The Coastal Challenge 2018 #TCC2018 – Stage 1

It was a hot day, a seriously hot day!

Leaving San Jose at 0430, runners eventually arrived at Quepos after 3hr bus drive and transferred to the beach for a 0930 start. It’s tough starting so late in the morning, particularly on the first day when there is no time to adapt to the heat and humidity.

Yes, the runners are thrown in at the deep end and the best advice is take it easy and ease in to the day!

The early flat miles ticked away, and it was Tom Evans and Michael Wardian who had a short lead over a pursuing Hayden Hawks at cp1 with 10km covered. For the ladies, it was Ragna Debats who stretched the pace and had a conniving gap over Ester Alves.

A dense section of rainforest and then some fast trails to cp2 saw Hawks and Evans move ahead of Wardian. The UK’s Marcus Scotney chased behind and then Timothy Olson. Hawks was pushing the pace but after cp3, Evans made a move and he opened up a small lead which he kept all the way to the line. Hawks finished 2nd and Scotney moved ahead of Wardian to take the 3rd slot. “I felt good today and I kept my heart rate low,” said Evans. “It was hot but all went well, we have a race on our hands!”

Debats for the ladies was in a race of her own despite post-race saying how hot and difficult it was, “I couldn’t breathe at times and I just had to walk to try and keep my temperature down.”

Behind Debats, a competitive race was unfolding with TCC 2016 winner Ester Alves chasing closely followed by Mirta Reaple. Alves held on for 2nd and Reaple finished 3rd 90-seconds later. Suzanna Guadarrama and Josephine Adams placed 4th and 5th.

Tomorrow, stage 2, the runners will cover 39.1km from Rafiki Lodge to Dominical Beach.

 

  1. Tom Evans 2:38:35
  2. Hayden Hawks 2:42:52
  3. Marcus Scotney 2:47:18
  4. Michael Wardian 2:50:22
  5. Timothy Olson 2:55:44

 

  1. Ragna Debats 3:20:55
  2. Ester Alves 3:34:16
  3. Mirta Reaple 3:35:51
  4. Suzanna Guadarrama 3:48:50
  5. Josephine Adams 3:51:16

 

Full results at www.webscorer.com

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The Coastal Challenge 2018 #TCC2018 – Registration

The 2018 The Coastal Challenge finally got underway today in San Jose, Costa Rica, as over 100 runners from all over the world came to packet pick up and registration for the 14th edition of the race.

As always, it was a mixture of nerves and excitement. The journey ahead, a stunning 6-days running along the coast of Costa Rica from Quepos to the iconic Drake Bay. Flanked on the right by the Pacific and to the left, the amazing Talamanca mountain range. 

The 2018 edition of the race has all the makings of a classic. The men’s field is arguably the best ever with Michael Wardian, Hayden Hawks, Tom Evans, Marcus Scotney and Timothy Olson.

Michael Wardian, TCC champion and previous course record holder.

Hayden Hawks 2017 CCC champion.

Tom Evans 3rd at MDS Morocco 2017 and 4th at CCC and the Eiger Ultra Trail.

Marcus Scotney winner of the Dragons Back Race and Cape Wrath Ultra.

The ladies’ race is equally impressive with past winner Ester Alves returning joined by Ragna Debats, Inge Nijkamp and Josephine Adams.

Ester Alves 2016 The Coastal Challenge champion.

Ragna Debats Skyrunner World Series champion 2017.

Inge Nijkamp 11th at MDS Morocco 2017.

Josephine Adams 6th at MDS Peru 2017.

Full preview HERE

Tomorrow, Sunday 11th, runners depart for San Jose at 0400 for the 4-hour journey to the coast.

It’s a tough day as the race will start at 0900, the sun will already be high in the sky and the heat intense. It’s a day when patience can prevail.

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The Coastal Challenge 2018 Race Preview #TCC2018

The 2018 ‘The Coastal Challenge’ is upon us! Six days, 230.5km of racing and 9543m of vertical gain, 9413m of vertical descent – TCC is more than a challenge!

Follow #TCC2018

Over the years, TCC has grown in stature with an ‘A’ list of elite runners from all over the world. The 2017 edition was won by Salomon International Athletes – Anna Frost and Tom Owens. For 2018, the race steps up a notch with arguably the greatest ever male field assembled for a multi-stage race.

The 2018 edition lists a who’s who of elite runners.

Michael Wardian, a past winner and yours record holder returns. The unstoppable Chema Martinez from Spain returns once again looking for that top spot. Rising GB star, Tom Evans heads for his first rainforest experience after planing 3rd at MDS in 2017. Add to this, the legendary and iconic Timothy Olson, Drgagons Back and Cape Wrath winner, Marcus Scotney and the USA’s rising star and fast-man, Hayden Hawks – needless to say, the rainforest of the Talamancas may be ablaze after these guys have forged a path through its stunning trails.

For the ladies’ Ester Alves returns, a past champion, Ester has just placed 2nd at the Everest Trail Race in Nepal. She will be joined by the Dutch mountain goat and fast lady, Ragna Debats. Our top three female contenders should have been rounded out by Elisabet Barnes but unfortunately, illness has taken its toll and she will not make the start in Quepos.

“Due to several occurrences of cold and flu in the last few months I have had to reevaluate my upcoming race schedule. I have raced nine demanding multi-stage races in the last two years and my body is telling me to back off a bit. I plan to come back stronger and one thing is guaranteed, I will be back at TCC2019 – It is a race I love!”

– Elisabet Barnes

The Race:

Stage 1 34.6km 1018m of vert and 886m of descent

Stage 2 39.1km 1898m of vert and 1984m of descent

Stage 3 47.4km 1781m of vert and 1736m of descent

Stage 4 37.1km 2466m of vert and 2424m of descent

Stage 5 49.8km 1767m of vert and 1770m of descent

Stage 6 22.5km 613m of vert and 613m of descent

Stats:

Total 230.5km

Vertical 9543m

Descent 9413m

Description

Hugging the coastline of the tropical Pacific, TCC is the ultimate multi-day experience that weaves in and out of the Talamancas; a coastal mountain range in the Southwest corner of Central America.

The terrain is ever-changing from wide, dusty and runnable fire trails to dense and muddy mountain trails. Runners will cross rivers, boulders, swim through rivers, pass under waterfalls, survive long relentless beaches and finally finish in the incredible Corcovado National Park, a Unesco World Heritage site with a stunning final loop around Drake Bay before departing for their journeys home via speedboat.

THE ROUTE

Stage 1 

It’s a tough day! Runners depart San Jose early morning (around 0530) for a 3-hour drive to Playa Del Rey, Quepos. It’s the only day that the race starts late and ‘in the sun!’. It’s the toughest day of the race, not because the the terrain or distance, but because of the time of day! The runners are fresh and feel great. That is until about 10km and then they realise the heat and humidity is relentless. It’s a day for caution – mark my words! The 34.6km is very runnable with little vertical and technicality – it welcomes the runners to Costa Rica.

Stage 2

From here on in, it is early breakfast. Around 0400 runners wake and the race starts with  the arrival of the sun! The only way is up from the start with a tough and challenging climb. It’s a tough day with an abundance of climbing and descending and a final tough flat stretch on the beach, just as the heat takes hold.

Stage 3

It is basically 25km of climbing topping out at 800m followed by a drop to the sea and a final kick in the tail before the arrival at camp. For many, this is a key day and maybe one of the most spectacular. Pura Vida.

Stage 4

It’s another tough start to the day with a relentless climb, but once at 900m the route is a rollercoaster of relentless small climbs and descents, often littered with technical sections, rainforest, river crossings and boulders. At 30km, it’s a short drop to the road and the finish at 37.1km.

Stage 5

The long day but what a beauty! This route was tweaked a couple of years ago and now has become iconic with tough trails, plenty of climbing, sandy beaches and yes, even a boat trip. The finish at Drake Bay is iconic.

Stage 6

The victory lap! For many, this stage is the most beautiful and memorable. In just over 20km, the route manages to include a little of all that has gone before. It’s a stage of fun and challenges and one that concludes on the beach as a 2018 medal is placed over your head – job done!

THE RUNNERS – MALE

 

Michael Wardian has won the race and set a course record. He knows the lay of the land and if anyone knows how to race hard, day-after-day, it is Mike. You can never bet against him and he always comes ‘to race!’ There is no sandbagging, no pretenses, just a full-on let’s race and let the best man win!

Hayden Hawks burst on the scene in recent years blazing a trail of fast running. He is one of the new breed of trail runner who is moving from the road/ track to the trails. That natural speed is making trail racing faster and faster. Hayden won CCC in 2017 – a huge win. He loves to train with big weeks and TCC will feel like a ‘training week’ but just a whole lot faster… he is a favourite for the win! 

Timothy Olson needs no introduction. This man blasted Western States to a whole new level and was the man to beat at any race. A tough 2016 started to overturn in 2017 with a slow but calculated return to form. One of the nicest guys out there, Timothy will bring his love for all things to TCC and will inspire with his feet and his heart. On his day, this guy could rip the legs off the competition.

Tom Evans burst on the scene in 2017 placing 3rd at Marathon des Sables. He played the Moroccans at their own game and had them worried. Interestingly, Michael Wardian also placed 3rd some years ago… Tom placed 4th at the Eiger Ultra and CCC and recently has earned a slot on the GB Squad for the World Trail Championships in May. He is fast and can run technical trails, he has the multi-day format nailed – it is going to be awesome!

Marcus Scotney has represented GB and has won ‘The Challenger’ at the UK’s Spine race, won the Cape Wrath Ultra and most recently, The Dragons Back Race – both of which are gnarly UK multi-stage races. Marcus has all the skills for a great race at TCC, the biggest question may well come with heat adaptation from a cold UK?

Finally, Chema Martinez is slowly but surely become Mr. TCC. He has raced many times and played 2nd year-on-year. Will 2018 be the year when he tips the scales in his favour? Who knows, one thing is for sure, he will race hard every day.

THE RUNNERS – FEMALE

Ester Alves has won the race before and last year placed 3rd. Recently, she placed 2nd at the Everest Trail Race in Nepal. Ester brings experience and excellent mountain/ technical running to TCC and as such, will always be a favourite for the win.

Ragna Debats in recent years has been a revelation mixing fast running (IAU World Trail Champs) with Skyrunning. On paper, Ragna is a hot favourite for victory in Costa Rica. The combination of speed and technical ability may well give her a supreme edge over the competition.

Inge Nijkamp placed 11th at Marathon des Sables and although she won’t appreciate me highlighting her name here, she will be one to watch. Her form, in her own words, “Is not what it should be,’ but, she has the ability and skill to certainly edge onto the podium should all go well.

Of course, we can not rule out the local talent who, over the years, has made the race exhilarating and exciting. We will update this report with a review of both the male and female talent once the race list has been confirmed.

Registration takes place on February 10th

Racing starts on the 11th

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Daily reports, results and images on THIS website

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Race website HERE

Timothy Olson joins the 2018 The Coastal Challenge is #TCC2018

With just 1-month to go to the 2018 The Coastal Challenge, #TCC2018 – Race director, Rodrigo Carazo, is pleased to announce that TNF athlete, Timothy Olson, will join the line-up for the race. It has been said, year-after-year that ‘this’ TCC is the best… Without doubt, 2018 has the greatest line-up in the race’s history!

Joining Timothy Olson on the start line in Quepos this coming February will be past winner and previous course record holder, Michael Wardian here. Fast-man and 2017 CCC champion, Hayden Hawks here. The Cape Wrath Ultra and Dragons Back Race champion, Marcus Scotney here. The flying Brit, Tom Evans here, who placed 3rd at the 2017 Marathon des Sables – the highest ever placing for a British runner at the race. Chema Martinez, the speedy Spaniard once again returns to TCC, he has placed 2nd many times, can he win in 2018? Finally, Sondre Amdahl here who raced TCC in 2017, has recently made the podium at Everest Trail Race and has an illustrious resume at ultra-distance races, UTMB and Western States to name just two.

The ladies’ race is also set to be a classic with previous 2015 champion, Ester Alves here returning after placing 3rd in 2017. MDS two-time champion, Elisabet Barnes here, also returns to Costa Rica, however, illness post Everest Trail Race in November may will impact on her chances for the podium, in her words, “Preparation for TCC this year has been poor with two bouts of cold and flu, I am seriously behind but I love Costa Rica and the race, so I don’t want to miss it!” Finally, Skyrunner 2017 World Series champion, Ragna Debats here, will have her first taste of Costa Rica and its amazing landscape after an incredible 2017.

They say it is hot in Costa Rica – with this line-up, the trails between Quepos and the finish at the stunning Drake Bay can expect to be scorched as these fast guys and girls blaze a trail over this iconic multi-day event. As the locals say, “Pura Vida!”

I caught up with Timothy, after a tough 2016, 2017 saw a return to form for the American. It was my first question, how was 2017?

2017 was a solid year, I hope to build on that health and fitness and have a strong 2018. It is always nice to get a good win against solid competition and I achieved that. I plan to continue to train smart and have lots of fun getting in long runs in the mountains.

You have recently been training in Chile, how was that experience?

Chile was great, it was fun to explore and have a fun Holiday with my family there. I did a TNF Endurance Challenge race and then after the race I took some time off and enjoyed some chill runs with my wife and kids. So there wasn’t much training, I hope to get back to Chile and explore the mountains down south. 

You have signed up for TCC to kick-off 2018 – what is the attraction?

Costa Rica is an amazing place filled with life, lush greenery and so many amazing places to explore. I’m excited to try a stage race, push myself with some fast runners and enjoy nature and chill beach camping

We have quite a line-up for the 2018 race – Tom Evans, Michael Wardian, Marcus Scotney, Hayden Hawks, Sondre Amdahl, Chema Martinez and more… The local competition will be strong too! It is tough way to start a year – do you embrace that?

That is quite the lineup! Just like any race, I line up and try to give my best, I don’t really concern myself with other competition. However the competition does motivate me to be in good shape and work on my speed game to be ready to go. This will be a great opportunity for me to push harder at the start of races to keep contact with the leaders. This will be a challenging yet fun way to start the year. 

Costa Rica – hot, humid and challenging, In many ways it sounds perfect for you?

We’ll see, I don’t mind heat, but day after day of intense running and heat can catch up to you. I hope to race smart and be mindful that we’ll be racing for 6-days. I do like a good challenge, so I’m excited to see how it plays out. 

What are you most looking forward to at the race? The reason I ask,  family is joining you beforehand – is that a bonus or distraction?

The family will travel back to the States when I start the race. Traveling with family definitely has its distractions to my training and sleep schedule but it sure is fun to experience this world and travels together. It definitely enriches the experience having family around, but I’m excited for a week focused on running for the Costal Challenge. 

Mindfulness, tell me what it brings to your racing and your life in general.

Mindfulness is a practice of being aware of your body and mind – connecting them together with your breath to focus and bring ones attention into the present moment. I feel like running and being in nature encourages me to be present and appreciate each moment. In training and racing, the practice of breath awareness and focus allows me to push myself and train hard when it’s called for. My practice of mindfulness through meditation plays a tremendous roll in both my training and life in general. Being mindful of my training encourages me to prioritize recovery and chill days too which keeps me healthy and helps me continue to enjoy running. With kids, jobs and the chaos of life, my meditation practice allows me to be present with my family and when challenging moments arise, I use my practice and instead of reacting unconsciously in those moments I can respond appropriately and make wise choices.

Is this your first multi-day in the style/ ethos of Marathon des Sables?

Yes, I did TransRockies a while back but wasn’t really racing. I had a fun partner and we had a great experience but I’m excited to try it out with a little more effort. 

Any plans for other multi-day races?

Not as of now, but if some multi-day race offers me a solid deal to come out and join I’m more than open to more of these.

What does 2018 hold beyond TCC.

I’m really excited for this next year of racing. After TCC I think my next big race will be Madeira 115k in April. I haven’t figured out much after that, but I’m looking at UTMB. Still open to suggestions that I should consider. Maybe the Broken Arrow Sky race in Tahoe in June. It should be a great year and I look forward to pushing my limits in 2018. 

*****

TCC as it is affectionately known is a multi-day race starting in the southern coastal town of Quepos, Costa Rica and finishing at the stunning Drake Bay on the Osa Peninsula. It is an ultimate multi-day running experience that offers a new challenge even to the most experienced runner. Taking place over 6-days, the race hugs the coastline of Costa Rica, traveling in and out of the stunning Talamanca mountain range. Even the strongest competitors are reduced to exhausted shells by the arrival of the finish line due to the combination of technical trails, dense forest, river crossings, waterfalls, long stretches of golden beach, dusty access roads, high ridges and open expansive plains.

You can read and view images from the 2017 edition HERE

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The Coastal Challenge

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Website (UK) HERE

Website (Global) HERE

Hayden Hawks to join the line-up at The Coastal Challenge 2018 #TCC2018

Hayden Hawks is one of those rising stars in the sport. A fast-guy moving from tack to trails and leaving scorch marks behind… But who is this 25-year old from Utah? In 2016, he burst on the scene with victory at Speedgoat 50K, sponsorship with Hoka One One followed and victory at Capstone 50K in November laid the foundations for that very memorable head-to-head with Miller at San Francisco 50. I profiled Hawks for IRUN4ULTRA and you can read that article here.

In 2017, Hawks toed the line at Transvulcania Ultramarathon. We expected a dominant performance and in the early stages, along with Tim Freriks, the American duo set a relentless and fast pace. By the time they reached the high-point of the course at Roques de los Muchachos, Freriks was looking strong and pushed ahead whereas Hawks felt the pace and had to eventually ease up but he pushed on for a finish, way outside his and all pre-race expectations.

It was a learning curve, but with learning comes knowledge. Hawks then turned un in Chamonix to toe the line at the CCC, one of the shorter races over the UTMB weekend – he won it!

It was all starting to click into place and just recently, Hawks once again toed the line at San Francisco 50; the super-fast showdown that often concludes a racing season for many an elite. It was Freriks once again who took the top slot but this time Hawks sealed a podium place (3rd) rounding out a solid 2017.

With 2018 around the corner, Hawks has secured a place at the 2018 The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica #TCC2018. It will be a seriously competitive start to 2018 and in a race that will bring a new experience and learning curve for the Utah man.

The 2018 edition of TCC is already looking like a stunning race. Two-time MDS champion Elisabet Barnes will return to Costa Rica and the UK’s Marcus Scotney who won the Cape Wrath Ultra and the Dragons Back Race has his first TCC experience ahead of him. – read HERE.

In addition, the UK’s Tom Evans will also run the 2018 TCC, read HERE the unstoppable Michael Wardian HERE and just recently, two new names have been added, Sondre Amdahl and Ragna Debats – more news to follow on this!

I caught up with Hawks to find out a little more ahead of the 2018 TCC

  1. You have been tipped as one of the ‘new wave’ of US ultra-runners who will make an impact on the world ultra-scene – how does that feel; does it bring pressure?

I am excited to be in this situation where I can inspire and help others. That is really what’s it’s all about. Of course, it can bring pressure but learning how to embrace that pressure and turn it into positive energy is what you need to do as an elite. This is a dream come true and I feel so blessed to be in the situation I am in, doing what I love every day. Life is wonderful and amazing and I hope to be the best I can for years to come! 

  1. You have some fast friends, Jim Walmsley and Tim Freriks, do you guys push each other to new limits and expectations?

We definitely push each other in races, sometimes training, and definitely inspirationally! These guys inspire me and help me want to be better. I know that I have to be on my A game at all time. We are all pushing the limits and making our sport more exciting and fun to watch. We always want to give our best and push the limits. It’s also great to have competition that you also call friends. Isn’t our sport awesome?  

  1. You started 2017 with Transvulcania, what was it like racing in Europe on those trails?

I actually ran 4 races before Transvulcania in the USA to start 2017 that all went great. I always wanted to race in Europe though and really enjoyed my time. I was pretty tired going into that race and should have been more prepared. It was a great learning experience that I would never change, this blow up has changed my career and helped me so much from the lessons I learned. European trails are definitely different and need to be practiced on, but they are fun and amazing to run on! I really enjoy them.  

  1. CCC was a great moment for you, tell me about it?

It was a career changer! Definitely the best and most exciting race I have won to date! I had a great time and felt so strong for that race. I crossed the line and felt like I could have kept going. It was just one of those perfect days! Can’t wait to go back! I appreciate everyone that believed in me after some rough races and the support and congratulations that I have received. 

 

  1. You have decided to run TCC in Costa Rica in 2018 – it is a multi-day race in heat and humidity – are you intimidated by the race?

I am not intimidated. I have been to Costa Rica before and know what the weather, trails, and culture will be like. It will be amazing! I have been training by doing 150+ miles a week in 6 Days for years. My body and mind know how to do that and I believe that it will really bring out my strengths competing in this style of event! I also love climbing and so the vert will not be intimidating but embraced! 

  1. You will have strong competition from Mike Wardian, Tom Evans, Marcus Scotney, Chema Martinez and more – you are going to need to be fit, healthy and strong – does that excite you?

I love competition! It gets me excited to know that I will be going up against athletes like these! They are also good friends of mine so I am excited for the fun times we will share together! I always make sure I am prepared and expect my competition will do the same. We will have many hard fought, exciting, fun miles! 

 

  1. Tell me a little about your preparation for Costa Rica – what are you doing at the moment?

Right now, I am doing 100 miles in 3 Days in the Bears Ears area in Utah that is under attack for protection. This is a very rugged and technical land. I will be doing upwards of 150 miles in 6 Days training for this race. I will be prepared!  

  1. What will a multi-day race bring you for your plans later in 2018?

A multi-day race will help my body learn how to push even when it is tired. I will need this for the longer races I will be doing, specifically the 100 mile races. This will be a great race as well as great training in a wonderful land! 

  1. What are the plans for 2018?

I will be doing some long races in 2018, capping it off with my first 100-mile race. Not 100 percent sure what that race will be. I love the long events and will be running Mt Gaoligong 125k and Penyagolosa 100k this spring! 

  1. Finally, what is your lifetime, long-term dream race or goal?

My dream race like many other Americans is to be the first American to win UTMB. I love the vibe and fans of this race and the area it is held in. I would also like to travel the world running races across the world experiencing new cultures and lands! 

TCC as it is affectionately known is a multi-day race starting in the southern coastal town of Quepos, Costa Rica and finishing at the stunning Drake Bay on the Osa Peninsula. It is an ultimate multi-day running experience that offers a new challenge even to the most experienced runner. Taking place over 6-days, the race hugs the coastline of Costa Rica, traveling in and out of the stunning Talamanca mountain range. Even the strongest competitors are reduced to exhausted shells by the arrival of the finish line due to the combination of technical trails, dense forest, river crossings, waterfalls, long stretches of golden beach, dusty access roads, high ridges and open expansive plains.

You can read and view images from the 2017 edition HERE

Follow #TCC2018

Twitter @talkultra

Instagram @iancorlessphotography

facebook.com/iancorlessphotography

The Coastal Challenge

Facebook HERE

Website (UK) HERE

Website (Global) HERE

Mountain, Ultra, Trail and Skyrunning Review of 2017

As a year comes to a close, I always like to look back and consider the highlights of the year, not only personal highlights but global highlights of the running world.

It is a daunting task at times.

The running year is now so full that it can be difficult to remember what happened just weeks ago, never mind months ago. So, with this in mind, please consider that this article is my thoughts and not a definitive highlight of 2017.

Having said that, I am going to make some huge mistakes and I am going to miss some key people, races and performances.

I welcome you, the reader, reminding me of what they are – please, just be nice!

So, let us look at 2017.

I was considering going through chronologically and in all honesty, it may have been the better solution to the task at hand, however, I have just gone on impulse! 

Western States was won by Ryan Sandes and I have to say, it was a sweet victory for the South African who over the years I have considered a great friend. Ryan was my first ever interview on Talk Ultra podcast and I love his story. The non-runner who became a runner who eventually won Western States. It’s a dream story. While on the subject of Western, we also need to mention the ladies champ, Cat Bradley. While all the top contenders faded, Cat ran a sound and solid race to take the biggest win of her life. It was no one-off, something she has proven recently by setting a FKT in the Grand Canyon – Rim – to – Rim – to – Rim fastest known time in 7:52:20

Francois D’Haene racing in China, April 2017

Francois D’Haene is the best 100-mile mountain runner in the world – end of the story. The dude has been nailing it for years and when Rob Krar won 3 100’s in one year, so did Francois. The Frenchman has consistently dominated the distance and when the trail has vertical, he is almost unbeatable. In 2017, he elevated himself to a new level firstly beating the ‘unbeatable’ Kilian Jornet at UTMB and then setting (obliterating) the FKT for the John Muir Trail. He also ripped MIUT (Madeira Island Ultra Trail) apart, and the previous CR set by Zach Miller. Without doubt, Francois is the male ultra-runner of the year in my eyes. We just need to see him at Hardrock 100 now!

Andrea Huser blows my mind constantly. She is the most impressive and consistent runner in the ultra-world and I often ask the question, if she raced less, would she win more? She has a string of top results but often has missed the big win. But when you race as much as she does, you can’t help but just nod in respect.

Caroline Chaverot was unbeatable in 2016 and 2017 started with some issues, issues that she has battled with throughout 2017. Despite this, she won Hardrock 100. It was a great victory and not one without controversy… she left her bleeding pacer on the trail for others to help. Just recently she rounded out her year with a win at Saint E Lyon in France – the classic November night race.

Ida Nilsson and Tim Freriks kicked off their seasons with victory at Transvulcania. Ida’s win was to be expected, but Tim’s win was a revelation. The ‘cowboy’ then went on to set a FKT in the Grand Canyon. Ida continued her great running throughout 2017 and then the duo turned up at San Francisco 50 and both won again – they topped and tailed the year and we can expect big things in 2018!

Jim Walmsley and the PR machine in many ways signified a new era in the sport of ultra-running and not all for the better in my opinion. The hype around the 2017 Western States before the race pretty much had Jim with his buckle, the Cougar and a new CR. The reality was very different. Jim then went to UTMB and showed signs of learning the craft. He watched Francois and Kilian and paced his day. It eventually went wrong but he rallied and closed out strong. A definitive moment for Jim and I was well aware that this would be a turning point for his 100-mile future. He then confirmed he would run on Reunion Island at Raid de la Reunion! While I can admire the decision, for me, it was always going to be a questionable decision in regard to his ‘professional’ development. But I am being judgmental and I hope not in a negative way. I ‘get’ that Jim wanted to run on the island but the step-up from UTMB was huge and despite leading the race, he eventually dropped around the 100km mark. It has been a huge learning year for the fast man and I still hold true that up to 100km, the guy is pretty much un-matched. I am looking forward to seeing him nail 100-miles in 2018 (maybe 2019) and when he does, watch out, it will almost certainly be super-fast and mind blowing. 

Kilian Jornet pretty much was missing from the mountain, ultra and trail calendar for the past 18-months and rightly so. He had set targets on the final summit of his Summits of my Life – Everest. A failed attempt in previous year and then Nepal earthquakes had put things on hold. No bad thing. Kilian learned, progressed and then finally summited Everest twice in one week which blew the minds of the whole world. Of course, anything so amazing has questions raised over it and rightly so. Just recently an article appeared and Kilian responded. Read HERE. More will come to light in regard to Everest and ultimately one has to assume the Everest film will answer all questions. Post Everest, Kilian started running again and won a super-fast Sierre Zinal, he won Hardrock 100 with a dislocated shoulder, placed 2nd behind Francois at UTMB and won Glen Coe Skyline. In the winter, he has had operations on his shoulders and now is in recovery and waiting to get back into the SkiMo season. Kilian has nothing to prove in my eyes. What does 2018 hold? Who knows really, ultimately, Kilian is at the top of his game and he will go where his heart takes him… expect a Zegama appearance, a Hardrock appearance, maybe the Bob Graham will be on the cards and maybe he will be back in Scotland for Glen Coe. Who knows? Whatever the path, he will inspire.

Camille Herron won Comrades, wow, it is the holy grail of road ultra-running. She then followed with a DNF at Western States and Leadville and I, and others, was left wondering what had happened. Oh, my word has she put the record straight. In recent weeks Camille has set a 100-mile world record 12:42:39, a 100km USA track record 7:36:39 at Desert Solstice and then went on to run for 12-hours and set a 12hr All-Surface World Record 92.708 miles. She is the new Ann Trason and arguably, she will be in for a shout as ultra-runner of the year.

Courtney Dewaulter can push Camille close. This lady won Run Rabbit Run (again) this time losing her vision in the final 10km. She then went on to win Moab 200 (actually 238-miles) outright and then recently ran 250.079km / 155.391 miles in 24-hours setting an American record. Wow!

Nuria Picas came out of the wilderness of 2016 and quite rightly, finally won UTMB. Nuria was unstoppable for many years but the big loop around Chamonix had eluded her, I firmly believe she can consider her career complete with this win!

The UK’s Dan Lawson flew around the Gobi Desert to win with a new CR at the 400km Ultra Gobi. Dan is the UK’s hottest prospect at the long game, particularly when you consider past runs on the Grand Union Canal and 2nd at the iconic Spartathlon.

Marco De Gasperi pioneered the way for Skyrunning on Monte Rosa in the early 90’s and has had incredible journey as one of the most respected mountain runners in the world. Finally, in 2017, Marco became the Skyrunner World Series (SWS) champion after an incredible season of consistent running and podium places – a true inspiration.

Maite Maiora moved up several notches in 2017 and was a dominant force on the Skyrunning circuit with a string of victories and podium places. 2017 was her year in the sky! But let us not forget Ragna Debats, she had an amazing full season and triumphed over multiple distances in addition to a great run at the IAU World Trail Champs. Also, Sheila Aviles came of age… a name to watch in future years! For the guys, keep an eye on Jan Maragarit.

UTMB had arguably the greatest male line-up of elite runners ever and it turned out to be great show down and we saw the confirmation that US runners are getting UTMB. Tim Tollefson was again flying the flag with a 3rd place. It is only a matter of time until we see an American win the big dance around France, Italy and Switzerland – will it be 2018? It could well be if Francois d’Haene and Kilian Jornet don’t run.

Hillary Allen has represented the USA in Europe for a couple of years now and once again she was doing so in 2017. However, it all fell apart, before my eyes, at Tromso SkyRace in Norway. She fell many meters, bounced on the rocks below and came away with some serious injuries. Thankfully, the recovery process has gone well and I wish Hillary well for 2018.

Ruth Croft has been in the mix for some time and I think it is fair to say that her victory at ‘Templiers’ in France recently has elevated to the New Zealander to a new level for the coming year… what does 2018 hold for this lady?

2017 most certainly has been a FKT year – Iker Karrera, Darcy Piceu, Francois d’Haene, Tim Freriks, Cat Bradley, Alicia Vargo, Rickey Gates and so many more have all taken the Fastest Known Time discipline to new heights but I wonder if ‘Stringbean’s’ FKT on the Appalachian Trail is the one that should have had more press and coverage? He soloed the AT quicker than Karl Meltzer and Scott Jurek and without help, but, relatively slipped under most radars. Read here.

Jeff Browning crushed the 100-mile distance in 2016 and did so again in 2017, he is a great ambassador for the sport.

Luis Alberto Hernando is for me, arguably one of the most talented runners in the world. But he is a quiet guy who in many ways, keeps himself to himself. He races hard and crushes the competition. In 2017, he once again became IAU World Trail Champion on a course that he, and many others said, didn’t suit him. The guy is pure class!

The UK’s Damian Hall came to running late in life (not that he is old) but he has slowly and surely chipped his way through the ultra-ranks and this year just missed the top-10 at UTMB – an incredible result.

Tom Evans broke on the scene by placing 3rd at MDS Morocco and in the process set a new benchmark for UK based runners to aim for. He followed this up with some other solid results in 2017 and I, like many others, wonder what 2018 holds in store.

Rickey Gates ran across America. Nuff said! Read here.

Ueli Steck, the Swiss Machine, died on the mountains and left the mountain world devastated by his passing. Here.

Alex Honold free soloed El Cap in arguably one of the most awe-inspiring and risky climbs in the history of the sport. It is quite literally, off the scale and beyond comprehension. I know it’s not running but it is without doubt worth a mention! Here.

The infamous Barkley once again served up another serving of spine tingling history with John Kelly finishing and Canada’s Gary Robbins left wiped out on the floor in tears. You can’t make stories like this up.

Gary Cantrell (Lazarus Lake of Barkley fame) organised a race that went through his garden, The Big Backyard Ultra. Every 60-minutes, runners set off on a loop. During the night, the loop changed. The principal was simple, you keep going till one man or woman is left Standing. Well, Guiiiaume Calmettes was that man in 2017 running 245.835 pipping Harvey Lewis. 

Rachid Elmorabity once again won Marathon des Sables in Morocco proving that he is the greatest multi-day desert runner in the world at the moment. Elisabet Barnes, 2015 MDS champion once again returned to the sand pit after missing victory in 2016 and was unstoppable with a dominant and impressive force of sand running.

MDS Peru followed on the 32-year traditions of its Moroccan big brother with the first edition in Peru’s Ica Desert. This was the first time any event was allowed permission to take place in this amazing National Park. It was great first event with Morocco’s Rachid Elmorabity and France’s Nathalie Mauclair taking the top honours.

Michael Wardian did what he always does, run and run and run throughout 2017. But he kicked off the year with a world record running 7-marathons on 7-continents in 7-days. The guy just continues to impress.

Best shoes of 2017? Well, this is well and truly a can of worms and I can only answer from a personal perspective. The Nike Air Zoom Wildhorse 4 here blew my socks off and is now my favourite day-to-day trail running shoe. For when it gets technical, gnarly, muddy and I need an aggressive shoe, the VJ Sport iRock2 here has set a new benchmark for me in regard to grip.

Best clothing? inov-8 have continued to impress me with not only excellent run shoes but appeared to match. They now have a really specific line of products (including packs) that make them an excellent one-stop shop for anything that you would need for a messy and muddy 5km fell run to the tough and challenging 100+ mile UTMB.

Best moment of 2017? That is a serious toughie but maybe Ryan Sandes finally taking that WSER top slot. I know how much he wanted it and he didn’t have an easy journey obtaining it. Huge respect! But hey, I have been inspired by so many in 2017.

On a personal note to conclude:

For me, I started travelling in January and I stopped in December. Yes, I have been on the road for 12-months and I consider myself to be truly blessed for the opportunities I have had to follow my dreams and make a living from it. I never take it for granted! While I could go into the details of each trip, I won’t. Every race is documented in words and images on this website and my social channels and you can find out about them should you so wish.

INSTAGRAM here

TWITTER here

FACEBOOK PHOTOGRAPHY here FACEBOOK TALK ULTRA here

PHOTOGRAPHY WEBSITE here IMAGE SALES here

Don’t forget Talk Ultra Podcast which has documented this sport HERE

BUT, and this is a huge BUT. My passion, and my work calendar comes at a price. I have a son, a family and an amazing partner, Niandi. They have all been neglected in 2017 with my travel and race coverage. It’s a dilemma and one that keeps me awake. I struggle for answers but I want to say THANK YOU for the support to all those people who mean the world to me, you know who you are.

 

Michael Wardian returns to The Coastal Challenge #TCC2018

Michael Wardian never stops…. He is a real life Forest Gump. Just recently he ran 400km in the Gobi Desert, a first for him! Wardian though started the year with a world record running 7 marathons in 7 days on 7 continents, you can listen to an in-depth interviewer with him HERE about this incredible feat.

It’s a dangerous question asking Wardian, ‘So, what is next?’

It is never a one word answer.

For example, in a few days, October 14th, he will toe the line at Hartford Marathon Charity Chase. Followed by the Marine Corps Marathon on the 22nd. November brings NYC Marathon, JFK 50 Miler, Flanigan’s 10km… do I need to go on? You get the picture!

In 2014, Wardian toed the line at The Coastal Challenge and had a great race winning and at the time setting a new CR ahead of quality runners such Philipp Reiter, Martin Gaffuri and Nick Clark.

Wardian promised he would return and in 2018, he will once again arrive on Costa Rican soil for a race that he loves.

 1. Michael, you run and run, race and race. It seems a weekend never passes without you racing at least one race and more often than not, two or three… How do you keep the enthusiasm to race/ run so much? 

MRW: I definitely enjoy toeing the line and throwing down.  The thrill of racing is this something that is internal and I believe keeps me fresh and focused.  I love seeing what I am capable of and I hope I inspire people to do a bit more than they think they can. 

2. This amount of racing and running must take a toll on you and your body – how do you avoid injury?

MRW:  I do race a lot and ask my body and mind  to perform at the highest levels repeatedly but I think instead of causing injury it actually avoids injury a bit because my body is continually adapting and evolving and always improving. That said since my injuries in 2012, I am super mindful to error on the side of less miles and more recovery if something seems off. I also take massage often, foam roll, stretch and work with a personal trainer to get strong and avoid imbalances and injuries. 

3. You have had an incredible 2017 with a full calendar – what are the highlights?

MRW:  2017, has definitely been a banner year, some events that comes to mind are:

1) 7 marathons in 7 days on 7 continents, average pace of 2:45, new World Record

2) Big Sur Marathon Champion 

3) Kauai Marathon Champion

4) Leadville 100 miler/ Pikes Peak Marathon double break Marshall Ulrich record from 1993

5) Ultragobi 400k finish, new personal record for distance and time. 

4. You have raced TCC before, you won it! What is bringing you back to Costa Rica?

MRW: I loved TCC, when I won it a few years ago and have been wanting to come back since but with scheduling it didn’t work out but as soon as the schedule permitted I knew I would come back if the opportunity was there. I loved the organization, culture and nature. 

5. When you won the race, at times you struggled with some of the technical terrain. You used your run speed to close gaps and seize an advantage – any new plans or strategies for 2018?

MRW: I think I got pretty lucky last time to win the TCC, I was was just getting my fitness back and used what has always been my strength faster road running but since 2014, I have really focused on trails and feel much improved so looking forward to putting those earned skills to use in 2018. 

6. You placed 3rd at Marathon des Sables some year’s ago and this year, Tom Evans matched this. Are you excited to race toe-to-toe and see who is the better on Costa Rican soil?

MRW:  I am very excited to race Tom Evans but even more excited to get to run with and know the guys and girls racing. I love connecting with people and making new friends so hoping we get to push each other during the race and become friendly after. I am also excited for my family to meet some of the top athletes in the sport on a personal level and see who is causing me to suffer everyday. 

7. Chema Martinez will return to TCC and the UK’s Marcus Scotney will run, do you know much about them and do you have any strategies to get the edge for victory?

MRW: I just heard of Chema Martinez from my buddy Paul during the 400k UltraGobi, he sounds strong and exciting to get to race with him. I don’t know Marcus Scotney but I am sitting with some English guys and they said he is very strong and on the English 100k World Team…I think I just need to stay in the hunt and run hard when I sense an opportunity. 

8. Heat, humidity, a variety of terrain and stunning views – what excites you most about coming back to TCC and for those new to the race, what three tips can you provide that will make the 2018 experience a special one?

MRW:  I definitely think you should be ready for heat, humidity mixed terrain, the views are spectacular and I am super excited about them. A few tips are be ready to run hard because the pace can be fast especially for early in the year, there are legit climbs and some parts can get technical. Also, there is a little altitude that I didn’t expect the first time. 

9. You are bringing family to TCC this year, does this make it extra special?

MRW: I am definitely excited to share TCC with Jennifer, Pierce and Grant and it will be super special as none of my family have gotten to experience the Tica hospitality. I think they will be as blown away as I have been by the nature, beauty and landscape but most particularly the people. 

10. Finally, TCC is in February, dare I ask what the rest of 2018 holds for you?

MRW: 2018, should be super interesting, I am trying to decide exactly where to race right now and would like to do some new events in different and unique places. If you know anything cool please let me know or your audience. 

The 2018 edition of TCC is already looking like a stunning race. Two-time MDS champion Elisabet Barnes will return to Costa Rica and the UK’s Marcus Scotney who won the Cape Wrath Ultra and the Dragons Back Race has his first TCC experience ahead of him. – read HERE.

In addition, the UK’s Tom Evans will also run the 2018 TCC, read HERE.

TCC as it is affectionately known is a multi-day race starting in the southern coastal town of Quepos, Costa Rica and finishing at the stunning Drake Bay on the Osa Peninsula. It is an ultimate multi-day running experience that offers a new challenge even to the most experienced runner. Taking place over 6-days, the race hugs the coastline of Costa Rica, traveling in and out of the stunning Talamanca mountain range. Even the strongest competitors are reduced to exhausted shells by the arrival of the finish line due to the combination of technical trails, dense forest, river crossings, waterfalls, long stretches of golden beach, dusty access roads, high ridges and open expansive plains.

You can read and view images from the 2017 edition HERE

Follow #TCC2018

Twitter @talkultra

Instagram @iancorlessphotography

facebook.com/iancorlessphotography

The Coastal Challenge

Facebook HERE

Website (UK) HERE

Website (Global) HERE

Tom Evans to run the 2018 The Coastal Challenge

Tom Evans placed 3rd at the 2017 Marathon des Sables, the highest ever placing by a British male. His result was a complete surprise. He arrived on the start line an unknown, by the end of day one he was a dark horse turning the heads of journalists and runners.

It was no one day wonder. Evans matched the Moroccans stride-for-stride and pushed them all the way to the end. His result was a breakthrough performance!

Not happy to become a multi-day specialist, Evans has since tested himself in mountain races, the Eiger Ultra 101km and the CCC – in both races he placed 4th. With a road marathon coming up, Evans now looks ahead to 2018 and a multi-day training camp in Lanzarote (HERE) where he will coach and run, quickly followed by the 2018 The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica.

I caught up with Evans and fired of ten quick-fire questions.

Images from the 2017 TCC with Anna Frost, Anna Comet, Ester Alves, Jason Schlarb, Sondre Amdahl, Elisabet Barnes, Chema Martinez, Tom Owens and many more.

  1. You placed 3rd at MDS this year, quite a result, what has the following months been like for you?

It’s been pretty crazy since that surprise result at MdS. This year, I wanted to find out more about my running and really learn what my strengths and weaknesses are. I raced in the Eiger 101km and the CCC. Both went really well considering 95% of my training is done in and around London. I have been juggling my military career with my new-found love of running.

  1. How did you train for MDS and what top 3 tips worked that you can pass on?

My training for MdS was pretty limited as I was away with the Welsh Guards in the build-up to the race. I managed to get a week long trip to Lanzarote to focus on the race and get some quality miles in my legs. My top 3 tips are:

  1. Train how you race. Train with the kit and food you are going to use.
  2. Heat acclimatisation is so important. It can be done anywhere hot eg Bikram yoga!
  3. Stay injury free. If you start developing a niggle, get it sorted ASAP! Better to turn up less fit but injury free.

  1. You have followed MDS with mountain races, the Eiger and CCC, is this to broaden your skill set – what is the attraction?

Yes. I wanted to develop my running skills in all different environments. I love being in the mountains and discovering new places. The mountain races have really pushed me outside my comfort zone. I think to be a top quality ultra-runner you have to be a well-rounded athlete. I have learnt so much in the mountains that I will use in the rest of my career.

 

  1. Technical trails, climbing and challenging terrain will be in abundance in Costa Rica, is that one of the attractions of the race?

I have always wanted to go to Costa Rica. I love traveling and I also love running so thought that this was a perfect opportunity. I am really looking forward to the varied terrain in the race and pushing myself to the limit.

 

  1. What else attracts you to TCC? 

TCC is an iconic race that attracts a great crowd. I have loved spending time getting to know lots of different athletes in the past 6 months. I love that everyone has come from a different background and all have such different stories to tell.

 

  1. Heat and humidity in Costa Rica is brutal, very different to MDS and other races you have done – how will you prepare?

I am going to be doing lots of my winter training at St Marys University who have got one of the best chambers in the country. This will help me to understand the effect of humidity and heat on my body. I am also going to Lanzarote for the Pre-MdS training camp. This will give me a great opportunity to do some heat training in great company.

 

  1. You are not self-sufficient at TCC so you can run free – is that an appeal or do you like self-sufficiency?

I am really looking forward to being able to run free and use the aid stations. I have heard great things about what is on offer at the aid stations, especially fruit, which is far more appealing to another energy gel! Having said that, I do like all the preparation for the self-sufficiency races. I am a bit of a sports science nerd and like doing all the research before the races.

 

  1. Any races before TCC?

Yes, I am in my final block of training for Frankfurt Marathon. I am using this to focus on my speed and efficiency before going back to the longer distances. There are a couple of great UK races in December and January that I will probably look to use for training. I will also be racing the XC season, I think the fast training is really important, even for ultra-runners.  I don’t want to race too much though, I want to make sure that I am fit and injury free on the start line in Costa Rica so I can give it my all.

 

  1. What does the future hold beyond Costa Rica?

There are a couple of big races that I am targeting for 2018. The first being the World Trail Championships in Penyagolosa in May. After that, I am going to be focussing on fast 100k races, with ambitions to race in the 100km World Championships in September. I will also be doing a couple of UTWT and Skyrunning races, but haven’t fully worked out which ones. There are so many amazing races all over the world but I don’t want to race too much too soon!

 

  1. And finally, Michael Wardian from the USA has won TCC and placed 3rd at MDS – he is back in 2018, is the battle on?

Michael is a fantastic athlete and one of my inspirations to get into running. It will be a honour to be on the start line with him in Costa Rica. I am really looking forward to the journey and I guess we will have to wait and see what happens!

The 2018 edition of TCC is already looking like a stunning race. Two-time MDS champion Elisabet Barnes will return to Costa Rica and the UK’s Marcus Scotney who won the Cape Wrath Ultra and the Dragons Back Race has his first TCC experience ahead of him. – read HERE.

TCC as it is affectionately known is a multi-day race starting in the southern coastal town of Quepos, Costa Rica and finishing at the stunning Drake Bay on the Osa Peninsula. It is an ultimate multi-day running experience that offers a new challenge even to the most experienced runner. Taking place over 6-days, the race hugs the coastline of Costa Rica, traveling in and out of the stunning Talamanca mountain range. Even the strongest competitors are reduced to exhausted shells by the arrival of the finish line due to the combination of technical trails, dense forest, river crossings, waterfalls, long stretches of golden beach, dusty access roads, high ridges and open expansive plains.

You can read and view images from the 2017 edition HERE

Follow #TCC2018

Twitter @talkultra

Instagram @iancorlessphotography

facebook.com/iancorlessphotography

The Coastal Challenge

Facebook HERE

Website (UK) HERE

Website (Global) HERE

Wardian nails the World Marathon Challenge

©worldmarathonchallenge

©worldmarathonchallenge

Michael Wardian needs no introduction. The dude has been blowing our minds for years with a stunning display of running. Only recently I wrote an article for IRUN4ULTRA (here) about Wardian’s incredible 2016.

Well, ‘The Running Man’ has kicked off 2017 in fine style with the World Marathon Challenge. Yes, 7-marathons on 7-continents in 7-days.

Ask anyone, running 7-marathons back-to-back is a tough challenge but doing them with just 16-hours sleep and all at an average pace of a new world record 2:45:56 sets the mark to a whole new level The fastest marathon was in Miami where Wardian clocked 2:37:56 – he said it was a tough day!

The challenge began in Antarctica on Jan 23rd and concluded in Sydney, Australia just 7-days later. Argentina, Miami, Madrid, Morocco and Dubai filled the gap.

The previous record of 3:32:25 held by Dan Cartica was blown off the scale by Wardian who in his interview for Talk Ultra podcast discussed how tough, physically and mentally this challenge was.

The World Marathon Challenge was the brainchild of Richard Donovan (Ireland). He himself completed the challenge twice, the first time for a charity, GOAL and the 2nd time in 2012 when he lowered the elapsed record to 4-days, 22-hours and 3-minutes. The first ‘official’ challenge took place in 2015.

You can listen to a 1-hour special with Michael Wardian on Talk Ultra podcast released Friday 3rd February on this website.

Michael Wardian – The Running Man on IRUN4ULTRA

“He keeps running and running. Michael Wardian just never stops. Many runners have been given the tag, ‘Forest Gump’ and in 2016 we certainly witnessed a couple of real life ‘Gump’s’ in Pete Kostelnick and Karl Speedgoat Meltzer who respectively set two new records: Running Across the USA and setting an FKT on the Appalachian Trail. Kostelnick and Speedgoat produced two remarkable performances, but Michael Wardian raced 47 events in 2016, he raced 1,254-miles in total and in the process, he set 2 World records, had 8-victories, 22-podiums, 31-top ten placings and 26 ‘master’s’ victories. Wardian is a man on a mission and 2016 is not an unusual year… this committed husband and father of two races like this, year-in and year-out.”

Read about Michael Wardian in my article for IRUN4ULTRA  HERE