The Coastal Challenge #TCC2023 Preview

Countdown to the 2023 ‘The Coastal Challenge’ begins and today, we announce the elite line-up that will travel to Costa Rica to experience six days, 230.5km of racing and 9543m of vertical gain.

The ultimate Costa Rican multi-day adventure hugs the coastline of the tropical Pacific, weaving in and out of the Talamancas; a coastal mountain range in the Southwest corner of this Central American country. An ever-changing terrain challenges each participant, from wide, dusty and runnable fire trails to dense and muddy mountain trails. River crossings, boulders, swim through rivers, pass under waterfalls, survive long and 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.

TOP WOMEN

UTMB 2022 champion Katie Schide (The North Face) is no stranger to the challenges of distance or terrain. In recent years she has shot to fame with a string of high profile results with victories at Mont Blanc 90km, Val d’Aran by UTMB, MIUT 85km and of course, the most recent, UTMB. With results that date back to 2025, Katie is the ‘one-to-watch’ at TCC 2023.

“I’m very excited to explore Costa Rica on foot, to share a big week with so many other runners, and to challenge myself in a new place!”

Swedish athlete, Mimmi Kotka (La Sportiva) is excited to leave a cold and wintry Scandinavia to join the TCC line up. Victory at CCC in 2016 made Mimmi a star and since that start, she has topped the podium at Gran Trail Courmayer, Marathon du Mont Blanc, TDS, MIUT and recently, Lavaredo.

“Costa Rica is one of my bucket list destinations and the possibility to go there and run a stage race at the same time; a perfect combo! I have never done a multi stage race and this is also something that excites me. New experience, a new place and a new race format.”

Tomomi Bitoh joined the TCC line-up in 2022 but unfortunately contracted Coronavirus in the days before the race started. Once clear, she did join the race for a couple of stage but there and then, the Japanese athlete confirmed she would toe the line in 2023.

“I was able to run through the very beautiful ocean at TCC2022 but I only experienced a small part of the route. I’ll be running through it again this year, enjoying the scenery and appreciating the full point-to-point journey that TCC brings.”

TOP MEN

Peter van der Zon (Hoka) is no stranger to Costa Rica or TCC. He toed the line in 2022 and placed 2nd to an inform Hayden Hawks. With experience and now an understanding of the route, the conditions and what it takes to win, Peter will no doubt be returning looking for the top spot come Drake Bay and the conclusion of the 2023 race. He has recently placed 7th at Mozart 100 and won Istria by UTMB.

“I am looking forward to going back to TCC, the racing was hard but it felt like a big family adventure and of course i want to try to be number one this time. But seeing the competition I am up against, that will not be easy!”

Didrik Hermansen (Hoka) has been an ever-present on the ultra scene dating back to 2010. A breakthrough performance with victory at Lavaredo in 2015 paved a way to victory at Transgrancanaria and a 2nd place at Western States. Didrik is known for his fast pace and for sure will be one-to-watch at the start line in Quepos.

“Costa Rica looks so amazing. I have never run in that area and be able to combine running in a beautiful terrain over several days at new locations seems awesome. I will run the World Championships in Thailand this November, the climate will quite similar so that will be a good benchmark what to do and what to use come February 2023.”

Dani Jung (Scarpa) in recent years has gained attention due to a string of high profile results, victory at Raid de la Reunion and 4th at Hardrock 100. But Dani has been ticking of impressive results for many years, particularly in the skyrunning calendar with races such as Mega Ultraskymarathon, Hamperokken Skyrace, Royal Ultra Sky Marathon and USM.  The distance of TCC will not intimidate this Italian, however, a multi-day format is very different to one long race.

Sebastian Krogvig (Dynafit) heads up a Norwegian double act with Didrik. The duo will also be racing at the World Championships in Chiang Mai, so, as Didrik mentioned, they will both get an invaluable ‘heads-up’ on racing in heat and humidity ahead of TCC in February 2023. Sebastian had a breakthrough season in 2021 with 3rd at Lavaredo and victory at TDS during UTMB week. Recently he placed 2nd at Trail 100 Andorra by UTMB.

“I heard about TCC many years ago, I think first from the book “Running beyond” by you! TCC has always grabbed my attention, February is early in the year, so, there are not many races. For me, it will be a challenge, I’m usually home skiing in Norwegian winter and in 2023 I will be in an excotic race in the Jungle – it’s exciting! The landscapes and nature looks spectacular! The trails look challenging and fun, a perfect mix of racing and adventure.”

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

Total 230.5km

Vertical 9543m

Descent 9413m

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 of 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! 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 an early breakfast, around 0400, 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 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.

Stage 4

It’s another tough start to the day with a relentless climb, but once at 900m the route is a roller coaster of relentless small climbs and descents, often littered with technical sections, rain forest, river crossings and boulders. At 30km, it’s a short drop to the line 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 Coastal Challenge was lucky to continue through the pandemic, of course we had restricted fields with 2022 signifying a return to normal. TCC is a unique race and one that we are passionate about. We created this race to show of Costa Rica and this beautiful coastline. The race travels in and out of the stunning coastal 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.”

Rodrigo Carazo, RD

*****

#tcc2023

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The Coastal Challenge 2022 #TCC2022 Stage 1

Hayden Hawks crossing the final river for victory.

Leaving San Jose at 0430, runners eventually arrived at Quepos and transferred to the beach for an 0920 start, the 2022 The Coastal Challenge getting underway! As always, day 1 of TCC starts late and typically it is tough… The heat and humidity is already high and there is no time to adjust. This year, temperatures were cooler and the humidity was not as intense.

The early flat miles ticked away and it was Hayden Hawks who pushed the pace. Hayden raced TCC in 2018 and with that experience, he has arrived with better preparation and heat adaptation. He meant business dictating a fast pace.

Peter van der Zon

Behind Peter van der Zon chased followed by Julien Chorier and local, Erick Agüero, a multiple TCC finisher and often on or close to the podium.

Erick Agüero

Giudy Turini dictated the women’s race and looked comfortable and relaxed, Francis Palacios chased.

Giudy Turini

Cp1 at Boca Naranjito and runner’s were already feeling the heat and the impact of the opening flat miles.

Cooling off

A dense section of rainforest and then some fast trails to cp2, Londres, saw Hayden extend his lead and notably, Erick was now in third place. 

At the third aid station, Los Campesinos, a steep climb and descent before the final river crossing allowed the gaps to open. Hayden never really attacked, he just maintained a fast pace, the cooler day allowing him to close faster than his 2018 time when racing with Tom Evans. A day 1 victory.

Peter ran a smart race with a strong second place, almost 12-minutes behind Hayden. TCC regular, Erick placed third 5-minutes later.

Giudy for the ladies was not in a race on her own, she was pushed by Francis and Paolo Gamboa Sanchez, all three finishing within a 10-minute window.

Paolo Sanchez

Notably, Tomomi Bitoh from Japan, who placed second at Marathon des Sables in October, was unable to start after a positive Covid test pre-race. Needless to say, it was sad news and while the Coronavirus situation is improving, the TCC and race team have strict protocols in place to ensure everyones safety.

Julien Chorier

Julien Chorier and Franco Colle suffered in the heat and humidity today, placing 4th and 7th respectively.

Franco Colle
  • Hayden Hawks 2:35:29
  • Peter van der Zon 2:47:13
  • Erick Agüero 2:51:59
Francis Palacios
  • Giudy Turini 3:44:15
  • Francis Palacios 3:47:28
  • Paolo Gamboa Sanchez 3:53:44

Stage 2 starts at Rafiki Lodge and concludes at Dominical Beach, 41.3km and 1828m of vertical.

Full results at www.webscorer.com

Follow the action as the race unfolds #TCC2022

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