Tom Evans – Zero to 100

It was incredible. The preparation. The event. The course. The journey.

The process. The outcome.

I knew I always wanted to challenge myself over 100 miles…I just never expected it to be in this incredible race. I was privileged to have qualified to race so to have a Race Crew and Filming Crew follow my journey over the race to an unexpected end was amazing.

I had the immense pleasure to meet Tom at Marathon des Sables, he was a complete unknown who on day-1 of the race, rocked the apple cart and the Moroccan dominance of the race. Myself, the rest of the media and all the runner’s in the race were asking the question, “Who is Tom Evans?”

By the end of the MDS, we had an answer. He placed 3rd and in the process, the ultra-running world welcomed a new star in the sport. He was without a sponsor and still a captain in the army.

Post MDS, we discussed opportunities and how Tom could achieve his goals. I was fortunate that Tom decided to join me on my annual Lanzarote Training Camp. He joined us as a coach and ambassador.

It was easy to see Tom’s ability. Few on the camp could keep up with him and those that could went on to race well at the following Marathon des Sables. In particular, Gemma Game who made the podium.

Following our camp, Tom joined me in Costa Rica for The Coastal Challenge. I was keen to see him race once again over multiple days and this time without being in a self-sufficient manner. I arrange the elite field and I was determined to give Tom and the rest, a hard race. Hayden Hawks, Timothy Olson and Marcus Scotney amongst others toed the line.

Tom arrived to race and it was clear from the off, he had an agenda. He had researched the race, looked at the stages, checked the times and not only did he have ambitions to win the race, but also set a new course record. Hayden and Tom raced head-to-head day-after-day but victory and the CR was never in doubt, Tom dominated.

It was time to set the goals higher and work to higher objectives. Tom represented his country and placed 3rd at the world championships. He dipped his toe in skyrunning races going head-to-head with skyrunning world champion, Jon Albon. But all along, the big goal was CCC part of the UTMB races.

Just prior to CCC, Tom signed a deal with Red Bull. I was fortunate to join Tom at his family home in the UK and document his training.

At CCC, running the perfect race, Tom closed on the lead in the latter stages of the race, forged ahead and won the biggest race of his life. A sponsorship deal with adidas Terrex followed and the dream of Western States started to fall in to place.

Zero to 100 tells the story of Tom’s inaugural 100-mile race, the iconic Western States in the USA. To place in the top-10 here would have been an incredible result, but Tom went on to place 3rd and in the process run under 15-hours. He trained in Ethiopia to prepare and you can listen to the whole process in episode 174 of Talk Ultra listed below.

ZERO TO 100

Process not Outcome

Tom has always discussed his thoughts on training and racing and one element that always runs true is ‘Process not Outcome.’ His ability to focus on the prize, dedicate himself to the task and take running to a higher and higher level is all down to his dedication and professional approach.

In 2020, Tom will target new races, new goals and new experiences. One thing is for sure, after victory at Tarawera Ultra in New Zealand early in the year, Tom is in the perfect place to fulfil his dreams. I would expect no less…!

2020 calendar subject to change based around Covid-19

Over the past couple of years, I have documented Tom’s progress via my podcast, Talk Ultra, you can listen to the episodes below:

Tom Evans and the 2017 Marathon des Sables HERE

Episode 133 Podcast, Marathon des Sables HERE

Episode 152 Podcast, The Coastal Challenge HERE

Episode 174 Podcast, Western States HERE

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Episode 183 – Kaytlyn Gerbin, Cody Lind and Janine Canham

Episode 183 of Talk Ultra brings you interviews with Kaytlyn Gerbin and Cody Lind, the winners of the 2020 The Coastal Challenge. We also chat with Janine Canham about her 7 marathons on 7 continents in 7 days. Speedgoat co-hosts.
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00:25:15 KAYTLYN GERBIN
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01:15:09 CODY LIND
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01:58:30 JANINE CANHAM
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Total 03:26:40
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The Coastal Challenge #TCC2020 – Day 6 23km

The Coastal Challenge, Costa Rica’s number one multi-day race concluded on Drake Bay today, a 23km loop of ‘the best’ of Costa Rica all wrapped up in a wonderful 23km.

The run manages to bring together, all that has gone before in the previous 5-days, running through rivers, crossing waterfalls, fire road, secluded coves, rainforest trails, single-track, suspension bridges and of course, wonderful empty beaches.

It was a day of fun, with all the major podium positions decided, with the exception of the women’s 3rd podium place after a stunning day 4 by Ashton Keck Keck educing the gap to 8-minutes to Abelone Lyng who suffered badly in the closing 17km of day 4.

Keck Keck pushed from the off and Lyng did not respond, the heart was willing but the body had no reserves to push and push hard. Lyng had accepted the loss of the podium place before the stage 6 start and enjoyed a victory loop of a job well done and 4th overall.

The men’s race was a loop of honour with the top-3 men staying side-by-side all the way to the line, Erick Agüero and Andy Symonds congratulating Cody Lind on an incredible 2020 victory.

“I am so happy, I gave it all on day-5 for the win and to secure the top of the podium, it has been an incredible week of such diversity”

Kaytlyn Gerbin despite taking the foot of the gas still won the last stage making it 6 out of 6.

“I trained for this thinking it would be as hard as a 100-mile race, but the multi-day format is so much harder. It’s nice to get things done in one go. To get up day-after-day and race again has been a learning curve but I have loved it.” Gerbin said on the finish. “I have raced hard and was tested but I had some reserves, you are never quite sure how hard to push. For this race you need to be an all-rounder to win as it has so much variety.”

Natalia López Arrieta once again ran a solid day, like Gerbin, she had no need to push and she finished comfortably with second place secured.

For most people, to have a podium place and then lose it would be heart breaking, but Abelone Lyng had a real sense of perspective:

“I was broken after stage 5 and I knew I could not ‘race’ the last day, but I was convinced I would finish, even if that meant crawling. I have no complaints… What is there to complain about? I am privileged to have run in Costa Rica, the start near Quepos and finish at Drake Bay. I have travelled by foot and the experiences and memories will last a lifetime – Pura Vida as the Costa Rican’s would say!”

Ashton Keck Keck had a tough last day and ran the stage of her life to secure the podium place. Her joy was tangible and she will have great memories.

Each competitor though is a champion, The Coastal Challenge is not an easy race, not at all. To finish is a huge achievement and all who received their medal should be proud. Now it is time to relax, enjoy the beach and a beer, swim in the sea, go snorkelling and enjoy the hard won rest.

Ranking Overall:

Men:

Cody Lind 22:42:33

Erick Agüero 23:01:19

Andy Symonds 23:15:49

Women:

Kaytlyn Gerbin 27:31:57

Natalia López Arrieta 29:40:34

Ashton Keck Keck 32:54:54

The Coastal Challenge #TCC2020 – Stage 5 47km

The Coastal Challenge, Costa Rica’s number one multi-day race moved to stage 5 and the longest day of the race at 47km. The stage is notorious for the endless fire roads, steep technical climbs and descents, the famous boat crossing and the hot beaches that lead to the line.

Departing camp at 0430, the runners are transported to Sierpe and they then take a barge across the river allowing the runners to start at 0615 heading for the stunning Drake Bay.

The early km’s are all about running on fire roads that sap the mind and legs, race leader, Cody Lind to the race to the competition and forged ahead solo, his intentions were clear, he was going to make sure he won the race from the front!

At CP2 he had a 6-minute lead on Erick Agüero and that was extended to a greater margin after crossing the estuary by boat.

“I am hurting!” He exclaimed but he pushed on with 9km to go and a potential TCC 2020 victory secured.

Shortly after the aid station he was sick, but post race he confirmed, “It was perfect, it released the bad feelings and I could run the final km’s to the line trouble free.” Cody crossed the line in 4:35:37

Agüero was giving it his all, but obviously trying to make sure he did not blow up and lose is hard fought for 2nd place. After the boat crossing he pushed to the line finishing in 4:53:55 and in the process, barring a disaster, confirming that Lind will win the 2020 The Coastal Challenge who has a lead of 18-minute and 46-seconds.

Andy Symonds ran a solid day and finished 3rd on the stage in 5:04:21but he had a tough day with the heat… As did most runners!

Kaytlyn Gerbin controlled the race from the front pushing as hard as required to win the stage but not at a pace that would risk a blow up and potential disaster. She looked calm, relaxed and happy throughout, her 6:02:52 securing a huge margin over the competition with just one day to go!

Ashton Keck Keck who ran a solid day 1 proved to be the revelation of the day running the fire roads hard and finishing just under 12-minutes behind Gerbin. Lying in 4th place, over 1-hour behind Abelone Lyng, the question mark was; how much time could she take back?

Abelone Lyng arrived at the water crossing in 3rd place and all looked good. However, the reality was far different. Suffering from severe stomach pains, Lyng struggled through the aid station, gritted her teeth and pushed to the line. “It was just terrible, I had pain in my stomach, my legs and my back. The heat was fine but I was just shutting down.” Lyng eventually would finish the stage in 5th (7:12:54) after walking pretty much all the last 9km and in the process allowing Keck Keck to close the gap on her 3rd GC to less than 9-minutes.

“At this stage I can’t think of tomorrow. I need to hydrate and eat,” said Lyng. “Today has wiped me out, I will finish tomorrow, even if I need to crawl!”

Natalia Lòpez Arrieta finished 3rd on the stage in 6:46:44 confirming her 2nd place on GC and Viviana Piedra Solano finished 4th in 6:53:43.

Stage 6 tomorrow is the victory loop starting and concluding in Drakes Bay over 23km.

Ranking:

Men:

Cody Lind 4:35:37

Eick Agüero 4:53:55

Andy Symonds 5:04:21

Women:

Kaytlyn Gerbin 5:08:29

Natalia López Arrieta 5:33:59

Vivian Piedra Solano 6:08:23

Overall:

Men:

Cody Lind 20:31:08

Erick Agüero 20:49:55

Andy Symonds 21:04:25

Women:

Kaytlyn Gerbin 25:04:47

Natalia López Arrieta 26:59:37

Abelone Lyng 30:11:46

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The Coastal Challenge #TCC2020 – Stage 4 36.2km

The Coastal Challenge, Costa Rica’s number one multi-day race moved to stage 4 and the day started with some bad news, Mauricio Mendez who had been the stage winner on days 1 and 2 would not start day 4 due to a tendonitis injury sustained on day 3. Mendez had showed that he had the potential to win the race, so it was a devastating blow not only for him, but the race.

Also, as day 3 came to conclusion, news came in that Veronica Bravo and Scott Maguire had quit the race due to injury, Bravo sustaining a problem to her achilles and Maguire had a foot issue. It was sad news as both runners figured in the top-5.

It was another early start for the race as the runners had a short transfer for the stage start and the runners were set on their way at 0545.

Erick Agüero was well aware that with such a slender lead, he would need to race hard and smart to keep a hold of the race. He pushed from the off and on the steep rolling terrain to CP2, he lead Cody Lind and Andy Symonds by just seconds.

The race was on and as they traversed up and down the trails in this beautiful high plateau area, the three marked each other knowing that the race was held by a slender thread. The final descent that would drop to the final checkpoint provided an opportunity and finally Lind opened up a gap to take the stage victory with a time of 4:06:51. 

Agüero is showing true grit and fought hard for the second place ahead of Symonds, both crossing in 4:08:10 and 4:08:54.

Lind know leads the 2020 The Coastal Challenge by the slender margin of 29-seconds. Symonds is less than 3-minutes behind Agüero, this race will go down to the line!

“It was a tough day and I was feeling it towards the end of the last climb,” said Symonds. “I had dropped off Erick and Cody and then on the final descent, Cody let go, he descends really well and he opened up the gap, it is getting exciting!”

Kaytlyn Gerbin had control of the women’s race and despite her being close to Natalia López Arrieta at CP2, when she decided to put the foot down, she really opened up a gap. She crossed the line in 5:08:29, 25-minutes ahead of Arrieta.

“I loved today’s route, it was very different to the previous days with no beaches and sea and lots more trail and climbing, it was a good day!” – Kaytlyn Gerbin

Abelone Lyng recovered well from day 3 and losing time by going off course. With more trail and technical sections, it played into her skill set and she loved the day.

However, on the final descent, she moved slower than Viviana Piedra Solano who pulled back time. From the last CP it was a head-to-head race to the line. Lyng calculated the distance incorrectly thinking it was a 4km stretch to the line, when actually it was 2km. Due to the intense heat, she held back allowing Solano to cross the line in 6:08:23 and she followed in 6:10:30. Lyng’s 3rd place on the podium still very safe as she has over a 1-hour lead to 4th .

Stage 5 tomorrow is a tough day with the longest stage of the race. We can expect fireworks in the men’s race as the podium places are so close.

Ranking:

Men:

Cody Lind 4:06:51

Eick Agüero 4:08:10

Andy Symonds 4:08:54

Mauricio Mendez 5:42:36

Women:

Kaytlyn Gerbin 5:08:29

Natalia López Arrieta 5:33:59

Vivian Piedra Solano 6:08:23

Overall:

Men:

Cody Lind 15:55:31

Erick Agüero 15:56:00

Andy Symonds 16:00:03

Women:

Kaytlyn Gerbin 19:01:55

Natalia López Arrieta 20:12:52

Abelone Lyng 22:58:51

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The Coastal Challenge #TCC2020 – Stage 3 47.5km

The Coastal Challenge, Costa Rica’s number one multi-day race moved to stage 3 and it conformed that there are no guarantees when it comes to racing. It was a day of drama and problems as the ‘Expedition’ runners travelled 47.5km to Playa Ballena.

The iconic Nauyaca Waterfall welcomed the runners after 12km but first a technical run through a river bed was the first challenge. Local runner and past TCC participant, Erick Agüero used his local knowledge and experience to take a lead over the Scott Athletes, Cody Lind and Andy Symonds. Race leader, Mauricio Mendez followed closely behind. We were seeing the Costa Rican runner take the race on by the horns.

Equally, the women’s race had Natalia López Arrieta taking a lead over race leader, Kaytlyn Gerbin.

Behind, 3rd on GC, Abelone Lyng followed just behind Manu Vilaseca who seemed to be having a better day in adapting to the heat. Unfortunately, at the waterfall, disaster struck for Vilaseca with a broken lace system on her ‘BOA’ shoes. Luckily, one of the race team offered their own shoes as a replacement… Vilaseca could race on.

Agüero was running hard today and by checkpoint 2 he had a 6-minute lead over Lind, Symonds and Mendoza who were pursuing together. It soon became clear that Mendoza had issues by the expression on his face.

Lind and Symonds cooled over with a water pipe and left. Mendoza by contrast, sat on the ground, removed his shoes and grimaced with pain. It turned out after the race he had Tendonitis.

Arrieta and Gerbin charged ahead at the front of the women’s race but behind, course sabotage sent Vilaseca and Lyng off course for approximately 4km on very tough terrain. It was the kind of disaster that can lose a runner 45-minutes. Later, the impact was clear to see as Lyng, who would have finished 3rd woman on the stage, eventually finished a little farther back losing a chunk of unnecessary time and effort.

At Hermosa Beach and all the way to the finish line, Agüero hello off the Scott athlete charge and won the stage for a great Costa Rican victory, the result providing him the overall lead of TCC2020 by less than one minute, his overall time 11:47:50.

Lind and Symonds finished together and they now 2nd and 3rd on the overall GC with a time of 11:48:39 and 11:51:08 respectively. Unfortunately, Mendez lost a chunk of time and the overall race lead a currently a podium place. It was a disastrous day for the young Mexican runner.

“I had some discomfort in my feet from day 2 but I thought it was just tiredness, however, in the first 3-miles of stage 3 I knew my foot was not good,” Mendez said at the finish line. “I was chasing Erick with Andy and Cody but the pain was terrible. I took time out at CP2 to cool off my foot and massage it but the damage was done. Not finishing was not an option so I pushed on and finished the stage. I have spoken with the medics and I have tendonitis… So, I am unsure what stage 4 will bring?”

For the women, Gerbin caught Arrieta and applied the pressure, once again she pulled away for a third stage win in three days, she now has an overall time of 13:53:26.

Arrieta ran a strong race and finished the stage 3 with an accumulated time of 14:38:53.

Lyng, despite the run off-course still occupies the 3rd podium place with an accumulated time 16:48:21 but finished 4th on the stage (7:39:11) behind Viviana Piedra Solano.

Stage 4 tomorrow is a tough day as the runners start the day with a tough climb, they then stay high and finish the day with a descent to Palmar Sur, the distance 36.2km. The Adventure race will cover 16.5km.

Ranking:

Men:

Erick Agüero 4:59:39 – Leader on GC

Andy Symonds/ Cody Lind 5:03:14

Mauricio Mendez 5:42:36

Women:

Kaytlyn Gerbin 6:01:21 – Leader on GC

Natalia López Arrieta 6:22:18

Vivian Piedra Solano 7:17:03

 

The Coastal Challenge #TCC2020 – Stage 1 33km

Runners departed San Jose at 4am for a 4 hour transfer to the coast for the start of the 2020 The Coastal Challenge, Costa Rica’s number one multi-day race.

It’s always a tough day as the runners depart the stage start after 0900 and the heat of the day is already intense.

It’s a day for caution!

From the off, the elite men pushed hard setting a relentless pace to checkpoint 1 with the UK’s Andy Symonds leading the way with Mauricio Mendez. Cody Lind and local, Erick Agüero followed. For the women, pre-race favourite Kaytlyn Gerbin lead from the front pulling away from Brazils, Manuela Vilaseca.

After checkpoint one, the heat was starting to influence the race with Symonds and Vilaseca both going through bad patches, this allowed Mendez and Gerbin to extend their leads.

Mendez took hold of the front of the race and the 2016 Xterra World Champion pushed home for the win looking very strong and relaxed in 2:44:35. The USA’s Lind moved in to second place with 2:49:08 and Symonds rallied in the closing stages to hold on the a podium place in 2:51:37 ahead of the local hero, Scott Maguire from Canada in 2:53:06. Local hero Agüero was 5th in 2:54:12.

“It was so hot today. Although a three hour race for me I treated it like an ultra and held things back. I never ran past water, I immersed myself all the time when I could. As the day progressed and I moved up through the field and finished 2nd, a good day!” – Cody Lind

Gerbin pushed for line with a convincing lead in 3:18:47 and behind her, Costa Rican runners, Natalia López Arrieta and Ashton Keck Keck placed 2nd and 3rd ahead of Norway’s, Abelone Lyng in 3:31:37, 3:48:09 and 3:56:49 respectively.

“I wanted a strong first day but I needed to respect the heat. A great deal if fire road today and that was tough…” Gerbin said after the finish. “But I have a lead now and I will run my own race each day. It was hot today, it needs so much respect.”

Ranking:

Men:

Mauricio Mendez 2:44:35

Cody Lind 2:49:08

Andy Symonds 2:51:37

Women:

Kaytlyn Gerbin 3:18:47

Natalia López Arrieta 3:31:37

Ashton Keck Keck 3:48:09

Stage 2 of #TCC2020 with depart with sunrise, ahead 40.2km to Dominical beach. The ‘Adventure’ category will run 17.4km starting from aid station 2.

#TCC2020

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The Coastal Challenge #TCC2020 – One day to go!

Welcome to Costa Rica. Welcome to the 16th edition of The Coastal Challenge #TCC2020

Runners from 16 countries are arriving in sunny Costa Rica, land of mountains and coasts, to run 230 kilometres and over 8700 meters of vertical gain in six stages. The Coastal Challenge is without a doubt much more than a challenge!

The 2020 edition holds a premium list of elite runners: Veronica Bravo, Manuela Vilaseca, Katlyn Gerbin, Cody Lind, Andy Symonds, Erick Aguero and Mauricio Mendez are amidst the elite field running the race.

Costa Rica is much more than rugged terrain and challenging trails, it’s a country which holds beautiful customs and warm people, tasty food and lots of smiles, it’s a country which will win the racer’s heart, they will go back home with dreams and memories of this great adventure.

#TCC2020
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10 Top Tips for Multistage and Multi-Day Racing

Running is running yes? Anyone can do it! Well I guess the answer is yes. However, variables come in to play. Running is broken down into many different distances, from 100m to 100-miles and beyond. The longer we run, the more the challenges and requirements on a runner change. Running for multiple days or running a multistage race on mixed terrain throws up many different scenarios. Over the years I have spoken with many champions who have raced in the sands of the Sahara, the forests of Costa Rica and the mountainous paths of Nepal. They all provide me with similar hints ’n’ tips to a successful multistage race.

TOP 10 TIPS FOR A MULTISTAGE

1 – RUNNING IN THE SAND

Desert races are very popular. Marathon des Sables for example is the father of multistage racing and over the years, many races have followed in the MDS format. A desert race is never all dunes but some races have more soft sand than others, so, be prepared. To avoid getting tired it’s important to read the terrain. Carve your own path running on fresh sand and when possible, run along the ridges. In smaller dunes (dunettes) it can be beneficial to run in tracks left by others, at all times, run light as though running on ice – you don’t want to sink in the sand!

2 – HYDRATION

Dehydration is a real risk in any race, particularly a self-sufficient race where water is rationed. The risks of dehydration increase when the mercury rises and a lack of cover comes. A desert for example will be open, have intense heat but humidity will be low. By contrast, a jungle such as those found in Costa Rica may well have plenty of tree cover and streams to cool off in but the humidity will be through the roof. In both scenarios it’s important to drink regularly. Take small and regular sips of water and supplement lost salt with salt tablets. Races like Marathon des Sables provide salt tablets at aid stations and they recommend dosage. Other races you will need to think of this and plan accordingly. Also think about food choices on the trail and when in camp – food rich in minerals and salts will also help you. Importantly, multistage racing is about management from day-to-day and this is what can trip people up. Think about the event as a whole and make sure you recover after each day – rehydrating is as important post a run as when running.

3 – BLISTERS

Many a multistage race is ruined by bad personal management of feet. Think about this well in advance of the race by choosing socks and shoes that work for you. Also choose shoes appropriate for the terrain you will be racing on. A shoe for MDS will be very different to a shoe for the Himalayas for example. By all means take advice on shoes from previous competitors BUT you are unique and your needs are unique. Do you pronate? Do you supinate? Do you need a low or high drop? Do you prefer a cushioned shoe or a more minimalist shoe? What about grip, do you need any? Do you need to fit gaiters? The questions can go on and on and only you can make a choice. If all this is new to you. Go to a running store that understand runners and can provide expert and impartial advice. They will assess you and your run style and provide advice. One consideration for multistage racing is that your foot ‘can’ possibly swell due to variables such as heat, running day-after-day and so on. Your foot will not go longer, but it may go wider. So, think about shoes that have some room in the toe box. Don’t purchase shoes that are 1 or 2 sizes larger – this is poor advice. Larger shoes will only allow your foot to move… a moving foot causes friction, friction increases the risk of soreness and soreness will lead to a blister. Also think about walking. Many people choose a shoe because they are good to run in… But how do they feel when you walk? Remember, a multistage race can involve a great deal of walking!

Do you have sensitive feet? If so, you can prepare your feet in the run-up to an event. Also make sure your nails are trimmed back. While racing, if you have blisters, stop and get them treated as soon as possible. Take responsibility and learn basic footsore before an event. You need to make sure you can make any necessary treatments. Finally, many races have a medical team that are provided to look after you and your feet. Don’t hesitate to use them, but remember, there may be a big line waiting. Self-care is an excellent way to make sure that you are ready to run in your own timeline.

4 – BALANCED PACK

Not all multistage races are the same. The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica, for example, is not self-sufficient so a runner only needs to carry liquid, snack food and any ‘mandatory’ kit. By contrast, a self-sufficient multistage race requires you to carry everything. A simple rule is keep everything as light as possible and keep your pack balanced. Luxuries really are luxuries in a race over multiple days so really ask yourself, do I need to take that? You will need mandatory kit as specified by the race and in addition you will need (as a guide):

  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping matt
  • Warm layer
  • Spare socks
  • Food (minimum calories are specified per day)

Clothes, shoes, hat, sunglasses –  but you will be wearing these so they don’t go in the pack.

That’s it. Keep it simple and if at all possible, get your pack with its contents as close the minimum weight as specified by the race.

By general consensus, a luxury item is considered a music player (or 2) such as an iPod shuffle.

Also remember that minimum pack weight will be without water, so, if your pack weighs 6.5kg, you will have to add 1.5kg on the start line on day 1. This is where a front pack or a pack where bottles sit on the front works really well. Bottles on the front help balance the front and the back and provide a greater running experience. Also, think about items your need whilst running… it’s not a good idea having them in the back, they need to be at the front so you can access them ‘on-the-go!’

Many packs are available to choose from and you will see two or three are very popular – WAA, Ultimate Direction and Raidlight. Choosing a pack is light choosing shoes; we are all personal. However, keep a pack simple, make sure it’s comfortable and make sure it has little or no bounce when running/ walking.

Consider joining a multistage/ multi-day training camp HERE

5 – PROTECT FROM THE SUN

The sun can be a killer in any race, single stage or multistage – use sun protection and apply it daily. Also use products like arm coolers, a hat and a buff. At aid stations or whilst racing, you can keep these wet which will help cool you. Particularly the buff. If you overheat, slow down and apply cold/ water to the back of the neck. Use UV protective clothing and the jury is out on if clothing should be tight or loose. This often comes down to personal preference.

6 – EAT WELL

Any multistage race is quickly broken down into three phases – running, eating and sleeping. Food is a really important part of any race as it has to perform many functions. Most importantly, it has to sustain you so you will need carbohydrate, protein and fat. Individual requirements will vary but carbs will restore energy, protein will repair and fat is essential as this is one of the primary fuel sources for a multistage race. Remember though, our bodies have an unlimited reserve of fat. It’s important to understand that your diet whilst training may well be very different to when racing. In training you may well have eaten less carbs to teach your body to use fat, but when racing, you need to recover and be ready to run/race again the next day. Have variety in your food as your palette will change with fatigue, dehydration and heat. Real foods are good but dehydrated food also has a place. You also need to decide if you will require a stove for heating water? Don’t think twice about stepping up a little on the organization’s requisite minimum daily dose of 2,000 calories a day, remember though, it’s all weight!

7 – REST

Rest is crucial and how much you get will depend on how fast you run. Front runners have no shortage of rest time, however, those at the back of the race get minimal rest. Make sure you have a good sleeping bag that is warm enough for you and is as light and packs small as possible. You can save weight by not carrying a sleeping matt – general consensus says that carrying one is worthwhile as sitting and sleeping is much more comfortable. Matts come in two types: inflatable or sold foam. Inflatable matts work really well, pack small but you run the risk of a puncture without diligence. Foam matts won’t puncture but they can be bulky.

Make sure you have a warm layer for comfort, temperatures drop with darkness. A jacket (usually down) will also allow you to add warmth while sleeping if required. A lightweight sleeping bag and down jacket is preferable (by general consensus) over a combination sleeping bag that turns into a jacket. A jacket and bag offers flexibility, weighs less and packs smaller but will be considerably more expensive.

8 – PACE

Remember that you have entered a race that lasts multiple days. Spread your effort and have the big picture in mind – pace yourself. Don’t set off too quickly and consider race profiles, distances and cut-off times. YOU take responsibility of when you need to be at checkpoints. A day with a great deal of climbing, soft sand or technical train will take longer, allow for this and be prepared. Most multistage races have a long day and it’s fair to say it is the most feared day – keep some energy back for that day. Remember, the long day often has a generous time allowance so don’t be worried by taking a sleep break midway through.

9 – KEEP ON TRACK

Most races will have markers for you to follow but be sensible and self-aware of the challenge. If a race requires you to carry a map and compass, then please understand how to use them. Carry a Spot Tracker for safety and if you use a GPS such as Suunto or Garmin, remember that these watches plot a route that you can use to backtrack. In a race like MDS it is difficult to go off course due to the volume of people, remember though that dunes are not way-marked and you will be given a bearing to run off. If you are alone or in the dark, an understanding of how this works is a positive.

10 – ENJOY IT

A multistage journey often offers so much more than any single-day race. It’s an experience like no other and friends made in the desert, jungle or mountains will stay with you forever. Also remember that this journey is a hark back to a more primitive and simple time – embrace that. Leave gadgets at home and live a simple life for a week – I guarantee it will change you!

contributions from

Elisabet Barnes, Danny Kendall, Jo Meek, Nikki Kimball and Laurence Klein

The Coastal Challenge 2020 #TCC2020

The 2020 ‘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!

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 this Central American country.

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 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.

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 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 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 2020 ELITE LINE UP

Katlyn Gerbin

Kaytlyn joins the line-up of the 2020 TCC with an extremely solid and consistent resume, known in Canada and the USA for a string of top performances, it was a podium place (2nd) at Transgrancanaria that introduced her to worldwide attention. Winner of the Pine to Palm 100 in 2016, Kaytlyn has mixed races distances for the last 3-years, excelling at 50km and 100km with victories at Gorge Waterfalls and Sun Mountain amongst others. In 2017 she won Cascade Crest 100 but her calling cards are 4th place and 2nd place at the 2017 and 2018 Western States.

Manuela Vilaseca 

Is a last-minute entry to the race but that is no problem for the experienced ultra-trail and mountain runner. In November, she once again made the podium at the Everest Trail Race. She has two top-10 finishes at UTMB and a high-ranking in the UTWT. Born in Brazil, Manuela will embrace the Pura Vida approach of The Coastal Challenge.

Abelone Lyng

Hailing from Scandinavia, Abe has gained a reputation in just 4-years for tenacity in ultra-trail races. She recently won the 230km Ice Ultra in the Arctic wilderness and placed 4th overall. TCC no doubt will give this cold weather expert some new challenges but Abe embraces a challenge!

Rebecca Ferry

Becks, as she is known to her friends, has gained a reputation in recent years for achieving great results, be that Everest Trail Race or on the UK trails setting course records. She comes to the TCC with excellent experience of multi-day racing and is a prime contender for the podium.

Brittany Peterson and Kelly Wolfe were due to race and both have sustained injuries preventing participation in the 2020 race. Brittany however will still join us in Costa Rica.

MEN

Cody Lind

Cody has been racing for some years, but may well have only come on your radar after 2017 with a very committed foray in the Skyrunning circuit – He placed 8th at Tromso in 2017 and then followed the SWS circuit racing on iconic courses throughout the world. Recently he raced them Rut in the USA and came away with victory. Cody manages to mix speed and technical ability, it’s a perfect mix for the trails in Costa Rica.

Andy Symonds 

Andy is one of the UK’s greatest mountain runners. He has traditions in fell running and has mixed Skyrunning and ultra-running throughout a long and successful career. He recently placed 5th at UTMB after 3 attempts. He has raced Marathon des Sables and placed in the top-10 but Andy will always be considered a mountain specialist. He has won Lavaredo, placed 3rd at Marathon Mont Blanc, 5th at Transgrancanaria and has represented his country at many World Championships. The technical and demanding trails of Costa Rica with plenty of climbing and descending provide Andy a perfect playground.

Mauricio Mendez

Mauricio is a rising star from Mexico who is currently an Xterra World Champion. He joins TCC as somewhat as a dark horse but no doubt he will be the hope of the locals. He started running because of his Father and in his own words, is a dreamer!

Julien Chorier unfortunately, took a fall in training and sustained a fracture and therefore is unable top race in the 2020 edition of the race. We wish him a speedy recovery and hope he can join TCC2021. Jordi Gamito should have toed the line at the 2019 TCC but injury prevented his participation and once again, while training in Africa over Christmas, he has sustained a knee injury which unfortunately will keep him away from the race.

The 2020 TCC starts in February as runners from all over the world will assemble in San Jose before transferring to the coast for stage 1 of the race starting on Saturday 8th. Year-on-year, the TCC has grown to be one of ‘the’ most iconic multi-day races. 

#TCC2020
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