Philipp Reiter and Juilia Boettger to race The Coastal Challenge, 2014

Philipp Reiter, Julia Boettger, Salomon ©iancorless.com

Philipp Reiter, Julia Boettger, Salomon ©iancorless.com

Nine incredible editions of The Coastal Challenge and in the words of race director, Rodrigo Carazo, ‘believe me, the 10th is going to be extra special’.

The Coastal Challenge has not been without some premier names from the ultra world in past editions, Scott Jurek raced in 2009 and Dave James has been a regular attendee for multiple years.

However, the 2014 edition of the race is going to see the race create a higher profile in the world of multi day racing. The announcement of Salomon sponsored duo, Philipp Reiter and Julia Boettger joining the race apparently is only the first of several big announcements that are due in coming weeks.

Philipp Reiter, Salomon ©iancorless.com

Philipp Reiter, Salomon ©iancorless.com

Rodrigo Carazo confirmed to me that the TCC is a passion for him and for the 10th edition of the race he wanted to ensure something special. When I asked him about the inclusion of Philipp and Julia he said, “It has always been a long term aim to have elite runners at The Coastal Challenge. We have had Scott Jurek in a past edition! It’s great to have Philipp and Julia join us and it will be great to see how they perform. However, TCC is all about enjoyment, participation and inclusion. Every participant will be treated the same. We will be one big happy family.”

The Coastal Challenge, TCC, Costa Rica ©iancorless.com

The Coastal Challenge, TCC, Costa Rica ©iancorless.com

It also appears that Philipp and Julia are only the first two names to be announced, I asked Rodrigo did he have any other surprises for us?

“Well, we have already made public that Brit, Jo Meek (interview HERE) will join us in Costa Rica. Jo was 2nd lady overall at the 2013 Marathon des Sables, so that will add some interest to the race. Also, we have some other ‘names’ from the ultra world to announce in the coming weeks. We are just making final preparations. It is all very exciting.”

The Coastal Challenge, TCC, Costa Rica ©iancorless.com

The Coastal Challenge, TCC, Costa Rica ©iancorless.com

Of course, Philipp and Julia need no introduction to the ultra running community. Philipp Reiter despite his youth has been competing on the ultra and Skyrunning calendar for several years with repeated impressive results. He has won the Zugspitze several times and just this year he won the 100km race. He is also a repeated winner at the multi day Transalpine race. However, Philipp is gaining a higher profile for consistently strong performances in the Skyrunner World Series.

Philipp Reiter, Salomon ©iancorless.com

Philipp Reiter, Salomon ©iancorless.com

I asked Philipp what had enticed him to race in Costa Rica?

“It sounds like a great adventure to me. Running eight days in the jungle, crossing rivers, hopefully seeing some wild and dangerous animals, sleeping in a tent-village and of course tasting some new food and local specialties. Running is such a great sport that we can all experience, I am really excited to share the trails with others who are equally passionate. It’s what I love and want to experience.”

Philipp already has experience of multi day racing. For example, he has raced Transalpine several times and been incredibly successful. When I asked him about the challenge of Costa Rica and the rainforest environment he looked excited.

“Yes, so far I have done some stages races in summer (4-Trails, Transalpine Run) and also a few in winter (Pierra Menta, Tour du Rutor) so I know how it feels to have a race day by day in a row. But as I have never been to Costa Rica and the jungle there, it’s definitely going to be a new challenge for me. It’s a very different climate and the terrain will be a challenge. I am sure at times it will be tough!

Philipp Reiter, Salomon ©iancorless.com

Philipp Reiter, Salomon ©iancorless.com

Of course one issue that may arise for those who live in Europe is the timing of the race, late January and early February, our weather is somewhat different to Costa Rica. I asked Philipp about cross training over the winter, as he is an experienced Ski Mountaineer. “Are you planning on doing any specific training for the TCC?”

“Yes, you are right, it’s the prime time of the SkiMo races and a lot of competitions take place. But for the Costal Challenge it’s not problem for me to skip these races. I usually have a lot of snow at this time of the year near my home and finding good trails can be difficult but I hope I can get some running in until January and maybe the ‘white gold’ will fall late this season? I recently saw some pictures of a guy from Norway cycling indoors with his down jacket on to prepare for the heat of Transvulcania (laughs) I am sure will also find a solution to prepare for the warm weather; running indoors in a Sauna?

On a final note, I asked Philipp what he was most looking forward to… the competition, a new place, travel or all those elements combined?

“It is more the experience in the jungle, a new area to explore, the wildlife and totally different nature.”

The Coastal Challenge, TCC, Costa Rica ©iancorless.com

The Coastal Challenge, TCC, Costa Rica ©iancorless.com

Julia Boettger is without doubt a lover of longer distances and enjoys multi days in the mountains, she has placed 2nd at the extremely tough 160km Diagonale des Fous on Reunion Island and just recently placed 3rd at the 80km Grand Raid des Pyrenees.

“I have never been to Costa Rica before. I am really excited to see the trails and landscape over there. The climate will be very different, the terrain and of course the culture and people. It is just a very nice mix of a lot of new things and impressions. I have never done a multi day race like this before; sleeping in tents next to the beach in a foreign country, spending some days with great people and becoming a “family”. It’s going to be really exciting”

Julia Boettger, Salomon ©iancorless.com

Julia Boettger, Salomon ©iancorless.com

And Julia is correct, it really is a great adventure that manages to combine many different elements. Runners have no need to be self sufficient, food is provided and all your belongings are transported to the next camp/ rendezvous point.

“It’s fantastic! It’s a great way to start a new year and a new season with some lovely running in beautiful locations. I am just fortunate to be able to do what I love. Running and then spending the rest of the day at a beautiful location, get some real food and not have to take care about anything else. Recovery will be so much easier for everyone each day.”

Like Philipp, Julia loves the mountains and technical terrain. The rainforests of Costa Rica do have some elevation but nothing like the Alps or Pyrenees. I asked Julia if she would do any specific training to prepare?

“Preparation will be different because the race is very early in the season. So for me it is hard to train in the mountains at this time of the year because we have a lot of snow. In winter I do a lot of cross country skiing and ski mountaineering. As the several stages of the race are not as long as the courses I normally do it will be easier to train for at this time of the year. I will do more running in the flat and get some speed work in.”

Julia Boettger, Salomon ©iancorless.com

Julia Boettger, Salomon ©iancorless.com

For many, a trip to Costa Rica is a once in a lifetime possibility. The ability to combine this trip with a passion for running is something that all participants will relish. Julia is no different!

“The combination of traveling to a new place, running on different trails and meeting new lovely people who are sharing our passion will make this very special. I think Costa Rica is a very interesting country with a lot of different aspects and surprises. So I am looking forward to this adventure, the warm sunny weather will also be a great break from cold misty weather in Germany.”

The Coastal Challenge, TCC, Costa Rica ©iancorless.com

The Coastal Challenge, TCC, Costa Rica ©iancorless.com

Steve Diederich, the UK agent for The Coastal Challenge is excited about the inclusion of Philipp and Julia (and maybe more?) and although race entry is now closed, Steve 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 Coastal Challenge has come of age and has joined the exclusive club of iconic multi-day ultras – with the added twist of a backdrop of some of the most breathtaking rainforest and coast on the planet and accompanied with now legendary catering that outclasses any other event. The TCC in 2014 is a vintage race in the making.”

The Coastal Challenge, TCC, Costa Rica ©iancorless.com

The Coastal Challenge, TCC, Costa Rica ©iancorless.com

Race dates: 2nd to 9th February 2014

If you would like to attend the 2014 event and take advantage of a 5% discount, please email sarah@thecoastalchallenge.co.uk

 The Coastal Challenge website HERE

Kilian Jornet – Transvulcania 2013

Kilian Jornet Transvulcania 2013 - copyright Ian Corless

Kilian Jornet Transvulcania 2013 – copyright Ian Corless

Salomon athlete, Kilian Jornet needs no introduction…. last year he raced Transvulcania and placed third behind Dakota Jones and Andy Symonds. In the final stages of the race he suffered in the heat. This year he has arrived in La Palma a little earlier to acclimatise, however, he has used a very similar approach to 2012 and has only recently just stepped off ski’s.

I caught up with Kilian after an excursion to see a banana plantation, he says he is ready, however, he does seem concerned about the heat! Today has been a very warm day and temperatures look likely to rise over the next 48 hours.

YouTube HERE

Links:

Kilian Jornet – HERE

Salomon Running – HERE

Transvulcania 2013 – HERE

Skyrunning – HERE

Bungle in the Jungle – A guide

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No matter how experienced, no matter how long you have been running, you can always learn something…. My recent trip to Costa Rica and The Coastal Challenge which took place in a rainforest made me realize that I knew very little about running in heat with high humidity, running in a rain forest and also running on consecutive days in this environment.

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I am quite meticulous in my planning. I like to tick boxes, cross ‘to do’s’ off a list and feel content that when I am at an airport travelling to a race that I feel that I have done everything I possibly can to get the best out of myself and the race when I arrive at my destination.

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Costa Rica was nothing like this….

I only found out I was going about four weeks before, so, that 12-20 week training plan that I would have created to then taper into an event didn’t exist. I was realistically just a week or two weeks away from the taper. When you add to this that since January 2012 I hadn’t been training due to knee issues. Of course I had been ‘working out’ but I hadn’t been training. Nothing specific. Training had consisted of runs every other day with the longest being at 2hrs 15m, other days had been cross training, plenty of time on the stairmaster and stretching and core.

My brief was not to race at The Coastal Challenge. This was a good thing, however, I was working as a journalist and my need to document, photograph and experience the course would mean getting involved.

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My plan was simple. Start the day on the course at a great advantage point, photograph the front runners and then run to the end capturing more images, experience the terrain and then write up and download photos at the end of the day. Simple!

In addition to running we would be staying in a different campsite each day. Luggage and tents would be transferred ahead and food was provided.

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So what did I learn?

Pacing & Hydration: Costa Rica is hot and humid. Oh yes, hot and humid. Coming from a UK winter the shock is pretty drastic. But I found it manageable. You certainly need to adjust many things and you need to make those adjustments on day one. In simple terms you need to ‘slow down’ and ‘hydrate’ more. Within 10-15 minutes of exercise your body is soaked and your clothing is completely wet.

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It stays that way all day so get used to it. Sweat rates vary but in the excessive humidity and adding exercise to this it is fair to assume that 750ml + will be required per hour. Replacing electrolytes will also be important so look into what works for you. Runners used a combination of ‘adding’ electrolyte to water or taking salt tabs. Day one of our race started with a 10k road section, in retrospect this was designed to ease the runners into the terrain and heat/humidity, however, I think it actually allowed to many fresh runners to run too quick right from the gun.

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By the time they reached CP1 and the start of the jungle many were already in trouble… they didn’t know it at that point but they certainly knew it in the final 25% of the day. By pushing too hard at the beginning of the day they couldn’t then pull back the deficits in the latter stages  and suffered. By the end of day one, the race had several drops and a far too large group suffering from dehydration.

Feet: Oh boy. Multi stage races are renowned for damaging feet but really this shouldn’t happen. If you look after your feet, have the correct socks and the correct shoes it should all be straightforward. Of course unexpected things can happen such as a little rubbing and the odd blister BUT at TCC I saw people with literally no skin left on bruised and damaged feet. I am actually amazed that some of these runners managed to finish the race. The rainforest will guarantee several things:

  • Your feet will be hot
  • Your feet will be wet regularly
  • Your feet will be twisted and turned
  • Over the six days you will run/walk over 200k

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With the above in mind you need to plan accordingly. This race is not self sufficient so this is a big advantage. Why? Well for a start you can bring several run shoes. I took the two ‘styles’ of shoe, Salomon Speedcross 3 and TNF Hayasa,

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I had two pairs of each. One my correct size and the other pair a ½ size larger (just in case). A larger shoe will allow some room should my feet expand. The two styles of shoe also allowed me options in regard to ‘grip’. The Speedcross is far more aggressive than the Hayasa. Certainly something with an aggressive tread suited the environment.

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Socks, like shoes are personal but I am a firm believer in Injinji socks. Each toe is in its own ‘little pocket’. This for me reduces the possibility of problems or issues and over the 6 days of the race I never got one blister! The race had a foot doctor. Without him some runners would have been out of the race. If you have this option, take advantage.

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In training understand what you will be doing at your race. Practice walking, running, climbing, descending and run with wet feet. Find out what does and doesn’t work. Get the mistakes out of the way before you start the race.

I did not tape my feet prior to running and I added no Vaseline. After each day the first thing I did was to remove socks and shoes, clean them and the wear flip flops to allow them to breath.

*note – many of the runners who had problems had worn shoes too big. They had expected feet to expand but on day one and day two, the ‘larger’ shoes had allowed the foot to move within the shoe and consequently the foot had blistered. I am a firm believer that the shoe should ‘fit’. Excessive movement is a recipe for disaster.

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Clothing:  Six days racing means six sets of kit. As far as I was concerned. It’s a simple strategy. You run in one set, get showered and cleaned up, put another set on to relax post run and then you use that kit the next day. I was fortunate that The North Face did provide me with some clothing but not six days worth.

Stage 6 TCC_Snapseed

I added my existing TNF stock to the pile. Clothing is personal but the key elements for the jungle are comfort and the ability to wick sweat. I wore T-shirts instead of vests to cover my shoulders (always vulnerable) and I wore loose baggy shorts. It’s not rocket science but shirts with a mesh back certainly help with breathability, especially if using a pack. Race winner, Dave James wore no top! I don’t recommend this… it works for him but his skin looked well adjusted to the sun and I am sure he applied protection too.

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Dave also wasn’t using a pack, he used hand bottles only. Ladies have a multitude of kit options available to them, ‘looks’ can be far more important to some than functionality. However, simple functionality works best (in my opinion). Some ladies wore ‘strappy’ tops that offered minimal coverage on the shoulders and after 5+ hours on the trails the inevitable would happen… very unusual tan lines and some sunburn.

 

TNF Mica 1 Tent

TNF Mica 1 Tent

Equipment: This race was supported with feed stations. We had no ‘essential’ kit needs other than carrying adequate liquid supplies. Dave James was the only person in the race who used just hand bottles. Everyone else used a pack of some description. In my opinion, some used packs that were way too big and heavy. I am not sure what some people were carrying but the heat, humidity and long days on the trail should mean ‘minimal’ is a priority. Bladders or bottles? I have to say I am a bottle fan. Bladders are just too awkward.

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I used the TNF Enduro 13 pack with two bottles that sit on the waist. In the pack I was carrying two cameras inside and one camera which I added to the waist belt. However, this pack can also take a bladder too. So, if required I could have carried 3 liters. Had I been ‘racing’ I most certainly would have done this on the two long stages as feed stations were wider apart. Always best to stick to just water in a bladder to avoid problems with taste and bacteria. In regard to ‘essential’ kit I had a whistle, first aid kit, some food, purification tablets, phone, cash, small pocketknife and additional sun cream. With regular feed stations and such a hot climate it really wasn’t necessary to carry anything else.

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Tips on the trail: Run in the shade whenever you can. I found that as the day got hotter it was effective to run all shaded sections and then reduce pace or power walk in the open sun sections to regulate temperature.

On hills I power walked as fast as I could. On some sections of the course, depending on your run style and ability, ‘poles’ may well have been useful.

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Descents on the whole were easy, however, one stage in particular was brutal. It’s always a good idea to practice going down hill. Poles again may have been useful BUT vegetation can be very thick and poles would have got caught and may very well have been an additional hazard. Remember that you want to reduce fatigue and impact as much as possible. This is not a one-day race but a six-day race. Short steps reduce the impact.

Utilize all water on the course! Any chance you get, submerge yourself in water crossings, wet your head, wet your neck and take a minute to let your core temperature drop before moving on. The route has plenty of opportunities for this, it’s crazy not to take advantage of it. I

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f you find ‘flowing’ water that is not near farmland then use it to drink. Many runners did this and as far as I know, nobody had issues. I carry ‘purification tablets’ just in case. Better safe than sorry.

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Feed stations are important. Always refill your bottles and take on energy. If you are struggling take some time out. Five minutes in the shade can make a world of difference.

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Depending on your ability, ‘buddying up’ is a great idea. If your plan is to maximize the experience and not race then buddy running can make the experience far more rewarding and potentially less stressful. The course was exceptionally well marked but you could go off course and many did. A buddy is a nice security blanket. In actual fact, 2nd and 3rd placed ladies in the 2013 edition buddied for the last two stages.

You are in a jungle so wildlife is all around you. You hear it all the time but the reality is that you see very little. All wildlife is far more scared of us than we are of them. Main issues may come from snakes or spiders. In thick vegetation its wise to look at foot and hand placement just to make sure!

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Calf guards (or compression) on one or two stages would have been good. I personally prefer not to have additional skin coverage so that I can keep cool, however, one stage in particular had undergrowth that was well above knee height and it did cut, graze and irritate my legs.

Camp life: Camp was a great place. You had very little to worry about as food and drinks are provided. It becomes a social mecca in the sun. Sites were strategically placed next to the sea or a river so you could swim or cool down that way. All sites had toilet and shower facilities (some better than others). Important factors were:

  • Tent/ Hammock
  • Clothes
  • Kit

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Tents that pitch ‘inner only’ are essential. It is so hot you need nothing else. Of course, it is a rainforest so make sure you bring the flysheet just in case. Other than a few short showers we had no rain (unusual apparently). I use a small one man tent, the TNF Mica 1 and it was perfect. I had an sleeping matt and inflatable pillow. I didn’t use a sleeping bag but I did take a ‘sleeping bag liner’ for any potentially cold or chilly nights. I slept in my next day run kit.

Your clothes and kit are outside all night, so, the organization recommend  ‘spacepackers’ they are waterproof containers that hold all your kit. They are a good idea but hopeless for travel. One or two people had large ‘Stanley’ toolboxes that had wheels and a pull handle; much better idea.

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I used a TNF ‘Basecamp’ bag which was waterproof and easy to transport. I also had a TNF waterproof rucksack. It was essential. In this I stored my computer, cameras, cables, phone, microphone, etc, etc. I can’t recommend this pack enough.

Waterproof Pack

Waterproof Pack

I had a full medical kit that included everything that I would need. It had all sorts of medication, scissors, tapes, creams, antiseptics etc to cover pretty much all eventualities. The race does have a medical team and foot doc but you should be responsible for all the essentials.

I carried very little additional clothing. I had lightweight long travel pants, travel shorts, hat with neck cover and some lightweight shirts all supplied by Arc’teryx. Perfect!

Arcteryx

I had one lightweight showerproof/ windproof jacket should it be required. I didn’t need it at any point during or after the racing but San Jose before and after the race was much cooler. It came in handy then.

Flip flops or similar are essential!

I had one towel, a travel towel that you can get from any ‘outdoor’ store. Small pack size and dries quickly.

RECOVERY: Important. After each stage, recover. Drink, eat, look after your feet and then get some time with your legs in cool water and elevate. Find some shade and relax. Get a massage if it’s a possibility. At the TCC they had a team of masseurs.

Extras: Don’t get too involved in the racing. The course (and others) has so much to see and experience that you don’t want to get to the end and it be a blur. I feel very fortunate that I ran with cameras and had a job to do. I had to stop, look around, decide on photo opportunities and often wait. I really feel as though I experienced the rainforest. I will never forget sitting in the middle of a river at 0600 one morning waiting for the runners to run towards me. I saw birds, snakes, monkeys and I heard so much more… special moments that all added to the experience.

Stage racing is all about bonding and making friends. I am pretty sure that every runner left with so many more new friends. Go into these experiences with open arms and you will leave with them full.

Understand that before you start you will need to dig deep. This may be a holiday but it is no picnic. The Coastal Challenge is a tough course. The dnf’s and drop downs to the shorter Adventure category confirm this. But it is achievable for everyone. If you get day one and day two right, three, four, five and six fall into place. It’s not meant to be easy. If you understand that, the outcome will be a positive one.

Essential Kit:

  • Run shoes 2 pairs
  • Run kit for six days – tops, shorst and socks (I recommend 6 sets)
  • Rucksack that can hold 2-3 litres – bottles/ bladder or both
  • Medical supplies
  • Food for on the trail
  • Whistle
  • Sun Cream
  • Electrolytes
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Travel Towel
  • Tent that pitches inner only
  • Waterproof bag or box for all kit
  • Additional waterproof bag for electronics
  • Phone
  • Pocket Knife
  • Money
  • Credit Card

Optional Kit:

  • Run Poles
  • Gaiters
  • Sleeping bag
  • Music (ipod or similar)

The Coastal Challenge – Oxygen

TCC RAINFOREST ROUTE V1

December 20th, 2012

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 Coastal Challenge, Costa Rica

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.

Water Safety

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.)

Sun

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?

  • 225km
  • Costa Rica
  • Supported stage race
  • 6 stages
  • February 2013

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.[1] 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.[2] Rainforests are also responsible for 28% of the world’s oxygen turnover, sometimes misnamed oxygen production,[3] processing it through photosynthesis from carbon dioxide and consuming it through respiration.

The undergrowth in a rainforest is restricted in many areas by the poor penetration of sunlight to ground level. This makes it easy to walk through undisturbed, mature rainforest. If the leaf canopy is destroyed or thinned, the ground beneath is soon colonized by a dense, tangled growth ofvinesshrubs and small trees, called a jungle. There are two types of rainforest, tropical rainforest and temperate rainforest.

Logistics

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.”
 
Simple!
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

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.

The North Face

  • Single Track Hayasa Shoes
  • GTD shorts
  • GTD LS top and SS top
  • Waterproof Pack
  • Enduro 13 Pack w/ bottles
  • Mica 1 Tent

Arc’teryx 

Arcteryx

  • Incendo Short
  • Motus Shirt
  • Neutro Vizor

Race Schedule

TCC stg 1

TCC stg 2

TCC stg 3

TCC stg 4

TCC stg 5

TCC stg 6

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

Footnotes

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.

Shoes

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.

Socks

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

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.

Skin Preparation

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.

Toenail Preparation

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.

Blister Prevention

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.

Blister Treatment

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.
  • Compeed
  • 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
  • Latex gloves
  • Gauze swabs
  • Sun screen and lip balm
  • Rehydrate salts or equivalent
  • Antibiotic cover
  • 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.

Finally….

Spiral

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

 Visit the race website HERE

I will be updating my blog daily with a report and photos. Also check the Talk Ultra Facebook page and Twitter feed for any updates as they happen…..

Providing I can get a signal in the rainforest.

Running in the heat

Okay, lets start as we mean to go on! Do you you prefer it on your back, in your hand or maybe you need both hands or maybe you prefer it all centered around your waist… of course I am talking about your method of hydration.

With temperatures rising, the UK in a heat wave and longer lighter days, we can hopefully all get out and run more. But as we all know, or maybe we don’t. We need to consider several things when running in the heat;

  • It’s harder
  • You sweat more
  • You need more fluid

We need to adapt. So what happens when the mercury rises?

Well, the body’s core temperature rises with exercise. In simple terms the more we exercise, or the harder we exercise and this core temperature rises. Unchecked this internal core would exceed boiling point; not a good idea. So, our clever body reduces this core temperature by evaporation (sweat). This process helps cool the body, maintain a manageable core temperature and hopefully allow us to continue exercise.

I say hopefully because the process of evaporation means that we loose liquid (hydration). So the trade off of a cooler core is potentially dehydration.

Dehydration as we all should know is something that does not go well with any sport. It increases heart rate and also adds to core temperature rises. It therefore can become a vicious circle. Initially running will feel much harder, the supply of oxygen to the brain will become impeded as blood is forced to the skins surface to help reduce the internal pressure. Your muscles will start to fail, become heavy and cramp. You may start to have blurred vision in extreme cases and in severe cases you will just stop, potentially collapse and black out. If you need clarification, this is NOT GOOD.

Kilian exhausted at the end of Transvulcania La Palma – dehydration ?

Depending on external temperatures, your ability to withstand heat, your own personal sweat rate and your adaptation to heat it is possible to loose 3-4 litres of fluid in an hour when running. I know, 3-4 litres! Loose more than 2% of body weight and this will impair performance and your mental ability. So, if your looking to perform or if you just want an enjoyable stress free run in the heat, you need to keep on top of hydration.

Hydration is NOT just fluid. Sweating means that we loose key minerals. These minerals keep our body in balance. Therefore you must replace electrolytes (salt) to keep your body in balance. Like your own personal fluid requirements, you salt requirements will also differ to that of your run friends. So take your time to work out what works for you. At the end of a hot run do you have salt marks on your clothes, do you have dried salt on your face? If so, you are more than likely a heavy sweater and your salt needs may very well be double or triple. Plenty of products are now available on the market and they all offer different methods and tastes. For example, Saltstick offer a really handy tablet which works well with bladders or bottles as it means you can keep your electrolyte supply separate and it also means that you can adjust your needs on the fly. However, Nuun offer a very popular flavoured tablet that comes in a handy tube that again can be taken with you on training or racing. This product must be added to your liquid though. Of course other products are available and I use these two reference points as purely as demonstration of what is on offer. It is fair to say that all sports drinks manufacturers now offer a form of electrolyte replacement.

How do you avoid the dreaded dehydration?

First and foremost assess yourself and your abilities. If you live in a hot climate with all year sun and heat you are going to be well adjusted. If you live in the UK and then we suddenly get a heat wave, you are not going to be adjusted. It’s a simple fact that many fail to acknowledge. Running 7 min miles in 10 degrees is much easier than running 7 min miles in 25 deg. As I said previously, you try to run the same pace in much hotter temperatures and only one thing will happen; your core will rise, you will sweat more, you will start to suffer and eventually you will come to a stand still.

Slow down. Accept that the warmer temperatures will mean a slower pace. This will allow you to regulate your temperature and keep on top of your hydration. The longer you spend in the heat, the more you will adjust and eventually you will start to be able to lift the pace for the same effort and sweat rate. In simple terms this is what pro athletes do when they ‘acclimatize’.

  • Start a run hydrated. Your urine colour is a great indicator of how hydrated you are. A light straw colour is best.
  • Keep the sun off your head when running by wearing a white hat with a peak.
  • Wear sunglasses.
  • Wear light clothing that is loose and that will reflect the suns rays.
  • Use waterproof sun cream and be careful around your eyes.
  • Drink regular and often.
  • When possible, pour water on your head to reduce your core temperature.
  • Plan your runs and make allowances for refilling bottles or bladders on long runs using streams or shops (as applicable). You may want to carry some water purification tablets if you are in extreme places.
  • Take some money, mobile phone and ID.

Do a self-check when running:

  1. Do you feel cool? (and I don’t mean in a ‘rap’ way)
  2. Do you feel clammy?
  3. Have you stopped sweating?
  4. Do you feel sick?
  5. Are you dizzy?
  6. Are you fatigued?
  7. Is your heart rate pounding?

Any of the above and you are starting to show signs of dehydration. Don’t wait to be thirsty… it will be too late. Depending on how bad your symptoms are you will need to do one of the following:

  • Reduce your pace to a walk, let your temperature drop and slowly rehydrate – don’t gulp.
  • Stop. Sit down in the shade. Recover and let your temperature drop while drinking slowly to rehydrate.
  • Stop and basically STOP. If you have all or a combination of the above symptoms your best option may well be to stop and recover. Come back another day with lessons learnt

Recovery is key and it is important to rehydrate post training and racing. For every 1kg of weight loss drink 1ltr of water. When your urine has returned to a light straw colour, stop drinking and resume normal drinking… do not over drink.

Hyponatremia

Drink sensibly,  don’t force yourself with water. Research into Hyponatremia has shown that it’s not a lack of salt, which leads to hyponatremia, it’s drinking too much fluid. If you urine regularly and it is clear, you are drinking too much. A bloated stomach is a sign of the onset of the problem, headaches and nausea. During an event just sip and understand your sweat rate and needs. You can always test yourself by wiggling yourself naked pre run, run for 1 hour without drink and then re weigh yourself. The difference will give you an idea of your sweat rate; 1kg = 1ltr. Of course please keep in mind external conditions. Your sweat rate will differ for hot/cold days and depending on how hard or easy you run.

Drinking methods when running?

Do you you prefer it on your back, in your hand or maybe you need both hands or maybe you prefer it all centered around your waist…

How we carry our fluid is very personal and it also does depend on the demands of the training or the race. If you are racing you may need to carry compulsory equipment and this will almost certainly mean waist pack or rucksac is required.

But how we carry the liquid is what counts. The fluid needs to be accessible at all times as this will promote drinking.

Bladder?

Bottles?

Bladder v Bottle

Bladder:

Bladders come in varying sizes. 1ltr to 3ltr, with different methods of distributing the liquid to the runner, ultimately this is a pipe with a mouth valve. Bladders sit on your back or around the waist and offer an easy slurp system that is easy to use. The main issues with them are that they are difficult to clean, you are never quite sure how much you have left and they are more awkward to fill when racing.

Bottles:

Like bladders they come in varying sizes but 500ml to 1ltr is normal. The size of the bottle may very well depend on your carrying system. For example – handheld bottles, bottles in a waist pack, bottles on a rucksac (at the back) or bottles on a rucksac (at the front). Bottles are easy to fill on the go, easy to clean, cheap to replace.

Combination:

Manufacturers realize now that runners needs are increasing and runners are becoming more demanding. Therefore packs such as the S-Lab 12 has allowances for a bladder, bottles on the front and even two large ‘dump’ pockets on the side of the pack that will take bottles. The advantages here are excellent as you can customize your needs for each run.

Putting it into practice

I personally use all of the above.

When it is really hot and I am just going for a training run I love just having two hand held bottles (Dakota Style) and running free. It allows for no restriction on my waist it also allows my back to be free and ultimately enables me to remain cooler.

If I need to carry some essentials then I will add a waist pack that will hold just a light jacket, phone, money etc and keep the bottles in my hand.

When the demands are greater I shift to a rucksac allowing me to use a bladder and or bottles with the option to carry other equipment.

I am not a fan of waist bottle belts as they usually become uncomfortable, bounce and rub the skin – but that is my personal feedback.

It’s not rocket science but not putting it into practice is the difference between a great run and a lousy run. More importantly, when racing, it is the difference between potentially winning and not even finishing.

Choose your method and keep hydrated on your next run!