Runners have arrived in San Jose and the 2017 of The Coastal Challenge is now building up to what is anticipated to be one of the most competitive editions of this race ever.
Chema Martinez – San Jose
The men’s race sees the return of Chema Martinez who raced in 2016. He has experience of the course, the heat and the humidity and that will prove invaluable. However, Sondre Amdahl from Norway and Tom Owens for the UK arrived in Costa Rica one week ago to spend time on the coast and adjust to the heat – they will provide strong competition.
Hardrock 100 winner, Jason Schlarb arrived just 1-day before the race from the snows of Colorado, he may be in for a surprise on day 1 as the heat hits.
Jason Schlarb loosening up on San Jose trails.
Local competition is expected to come from Ashur Youssefi-Dizagetakieh who has raced at TCC on several occasions, he knows the course, is adopted to the heat and will be a strong presence at the front of the race.
An unknown to Europe audiences, Erick Agüero from Costa Rica will take part in his first multi-day experience here at TCC and race director, Rodrigo Carazo says, ‘he’s one to watch!’
Of course, a surprise can come from anywhere… the 2017 edition of the race has the most Costa Rican’s ever entered in the race and strong representation comes from Spain and the UK.
For the ladie’s last minute entry of Anna Frost has certainly made the other female competitors, stop, look and ask questions about the form of the New Zealand. This is ‘Frosty’s’ third time racing at TCC and is third a charm?
2016 champion, Ester Alves has returned and without doubt she will be looking for repeat victory. She will have her hands full with the return of the 2015 champion, Veronica Bravo from Chile and 2015 Marathon des Sables champion, Elisabet Barnes who also raced here in 2016.
Anna Cometi from Spain has won the Everest Trail Race on two occasions so she knows how to race over multiple days, the big question will come in regard to her adaptation to the heat and humidity. One last name to look out for will be Katelyn Tocci.
With 22-countries represented, the 2017 edition of TCC is going to be a classic! Will it be the most memorable? Time will tell.
With registration taking place today, Saturday 11th. Runners have loosened up on the local trails to freshen up from travel. Race briefing is this evening and then tomorrow it’s a 0400 start to head to the coast and the start of the race.
Daily reports and images will be posted on this website when connection allows.
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Jason Schlarb shot to notoriety after winning Run Rabbit Run 100-mile race in 2013. What has followed is a rise through the ultra ranks. A 4th place at UTMB placed Jason as one of the most successful Americans ever to perform at the big dance in Chamonix – a race that has proven elusive for Americans to crack until recently. The true sign of a true champion is when they go back to a race and win again… Jason did this at Run Rabbit Run winning again in 2015. However, all previous results pale into insignificance after Jason crossed the line hand-in-hand with Kilian Jornet at the 2016 Hardrock 100.
Hardrock, a low-key event in comparison to some of the big ‘hundos’ is for many the epitome of the mountain ultra world – with 100 miles to cover and relentless vertical gain at altitude, it is the grandad event that all other races look up to. For Jason to win it alongside arguably the greatest mountain runner in the world is a huge accolade.
However, before Jason ran the Hardrock 100 event, in winter of the same year, he covered the Hardrock 100 route on skis – a first! It was quite the event and experience and what followed was an immersion into the heat of the Sahara.
Jason raced the 2016 Marathon des Sables and found it a real challenge, I wondered, what was it about multi-day racing that appeals to him, after all, he has a reputation of being a single stage racer.
“One of the aspects of stage racing I appreciate the most, is being able to spend quality time with other athletes over multiple days. There are great opportunities to make life long friends at stage races. I really look forward to reuniting with my Norwegian Altra teammate Sondre Amdahl at TCC. Sondre and I have raced together on a number of occasions and we both raced at Marathon des Sables, he placed 8th and I was 12th. I wouldn’t mind setting things right and beating Sondre at the Costal Challenge in February :)”
But I wondered, is racing for multiple days harder than racing for one day?
“Stage racing creates prolonged drama, excitement and amazing entertainment for both spectators and athletes alike, what is there to not like about that? Stage racing, to me, is far more difficult. One must perform well day-after-day and juggle an extended game of being patient and balancing effort.”
At Marathon des Sables I had noticed that a lack of rest and a lack of calories made the Sharan challenge difficult for Jason, although TCC is not a completely self-sufficient race, I asked Jason what are the challenges he thinks he may encounter during The Coastal Challenge?
“For me, the Coastal Challenge presents a unique obstacle of performing well in a hot and humid climate while living and training in a snowy and cold climate. I will also need to focus on speed training this winter to be ready for faster, lower altitude running verse my usual high altitude, mountain running. Staying blister and generally injury free over multiple days of racing is also a big task at the Coastal Challenge.”
Snow and cold temperatures are not ideal preparation for the heat, humidity, rainforests, long stretches of beaches and technical trail of Costa Rica – is this going to be perfect running terrain or a real challenge?
“Traveling through wild lands is always a thing of perfection in my mind, but that perfection always presents challenge – that’s why we do it! I love Costa Rica. My family lived there for 2 years while I was at University, so, I always look forward to going back.”
You have already mentioned that you will have snow and cold temperatures to deal with in the build up to TCC. You have also said that you will need some speed but will you do any specific training for Costa Rica and what are the race plans for later in 2017?
“TCC is my only winter race this year, so most all of my training this winter will be geared towards performing well at TCC. Transvulcania in May will be my next focus race followed by a return to Hardrock 100 in July and hopefully Grand Raid/Diagonal des Fous in October.”
Have you thought about equipment, shoe choices and other details for the race?
“I have not figured out my race kit for TCC yet. While I almost always race in Altra Paradigms, I am pretty confident I will be racing in a different, higher traction shoe called the Altra King MT (coming out next year). I’ll use a Ultimate Direction racing vest, but besides that, I have some work to do selecting equipment.”
TCC and Costa Rica has a reputation for being a relaxed and enjoyable race – do you think holidays that combine a race are a good idea?
“Absolutely. I’ve paired holiday travel both alone and with my family my whole trail running career. Europe, New Zealand, Iceland, you name it! Importantly though, holiday and racing can be two in the same for me, but it isn’t easy to do. I have failed before at properly managing the balance (UTMB this last summer, for example) between traveling, holiday, fun, training and racing abroad. Balancing things with clear boundaries, a plan and discipline is essential. As far as enjoying myself before and after each stage, that just depends on the day, my mood, physical condition, performance etc…”
As one season comes to an end and Jason prepares for 2017, I ask what he is most looking forward to?
“I look forward to escaping winter for a fantastic world class event in Costa Rica. I am very excited to both prepare for and experience the Costal Challenge.”
The Coastal Challenge is 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.
The Coastal Challenge which will take place Feb 10th – 19th, 2017.
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 11th edition of The Coastal Challenge 2015 (#TCC2015) is just weeks away. For those in the know, the TCC is a gruelling multi-stage race that takes place along the tropical Pacific coastline of Costa Rica. The 230km route weaves in and out of the Talamancas (a coastal mountain range in the south west corner of the country) providing a true multi terrain experience.
A point-to-point race, the course starts in Quepos and finishes in the stunning Drakes Bay close to the border of Panama. Simple in concept, the TCC provides an extreme challenge that tests each individual runner. Participants will need to balance the distance, severity of the terrain and tropical climate to reach the finish line.
If you enjoy long distance running and adventure then The Coastal Challenge is for you and will prove to be a tremendously rewarding achievement. Jungle and rainforest trails, mountain trail and single track across ridge lines, highlands and coastal ranges; pristine beaches, rocky outcroppings and reefs, river valleys, river and estuary crossings. It’s an amazing course.
Following on from the incredible 10th edition line up (2014) that included Philipp Reiter, Nick Clark, Julia Boettger, Veronica Bravo and men and ladies victors; Michael Wardian and Jo Meek, race director, Rodrigo Carazo has once again provided a stunning line up for 2015.
Two of the male contenders for overall victory in the 2015 edition are Joe Grant and Speedgoat Karl Meltzer. I caught up with them to find out how training has gone in the final build up to the race.
Speedgoat Karl Melter – Hoka One One, Red Bull
Karl, you have your mojo back! Is the TCC directly attributable for that?
I definitely have my mojo back. I am looking at the TCC as a great week of running, with some harder runs, some good runners to run against, and to hopefully not get ‘chicked!’ Which I suspect I will. The race has motivated me to come to Zion Canyon and run some multi-long days in January which is great. I also look at it as an interesting test of my fitness. I’ve had 3 decent months so far, with the exception of a mildly aggravating neuroma, which will never go away, so I will just continue to run and manage it.
The AT and the Pony Express trail, being much longer days than the TCC really aren’t that comparable. The Pony was a cakewalk because it was not a race. The AT was just about surviving the distance daily. The TCC is much shorter and faster each day, The real key is recovery, so I suspect, I’ll be sleeping plenty and resting a great amount after each day to see how that pans out.
I’ve been toying with recovery the past month after long runs. I will likely take in some Ultragen and remain motionless for about 30 min. Eat more. Take a nap with legs elevated for about 2 hours. Then go for a walk about 1-2 miles to loosen the legs again… then eat again! At least that’s the plan for now. I”m sure it depends on what’s going on too, but the nap is important as well as the walk later in the day.
Any other tips for all those taking part?
Don’t drink as much beer as I will. 🙂 Enjoy more than anything and try and plan to be the “chaser”, not the “chasee” after day 3. I’m hoping to be the guy who gains momentum after day 3, rather then going out with the fast guys on day 1 and frying myself. It’s far more entertaining for me to run that way.
Joe Grant – Buff, Arc’teryx, inov-8
You have been back home training in the snow on skis and the ‘phat’ (fat) bike. Will that all work well for your run legs at TCC?
I find that both the ski and biking help develop a lot of power while minimizing the impact on the body you get from running. I can get a lot of vertical in, have a good long day of training where I feel tired, but not banged up. At this point in the year, I think it’s a very sustainable practice and will set me up nicely for spring/summer racing. TCC will definitely be a bit of a shock to the system, particularly the heat, but that’s partly why I’m interested in the race as it will be a great early season training boost.
Are you doing any specific preparation for the heat of TCC?
I did go down to Arizona to visit my uncle over the New Year. I was hoping to get a bit of heat training in down there in the desert, more of a mental thing really to break out of the winter cycle back home. The weather was surprisingly cold though and I only got one warm day of running in shorts. Heat is certainly my biggest concern for the race.
Multi day racing will place different demands on you in comparison to one long push (like in a 100-mile) do you have any thoughts or strategy for TCC?
I’m approaching the race like a demanding week of training with slightly longer mileage and more intensity. What I’ve found in multi-day races (in a single push) is that even a small amount of sleep and rest can do wonders for recovery. I’ll just need to remind myself during the race, that even if I’m feeling particularly bad on one day, good food and solid rest can really turn things around on the next. It’s a patience game and being able to spread your effort out evenly over the course of the 6 days.
Any tips for anyone taking part in a similar event?
I’d recommend really paying attention to all the little details that can improve your comfort and recovery during the week. It’s easy to be too tired to clean your shoes or tend blistered feet or chaffing after a strenuous stage, but taking care of those little things will pay off. It’s worth having clean, dry clothes to change into particularly at night to get good rest and feel ready to tackle the next day.
The 2015 #TCC2015 starts on January 31st and finishes on February 7th. Daily reports and images will be available on this website and you can follow Facebook and Twitter #TCC2015
The Coastal Challenge Facebook page is HERE and the race website is HERE
The stage is set for the 2014, 10th edition Coastal Challenge. Without doubt a quality field will toe the line in Quepos tomorrow for stage one of the race (route preview here).
We held an impromptu press conference and had an opportunity to chat to each of the lite runners on how they have prepared and how they thing this 10th edition will unfold. As you well be able to tell from the audio… spirits are high and we are going to see a very exciting race.
Unfortunately, Anna Frost has to make the difficult decision to remove herself from the race on doctors advice. However, she will follow, help out and participate in her own unique way. You see her interview HERE
RACE START SUNDAY FEB 2nd 0930 +/- Costa Rica Time
Total distance for day-1 of the 2014 and 10th edition of the TCC is 33.5km. Although the depart will still be from Quepos, the start point has been changed to avoid approximately 10km’s of road that in the past was used to ‘ease’ the runners into the race. However, through general consensus, this road start was not only a little uninspiring, but also it also caused runners to go off far too fast. Today, the runners will head straight into the forest and head for the final destination of Rafki Lodge in the Saverge Valley. A total elevation gain of 850m will see runners pass through 3-checkpoints; Palmas (10km), the small village of Cruce al Saverge (21km) and then at the end of a long pontoon bridge at Andarivel (29.6km) before the final push to the beautiful grounds and hotel of Rafki Lodge. In terms of terrain, it’s a relatively easy day with some wide double track. The biggest issue will be the heat… get your pace and hydration wrong on day-1 and you may just not recover as many found out in the 2013 edition of the race.
Four weeks today The Coastal Challenge, Costa Rica will start. Celebrating ten glorious years, the 2014 edition of the race will arguably be the most competitive in the races history.
Kicking off the 2014 racing season, runners from all over the world will assemble in Quepos for an exhilarating journey along the Costa Rican coast and within the rain forests of this exciting and idilic land.
Unprecedented in the races history, an elite line up of runners will toe the line featuring:
Anna Frost (New Zealad) – Salomon International
Nick Clark (UK) – Pearl Izumi
Julia Bottger (Germany) – Salomon
Philipp Reiter Germany) – Salomon International
Michael Wardian (USA) – Hoka One One
Jo Meek (UK) – tbc
The words are still ringing true in my ears, ‘the tenth edition of The Coastal Challenge is going to be special, very special indeed’.
Rodrigo Carazo and Tim Holmstrom from the TCC organisation have quite a race lined up!
In addition, Gemma Slaughter, 2013 female winner of the TCC will return to defend her title. Without doubt, Gemma will find the 2014 race very different to 2013. However, she does have experience and knowledge of what this race can bring; from a physical and mental perspective. I will be catching up with Gemma in the coming week for an interview on how she feels, how training has gone and what are her expectations for the 10th edition.
Frosty – ‘Costa Rica is exotic to me. A place I have never been but it intrigues me with images of its beautiful coast lines, native bush that seems a little bit like home (NZ) to me and the bright clear blue sea that is so luring. So when I heard there was a stage race that covers this coastline I wanted to know more.’
Wardian – ‘I definitely enjoy the challenges of multi-day races as there are a lot of factors to account for besides just running and that intrigues me and inspires me. I think of all the things I learned in my previous outings at multi day races; to be as light as possible and balance your energy expenditure throughout the race but also, and this is a little contrarian, but to push more than you think possible because it is possible to recover quicker than you think. I also, take care of the small things because over a week of racing they can make all the difference.’
Clarky – ‘I actually haven’t been to Costa Rica before. Last year I raced in Nicaragua at the Fuego y Agua 100k. Nonetheless, I’m sure conditions will be much the same. Coming from mid-winter in Colorado, the transition to 95+ degree heat and high humidity in Central America is very tough, but I felt like I handled it decently last year. January and February have always been base-building months for me as I prepare for goal races in the summer, so I definitely won’t be sharp, but any time I toe a start line I have my race face on. That will be the case in Costa Rica for sure, especially as it looks like there will be good competition to race against.’
Reiter – ‘It sounds like a great adventure to me. Running eight days in the jungle, crossing rivers, hopefully seeing some wild and dangerous animals, sleeping in a tent-village and of course tasting some new food and local specialties. Running is such a great sport that we can all experience, I am really excited to share the trails with others who are equally passionate. It’s what I love and want to experience.’
Bottger – ‘I have never been to Costa Rica before. I am really excited to see the trails and landscape over there. The climate will be very different, the terrain and of course the culture and people. It is just a very nice mix of a lot of new things and impressions. I have never done a multi day race like this before; sleeping in tents next to the beach in a foreign country, spending some days with great people and becoming a “family”. It’s going to be really exciting’
Meek –‘I am always very attracted to a country that is hotter than the UK. That is a no brainer! It’s the challenge, the opportunity to compete in something so different. This race I don’t need to carry all my kit, so, unlike the MDS I will be able to just run, admittedly for repeated days. It will be interesting and it should mean I can go faster.’
The stage is set!
I will be reporting live ‘daily’ from the race and posting each evening a synopsis of the action with images (connections allowing).
Follow on Facebook: HERETwitter: @talkultra and of course on this website.
If you’d like to read more about The Coastal Challenge, here are my links to the 2013 (9th edition).
One of my images from the 2013 ‘The Coastal Challenge’
“Some races have mountains; some have dense forest; some have beach running; and some, like Costa Rica’s Coastal Challenge, have it all!”
The brainchild of Costa Rican architect and adventure racer, Rodrigo Carazo, the ninth edition of this epic race covered 236k over six days. Starting in Quepos on the coast, and travelling down the coastline of Costa Rica, moving in and out of rain forests and covering a total vertical gain of over 30,000 ft to finally arrive at the stunning Drake Bay.