Jason Schlarb to run The Coastal Challenge 2017 #TCC2017

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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.

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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.”

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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.”

©iancorless.com_MDS2016-1834You 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.”

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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.

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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.

All images ©iancorless.com – all rights reserved

ENTRIES ARE STILL AVAILABLE FOR THE 2017 EDITION
Email: HERE

Website: HERE

Facebook: HERE

Twitter: @tcccostarica

More information:

Read the full 2016 race story HERE

View and purchase images for the 2016 race HERE

Follow #TCC2017

 

The Coastal Challenge 2016 Race Preview

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The Coastal Challenge, Costa Rica celebrates it’s 12th year with an incredible line up once again!

The 2016 edition of The Coastal Challenge, Costa Rica gets underway on February 14th, yes, valentines day! It’s appropriate, most people fall in love with Costa Rica. Runners from all over the world will arrive in San Jose in preparation for the journey down to the coast and the 12th edition.

“Reaching the 12th edition is humbling and gratifying. It is a privilege and not to one to be taken lightly. We are happy and grateful to have made it this far.” – Rodrigo Carazo

Rodrigo Carazo has pulled together an incredible line-up for the race and without doubt it will arguably be one of the most competitive multi stage races of 2016 with the 2015 Marathon des Sables ladies champion, Elisabet Barnes heading up the ladies field and 2015 champion and course record holder, Iain Don-Wauchope returning after his incredible 2015 performance and course record.

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“Twelve years of exploring, adventuring and discovering Costa Rica and the beginning of a bright new era to come!” Rodrigo Carazo

RD - Rodrigo

RD – Rodrigo

Elite runners will toe the line in Quepos with everyday runners, they will all have one purpose in mind, to embrace the tough and technical challenge that lies ahead of them and enjoy every moment.

Known locally as the Rainforest Run, the TCC is a 236km stage race over 6-days that weaves in and out of a lush and tropical Pacific coastline. The Talamancas – a coastal mountain range spread across the southwest corner of the country – provide not only a stunning backdrop but also many of the tough and technical challenges that the runners will face on a day-to-day basis

Steve Diederich (HERE) the UK agent for the TCC had this to say:

 “A backdrop of some of the most breathtaking rainforest and coast on the planet, The Coastal Challenge has joined the exclusive club of iconic multi-day ultras.”

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Beaches that last km after km are interspersed with dirt tracks, mountain paths, dense jungle, ridges, water crossings, open plains and highland; Costa Rica is bursting with variety. In addition, add 40deg temperature and high humidity, the TCC is no easy challenge.

TCC is a supported race and each day camp is moved ahead of the runners. Running light and fast, equipment is kept to a minimum and as such, racing is extremely competitive. The 2016 edition of the race is proving to be extremely exciting, particularly when one looks at the line up of runners.

 

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2016 will see an incredible line up of runners and in the men’s Chema Martinez (José Manuel (“Chema”) Martínez Fernández) brings super fast 10,000m and maybe more importantly, marathon running speed to the TCC. A 2:08 marathon runner, Chema cut his multi-day teeth at Marathon des Sables in 2015 and TCC will allow him to run fast without the weight of a pack.

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Carlos Sa has run at the TCC before but made a huge navigational error on day 1 which ruined any chance of overall success. A runner who inspires through inspiration, Carlos has a varied list of results with highlights coming with 1st place at Badwater 135, 4th at the Marathon des Sables and a string of top-10 places in races all over the world, including UTMB.

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Miguel Capo Soler has placed 3rd at Marathon des Sables (2013) and shows great pedigree in multi-day and single day running. TheTCC will suit his running style but he will need to watch out for all the local ‘Tico’ talent: Ashur Youseffi, Roiny Villegas and Frederico Pacheco.

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A surprise package may well come from Brit, Damian Hall. The other runners in the race will almost certainly not know Damian but recent success at the UK’s Dragon Back Race, The Spine and last year a top-50 result at UTMB means that he will certainly be in contention in the top-5.

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Finally returning champ, Iain Don-Wauchope from South Africa impressed everyone in 2015 with how he made what is a very tough course look (relatively) easy.  This year he has said in advance that training has been sporadic and that he has suffered with some over training issues. What’s important is, he is back.

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The ladies race has less depth than in previous years and defending champion, Veronica Bravo is taking a year away from the race. However, two ladies will battle on this course. Ester Alves from Portugal had an impressive 2015 with a very full calendar, maybe too full! High quality and world-class performances were sometimes followed with less impressive performances due to fatigue. A former road cyclist, her transition to trail came in 2014. Top performances are 8th at UTMB, 6th at Transgrancanaria and 7th at Transvulcania.

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Elisabet Barnes is a lady on fire at the moment, particularly in multi-day racing. Her 2015 victory at Marathon des Sables (she won every stage) was followed up with a repeat performance in Oman. Having just completed a multi-day training camp in Lanzarote (here), Elisabet went into the heat chamber to prepare for Costa Rica’s humidity. It’s going to be exciting to see Elisabet race this TCC course. Recent sonship with Raidlight and a full calendar of multi-day racing in 2016 will see Elisabet race at MDS, Richtersveld Wildrun, Big Red Run and Grand to Grand.

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“This race will bring a whole new experience. I expect it to be more technical than what I am used to and I know from the heat chamber sessions I have done that the humidity will make it very tough. I am really looking forward to the challenge though and to visiting Costa Rica for the first time” – Elisabet Barnes

Racing starts on Sunday very early and I will be posting daily reports and images on this website as and when internet connection allows.

You can view the race route below.

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#TCC2016