels in and out of the stunning Talamanca mountain range via dense forest trails, river crossings, waterfalls, long stretches of golden beaches backed by palm trees, dusty access roads, high ridges and open expansive plains. At times technical, the combination of so many challenging elements are only intensified by heat and high humidity that slowly but surely reduces even the strongest competitors to exhausted shells by the arrival of the finish line.
2017 will signify the ‘lucky for some’ 13th edition and building on the success of the 2016 edition, Central America’s most important multi-day race looks set to elevate itself to new heights with this first of six announcements about the elite field who will undertake the race next year.
Anna Comet in recent years has shot to fame as a trail and mountain runner after a very successful career as an Alpine skier and ski mountaineer. Her 2014 victory at the Everest Trail Race (also a multi-day race) paved the way for a strong and consistent Skyrunning year in 2015.
Born in Girona, the mountain has always been a passion for Anna. A 4-year stint living in the French Alps at 14-years old and 2-years in Andorra laid the foundations for selection for the Spanish National Team for Alpine Skiing. A 6-year career saw Anna race many European Cups and the FIS World Cup Races.
Injury unfortunately removed Anna from competitive sport for 4-years and when she returned, trail running and ski mountaineering were her chosen disciplines.
“Although my heart says to me that I have to keep pushing on ski mountaineering competition, common sense and my mind are pushing me to focus all my efforts to one goal;trail running. I feel that this is what I have to do!” – Anna Comet
Despite placing 6th on two occasions at Pierramenta, 2nd at Patrouille des glaciers and many top 10-places on the World Cup races, during the 2014 season Anna slowly moved purely to trail and mountain running. Victory at the 2014 Everest Trail Race confirmed she had made a wise decision.
You have raced multi-day races twice before, the Everest Trail Race, on both occasions you won. What do you like about multi-day racing?
EN: I think there are two big special things: 1. there is more race strategy than in other races and 2. the contact and the experience with the rest of the racers is very special.
SP: Creo que hay dos cosas muy especiales: 1. hay más estrategia que en otro tipo de carreras y 2. el contacto y la convivencia con el resto de corredores es muy especial.
The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica will be very different to Nepal, what is the attraction?
EN: The biggest attraction is that it will be very different to Nepal and to all the other races I have done before; the terrain, the heat, the sea, etc.
SP: La mayor atracción es esto, será muy distinto que Nepal y que el resto de carreras que he hecho antes, el terreno, el calor, el mar, etc.
Like ETR, TCC is not self-sufficient, you don’t need to carry all your equipment like MDS, is that more appealing? You are free to run!
EN: Of course yes! I like running free, you can run faster and one of the things that I like most of running is to run as fast as I can.
SP: Por supuesto! Me gusta correr libre, se puede correr más rápido y una de las cosas que más me gusta de correr es hacerlo tan rápido como pueda.
High heat and intense humidity makes the TCC an extreme challenge, will you prepare specifically for this?
EN: I would like to, but I think it will be impossible. In Catalonia where I live it is cold from November, so I will have to get used to the heat and humidity during my stay in Costa Rica.
SP: Me encantaría pero creo que será imposible. En Cataluña, donde vivo, hace frío a partir de noviembre… así que tendré que acostumbrarme cuando llegue a Costa Rica
You have excelled at Skyrunning in recent years, will the combination of technical trails, water crossings, climbing etc, of Costa Rica appeal to you?
EN: I’m sure of it! I am really looking forward to going and running there!
SP: Estoy segura que si! Tengo muchas ganas de ir y correr allí!
TCC is almost 1-year away and you have a busy year ahead, what does your race calendar look like for 2016?
EN: This year I’m going to participate in all the races of the Skyrunner World Series. I am going to start in may with Transvulcania, then USM (Ultra SkyMarathon Madeira) in Madeira in June, Ultra Trail Vanoise (formerly Ice Trail) in Val d’sere in July, The Rut, USA in September and Ultra Pirineu, Spain in September again.
SP: Este año volveré a participar en las carreras del Ultra World Tour de la ISF: Empezaré en mayo en Transvulcania, después Madeira en junio, Val d’isère en julio, USA en setiembre y UP también en setiembre.
What are your long term goals with running?
EN: My goals for this season is to be the best that I can be in the Skyrunner World Series and of course, enjoy what I do!
SP: Mis objetivos para esta temporada es probar de volver a quedar entre las mejores de las world series y, por supuesto, disfrutar de lo que hago.
Do you have a dream race other than The Coastal Challenge?
EN: There are a lot of races around the world and a lot of nice places to go. I like to go step-by-step, I’ve been twice to Nepal and now I really want to go to Cost Rica.
SP: Hay muchas carreras y muchos lugares bonitos en el mundo. Me gusta ir paso a paso, he estado dos años en Nepal y ahora me apetece mucho ir a Costa Rica.
Ester Alves won the TCC in 2016, you have raced against her in Skyrunning races, should she return to Costa Rica to defend her crown, would you embrace the challenge?
EN: Of course! I like to compete against strong competition. I think it’s a chance to grow as athlete and to become better. And of course I will be happy to meet Ester in competition and then relax later in the camp chatting.
SP: Por supuesto! Me gusta competir con buenas corredoras. Creo que es la forma de crecer como atleta y mejorar día a día. Y por supuesto me encantará conocerla en competición y después en el campamento tranquilamente.
Anna, any final thoughts…
EN: Since I decided to go to TCC next year I can’t stop watching videos and photos from there! I’m excited!
SP: Desde que he decidido ir a TCC el próximo año no puedo parar de mirar videos y fotos! Estoy emocionada!
In a very short space of time, Anna has elevated her status as one of the worlds best female Skyrunner’s as reflected in her 2015 results.
2nd Transvulcania Ultramarathon, La Palma, Spain
5th European Skyrunning Championships, Ice Trail Tarentaise, Val D’Isere, France.
2nd Mont-Blanc 80km, Chamonix, France.
4th Matterhorn Ultraks, Zermatt, Switzerland.
1st Everest Trail Race, Nepal – new course record
Ranked 3rd lady overall in the ISF Skyrunning World Series 2015.
A full 2016 calendar lies ahead but rest assured, Anna will be firing on all cylinders for the 2017 edition of The Coastal Challenge which will take place Feb 10th – 19th, 2017.
The 2016 The Coastal Challenge was an incredible race, year-on-year the race grows and it is now one of the most respected multi-day races on the calendar. Following the classic multi-day format, runners travel in the south of Costa Rica on foot covering approximately 250km’s. Like races such as Marathon des Sables, the TCC is not self-sufficient. Don’t be fooled into thinking that this makes the races easier… read on!
View the full 2016 The Coastal Challenge image gallery HERE
“Hugging the coastline, the race travels in and out of the stunning Talamanca mountain range via dense forest trails, river crossings, waterfalls, long stretches of golden beaches backed by palm trees, dusty access roads, high ridges and open plains. At times technical, the combination of so many challenging elements is only intensified by the heat and high humidity that slowly but surely reduces even the strongest competitors to exhausted shells.”
“Encapsulating the true sense of adventure, TCC requires a runner to be more than ‘just’ a runner. The race manages to make or break the most experienced competitor. Hopping from rock-to-rock, traversing a ridge, clambering over slimy boulders, swimming river crossings or running up and down single or double track, the race truly requires a rounded athlete to gain victory.”
“The men’s race looked all set for a group run to the line with Don-Wauchope, Calisto and Martinez running side-by-side over all of the first 25km. Don-Wauchope safe in 1st place, Calisto safe in 2nd and Martinez no threat to the overall standings.”
“But where was Sa?”
“Sa was trailing a few minutes back. When the trio entered the river bed, Sa apparently flew past like a man possessed. It was a last ditch effort to secure 2nd place ahead of Callisto.”
Images available for personal and commercial use HERE
Today was hot, very hot and very long! The longest stage of the 2016 The Coastal Challenge may well have been one of the most beautiful but 50km under the intense Costa Rican heat really did test every single runner int the race.
For the first time in the races’ 12-year history, the stage had an extra 4km. It doesn’t sound a great deal but at times it was technical and in addition, a new long beach section, a water crossing via boat and a stunning wooden rope bridge added to the days attractions.
The cool temperatures from the 0530 start soon disappeared and the intense, uncompromising heat arrived to punish the runners, the only consolation coming at the end with the stunning Drake Bay.
Chema Martinez finally found his Costa Rican legs and ran the stage side-by-side with race leader, Iain Don-Wauchope. They looked to be cruising on what was a very tough day. Don-Wauchope having run and won TCC in 2015 could appreciate the new course:
“The new additions are really stunning, no fantastic. But they are tough and challenging. The beach section was extremely tough due to the high tide. We had to run the tree line which made it difficult. But it’s a beautiful new addition to the race.” – Iain Don-Wauchope.
Crossing the sea to river inlet by boat, Both Martinez and Don-Wauchope took an extended break to cool off and then finished off the stage in style by cruising to the line together.Gonzalo Callisto finished 3rd and secured his 2nd overall.
It was a similar story in the ladies race however it was less planned. Ladies race leader Ester Alves took the lead relatively early on and at one point had extended her lead to approximately 30-minutes. A couple of navigation errors reduced this to just 1-minute in the latter stages of the race and with just 8km to go, Elisabet Barnes and Alves ran together to the line.
“It was the correct thing to do,” Alves said after the race. “There was nothing left to race for in the final km’s and I enjoyed the time talking with Elisabet.”
It was a sentiment echoed by Elisabet Barnes:
“I was feeling very rough this morning with a very dodgy tummy and took me 20km’s to feel good. Ester pulled away and there was nothing I could do. I eventually caught her but we once again entered a very technical section and she once again pulled away. We finally came together again after the rope bridge with 8km to go, running together was a pleasure after a great battle. Today was beautiful but so hot!”
The race concludes tomorrow with what will be a victory lap of Drake Bay and the National Park. The 2016 TCC has been an incredible race; very tough but many will remember it because of the intense heat.
The overall standing in the ladies’s race are now:
The 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.
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.
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
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.
All things must come to an end…. the atmosphere around camp was a little subdued. Some participants looked relieved that they didn’t have to squeeze a pair of shoes onto blistered feet. For others, they seemed sad that another day on awesome Costa Rican trails didn’t await.
Some required quiet time away from the camp to walk Drake Beach as the sun welcomed a new day. Others huddled in groups telling stories of water crossings, quad busting descents and dehydration.
Ultimately every person had a story. A unique story, personal to themselves that they would hold within them forever. No matter how low the low points, the day after never seems so bad. If it was easy, everyone would do it…. The Coastal Challenge offers some very testing terrain with relentless heat and humidity to provide an overall race experience that will test each and every person. To cross the line on the final day requires commitment, dedication and some luck.
The logistics of mobilizing a camp and moving it everyday in tough terrain is nothing short of remarkable. The course marking and dedication from the TCC crew was available for all to see. This is no easy race to run, but it is certainly no easy race to coordinate. The catering team showed a dedication not often seen… rising at 0200 to have breakfast ready for 0400, break down camp, move to the next location, set up and then cook lunch ready for the runners arrival. Clear lunch and then prepare dinner all for the process to be repeated again. Respect
Marking the course was done before the race and then every stage had TCC crew heading out in front of the race to ensure that nobody would get lost. While the race was underway, the camp crew would mobilise moving luggage, tents and all other elements of base camp and then set up again. All this in searing heat… tough wor
Base camp had a full medical team and feet specialists to ensure that everyone could be in the best shape possible to start the next day. It’s a really important aspect of multi stage racing and without it, many would not see the fin
Stage races are not meant to be easy! Was the The Coastal Challenge too hard? No, of course not. Was it hard? Yes, without doubt.
Several runners at TCC had participated in Marathon des Sables several times, on questioning they all said that The Coastal Challenge was a much harder race. The combination of heat, humidity, climbing and tough technical terrain was a much greater test of mind and
A key aspect of this race is camp life. An opportunity to relax in beautiful locations, make new friends and sleep under the stars. Strangers by the end of day 1 became best friends by day 2. The comradeship, the willingness to sacrifice time to help another is a great thing to see. One persons suffering was taken on by others and the burden shared.
With the race over these friendships will continue and no doubt be renewed at other races in the future.
But it was time to l
The excitement and beauty of the six previous days was repeated with an incredible journey by boat to our bus that would eventually return everyone to San Jose and a comfortable b
It was time to switch off, let the experience soak in and remember what had been achieved.
Congratulations to Dave James and Gemma Slaughter for the respective wins in the Expedition category.
Ultimately though, the credit goes to every participant who battled and endured the TCC Expedition or Adventure category. Tam Miller from Vancouver Canada summed it up for me when she said:
“I feel whole and complete and I have no unfinished business”