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


Total 230.5km

Vertical 9543m

Descent 9413m


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.


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!



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.


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

Follow On

Daily reports, results and images on THIS website

Twitter @talkultra

Instagram @iancorlessphotography

Facebook HERE and HERE

Race website HERE

Lanzarote Training Camp 2018 Day 4

No pain, no gain – well, that is what they say! Today, was ‘pain’ morning at the Lanzarote Training Camp when all the participants did at least 6 reps of a volcano.

It’s a challenging morning and the vertical gain is designed to replicate the largest jebel that has appeared in all the latest editions of Marathon des Sables.

Steep with lose gravel for the climb and the descent is a mixture of stone, lose rocks and sharp lava – a gravel road section allows some recovery before a repeating.

It was a hot day and although the session was tough – everyone loved it!

A break for lunch and then Elisabet Barnes did a practical workshop of foot care. It’s an essential session that prepares everyone with all the relevant skills to allow them the flexibility to be self-sufficient when racing. Elisabet also showed and demonstrated foot taping as a preventive measure against blisters.

At 6pm, the day concluded with an easy 5 or 10km shake-outrun to loosen the legs!

Why not join our 2019 Training Camp?

More information HERE

Marathon des Sables PERU 2017 #MDSPeru – RACE DAY 5

Stage 5 of MDS Peru was a classic and beautiful stage. Staring on the beach in Barlovento, the runners covered 42.2km to Mendieta hugging the coastline of the Pacific.

Unfortunately, Remigio Huaman, 2nd overall on GC, yesterday received a 2-hour time penalty for an infringement of MDS rules in regard to the calories available in his backpack. This penalty moves him out of the top-3 and needless to say, he was less than is smiling self on the start line of the penultimate stage.

The day promised to be amazing and it was. The route was a roller coaster of small climbs and decent as the route covered 42.2km.

The ladies race was as it had been all week with Nathalie Mauclair leading from the front and being pursued by Melanie Rousset. The result was as in the previous 4-days, Mauclair took the stage. Rousset once again finished 2nd and Rocio Carrion finished 3rd. The result may sound like a formality but these three ladies have raced hard all week. Mauclair in particular has pushed and pushed when she had no need too. For Peru, Carrion on the podium will be a great result and when the race finishes tomorrow, I expect a Peruvian party.

Rachid El Morabity is the master of the desert, and today he proved t once again! He starts relaxed, off the pace and running at times minutes back from the lead men. He then decides to move up a gear and when he does, t is incredible. He glides across the sand when others sink, he is a Fennec – a master of the sand and heat. Once again, he took the stage.

Remigio Huaman, Erik Clavery, Aldo Ramirez, Julien Chorier and Gediminas Grinius had set the early pace ahead of the Moroccan but it was all to no avail. Huaman was obviously looking to make amends for his penalty and once again he finished 2nd ahead of Clavery in 3rd. But it was Ramirez who benefited most, he is now 2nd in GC and flying the flag for Peru.


  1. Rachid El Morabity 3:12:51
  2. Remigio Huaman 3:15:07
  3. Erik Clavery 3:24:04


  1. Nathalie Mauclair 3:59:00
  2. Melanie Rousset 4:30:19
  3. Rocio Carrion 4:46:30




  1. Rachid El Morabity 20:22:43
  2. Aldo Ramirez 22:21:03
  3. Erik Clavery 122:30:23


  1. Nathalie Mauclair 24:22:35
  2. Melanie Rousset 27:46:03
  3. Rocio Carrion 30:33:20

Stage 6 of MDS Peru is the last day and although the runners have 19km to cover along the coast of Peru next to the Pacific, the race, at least for the top-3 males and female’s s over. It’s a party day!

Marathon des Sables PERU 2017 #MDSPeru Day 2

After a late arrival in camp last night, day one in bivouac was an admin day with equipment checks and the deposit of personal belongings. It’s a day that often drags as runners work through all their belongings deciding what to take and what not. Once they drop their case, that is it! No going back. If you have forgot something, you have forgotten it.

It’s all about balancing essentials with luxuries. The ‘racers’ keep things to a minimum trying to get the pack to 6.5kg (the minimum) plus water. This mean no luxuries! The pack weight is pretty much all food, maybe a change of socks, a sleeping bag, seeping mat and of course compulsory items. Once water is added, race pack weight is usually around 8kg on race day 1. This gets lighter as the days pass and the runner eats the contents.

Other runners decide to carry other items to make the week in the desert. However, for every gram carried, this is additional weight to add a burden to ones body and slow you down – it is a fine balancing act. To put this into perspective the heaviest pack weight recorded today was 12kg.

At admin check, medical forms are scrutinised, compulsory items are checked, packs are weighed and the runner is asked to provide an excel doc of food contents to make sure they have enough for the 6-days ahead.

A small number of select runners, those most likely to make the top-10, are also asked to contribute to the ITRA health passport system by providing a blood sample. At the 2017 edition of the race, this is not compulsory.

To conclude the day, a dance by locals was performed and then a compulsory briefing was given outline the week ahead.

Once dinner is concluded, the runners are then self-sufficient.

Race Day 1 has an 0730 start in Cahuachi with 37.2km yo cover before the finish in Coyungo. It is a day of pretty much all downhill starting at an altitude of just over 350m and concluding a little higher than sea level.

You can read a preview of the 2017 MDS Peru HERE

Marathon des Sables PERU 2017 #MDSPeru Day 1

The 2017 and inaugural Marathon des Sables Peru got underway, today, November 26th. With the passing of time, it is a day that will be remembered fondly as all those who are taking part will look back and say, “I was there, I was there at the very first edition!”

Marathon des Sables is over 30-years old and had Patrick Bauer not decided to take a solo-journey, on-foot, through the desert of Morocco, we may well not be talking about MDS Peru. 

Bauer pioneered the multi-day racing format and although it has been copied the world over, no other race quite compares to the grand scale of the first and original MDS!

MDS Peru is looking to follow its big Moroccan brother.

Nearly 500 runners from all over the world arrived in Lima to start their journeys. New journeys! They are pioneers of this new race and as such they will create history.

Peru is not a quick trip, for most people, they will have undertaken a minimum 16-hour journey to reach Lima and as they soon found out, the journey didn’t stop there. Boarding luxury CIVA buses, the journey continued for a 9-hour drive south to the ICA desert and bivouac one. A police escort made leaving Lima somewhat faster than on a normal day.

What lies ahead? 

Gigantic dunes, cliffs, oases, canyons, sand and the Pacific Ocean. The race will start cover 240+km from Cahuachi to La Catedral.

The MDS Peru follows the Moroccan format of 6-days racing of self-sufficiency, the only things provided; a tent and rationed water. Unlike Morocco, the bivouac will be made up of Individual WAA tents grouped in numbers of 6. These tents will be grouped based on the participants country and language. Think of them of little circular communities built around (hopefully) a camp fire.

Day 1 – 26th November is a travel day of approximately 285km south to Cahuachi and bivouac 1. Apart from long travel, made comfortable by luxury coaches, the runners will have a short welcome briefing, dinner provided and a first night under Peruvian stars. 

Day 2 – 27th November is an admin day with equipment checks and the deposit of personal belongings. Food will be provided throughout the day. After the evening meal which concludes at 2000hrs, self-sufficiency will begin and the reality will soon hit home that MDS Peru has begun.

THE RACE November 28th to 4th December.


Day 1 starts in Cahuachi and concludes in Coyungo 37.2km later. The day will begin at 0730 and it is a day of pretty much all downhill starting at an altitude of just over 350m and concluding a little higher than sea level.

Day 2 starts in Coyungo and concludes in Samaca 42.2km later. The profile is more challenging than day-1 with a climb starting at 2.5km covered and concluding 10km later. A long 10km descent follows and then a rollercoaster of small inclines and descents follows all the way to the line. It will be a tough day with some steep sections, dunes and the canyon of Rio ICA.

Day 3 starts in Samaca and concludes in Ocucaje 32.7km later. It’s a mixed day of sand, Lunar type landscape, stony terrain and big round shaped dunes. The route climbs just above sea level from the start to around 550m in the first 13km. The remaining 20km stays a move 450m and constantly rolls up and down all the way to the line.

Day 4 starts in Ocucaje and concludes in Barlovento 68.3km later. It’s the long day and the one that often strikes fear in to many of the runners. The first 40km undulates up and down above 400m until the route drops to sea level at around the marathon point before once again climbing back up at 57km to around 63km and then a final drop back to the finish at sea level. It will be a tough day of sand, dunes, hilltops but the incredible Pacific will accompany the runners throughout the day.

Day 5 starts in Barlovento and concludes in Medieta 42.2km later. It is the classic marathon day and all those who finished the long-day will now be smelling the finish line. It’s a day that runs along the coast and arguably may be the most spectacular of the race as the Pacific will always be to the left sending hopefully a breeze off the sea. Beaches, rocks, cliffs, protected archaeological zones, constant up and downs as the route constantly drops to sea-level and climbs back up to around 220m.

Day 6 starts in Medieta and concludes in La Cathedral 19.6km later. Like the day before, it’s another coastal day but easier in regard to elevation gain and terrain: dirt roads, shingles, beaches and small cliffs will conclude the 2017 MDS Peru.

After the conclusion of day 6, runners and staff are transported to Paracas for 2-nights at Double Tree Hotel before flying home on December 6th.

Runners can expect to be surprised, a raw experience, a basic experience and a full immersion in nature deprived of creature comforts. Runners have three simple things to thing about – run, eat and sleep. For 30+ years, MDS has pioneered this return to basics and in 2017 MDS Peru continues and enhances the legacy of Patrick Bauer and the Marathon des Sables.

Marathon des Sables PERU #MDSPeru 2017 Race Preview

For over thirty-years, Marathon des Sables has paved the way for multi-day races worldwide. The self-sufficient format were runners carry all they need for 6-days of running has been copied time and time again but never bettered.

Now, in 2017, we see the long established ‘MDS’ brand expands its format to Peru for the inaugural, Marathon des Sables PERU.


It is an exciting time – a new continent and a new land of adventure between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes.

MDS needs no introduction, for 32-years the race format has grown and grown and now it is considered as the Godfather of multi-day running. No brand stands still and as the world becomes smaller, MDS becomes larger. In September, it launched its first ‘half’ edition race in Fuerteventura, Half MDS Fuerteventura was designed as a stepping stone to the current two big brothers – Morocco and Peru. 

Morocco is well established, but Peru is a new story. One that will be written in the coming weeks as runners from all over the world travel long-haul to Lima and a new, exciting journey.

The new race will have the core values of what made the Moroccan journey so loved.

250km’s, 500 runners, the ICA desert and an opportunity to discover the most beautiful of South America. Huge dunes, sandy plateau, a new day begins for MDS, a new day in PERU.

The format of MDS Peru will be the same as Morocco, current schedule will be as follows 

Day 1 – Arrival

Day 2 – Technical and Medical check

Day 3 – Race start, 35km

Day 4 – Race day 2, 40km

Day 5 – Race day 3, 35km

Day 6 – Race day 4, 72km

Day 7 – Race day 5, 42km

Day 8 – Race day 6, 20km

Day 9 – Awards

Day 10 – Relax and Expo

Day 11 – Return home

Over 31 nationalities will be represented with France having the biggest contingent, the UK follows and surprisingly, Japan is the 3rd largest contingent. It comes as no surprise that that most popular age is between 40-50 yrs.’, typical in multi-day racing.

 Taking place at sea level, the race will follow the exact protocols of Marathon des Sables Morocco, 6-days, full self-sufficiency with only a shelter and rationed water provided. 


Coming late in the year, it is difficult for runners to prepare and focus, however, MDS Peru has a stellar line-up of world-class male and female runners, headed up by MDS legend, Rachid El Morabity who has won MDS Morocco five times – he will take some beating! For the ladies, Nathalie Mauclair is a legend in ultra-trail races and has placed 2nd at MDS Morocco in 2017 and 2016.


The men’s race is arguably the most exciting with UTWT Champion Gediminas Grinius toeing the line. It has been a long season for the Lithuanian but he is a fierce competitor. However, this will be a new adventure for him and Peru’s high dunes will no doubt be a challenge.

The one to watch is Remigio Huaman. He is Peruvian and will without doubt be more than motivated to win on home soil. He placed 5th in Morocco earlier this year and he recently won in Fuerteventura. I don’t think he can beat Rachid but he is my 2nd place and I hope he has ‘his’ day with a possibility of overall victory. 

South Africa’s Iain Don Wauchope is a really exciting addition to the race. I know Iain well and he is a good friend. I have seen him blaze a trail in his home in South Africa and at Costa Rica’s The Coastal Challenge he has been an unstoppable force. Peru will be exciting and I can’t wait to see him race.

Julien Chorier can never be ruled out of any race, a superb runner who has been a great ambassador for the sport. Peru, its dunes and multi-day racing is going to push Julien to a new place – I wonder how he will perform?

Erik Clavery placed 5th at MDS Morocco in 2016 and recently won the Grand to Grand multi-day in the USA. He is France’s big hope for MDS Peru, can he, do it? 

Yeray Duran recently had a tough few days at Half MDS Fuerteventura and ended up on an IV for dehydration. Lesson learnt I am sure. He will come to Peru with a new respect for heat and the multi-day format.


Nathalie Mauclair is the stand-out hot prospect for victory but Ireland’s Ruthan Sheahan may be able to push the French lady? Ruthan ran 229km in 24-hours, a great run. But her past experience at multi-day was placing 23rd at MDS Morocco in 2012.

Peru has three ladies running, Elba Rocio Carrion Conde, Valerie Nossar and Lorena Pilar Ricalde Garcia. It is difficult to say how these ladies will perform, their collective past experience is over single-stage races over distances from 50-100km. But the home advantage can never be underestimated, it will be interesting to see this race unfold.

Claudi Forster placed 12th at MDS Morocco earlier this year and Mexico’s Nahlia Hernandez San Juan has placed 9th at MDS, run Badwater, Gobi March and so on – these two ladies arguably may be the prime contenders for the podium.


Runners and staff depart for Lima on Friday 24th and Saturday 25th November. Follow the stories and action as it unfolds on this website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media. It is going to be an epic first edition of Marathon des Sables Peru.


The event can be followed via and on Instagram @iancorlessphotography and also on Twitter @talkultra – daily updates, summary, results and images will be posted as soon as comms allow. Each runner will also have a SPOT tacker ( 

Time difference to Europe is 5 hours. 

The Market – Morocco

“To visit Morocco is still like turning the pages of some illuminated Persian manuscript all embroidered with bright shapes and subtle lines.”

– Edith Wharton, 1927


It’s about escape, my time in a place. Wandering and looking from within. The rich treasures a place holds. The people about daily life – I sneak in, capture a moment and take it away trapped for ever for others to see.

“… I wish I could tell you the wonder of the souks and marketplaces; the brilliant overflowing of spices, olives, fabrics; the witchcraft stalls; the fishmongers; the piles of mint and thyme scenting the air . . . and even more than this is the wonder of its becoming familiar, the sufficiency and contentment in knowing the names of things, the words to tell the taxi drivers, the sense and reason behind the lives of Moroccans …”

– Melissa Manlove, ‘Letter from Morocco’, Travelers’ Tales