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…
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.
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.
‘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.
‘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 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 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.
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.’
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.’
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.
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.
Episode 46 of Talk Ultra and on this weeks show we have an interview with Speedgoat 50k winner and 2nd place at UROC, Stephanie Howe. Brit fell running sensation, Ricky Lightfoot talks about his progression to ultra. Anthony Bethell provides an insight into his first year participating in the Skyrunning season from an everyday runners perspective. Marc Talks Training. Emelie Smiles and Miles. The news, a blog, up and coming races and Speedgoat is back
15 MINS of FAME – Anthony Bethell
Limone Extreme VK and SKY
1. Urban Zemmer 37’10” RECORD 2. Thorbjorn Ludvigsen 37’34″ 3. Marco Moletto 38’37″ 4. Kilian Jornet 39’04″ 5. Philip Gotsch 39’12”
1. Laura Orgue’ 46’10″ 2. Antonella Confortola 47’19″ 3. Samatha Galassi 48’27″ 4. Tessa Hill 48’45″ 5. Leire Aguirrezabala 49’05”
2013 Skyrunner® Vertical Series ranking extract
1. Urban Zemmer (ITA) La Sportiva – 288 points
2. Marco Fachinelli (ITA) La Sportiva – 236 points
3. Marco Moletto (ITA) La Sportiva – 224 points
1. Laura Orgue Salomon (ESP) Salomon – 308 points
2. Vanesa Ortega (ESP) Boquique – 251 points
3. Tessa Hill (GBR) Arc’teryx – 242 ponts
1. Kilian Jornet (ESP) Salomon – 2h17’03
2. Ionut Zinca (ROU) Valetudo Skyrunning Italia – 2h18’27”
3. Aritz Egea (EMF) – 2h18’53”
4. David Schneider (AUT) inov-8 – 2h20’40”
5. Zaid Ait Malek – 2h21’09”
1. Stevie Kremer (Salomon Agisko) – 2h46’13”
2. Antonella Confortola (GS Forestale) – 2h53’58”
3. Emelie Forsberg (Salomon) – 2h54’54”
4. Tessa Hill (Arc’teryx) – 2h58’20”
5. Leire Aguirrezabala (EMF) – 2h58’54”
Sky World Series Final Ranking
1. Kilian Jornet (ESP) – Salomon
2. Luis Hernando (ESP) adidas Trail Running
3. Alex Nichols (USA) inov-8
4. Jokin Lizeaga (ESP) – EMF
5. Aritz Egea (ESP) EMF
1. Stevie Kremer (USA) – Salomon Agisko
2. Emelie Forsberg (SWE) – Salomon
3. Silvia Serafini (ITA) – Salomon Agisko
4. Nuria Dominguez (ESP) – Buff
5. Anna Lupton (GBR) – inov-8
Dakota Jones writes on iRunFar a very personal and insightful post on the pressures of running and what it means to drop!
‘My sponsors, however, pay me to do one thing well: race. And this race, though less important on an international scale, is actually a huge deal for Montrail. The company does really well in Japan–they’re the best-selling trail shoe in the country–and they are the title sponsor of this race which has almost 3,000 people. So even though you have never heard of the Hasetsune Cup, Montrail has a lot riding on it. That’s why they were willing to fly me out to Japan two years in a row, by no means a small investment. They are willing to devote the resources to increase the chance of success. Last year I won, but today I dropped out. Fifty percent is an F.’
INTERVIEW – Ricky Lightfoot recently raced in South Africa and smashed the OTTER course record. In this interview we discuss his progression from British Fells to the world of ultra running.
This week’s interview is with Stephanie Howe. Steph sure is a fast lady and has gained a reputation over faster and shorter distance races. Just recently she placed second behind Emelie Forsberg at UROC.
Who would have thought it, the 2013 Marathon des Sables turned out to be a great year for British performances. Danny Kendall placed the highest ever overall placing with 10th and Jo Meek placed 2nd lady overall. It was a stunning performance by a relatively unknown. Armed with a new belief in her ability, Jo will has now planned to switch from the heat of the Sahara and test herself in the heat and humidity of a Costa Rican rainforest at The Coastal Challenge. I caught up with Jo at the end of August and we had a chat about MDS and her expectations for TCC.
IC I bet April and the Marathon des Sable (MDS) seems such a long time ago?
JM Yes, it does seem ages ago. Considering I am walking now in late August in the pouring rain. It’s wet and miserable… it doesn’t seem that long ago in regard to memories. I just watched the video that was available for download and it brought it all back.
IC So sitting at home, watching everyone running in the sand with a tear in your eye?
JM Definitely no tear, I think I am happy not be running in the sand. I am still surprised how I adapted especially considering I am now at home running on the road again.
IC Amazing eh that you can be in that environment, the sand, the wind, the bivouac, no washing, you are eating dried food and you adapt and then post race when we got in a luxury hotel, you said, you wished you could go back, you loved it didn’t you! You loved being in that environment. It was preferable to the clean hotel.
JM I did. Yes, I actually think I could be quite a ‘skanky’ person really. I am far happier roughing it than in luxury. I guess it sounds romantic but I like being at one with nature, eating, running and sleeping. Perfect. But I guess the other memory is the one from those clean white cotton sheets; that was quite special.
IC I have to say, the first shower, all that fresh hot water and then all the sand starts to escape from all the nooks and crannies. As you say, no more sleeping bags and a lovely comfy bed, it is quite a pleasure.
JM My roll matt was about the size of A4 to keep it light and small, so my hip was pretty sore after a week in the bivouac. I have to say the cushioning of a bed was welcome.
IC The Bristh performed really well at MDS. No disrespect to you but we had no idea who Jo Meek was before MDS. We knew Laurence Klein was outright favorite and we knew Meghan Hicks was back, she had performed well previously but outside of that it was all unknown. On the first day you were up at the front and then continued to perform at the front of the race for the whole race. You had this great battle with Meghan. Laurence had a convincing lead but it all fell apart on the long day when she had to drop with dehydration. This opened it up for you and Meghan. Meghan had a great long day but I remember standing on the finish of the final day, it was the marathon distance, you nailed it. You said the marathon was your distance and you wanted to stamp your authority on it. You placed second overall, many look at MDS as one of those iconic mult- day races, how did you go from a relatively unknown to getting second. What was it in you that enabled you to focus and become so efficient in the sand?
JM A few things really. I am very good at setting a training plan and sticking to it. When I race, I always race. I don’t just enter to complete it. So, looking at the conditions I set myself up in a heat chamber and did training that was specific. I didn’t want heat to be an issue so I acclimatized. What was interesting over the six days was that I became less scared of what the heat could do. On the last day I thought, what have I got to loose. I do think back now and wonder could I have gone harder but it was an unknown. I didn’t know what would happen so I played cautious. Meghan taught me a lot without her realizing it. I followed her on a couple of stages and I watched how she tracked across the sand looking for the hard sand, even if it was out of the way. She would deviate and look for the harder and faster sand. Also her style, it’s a definite technique to sand running. You don’t want to be a toe runner.
IC For sure, you need a flat foot.
JM Yes, you also want to shuffle. You don’t want big strides. A little like being in the army again. I learnt lots. I learnt also from training. I had done some awful ultras that were definitely worse than MDS. One race, a 40-mile race across Exmoor and the weather was awful… they said 40 but it was 43-miles I am sure. The last 3-miles were awful.
IC That can be good, a bad training experience. If you have had some tough and hard training and the race works out easier then that has to be a good thing. It’s a real positive.
JM I had no doubt that I wouldn’t finish the race. I had said that I wanted the podium at MDS but I had no idea what I based that on.
IC To put things in perspective you are a 2:46 marathon runner. Ability and speed are there. Many would die for a 2:46 marathon but also you are in the army. Does the combination of those two things make a good MDS runner?
JM I think the marathon pace and training was key in terms of the speed. I didn’t have the same endurance as Meghan over the ultra distance. Many of the days were shorter in terms of ultra distance so I knew I had that potential. In terms of tent life and conditions, maybe the army helped but that is me… I like that. The army helped with discipline; eating, drinking and so on… it was feet first, food and then wash. You need to look after yourself.
IC Give us an insight into your background, you are a roadrunner really?
JM Yes, but I do like cross-country. I came second in the Nationals. Essentially I have done road running. I started in my teens to loose weight and then just kept going. I wouldn’t say I have natural talent in terms of speed but I have something that works, particularly over distance.
IC How long have you been running?
JM 18 years, maybe 20!
IC So you have a great base of running and plenty of experience?
JM Yes. I always thought that maybe I should do ultra earlier and I thought, no rush! Particularly with how you develop with age and aerobic capacity. It seemed like the correct time for MDS. As you know, you don’t just enter MDS you have to enter years in advance.
IC Post MDS you really wanted to improve your marathon time. You put yourself on that path and recently you run a half marathon but you were disappointed with the performance. Many factors can affect a race, a conclusion you have arrived at is that you are now going to pursue trail and ultra running. So, you are going to another multi stage in early 2014 but this time you are going to a Rainforest. It’s a race that I was at earlier in 2013, The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica. Also known as the Rainforest Run. What’s the attraction?
JM I am always very attracted to a country that is hotter than the UK. That is a no brainer! It’s the challenge, the opportunity to compete in something so different. This race I don’t need to carry all my kit, so, unlike the MDS I will be able to just run but admittedly for repeated days. It will be interesting and it should mean I can go faster.
IC The race is very different to MDS. Some things carry over such as the multi day. As you say, you don’t need to carry all your kit but you do need safety kit, food, water and just essentials. But you are correct, all your clothing, tent etc is moved for you and then food is provided. It’s a hot and very humid environment and even when it rains it is not a problem, it is so warm. All the daily campsites are in beautiful idyllic places. It’s such a wonderful environment. It’s a great combination of providing daily challenging runs but with just a touch of comfort. It’s perfect for those who may want an introduction to multi day racing.
JM In some ways it will feel easier but in an evening you will be able to eat as much as you like and so will the competition, in theory you are all the same come the following day. But at MDS it is about survival and balance. It is more about balancing and economy and how you ration your food and water.
IC The race has so much more elevation than MDS and in particular, the terrain is much more varied. You have single track, double track, rocky sections, forest, dense forest, beautiful beaches and then some tough climbs and descents. The next edition of the TCC celebrates its tenth year so it may have a little more climbing than normal, we shall see? The variety is amazing. If you are lucky, you’ll see wildlife. You hear it but don’t always get to see it.
JM I’m so excited. I can’t wait. I have some road races to do in the coming months and then I will start my TCC training three months out. I will use a heat chamber again. The heat chamber I used for MDS prep was stuck on 80% humidity so I have an idea of what conditions will feel like and I know what my sweat rate is like.
IC Costa Rica is very humid. It is almost 100% but it is not unpleasant. You really do sweat all the time, particularly when running. You need to be on the ball and balance your hydration.
JM I like it harsh and hard conditions. In some ways, the harder the better.
IC How do you prepare for a multi day race? In some ways you had to guess for MDS and that worked! So, what do you take away from that experience and what will you do in preparation for TCC. The longest stage is around 50k and not 80k so that will make a difference. As we have said humidity and terrain are the key differences and you won’t need to carry a heavy pack.
JM I will do far hillier off road training. For MDS I had to train with the weight too, however for TCC I will just use essential kit and I will do plenty of back-to-back training at a faster pace. I will try to replicate the race really. In some respects it won’t be too different from my marathon training. The key will be the back-to-back runs..
IC We have so many different ways to look at training. Some runner’s just head out of the door and run on feel. No time set, no distance set. It all goes on feel. Are you like this or do you have a plan that has everything planned out?
JM I work full time so I must have a plan. I don’t have the luxury to say go out and run for three hours when I feel like it. I have commitments. I get up at 05:30 and I do what I can and then I add to this at lunchtime or the evening if required. I make every session count so I fit in threshold running, speed work and so on. I need to be very specific. At weekends I have more time and if I need three days consecutive I take a day off work.
IC Do you do core stability, stretching, strength and core.
JM Oh yes, I am a proper geek when it comes to this. I am a physio too so I have no excuse. I stretch everyday, I do two strength sessions and I do two core sessions per week.
IC Wow, you are the perfect example for all of us. So often I ask this question and I get a blank answer. We all know we should do it but few of us apply it!
JM I am disciplined and I see the benefits. You have to be disciplined but it still doesn’t stop me getting injuries.
IC Ah well, injury can be caused with so many factors.
JM For me it is usually over doing it or being tired.
IC Yes, distance and speed increase injury risk. Slower and longer has more impact but you don’t overstretch muscles or tendons. Listen to your body and all will be good.
JM I never listen to my own advice… I am lucky, we have a gym at work so it makes strength work easy. If I didn’t have that available it would maybe be harder. I have been strict with this for four to five months and I can feel the difference.
IC TCC is still months away, are you planning on doing any trail races for late season in the build up?
JM Yes, I love to race. I will enter races, from experience, if I enter races too far in advance I get injured, so I have entered a couple of marathons on the road for training and speed. In December and January I will look for options. Of course, options are reduced and conditions will be a little different to Costa Rica.
IC Late and early season events do crop up specifically designed to help people get ready for MDS so you will have some choice. Final question, many may be reading this and they are going to MDS or they may be tempted by TCC. What advice would you give to these people?
JM It very much depends on what you want to get out of it? I shared a tent at MDS with people who wanted to just complete, they wanted to enjoy the race and that is what they did. Set an objective and train accordingly. Ultimately it is all about fun and enjoyment.
IC If you had to give three tips. Three lessons you learnt at MDS that you would take to any race.
JM Good question. I learnt specifics like running in the sand but I guess the need to watch and keep on top of nutrition. Start eating early and don’t wait. Also, keep any eye on hydration and drink to thirst and then finally enjoyment is key! You must enjoy it.
IC I am sure you’re going to really enjoy TCC and Costa Rica. Many thanks for the time and insight into your progression and have fun in the Rainforest.
JM Thanks, as you say, really looking forward to it. It will be a real adventure.
First conclusions from the ITRA’s five working groups
After the first International Trail-running conference (September 3rd 2012 – Courmayeur – Italy) five working groups were set up to study the five key themes, with the aim of trying to determine, in the long or short term, the convergent lines of conduct between the players of trail-running. Fifty volunteers, manufacturers, race organisers, journalists, trainers, athletes, federations… from thirteen countries and five continents answered present and positioned themselves around the virtual internet table.
After working for two months, each group, uniting their cultures and their points of view to accompany this discipline in full evolution, drafted the first conclusions of their exchanges. The first fundamental points were based of an ethics of the practice of the trail-running with the objective of federating the players
The comprehensive texts are posted on the ITRA web-site: http://www.trail-running-association.org/focus-groups/
• A definition of trail-running: above all « an open country race »
At the end of long discussions where the diversity of points of view of the different countries were expressed, all the members of the working group formed a definition of trail-running and its categories. The Trail-running is defined as a running race, open to everybody, in a natural environment (mountains, desert, forest, on the plain…). Ideally but not necessarily, it takes place on a minimum of tarred roads (20% of the race) and in semi or total autonomy. It must be correctly way-marked and organised respecting the rules of sport: ethics, loyalty, solidarity and conservation of the environment.
A classification of trail-running races is given:
• Less than 42 kilometres: Trail
• Above 42 kilometres: Trail Ultra
Trail Ultra Medium (M): 42 km to 69 km
Trail Ultra Long (L): 70 km to 99 km
Trail Ultra XLong (XL): superior or equal to 100 km
• An ethical charter based on simple and powerful rules
This group is committed to forming the values common to all the players of a same discipline. On no account is this a call to uniformity, this charter leaves everybody the freedom to express their attachment to the spirit of trail-running in agreement with their culture and their sensibilities and it proposes:
« Surpassing oneself and investigating one’s physical and mental abilities in contact with a beautiful and sometimes rough nature.
The pleasure of running, without necessarily focussing on the search for performance, even if this does not prevent one being proud of one’s final position.
To share one’s passion and emotions with runners and volunteers.
To experience the pride of being a finisher.
Mutual aid to finish, and to share the emotion of crossing the finish line together at the end of several hours of effort.
Sharing a great moment of conviviality with all the players of an event.
To hear the great champions’ testimonies of respect for the performances of the anonymous runners… » This charter identifies five fundamental values which are authenticity, humility, fair-play, equity and respect: it specifies their sense in the context of trail-running and the rules which ensue from them for all the players.
• A balanced relationship to be protected for the Management of the top athletes
This group worked on the framework of the relationship between organisers, high level athletes and equipment manufacturers regarding commitment premiums, payment of expenses, podium premiums and their parity and the services offered to the runners. If trail-running attracts an increasingly important economy, it defends a spirit of humility, fraternity and equity, an ethic far from the excesses seen in certain sports, which must be maintained.
So, even if the debate is still open, a number of recommendations were developed and proposed:
– The race revenue must in priority be invested in the improvement of the race organisation from the point of view of security and first-aid/rescue, the routes and way-marking, refreshments…
Additional funds have to allow for the development of other services connected to communication and possibly to assigning a budget to the reception of and rewarding the best runners.
– Commitment premiums met with opposition from the members of this group.
– The wish, was aired, to limit the podium premiums and the bearing of travel and lodging costs to 10% of the registration budget without exceeding the sum of 15 000 €. It does not however seem possible to propose such a rule because, due to its character, it is difficult to control.
– On the other hand the group is in agreement on the strict respect of parity of the amount of the premiums men/women while admitting that a different number of men and women may be rewarded according to their relative representation in the race.
– It is proposed that the agreement of a premium is correlated to performance and is given to the athletes having a difference in time less than 10 % of that of the winner.
– In the assistance zones, the conditions must be the same for all, elite and non-elite.
– As for authorisation of « pacers* », it is left to the decision of the organisers depending on their culture and particular difficulties of the terrain, notably if this helps to improve security.
* Person who accompanies the runner on part of the race.
• Common interior rules for better health policy and anti-doping fight
With the objective of proposing a «Health Policy» for the main part to guarantee the good physical health of the participants in trail-running events, the members of this group suggest to event organisers who are members of the ITRA, an interior regulation of twelve points which, in the view of transparency in the transmission of information, has the ambition of reinforcing the existent medical supervision.
This text plans, on behalf of the organisers, the commitment to inform the participants about the current national and international regulations regarding health matters and regarding the anti-doping fight, to establish a medical Counsel and to make it compulsory for the competitors to declare, to the medical Counsel, all prescriptions which are subject to a TUE* and to agree to accept to give any urinary, blood or capillary samples and associated analyses requested by the medical counsel. The latter can summon an athlete to discuss with them their ability, or not, to participate in the competition, and may after the interview, propose that the race jury exclude them from the competition.
One point suggests the creation of a personal page for runners who are referenced by the ITRA where they invited to post their TUEs and analysis results
The ITRA makes a commitment to put at organisers’ disposal the technical assistance and the necessary know-how to apply this regulation, with financial coverage.
* Therapeutic usage exemption.
• An international ITRA ranking in trial phase
It will not be until the International Trail-Running Association and its board are formed, that a commission responsible for international ranking is created to define the precise rules. In the mean time, the working group has compiled an annual international ranking based, at present, on more than 2 500 races and around 300 000 runners world-wide. In the internal trial phase, this ranking has been established for each of the 4 categories
defined (Trail, Trail Ultra M, L, XL) and is available by gender and/or country.
The principal of the ranking
A calculation of points for each race is established according to time taken compared with the distance and to the height gain, with the possibility of a coefficient for difficulty.
This calculation Time-Distance-Height gain, called Maximum Theoretic Performance (MTP), has a maximal value of 1000 points.
According to their results the runner will be attributed a proportion of the 1000. So their best results of the year are retained and added, for each of the trail categories, and give a championship style ranking.
For each runner, a performance index is also calculated from the results of their best 5 races, by category or all distances together, with the results of the current year and the two previous years. In the case where there are not a sufficient number of races, a statistical calculation is then made from the known results to estimate their value.
This performance index reflects the value of a runner over the last 36 months and it has already been published.
• The next stage: creation of the International Trail-Running Association
The International Trail-Running Association is at present pursuing the study and the establishment of its statutes and will be officially created by the end of July.
Open to all players in the field of trail-running it aims:
– to develop and promote trail-running as a complete sport, accessible to all;
– to promote its sporting ethic;
– to represent its members at an international level;
– to maintain constructive relationships and to collaborate with national trail-running associations, and
national and international federations;
– to promote the organisation of continental or world trail-running championships;
– to contribute to the improvement of security and the health of the participants.
Question – “Ian, are you free the first 10 days of February?”
Answer– “I leave Spain today and I am back in the UK late tonight. I have a busy morning on Saturday and I have some interviews to do Saturday afternoon but I will be free around midday to chat if you are? Alternatively drop me an email. Hope you are well? February should be okay, lets discuss.”
Reply– “Great, so you can go to Costa Rica for the multistage ‘Coastal Challenge'”
Answer – “Erm, yes! of course”
So, with just 4 weeks to prepare I was suddenly thrust into a week in the jungle. A whole new experience for me but one that I am so excited about! The Coastal Challenge.
I would normally be thinking to myself this is awesome. I get to go to Costa Rica, take part in a 6 day multistage, take photos, write an article and of course get some interviews. Unfortunately my long term knee injury is going to stop that… 225km over 6 days will just be too much and of course, I am not fit! Well, not race fit.
But as I said to my client and the RD, I think it is important to go these events and see it from both sides. If I am taking part, I wont see what is happening at the front of the race. I wont see ‘the race’ for the win. I also wont see the logistics and planning that go into a race like this. My trip is all about understanding every aspect of this race. So I am happy. I plan to dip in and dip out of stages but ultimately report on and bring back a whole series of images and stories that I can relate back to readers and listeners worldwide.
The first question I had was, can I die?
Heat Illness and Dehydration
Individuals who are not well conditioned traveling in hot, humid environments are susceptible to both heat illness and dehydration. Heat illness includes both very benign conditions such as heat rash as well as life threatening conditions including heat stroke. Participants should carry enough liquids to ensure hydration during the event. It is important to eat and drink appropriate amounts of liquids with electrolytes during the event to reduce the incidence of hyponatremia. Water has not been an issue in previous Coastal Challenge’s, however, this year portions of the race will be through agricultural areas that will require purification before drinking.
Plants and Animals
There are 135 species of snakes in Costa Rica with 17 being considered dangerous. Mostly these are members of the Viper, Coral and Boa families. The best prevention is watching your path and being aware.
While the water in Costa Rica is generally considered among the safest in Central America, traveler’s diarrhea does occur. It is advised that any water be treated prior to drinking unless its safety can be guaranteed. Speak to your Family Physician about treatment issues (Pepto Bismol, Antibiotics, etc.)
February is considered the dry season so expect warm temperatures with average highs of 20-25C/70-85C depending on altitude. Furthermore the race will be going through some of the driest areas of Costa Rica. Proper sunscreen is essential (SPF 15 or greater) with enough to last multiple daily applications for the entire race.
Okay okay, that sounds okay… the chances of survival are pretty good. So then, what is The Coastal Challenge?
Supported stage race
The “Rainforest Run” promises to be spectacular and challenging. The course has been designed to emphasize point-to-point racing, which will put the “finish line” at or near camp at the end of each day’s race. The course is measured and will be marked. You will be given accurate course measurements and maps (Google Maps, Nat Geo maps) with route profiles for terrain, approximate distances and elevation gain or loss.
Set along Costa Rica’s tropical Pacific coastline and weaving into the Talamancas, a coastal mountain range in the southwest corner of Costa Rica. The race finishes near the border of Panama in a small and serene fishing village that until recently was only accessible by fishing boat.
Mountain, trail, rainforest, single track, across ridges, highlands and coastal ranges. We will run along beaches, rocky outcrops, reefs, river estuaries and the race finishes in the Corcovado National Park, one of the premier rainforest experiences in the world. A Unesco World Heritage site it defies description.
The course has a total elevation gain of more than 34,000 feet.
What is a Rainforest?
Rainforests are forests characterized by high rainfall, with definitions based on a minimum normal annual rainfall of 1750–2000 mm (68-78 inches). The monsoon trough, alternatively known as the intertropical convergence zone, plays a significant role in creating the climatic conditions necessary for the Earth‘s tropical rainforests.
Around 40% to 75% of all biotic species are indigenous to the rainforests. It has been estimated that there may be many millions of species of plants, insects and microorganisms still undiscovered in tropical rainforests. Tropical rainforests have been called the “jewels of the Earth” and the “world’s largest pharmacy“, because over one quarter of natural medicines have been discovered there. Rainforests are also responsible for 28% of the world’s oxygen turnover, sometimes misnamed oxygen production, processing it through photosynthesis from carbon dioxide and consuming it through respiration.
The race is supported. This makes a big big difference. Although the race has a similar format to the Marathon des Sables, the big difference is that you do not need to carry your kit whilst running. This multistage is very much a race from the sense that the runners can race light and fast. The top runners will keep it minimal, hand bottles or a small pack. However, for most participants they will carry a pack with some ‘essentials’ and of course a bladder or bottles.
Base camp is set up by the race team. They transport the participants baggage to the finish of each day. Runners can sleep in a hammock or tent.They provide food (apparently excellent) and they also provide a series of check points and feed stations during the race.
After asking several questions, I was told by Rodrigo Carazo the following:
‘In regards to the race, it is a VERY HUMID race, plus it is also VERY HOT, if you have been to MDS, our conditions feel worse in terms o humidity, it rarely gets above 35 degrees but he humidity factor makes it feel hotter. But dont worry the sights and race course and race atmosphere really make the heat a minor issue in regards to the experience, but nonetheless it makes for a very demanding race and it is very rewarding once the race is finshed!!!!
Once the race begins we provide everything you need for the next seven days except your specific racing food. We provide all meals, a highlight of our race you will see, and on course we provide water gatorade, fruits , nuts, sandwiches and cookies, but we dont provide energy bars or similar. At night you will be staying in campsites so bring your tent-with rainfly just in case ( its the tropics!) and a sleeping mattress. Some people bring sleeping hammocks.
Also bring plenty of running and beach clothes, you will need them as after every stage you will end up full of mud and bathed in sweat!! Do not bring shoes or socks you haven’t tried or raced with, this is because your feet will be constantly wet and humid, and blisters could be your worse enemy! Also bring a lot of sun protection, we see a lot of people coming from winter in their home countries leaving back with very sexy ruby red tans!!!!
We transport all you gear daily in a duffel bag or action packer plus your tent.”
Okay, loads of run kit, loads of beach clothes, mattress, tent etc etc etc… I have 4 weeks!
I make a couple of calls and send a few emails and BIG thanks need to be expressed here to The North Face and Arc’teryx.
Both companies have stepped in at the 11th hour and have provided me with a selection of kit that will help me on the trip.
The North Face have provided a tent, luggage and a selection of run clothing. Arc’teryx have provided travel and relaxation clothing.
The North Face
TNF Mica 1 Tent
The Mica 1 tent will be excellent as I can pitch just the ‘inner’ allowing me to potentially remain a little cooler in the ridiculously hot and humid climate.
Single Track Hayasa Shoes
GTD LS top and SS top
Enduro 13 Pack w/ bottles
Mica 1 Tent
One’s to watch
Dave James from US – interview with Dave James on episode 27 of Talk Ultra HERE
Jen Segger from CA
Roiny Villegas from CR
Ligia Madrigal from CR
Ismael Dris from Spain
FEET CARE by John Vonhof
Conditioning Your Feet
In the same way you train your legs and cardiovascular system, you need to condition your feet for the rigors 150 miles of The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica. In short, that means training your feet in simulated race conditions. Train on somewhat similar terrain—sand, rocks, trails, hills, and in water. Knowing in advance how your feet will respond to these conditions will help you anticipate problems before they occur. Strengthening your ankles will help prevent sprained ankles common to uneven terrain and trails. Add in some walks or runs of longer amounts and vary your distance. The more miles you can get on your feet the stronger your feet will be.
When selecting shoes, make sure your toes have wiggle room and your heels are snug with little up and down movement. Shoes with mesh may be cooler but tend to allow trail debris and sand into the shoe. Don’t start the race with worn out shoes. Make sure the shoes fit well and have space for swollen feet and toes.
Athletes should wear moisture-wicking socks. Try a few types of socks and decide whether a single sock, a thin liner with an outer sock, or two socks are the best for your feet. Remember if wearing more than one pair, more space is required inside your shoes so be sure your shoes are sized big enough. Plan on several changes of socks. The Injinji toe socks place each toe into its own little sock and might be a good move if you are prone to toe blisters.
Gaiters keep sand, grit and gravel, and trail debris out of your shoes and socks. There are many commercially made gaiters available to purchase or make your own. Those with a breathable material are preferred. Styles which attach to the shoe’s upper are preferred over those with the strap under the shoe since they make it easier to change socks.
The most beneficial step you can take to prevent problems is to reduce your calluses. Treating blisters under calluses is difficult and sometimes impossible. Use a callus file after showering or use callus remover creams to soften the skin.
Untrimmed nails catch on socks putting pressure on the nail, causing blisters and black toenails, and cut into other toes. Toenails should be trimmed regularly, straight across the nail. Leave an extra bit of nail on the outside corner of the big toe to avoid an ingrown toenail. After trimming, use a nail file to smooth the top of the nail down toward the front of the toe and remove any rough edges. If you draw your finger from the skin in front of the toe up across the nail and can feel a rough edge, the nail can be filed smoother or trimmed a bit shorter.
If stopping to rest on the trail, take your shoes and socks off to air your feet, elevating them if possible. If near water, cool your feet with a quick soak. Use a silicone-based lubricant, like Hydropel or Sportslick which helps drive moisture away from your skin and reduces friction between your feet and shoes. Empty your socks of rocks and debris that can cause blisters, sores, abrasions, and cuts. If prone to blisters, consider taping your feet before problems develop.
Attend to hot spots when they develop to prevent them from turning into blisters. Cover these with tape to eliminate friction. Blisters should be drained and covered with Spenco 2nd Skin, Blister Block, or Compeed, and then tape. Your feet must be cleaned of all lubricant and oils for the patch to stick. If using a pin to drain the blister make several holes. If using a small scissors, make two small “V” cuts. Make the holes or cuts at a
point where foot pressure will expel any additional fluid build-up. Try to keep the skin on the roof of the blister. After applying a patch, roll your socks on and off to avoid disturbing the patch. Practice applying blister patches on areas of your feet most prone to problems.
Your Foot Care Kit
Wise competitors carry a small foot care kit in their packs. It doesn’t have to be big but it has to be right for your feet and small enough to fit in a Ziplock bag. I’d recommend a small container of Zeasorb powder or BodyGlide lubricant, alcohol wipes to clean oils off the skin before applying a blister patch, tincture of benzoin wipes, a small Ziplock bag with 1-inch Spenco 2nd Skin patches, a sewing needle and thread to drain blisters, and at least two yards of Leukotape wrapped around a small pencil. Duct tape can be substituted for Leukotape if you prefer. Of course it goes without saying that carrying a blister kit is useless if you don’t know how to use the materials. Use the time between now and the race to learn how to patch blisters and tape your feet before an event.
Foot Care at the End of the Day
After each day’s segment, proper care of your feet can help prepare you for the next day.
Using lightweight flip-flops around camp will allow your feet time to air and heal. If possible, soak your feet in cool water. Elevate your feet when resting. Rotate your socks to keep your feet as dry as possible and wash dirty socks. If your feet swell, you may have to remove your insoles. Use Super Salve, Bag Balm, Brave Soldier Antiseptic Healing Ointment, or a similar ointment to keep your feet as healthy as possible.
John Vonhof – Fixing Your Feet: Prevention and Treatments for Athletes, 3rd edition, June 2004 www.footworkpub.com
Essential Medical Kit
Alcohol hand rub or equivalent. Have 2 X 100ml bottles available. Take one with you on run or event. Use on every occasion that you use the toilet/ wash room. Use before and after eating food.
Use often Moist toilet tissues or baby wipes
Friars Balsam (Tinc Benz Co) 100mls in leak proof bottle.
Cotton buds around 20 kept in a plastic zip bag
Fleecy web in rolls or sheets
Zinc oxide tape or duct tape.
Antiseptic liquid 100ml in leak proof bottle
Antiseptic dry spray 200ml
Sterile large bore needles x 10
Alcohol wipes, small x 20
Zinc oxide tape x 1 roll 5cm wide
Steristrip various sizes
Vasaline or Sudacrem
Adhesive remover or Zoff
Zeasorb powder or talcum powder
Small pair of dressing sicissors
Sun screen and lip balm
Rehydrate salts or equivalent
Just to clarify a point about running shoes, running shoes should be good fitting and not too big. You can bring a size bigger just in case your feet swell but do not start with them. Bring sandles/ flip flops for around camp in the evening.
The Coastal Challenge chose the spiral symbol because of its simple and transcendent beauty. Many of the most universally recognized meanings attached to the spiral seem relevant to the adventure in which you are about the take part. To many cultures the circular motif signifies centeredness, tranquility and balance.
Also a basic element in Western ideography, the clockwise spiral is strongly associated with water, power, life, the earth or sun, time, a journey, independent movement, and migrations of tribes, all things that will most definitely shape your life over The Coastal Challenge