After a late arrival in camp last night, day one in bivouac was an admin day with equipment checks and the deposit of personal belongings. It’s a day that often drags as runners work through all their belongings deciding what to take and what not. Once they drop their case, that is it! No going back. If you have forgot something, you have forgotten it.
It’s all about balancing essentials with luxuries. The ‘racers’ keep things to a minimum trying to get the pack to 6.5kg (the minimum) plus water. This mean no luxuries! The pack weight is pretty much all food, maybe a change of socks, a sleeping bag, seeping mat and of course compulsory items. Once water is added, race pack weight is usually around 8kg on race day 1. This gets lighter as the days pass and the runner eats the contents.
Other runners decide to carry other items to make the week in the desert. However, for every gram carried, this is additional weight to add a burden to ones body and slow you down – it is a fine balancing act. To put this into perspective the heaviest pack weight recorded today was 12kg.
At admin check, medical forms are scrutinised, compulsory items are checked, packs are weighed and the runner is asked to provide an excel doc of food contents to make sure they have enough for the 6-days ahead.
A small number of select runners, those most likely to make the top-10, are also asked to contribute to the ITRA health passport system by providing a blood sample. At the 2017 edition of the race, this is not compulsory.
To conclude the day, a dance by locals was performed and then a compulsory briefing was given outline the week ahead.
Once dinner is concluded, the runners are then self-sufficient.
RaceDay 1 has an 0730 start in Cahuachi with 37.2km yo cover before the finish in Coyungo. It is a day of pretty much all downhill starting at an altitude of just over 350m and concluding a little higher than sea level.
For over thirty-years, Marathon des Sables has paved the way for multi-day races worldwide. The self-sufficient format were runners carry all they need for 6-days of running has been copied time and time again but never bettered.
Now, in 2017, we see the long established ‘MDS’ brand expands its format to Peru for the inaugural, Marathon des Sables PERU.
It is an exciting time – a new continent and a new land of adventure between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes.
MDS needs no introduction, for 32-years the race format has grown and grown and now it is considered as the Godfather of multi-day running. No brand stands still and as the world becomes smaller, MDS becomes larger. In September, it launched its first ‘half’ edition race in Fuerteventura, Half MDS Fuerteventura was designed as a stepping stone to the current two big brothers – Morocco and Peru.
Morocco is well established, but Peru is a new story. One that will be written in the coming weeks as runners from all over the world travel long-haul to Lima and a new, exciting journey.
The new race will have the core values of what made the Moroccan journey so loved.
250km’s, 500 runners, the ICA desert and an opportunity to discover the most beautiful of South America. Huge dunes, sandy plateau, a new day begins for MDS, a new day in PERU.
The format of MDS Peru will be the same as Morocco, current schedule will be as follows
Day 1 – Arrival
Day 2 – Technical and Medical check
Day 3 – Race start, 35km
Day 4 – Race day 2, 40km
Day 5 – Race day 3, 35km
Day 6 – Race day 4, 72km
Day 7 – Race day 5, 42km
Day 8 – Race day 6, 20km
Day 9 – Awards
Day 10 – Relax and Expo
Day 11 – Return home
Over 31 nationalities will be represented with France having the biggest contingent, the UK follows and surprisingly, Japan is the 3rd largest contingent. It comes as no surprise that that most popular age is between 40-50 yrs.’, typical in multi-day racing.
Taking place at sea level, the race will follow the exact protocols of Marathon des Sables Morocco, 6-days, full self-sufficiency with only a shelter and rationed water provided.
Coming late in the year, it is difficult for runners to prepare and focus, however, MDS Peru has a stellar line-up of world-class male and female runners, headed up by MDS legend, Rachid El Morabity who has won MDS Morocco five times – he will take some beating! For the ladies, Nathalie Mauclair is a legend in ultra-trail races and has placed 2nd at MDS Morocco in 2017 and 2016.
The men’s race is arguably the most exciting with UTWT Champion Gediminas Grinius toeing the line. It has been a long season for the Lithuanian but he is a fierce competitor. However, this will be a new adventure for him and Peru’s high dunes will no doubt be a challenge.
The one to watch is Remigio Huaman. He is Peruvian and will without doubt be more than motivated to win on home soil. He placed 5th in Morocco earlier this year and he recently won in Fuerteventura. I don’t think he can beat Rachid but he is my 2nd place and I hope he has ‘his’ day with a possibility of overall victory.
South Africa’s Iain Don Wauchope is a really exciting addition to the race. I know Iain well and he is a good friend. I have seen him blaze a trail in his home in South Africa and at Costa Rica’s The Coastal Challenge he has been an unstoppable force. Peru will be exciting and I can’t wait to see him race.
Julien Chorier can never be ruled out of any race, a superb runner who has been a great ambassador for the sport. Peru, its dunes and multi-day racing is going to push Julien to a new place – I wonder how he will perform?
Erik Clavery placed 5th at MDS Morocco in 2016 and recently won the Grand to Grand multi-day in the USA. He is France’s big hope for MDS Peru, can he, do it?
Yeray Duran recently had a tough few days at Half MDS Fuerteventura and ended up on an IV for dehydration. Lesson learnt I am sure. He will come to Peru with a new respect for heat and the multi-day format.
Nathalie Mauclair is the stand-out hot prospect for victory but Ireland’s Ruthan Sheahan may be able to push the French lady? Ruthan ran 229km in 24-hours, a great run. But her past experience at multi-day was placing 23rd at MDS Morocco in 2012.
Peru has three ladies running, Elba Rocio Carrion Conde, Valerie Nossar and Lorena Pilar Ricalde Garcia. It is difficult to say how these ladies will perform, their collective past experience is over single-stage races over distances from 50-100km. But the home advantage can never be underestimated, it will be interesting to see this race unfold.
Claudi Forster placed 12th at MDS Morocco earlier this year and Mexico’s Nahlia Hernandez San Juan has placed 9th at MDS, run Badwater, Gobi March and so on – these two ladies arguably may be the prime contenders for the podium.
Runners and staff depart for Lima on Friday 24th and Saturday 25th November. Follow the stories and action as it unfolds on this website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media. It is going to be an epic first edition of Marathon des Sables Peru.
The event can be followed via iancorless.com and on Instagram @iancorlessphotographyand also on Twitter @talkultra – daily updates, summary, results and images will be posted as soon as comms allow. Each runner will also have a SPOT tacker (FindMeSpot.com).
This is Episode 106 of Talk Ultra. This show is all about The Coastal Challenge multi-day race in Costa Rica. We talk in-depth about Niandi’s experience and we bring you a selection of interviews to give you a feel for the race.
Book writing – RUNNING BEYOND will be released in November 2016 by Aurum Publishing.
00:01:04 Show Start
ACONCAGUA – Fernanda Maciel established the first women’s FKT on , Aconcagua, earlier this month and I caught up with her immediately afterwards.
Fernanda said at the time should the weather be okay for a 2nd attempt that she would return. Return she did to established the first women’s FKT on the longer route. She traveled from the Horcones entrance gate to the summit and back – 60 kilometers and 4,100 meters of climb in 22:52. The mens record is almost have this time set by Karl Egloff who took the record from Kilian Jornet
ADDO ELEPHANT in South Africa
“As the only national Park in the world that offers visitors a chance to see the ‘Big Seven’ (elephant, lion, leopard, rhino, buffalo and the southern right whale and the great white shark in the marine area), we’re thrilled to be hosting the race again this year,” says Fayroush Ludick, SANParks Regional Communications Manager. “Because athletes will be running through areas of the park that they wouldn’t traditionally have access to, they will experience the park and its residents as never before.”
1 – Bennie Roux and Tom Adams finished together 21:45:08
2 – Chris Darke 22:24
3 – Ryno Griesel 24:55
1 – Linda Doke 29:25:34
2 – Kim Van Kets 33:34:12
ROCKY RACCOON 100
1 – Ian Sharman 13:45, Paul Terranova 2nd and Will Swenson 3rd.
1 – Sabrina Little ran the 2nd fastest lasted time of 14:55, Amy Clark and Olga Buber were 2nd
Notably, WSER legend Gordy Ainsleigh ran 28:31 to gain his WSER entry slot which many feel should have been guaranteed anyway!
Jonas Buud won the race in 8:00 followed by David Bryne in 8:22 and Ryan Sandes 3rd in 8:30
Fiona Hayvice won the ladies race in 10:34 despite Ruby Muir leading for much of the race and then dropping with injury. Melissa Robertson and Fiona Eagles placed 2nd and 3rd with 10:56 and 11:24.
This weekend as the show comes out Transgrancanaria will be staring and it is quite a stacked field, certainly the first big race of 2016. Read the preview HERE
The Coastal Challenge are pleased to announce that Anna Comet (Spain), two times winner of the Everest Trail Race will participate in the 2017 edition of the race.
A multi-day race over 6-days starting in the southern coastal town of Quepos, Costa Rica and finishing at the stunning Drake Bay on the Osa Peninsula, The Coastal Challenge is an ultimate multi-day running experience.
Intense heat, high humidity, ever-changing terrain, stunning views, Costa Rican charm, exceptional organisation; the race encompasses Pura Vida! Unlike races such as the Marathon des Sables, ‘TCC’ is not self-sufficient, but don’t be fooled, MDS veterans confirm the race is considerably harder and more challenging than the Saharan adventure.
Hugging the coastline, the race travels in and out of the stunning Talamanca mountain range via dense forest trails, river crossings, waterfalls, long stretches of golden beaches backed by palm trees, dusty access roads, high ridges and open expansive plains. At times technical, the combination of so many challenging elements are only intensified by heat and high humidity that slowly but surely reduces even the strongest competitors to exhausted shells by the arrival of the finish line.
2017 will signify the ‘lucky for some’ 13th edition and building on the success of the 2016 edition, Central America’s most important multi-day race looks set to elevate itself to new heights with this first of six announcements about the elite field who will undertake the race next year.
Anna Comet in recent years has shot to fame as a trail and mountain runner after a very successful career as an Alpine skier and ski mountaineer. Her 2014 victory at the Everest Trail Race (also a multi-day race) paved the way for a strong and consistent Skyrunning year in 2015.
Born in Girona, the mountain has always been a passion for Anna. A 4-year stint living in the French Alps at 14-years old and 2-years in Andorra laid the foundations for selection for the Spanish National Team for Alpine Skiing. A 6-year career saw Anna race many European Cups and the FIS World Cup Races.
Injury unfortunately removed Anna from competitive sport for 4-years and when she returned, trail running and ski mountaineering were her chosen disciplines.
“Although my heart says to me that I have to keep pushing on ski mountaineering competition, common sense and my mind are pushing me to focus all my efforts to one goal;trail running. I feel that this is what I have to do!” – Anna Comet
Despite placing 6th on two occasions at Pierramenta, 2nd at Patrouille des glaciers and many top 10-places on the World Cup races, during the 2014 season Anna slowly moved purely to trail and mountain running. Victory at the 2014 Everest Trail Race confirmed she had made a wise decision.
You have raced multi-day races twice before, the Everest Trail Race, on both occasions you won. What do you like about multi-day racing?
EN: I think there are two big special things: 1. there is more race strategy than in other races and 2. the contact and the experience with the rest of the racers is very special.
SP: Creo que hay dos cosas muy especiales: 1. hay más estrategia que en otro tipo de carreras y 2. el contacto y la convivencia con el resto de corredores es muy especial.
The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica will be very different to Nepal, what is the attraction?
EN: The biggest attraction is that it will be very different to Nepal and to all the other races I have done before; the terrain, the heat, the sea, etc.
SP: La mayor atracción es esto, será muy distinto que Nepal y que el resto de carreras que he hecho antes, el terreno, el calor, el mar, etc.
Like ETR, TCC is not self-sufficient, you don’t need to carry all your equipment like MDS, is that more appealing? You are free to run!
EN: Of course yes! I like running free, you can run faster and one of the things that I like most of running is to run as fast as I can.
SP: Por supuesto! Me gusta correr libre, se puede correr más rápido y una de las cosas que más me gusta de correr es hacerlo tan rápido como pueda.
High heat and intense humidity makes the TCC an extreme challenge, will you prepare specifically for this?
EN: I would like to, but I think it will be impossible. In Catalonia where I live it is cold from November, so I will have to get used to the heat and humidity during my stay in Costa Rica.
SP: Me encantaría pero creo que será imposible. En Cataluña, donde vivo, hace frío a partir de noviembre… así que tendré que acostumbrarme cuando llegue a Costa Rica
You have excelled at Skyrunning in recent years, will the combination of technical trails, water crossings, climbing etc, of Costa Rica appeal to you?
EN: I’m sure of it! I am really looking forward to going and running there!
SP: Estoy segura que si! Tengo muchas ganas de ir y correr allí!
TCC is almost 1-year away and you have a busy year ahead, what does your race calendar look like for 2016?
EN: This year I’m going to participate in all the races of the Skyrunner World Series. I am going to start in may with Transvulcania, then USM (Ultra SkyMarathon Madeira) in Madeira in June, Ultra Trail Vanoise (formerly Ice Trail) in Val d’sere in July, The Rut, USA in September and Ultra Pirineu, Spain in September again.
SP: Este año volveré a participar en las carreras del Ultra World Tour de la ISF: Empezaré en mayo en Transvulcania, después Madeira en junio, Val d’isère en julio, USA en setiembre y UP también en setiembre.
What are your long term goals with running?
EN: My goals for this season is to be the best that I can be in the Skyrunner World Series and of course, enjoy what I do!
SP: Mis objetivos para esta temporada es probar de volver a quedar entre las mejores de las world series y, por supuesto, disfrutar de lo que hago.
Do you have a dream race other than The Coastal Challenge?
EN: There are a lot of races around the world and a lot of nice places to go. I like to go step-by-step, I’ve been twice to Nepal and now I really want to go to Cost Rica.
SP: Hay muchas carreras y muchos lugares bonitos en el mundo. Me gusta ir paso a paso, he estado dos años en Nepal y ahora me apetece mucho ir a Costa Rica.
Ester Alves won the TCC in 2016, you have raced against her in Skyrunning races, should she return to Costa Rica to defend her crown, would you embrace the challenge?
EN: Of course! I like to compete against strong competition. I think it’s a chance to grow as athlete and to become better. And of course I will be happy to meet Ester in competition and then relax later in the camp chatting.
SP: Por supuesto! Me gusta competir con buenas corredoras. Creo que es la forma de crecer como atleta y mejorar día a día. Y por supuesto me encantará conocerla en competición y después en el campamento tranquilamente.
Anna, any final thoughts…
EN: Since I decided to go to TCC next year I can’t stop watching videos and photos from there! I’m excited!
SP: Desde que he decidido ir a TCC el próximo año no puedo parar de mirar videos y fotos! Estoy emocionada!
In a very short space of time, Anna has elevated her status as one of the worlds best female Skyrunner’s as reflected in her 2015 results.
2nd Transvulcania Ultramarathon, La Palma, Spain
5th European Skyrunning Championships, Ice Trail Tarentaise, Val D’Isere, France.
2nd Mont-Blanc 80km, Chamonix, France.
4th Matterhorn Ultraks, Zermatt, Switzerland.
1st Everest Trail Race, Nepal – new course record
Ranked 3rd lady overall in the ISF Skyrunning World Series 2015.
A full 2016 calendar lies ahead but rest assured, Anna will be firing on all cylinders for the 2017 edition of The Coastal Challenge which will take place Feb 10th – 19th, 2017.
The 2016 The Coastal Challenge was an incredible race, year-on-year the race grows and it is now one of the most respected multi-day races on the calendar. Following the classic multi-day format, runners travel in the south of Costa Rica on foot covering approximately 250km’s. Like races such as Marathon des Sables, the TCC is not self-sufficient. Don’t be fooled into thinking that this makes the races easier… read on!
View the full 2016 The Coastal Challenge image gallery HERE
“Hugging the coastline, the race travels in and out of the stunning Talamanca mountain range via dense forest trails, river crossings, waterfalls, long stretches of golden beaches backed by palm trees, dusty access roads, high ridges and open plains. At times technical, the combination of so many challenging elements is only intensified by the heat and high humidity that slowly but surely reduces even the strongest competitors to exhausted shells.”
“Encapsulating the true sense of adventure, TCC requires a runner to be more than ‘just’ a runner. The race manages to make or break the most experienced competitor. Hopping from rock-to-rock, traversing a ridge, clambering over slimy boulders, swimming river crossings or running up and down single or double track, the race truly requires a rounded athlete to gain victory.”
“The men’s race looked all set for a group run to the line with Don-Wauchope, Calisto and Martinez running side-by-side over all of the first 25km. Don-Wauchope safe in 1st place, Calisto safe in 2nd and Martinez no threat to the overall standings.”
“But where was Sa?”
“Sa was trailing a few minutes back. When the trio entered the river bed, Sa apparently flew past like a man possessed. It was a last ditch effort to secure 2nd place ahead of Callisto.”
Images available for personal and commercial use HERE
The stunning Drake Bay hosted the final day of the 2016 The Coastal Challenge. It’s an idyllic location located within the Osa Peninsula. Turquoise seas, blue skies and lush tropical vegetation make it one the most iconic places in Costa Rica.
The final day is to all intents and purposes a victory lap. Racing only really takes place if overall top positions are close, in the 2016 race, gaps between the top 3 were wide enough to make the day neutralised. However, despite this, Chema Martinez from Spain wanted to run and from the sound of the gun at 0615 he pushed hard at the front of the race and crossed the line alone for the final stage victory.
Iain Don-Wauchope, kicked back, puled out his GoPro and let the runners go ahead of him; it was a day of fun ahead.
Carlos Sa pushed the pace in one last effort to maybe take 2nd but when Gonzalo Callisto caught him and ran at his side with 50% of the day covered, they eased back and enjoyed the run for home.
The ladies race was well and truly over and Elisabet Barnes and Ester Alves ran the whole stage together, side-by side and they soaked up the Costa Rican ambience. They partied while running.
The final day is not without challenges though, an early run through a river bed, the crossing of a waterfall, hot running through open plantations and then a return journey to the beach finish at Drake Bay while weaving in and out of the stunning coastline.
The 2016 TCC will be remembered quite simply in just a few words:
Brutal, Beautiful and Hot!
It may well have been one of the hottest editions and word in and amongst the camp confirms that the race really has been a true test. MDS 2015 champion and Oman Desert Cup Champion, Elisabet Barnes, confirmed the thoughts of many on the finish line:
“This has been possibly one of the best races I have ever run. It has so much variety, so many challenges, no two days are the same and I have well and truly been pushed beyond my limits. The combination of such mixed terrain, intense heat and high humidity really do this make this race an ultimate challenge. But in and amongst this, the camp is relaxed, the food provided by the race incredible and the whole Costa Rican experience is one I will not forget. It has been special, really special.”
Damian Hall from the UK has placed in the top 50 at UTMB, been on the podium at The Spine and The Dragons Back and he also found TCC a true test placing 5th overall.
“The heat has been punishing, combined with humidity was brutal. The terrain has been so varied, it’s runnable at times but then other times you are just drawing along. It’s a seriously challenging race and the line-up has been top quality, I am really happy with 5th. The camp sites are amazing, the food has been brilliant and all-in-all it’s been a fantastic experience.”
Iain Don-Wauchope and Ester Alves are the 2016 champions, but to be honest, it may well sound like a cliche, any runner who survived this incredible 6-day experience deserves the ultimate respect.
It has been an awesome edition and talk now turns to 2017. Who will be back? Word in camp just hours after the race confirms that a few familiar names will return…
The overall standing in the ladies’s race are now:
Images available for personal and commercial use HERE
Today was hot, very hot and very long! The longest stage of the 2016 The Coastal Challenge may well have been one of the most beautiful but 50km under the intense Costa Rican heat really did test every single runner int the race.
For the first time in the races’ 12-year history, the stage had an extra 4km. It doesn’t sound a great deal but at times it was technical and in addition, a new long beach section, a water crossing via boat and a stunning wooden rope bridge added to the days attractions.
The cool temperatures from the 0530 start soon disappeared and the intense, uncompromising heat arrived to punish the runners, the only consolation coming at the end with the stunning Drake Bay.
Chema Martinez finally found his Costa Rican legs and ran the stage side-by-side with race leader, Iain Don-Wauchope. They looked to be cruising on what was a very tough day. Don-Wauchope having run and won TCC in 2015 could appreciate the new course:
“The new additions are really stunning, no fantastic. But they are tough and challenging. The beach section was extremely tough due to the high tide. We had to run the tree line which made it difficult. But it’s a beautiful new addition to the race.” – Iain Don-Wauchope.
Crossing the sea to river inlet by boat, Both Martinez and Don-Wauchope took an extended break to cool off and then finished off the stage in style by cruising to the line together.Gonzalo Callisto finished 3rd and secured his 2nd overall.
It was a similar story in the ladies race however it was less planned. Ladies race leader Ester Alves took the lead relatively early on and at one point had extended her lead to approximately 30-minutes. A couple of navigation errors reduced this to just 1-minute in the latter stages of the race and with just 8km to go, Elisabet Barnes and Alves ran together to the line.
“It was the correct thing to do,” Alves said after the race. “There was nothing left to race for in the final km’s and I enjoyed the time talking with Elisabet.”
It was a sentiment echoed by Elisabet Barnes:
“I was feeling very rough this morning with a very dodgy tummy and took me 20km’s to feel good. Ester pulled away and there was nothing I could do. I eventually caught her but we once again entered a very technical section and she once again pulled away. We finally came together again after the rope bridge with 8km to go, running together was a pleasure after a great battle. Today was beautiful but so hot!”
The race concludes tomorrow with what will be a victory lap of Drake Bay and the National Park. The 2016 TCC has been an incredible race; very tough but many will remember it because of the intense heat.
The overall standing in the ladies’s race are now:
Images available for personal and commercial use HERE
The 2016 ‘TCC” (The Coastal Challenge, moved inland today for 35km’s of relentless climbing, at times technical trail and a brutal descent that hammered tired legs all the way to the finish line. The early morning start of 0530 guaranteed the runners a good 1-hour window of cool temperatures but as they climbed higher and higher, low cloud sheltered them but eventually the cloud burned away and searing heat punished the runners.
Ester Alves made her mark on the race today by extending her lead by over 30-minutes, however, the winning margin doesn’t tell a true story. Elisabet Barnes fought very hard early on the keep Alves in sight and hopefully pull away, however, technical trail and a long section in a very technical river bed ruined any chance.
Alves was in her element; comfortable with Skyrunning and mountain races, she pushed at a comfortable pace and never looked in any discomfort on the challenging terrain. Although she had a 10-minute lead in the river bed section at approximately 30km covered, it was on the final descent (almost 1000m) were the real gap was opened. Barnes said post race:
“I hated that final descent, I was out of my comfort zone and I knew any chance of catching Ester was over. I took my time and made my way down without injury.”
Alves finished the stage and many commented how relaxed she looked and how well she has adapted to the heat after a tough day 1. A real point of topic is how little she has been drinking… a no, no for the local but it has worked for Alves.
“Every stage I have anticipation, I never know what to encounter… roads, forests, rivers or trails. It has been amazing. I wasn’t ready for the heat but as the days pass I am getting better and better. I love the heat. I trained before the race for 30km run sessions on little water and that has worked well here. Everyone has been amazed how little I am drinking but it has worked. I like to go simple; fast and light! The competition with Elisabet has been great. She has won MDS and that inspires me, she has been a great competitor. I think if we were in the desert I am sure she would pull away from me but here I love the technical trail and that has been a great advantage for me.” – Ester Alves
The overall standing in the ladies’s race are now:
The men’s race looked all set for a group run to the line with Iain Don-Wauchope, Gonzalo Callisto and Chema Martinez running side-by-side over all of the first 25km. Don-Wauchope safe in 1st place, Callisto safe in 2nd and Martinez no threat to the overall standings. But where was Sa?
Sa was trailing a few minutes back.
When the trio entered the river bed, Sa apparently flew past like a man possessed. It was a last ditch effort to secure 2nd place ahead of Calisto.
“We were having a great run, relaxed, chatting and just a great day on the trails and then Sa flew past us,” Don-Wauchope said. “He really mixed things up and as he pulled away I went with him. He was really motoring. We started to pull away and I felt good. Eventually I pulled away and Calisto bridged the gap back to Sa. The downhill at the end was tough as it was so rutted but I was glad for another stage victory” – Iain Don-Wauchope.
All credit to Sa for making a move and throwing it all on the line. Tomorrow is the longest stage of the week and I wonder if Sa will have another go? The longer the stage, the better he gets and heat is no issue as he proved by winning Badwater 135.