Ultra Trail Mont Blanc #UTMB 2018 Preview

UTMB is upon us and the hype just keeps on building and building. The 2018 edition looks set to be another great race and the year when the chances of an American at the top of the podium, have probably never been higher!

The 170km loop that starts in France, passes through Italy, then Switzerland and once again returns to France with 10,000m of vert is considered the pinnacle of 100-mile mountain running.

 UTMB LIVE HERE

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It is easy to look at UTMB and the presence of Kilian Jornet on the start line and say, ‘we know who has won!’ To be honest, I think Kilian is the odds-on favourite to win the 2018 edition, particularly with Francoise D’Haene missing the race. What Kilian has achieved in 2018 after a very serious injury has been quite remarkable. What is most impressive is the range of his skill, he can break an almost unbreakable FKT in the UK (Bob Graham Round), win a super-fast and competitive Sierre-Zinal and then win and set a course record at the most technical and pinnacle skyrunning event there is, Trofeo Kima, just 5-days before toeing the line at UTMB. Without doubt, Kilian is the one to beat, however, the one thing he has against him is the lack of specific 100-mile training. For anyone else, that would be a huge problem, for Kilian, no!

Many will say that Jim Walmsley is the prime contender to beat KJ but let’s give a nod and respect to Tim Tollefson who has placed 3rd twice and now knows the race like the back of his hand. He prepares specifically and respects the race and the distance. His form seems a little off based on results in 2018, but, I am sure Tim has only ever had his eye on one prize.

Luis Alberto Hernando is for me one of the greatest and most underrated mountain runners in the world. He is pure class. He is a multiple world champ, has placed 2nd at UTMB before and missed the race in 2017 because he knew he didn’t have the necessary form to win. He has been quiet this year which can only mean very specific training. He hasn’t run many 100’s and this has been his downfall in the past, he always races hard and from the front which can mean he blows up. This may be Luis’s year for the win, but everything will need to go right, and Kilian will need to be a little off. A Luis victory would be extremely popular! 

Jim Walmsley finally fulfilled his dreams and ability with nailing Western States earlier this year and obliterating the course record. He has earned his 100-mile apprenticeship. Last year at UTMB it was all going well, and Jim was running a smarter race, it went wrong but he rallied and then finished in the top-10 closing hard. He has a tough decision to make at this year’s race, does he go on gut feeling and run at ‘his’ pace early on and hope he can take it to the line (think Zach Miller) or does he hand with Kilian, mark him, stay with him and then make a move late in the race where he then maybe can use his natural run speed to win? It’s important to note, that running and winning UTMB will be at least 20% more time on his feet than the WSER victory. I think Jim will make the podium this year and yes, he could be at the top of it, quite easily!

 Xavier Thevenard has done it all at UTMB winning all the main distances over the past 4-years. He will no doubt be reeling from his DQ at Hardrock and that could work either way at UTMB. It may motivate a superb performance or put questions in his mind. Podium potential for sure but not a winner this year.

 Alex Nichols is for me the greatest US potential for a win in years. However, it may take this year for him to fully understand the race before he can come back and win next year or the year after. I said many times in the last 18-months that Alex has the greatest potential and he proved it recently with his Nolans 14 FKT. He is one to watch and a dark horse.

The above are my prime podium contenders but as always, it’s a stacked field with the following toeing the line:

  • Gediminas Grinius
  • Ryan Sandes
  • Mark Hammond
  • Michel Lanne
  • Stephan Hugenschmidt
  • Jordi Gamito
  • Sondre Amdahl
  • Benoit Cori
  • Scott Hawker
  • Timothy Olson
  • Damian Hall
  • Sylvain Court
  • Javi Dominguez

That is an A-list of contenders with Gediminas Grinius and Javi Dominguez as stand outs. It is UTMB, so anything can happen on the big loop. One person to watch is the UK’s Damian Hall. Over the past 3-years he has moved closer and closer to the top-10 and last year placed 11th. He is super motivated this year and although I don’t think he will make the top-5, the chances are high for him to fulfil his top-10 dream. 

WOMEN 

Mimmi Kotka for me is the 2018 UTMB champion. She has won CCC, TDS and has crushed mountain races such as Madeira Island Ultra Trail, Mont-Blanc 90km and the Maxi-Race in Annecy. She eats mountains and although this is her first 100, something just tells me she is ready for the big loop.

Caroline Chaverot of course should be the odds-on favourite but boy-oh-boy as she had a tough time of things after winning ‘everything’ and I mean ‘everything’ a year or so ago. Her form is a real question mark and she has openly discussed on social media that she has been very unwell. Caroline in form is of course podium potential, anything less and she would be disappointed.

Uxue Fraile has a 5th, 3rd and 2nd at UTMB and that alone sets her up as a prime podium contender. She always runs a savvy race, has loads of experience and for me, she may well match her 2015 2nd place. 

Kaori Niwa has been 4th at UTMB and recently took 4th at Hardrock 100, so, we know she has endurance. That is super important here at UTMB and although victory is unlikely with Mimmi and Caroline in the race, the 3rd slot on the podium is possible.

 Sephanie Violett was 15th last-year which seems a below par performance based on her experience and skill. But UTMB is not the US and Magdalena Boulet and Kaci Lickteig also placed out of the top-10. I have a feeling that these three women will change things around this year and impact on the top-10 with Stephanie my tip as the one who does the best of the trio.

Beth Pascall and Jo Meek are two Brits who I believe this year will turn heads. Beth gets the nod over Jo as she has much experience at the long game with success at races such as Lakeland 100, Dragons Back and the Spine. She dropped at UTMB last year after getting cold, this year I am putting my neck on the line and saying top-5! Jo has trained specifically and knows the UTMB mountains after placing 2nd at CCC. This is her first foray to 100-miles and this length of time on her feet. She has all the ability to do well, so, fingers crossed she makes the top-10.

Fernanda Maciel has buckets of experience at the long game, has excelled at UTMB time and time again and I have no reason not to think she will do the same again this year. A prime top-10 contender and for sure, 4th/ 5th is a distinct possibility; she has placed 4th twice before.

Juliette Blanchet was 4th last-year and has buckets of experience and results at long and tough races… She was 2nd at Raid de la Reunion after UTMB in 2017. She will be fighting for the podium and amongst the 2018 women’s field, she has a great chance.

 Cat Bradley has won Western States but, in all honesty, I have no idea how she will fare on this monster 170km loop. You don’t win Western by accident which is why she gets a nod here, but let’s look at Kaci and Magdalena last-year, they were both outside the top-10. 

Mariya Nikolova is not a name that many will have heard but she has been in the top-10 at UTMB previously and she has won in Turkey at Cappadocia. Her recent form is a little unknown but an improvement from 9th is to be expected. 

Strong Contenders:

Emilie Lecomte has been there and done it in long distances races but seems to be lacking the speed of her prime. Amy Sproston has been 8th before, she will be in the top-10 game but not a podium contender. The UK’s Sophie Grant is another real contender with Beth and Jo, she was 15th last-year. Teresa Nimes was just outside the top-10 placing 11th in 2017. Aliza Lapierre dnf’d last year but has loads of experience as does Ildiko Wermescher who has been 6th and 7th at UTMB previously… In all honesty, Ildiko should be in the list above. Francesca Canepa is a long-distance specialist. Katia Fori also one to watch after 5th at MIUT.

It is all to fight for. The big loop with all that distance, vertical gain and descending, variable weather and just the many, many hours on foot means nothing is guaranteed. So, expect some surprises!

Action stars Friday 31st August.

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The Coastal Challenge 2019 #TCC2019 – BREAKING NEWS!

The Coastal Challenge reaches new heights in 2019 celebrating 15-years of amazing racing.

The 14th edition completed in February 2018 at the stunning Drake Bay on the Osa Peninsula, was a record breaker! Yes, course records were broken daily and Tom Evans and Ragna Debats elevated the overall CR’s to a new level obliterating the 2017 records set by the UK’s Tom Owens and New Zealand’s Anna Frost.

Time never stands still and to make the 15th edition of TCC extra special, race director’s Rodrigo Carazo and Sergio Sanchez have confirmed a new incentive for the 2019 edition of the race.

HUGE REWARDS for 2019

A reward purse totalling $8000 will be up for grabs as the race gets underway from the stunning beaches of Quepos, Costa Rica.

Each day, $250 will be up for grabs should the stage course records be broken by the fastest male or female. For example, in 2018, Tom Evans broke every stage record, that would have been rewarded with a $1500 payout!

Should the overall course record set in 2018 by Tom Evans or Ragna Debats be broken in 2019, $2500 will be on offer. Should the male and female record go, that is a payout of $5000.

Feel like a fast start to 2019? It comes no faster than the 15th edition of The Coastal Challenge!

With only 120 places available, the 2019 edition of the race looks set to be a record breaker on every level.

Fast man and repeat TCC competitor, Chema Martinez has already confirmed he will toe the line. He missed the race in 2018 and after seeing the epic race by Tom Evans and Hayden Hawks unfold, he knew that he would need to come back!

In breaking news, we also announce here that Ultra-Trail Cape Town winner Lucy Bartholomew, will join the Pura Vida party as we roll out from the Pacific Ocean come February 2019.

Lucy is a rising star of the ultra-trail world and the Salomon team. She has an infectious smile, a bubbling personality and an abundance of natural born talent that will no doubt set the trails on fire as she makes her way over 234km’s of Costa Rican rainforest, beaches, waterfalls, river beds and dusty fire trails.

Lucy started running to spend more time with her Dad and going against the wishes of her father, she toed the line of Australia’s only multi-day race, the 250km Big Red Run aged just 17-years! She won it! What has followed is an inspiring journey.

Make sure you follow up next week as we interview Lucy about her rise in the sport and what it is about Costa Rica and The Coastal Challenge that has enticed her back to multi-day racing in 2019.

Follow #TCC2019

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You can read all about the record breaking 2018 edition below

Race Reports and Images

Day 1 HERE
Day 2 HERE
Day 3 HERE
Day 4 HERE
Day 5 HERE
Day 6 HERE

The Coastal Challenge 2018 #TCC2018 – Stage 4

Day 4 from Coronado to Palma Sur is a unique day – starting at sea level, the route climbs to just under 1000m in 10km and then stays high with a rollercoaster of hills dropping to just over 600m at 25km and then climbing again to 900m at 30km. From here, the runners drop like stones, all the way to the finish line in Palma Sur with 37.1km covered.

You guessed it, once again Tom Evans and Hayden Hawks dictated the pace at the front, running side-by-side they matched each other’s pace all day. However, it wasn’t all chatty. Hawks confirmed at one stage in the stage they were separated by over a minute but it all came back together. “Tom is just too strong,’ Hawks conformed. ‘I am trying hard, but he can match me, in all honesty, I am working hard to keep up.’

Evans is running a smart race, he is doing just what he needs to do to maintain his lead and should Hawks attack, he matches it.

The duo finished in 3:56, a ridiculous time for the 37km and once again, it was a new stage record.

The ladies’ race has a very similar format to the men’s with Ragna Debats blazing a trail at the front of the race on her own. She is so strong that no other lady can come near and to be honest, not many of the men either! She did have a little trouble today going off course in a riverbed section which frustrated her. However, she got back on track and once again won the stage with a clear margin.

As the days have passed, Timothy Olson has got stronger and stronger. Today he was pushing hard throughout keeping a close eye on Hawks and Evans. He has openly admitted he can’t maintain the pace they are running but he will try anyway. It was all looking good and then in the final 8km he took a bad fall and heavily sprained his ankle. He is out of the race unfortunately!

Marcus Scotney had a good day, pulling back time from his errors on day 3 and today he finished 3rd on the stage a great moral boost 21 minutes behind the dynamic duo.

Suzanna Guadarrama today found her true form and ran the stage with 2016 TCC champion, Ester Alves. The duo pushed together all day and finished in Palma Sur 2nd and 3rd. This result will almost certainly impact on the general classification with Mirta Reaple not having a good day. Josephine Adams had a good day placing 5th.

Tomorrow’s stage is 49km from Sierpe to Drake Bay (it is the longest stage of the race)

  1. Tom Evans 3:56:41
  2. Hayden Hawks 3:56:41
  3. Marcus Scotney 4:17:49
  4. Jorge Paniagua 4:38:01
  5. Erick Aguero 4:38:51
  6. Ragna Debats 4:52:05
  7. Suzanna Guadarrama 5:33:22
  8. Ester Alves 5:33:24
  9. Mirta Reaple 6:42:12
  10. Josephine Adams 6:47:27

Full results at www.webscorer.com

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The Coastal Challenge 2018 #TCC2018 – Stage 3

Day 3 of the 2018 kicked off at 0530 this morning and what lay ahead was a tough and challenging day of hills, technical trail, waterfalls, long dusty and stony roads and relentless beach – all intensified by Costa Rican heat and humidity.

The early trails leaving Dominical Beach take the runners into 10km’s of technical river bed. It’s all rock hopping and slip sliding away on the wet and greasy surface.

Nuayaca Waterfall is no doubt the highlight of the day, if not the race. The runners arrive down a small trail and the cascade greets them, they pass through and climb up a winding trail. From here on in, the terrain varies from rainforest, dusty access roads and technical Trail before the beach arrives with approximately 10km to go.

Now, the heat is intense, and the runners are sandwich pressed between sand and sky.

A small technical forest section leads to the highway and then the final km’s are passed on the side of the road before turning down an access road to the beach. It’s a brutal day.

It may come as no surprise that Ragna Debats dictated the day and the pace in the ladies’ race. it’s fair to say, that Debats has lifted this race to a whole new level, her times surpass all that has gone before. So much so, she is lying 6th overall. Today she pushed and pushed and placed 6th on the stage and 1-hour 10-minutes ahead of 2016 TCC champion, Ester Alves. She is putting on a masterclass!

Ester Aves as usual ran a solid race finishing in 6:45 with Mirta Reaple 3rd in 7:06 closely followed by Suzanna Guadarrama in 7:12. The final positions for 2nd and 3rd could prove to be exciting with two tough days to come.

For the men, Neruda Cespedes was the first to the waterfall closely followed by Tom Evans and Hayden Hawks. By the time cp2 arrived, it was all change with Hawks, Evans joined by Timothy Olson and Marcus Scotney. They pushed through the downhill trails to the beach and Evans and Hawks pulled away from Olson and Scotney.

Olson then made a break in pursuit of the duo leaving Scotney alone n 4th place. Disaster struck whom Scotney missed a turn, losing time, he opens up the doorway for Jorge Paniagua, Erick Aguero, Neruda Cespedes and Ashur Youssefi to go ahead of him. It was a huge mistake and he would finally finish 9th on the stage in 5:43.

Evans and Hawks continued to mark each other at the front and despite several attempts to push ahead of each other, the duo finished in 4:54. Olson finished 3rd in 5:02 and Jorge Paniagua flew the Costa Rican flag in 4th!

Tomorrow’s stage is 37km from Coronado to Palmar Sur

 

  1. Tom Evans 4:54:52
  2. Hayden Hawks 4:54:52
  3. Timothy Olson 5:02:04
  4. Jorge Paniagua 5:26:25
  5. Erick Aguero 5:33:36

 

  1. Ragna Debats 5:34:20
  2. Ester Alves 6:45:13
  3. Mirta Reaple 7:06:58
  4. Suzanna Guadarrama 7:12:38
  5. Gabriela Molina 8:17:43

 

Full results at www.webscorer.com

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The Coastal Challenge 2018 #TCC2018 – Stage 2

It was a 0400 wakeup call this morning and an 0530 start. It may sound super early but believe me, the runners weren’t complaining! Most had been in bed before 8pm. The advantages of an early start are simple, it gives the runners a good 2-3 hours before the heat starts to take its toll.

Today’s stage was a tough 39km kicked off with a climb. Tom Evans, Hayden Hawks and Timothy Olson dictated the pace for the men, matching each other stride-for-stride. At the summit they could be heard talking actively, so, it’s fair to say they were easing into the day! For the ladies, Ragna Debats stamped her mark on the race by pushing immediately and opening a huge lead over the chasers.

The course rolled up and down with a series of hard, stony and dusty access roads that connected sections of rainforest. At 16km another high point was reached, just over 700m and then it was all pretty much downhill before reading the beaches of Dominical and a flat but hot run to the finish.

Debats was in a league of her own today, she pushed and pushed eventually crossing the line in 4:24:25. To put this in perspective, 2016 TCC winner Ester Alves, finished 2nd lady in 5:15:58, 3rd lady was Suzanna Guadarrama and Mirta Reaple and Josephine Adams were 4th and 5th.

Hawks and Evans pushed the pace for the men, finally pulling away from Olson. The duo ran side-by-side and although they tested each other, the duo crossed the line together in 3:41:52. Olson had a good day, relishing the more technical and hilly terrain to finish 3rd in 3:48:17 with Marcus Scotney and Michael Wardian placing 4th and 5th.

Tomorrow’s stage and 47.4km is a tough one that runs from Dominical Beach to Bahia Ballena.

Stage Results:

  1. Tom Evans 3:41:52
  2. Hayden Hawks 3:41:56
  3. Timothy Olson 3:48:17
  4. Marcus Scotney 4:00:28
  5. Michael Wardian 4:21:41

 

  1. Ragna Debats 4:24:25 (6th on stage)
  2. Ester Alves 5:15:58
  3. Suzanna Guadarrama 5:30:26
  4. Mirta Reaple 5:42:18
  5. Josephine Adams 6:01:35

 

Full stage results HERE

Overall classification HERE

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The Coastal Challenge 2018 #TCC2018 – Stage 1

It was a hot day, a seriously hot day!

Leaving San Jose at 0430, runners eventually arrived at Quepos after 3hr bus drive and transferred to the beach for a 0930 start. It’s tough starting so late in the morning, particularly on the first day when there is no time to adapt to the heat and humidity.

Yes, the runners are thrown in at the deep end and the best advice is take it easy and ease in to the day!

The early flat miles ticked away, and it was Tom Evans and Michael Wardian who had a short lead over a pursuing Hayden Hawks at cp1 with 10km covered. For the ladies, it was Ragna Debats who stretched the pace and had a conniving gap over Ester Alves.

A dense section of rainforest and then some fast trails to cp2 saw Hawks and Evans move ahead of Wardian. The UK’s Marcus Scotney chased behind and then Timothy Olson. Hawks was pushing the pace but after cp3, Evans made a move and he opened up a small lead which he kept all the way to the line. Hawks finished 2nd and Scotney moved ahead of Wardian to take the 3rd slot. “I felt good today and I kept my heart rate low,” said Evans. “It was hot but all went well, we have a race on our hands!”

Debats for the ladies was in a race of her own despite post-race saying how hot and difficult it was, “I couldn’t breathe at times and I just had to walk to try and keep my temperature down.”

Behind Debats, a competitive race was unfolding with TCC 2016 winner Ester Alves chasing closely followed by Mirta Reaple. Alves held on for 2nd and Reaple finished 3rd 90-seconds later. Suzanna Guadarrama and Josephine Adams placed 4th and 5th.

Tomorrow, stage 2, the runners will cover 39.1km from Rafiki Lodge to Dominical Beach.

 

  1. Tom Evans 2:38:35
  2. Hayden Hawks 2:42:52
  3. Marcus Scotney 2:47:18
  4. Michael Wardian 2:50:22
  5. Timothy Olson 2:55:44

 

  1. Ragna Debats 3:20:55
  2. Ester Alves 3:34:16
  3. Mirta Reaple 3:35:51
  4. Suzanna Guadarrama 3:48:50
  5. Josephine Adams 3:51:16

 

Full results at www.webscorer.com

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The Coastal Challenge 2018 #TCC2018 – Registration

The 2018 The Coastal Challenge finally got underway today in San Jose, Costa Rica, as over 100 runners from all over the world came to packet pick up and registration for the 14th edition of the race.

As always, it was a mixture of nerves and excitement. The journey ahead, a stunning 6-days running along the coast of Costa Rica from Quepos to the iconic Drake Bay. Flanked on the right by the Pacific and to the left, the amazing Talamanca mountain range. 

The 2018 edition of the race has all the makings of a classic. The men’s field is arguably the best ever with Michael Wardian, Hayden Hawks, Tom Evans, Marcus Scotney and Timothy Olson.

Michael Wardian, TCC champion and previous course record holder.

Hayden Hawks 2017 CCC champion.

Tom Evans 3rd at MDS Morocco 2017 and 4th at CCC and the Eiger Ultra Trail.

Marcus Scotney winner of the Dragons Back Race and Cape Wrath Ultra.

The ladies’ race is equally impressive with past winner Ester Alves returning joined by Ragna Debats, Inge Nijkamp and Josephine Adams.

Ester Alves 2016 The Coastal Challenge champion.

Ragna Debats Skyrunner World Series champion 2017.

Inge Nijkamp 11th at MDS Morocco 2017.

Josephine Adams 6th at MDS Peru 2017.

Full preview HERE

Tomorrow, Sunday 11th, runners depart for San Jose at 0400 for the 4-hour journey to the coast.

It’s a tough day as the race will start at 0900, the sun will already be high in the sky and the heat intense. It’s a day when patience can prevail.

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Timothy Olson joins the 2018 The Coastal Challenge is #TCC2018

With just 1-month to go to the 2018 The Coastal Challenge, #TCC2018 – Race director, Rodrigo Carazo, is pleased to announce that TNF athlete, Timothy Olson, will join the line-up for the race. It has been said, year-after-year that ‘this’ TCC is the best… Without doubt, 2018 has the greatest line-up in the race’s history!

Joining Timothy Olson on the start line in Quepos this coming February will be past winner and previous course record holder, Michael Wardian here. Fast-man and 2017 CCC champion, Hayden Hawks here. The Cape Wrath Ultra and Dragons Back Race champion, Marcus Scotney here. The flying Brit, Tom Evans here, who placed 3rd at the 2017 Marathon des Sables – the highest ever placing for a British runner at the race. Chema Martinez, the speedy Spaniard once again returns to TCC, he has placed 2nd many times, can he win in 2018? Finally, Sondre Amdahl here who raced TCC in 2017, has recently made the podium at Everest Trail Race and has an illustrious resume at ultra-distance races, UTMB and Western States to name just two.

The ladies’ race is also set to be a classic with previous 2015 champion, Ester Alves here returning after placing 3rd in 2017. MDS two-time champion, Elisabet Barnes here, also returns to Costa Rica, however, illness post Everest Trail Race in November may will impact on her chances for the podium, in her words, “Preparation for TCC this year has been poor with two bouts of cold and flu, I am seriously behind but I love Costa Rica and the race, so I don’t want to miss it!” Finally, Skyrunner 2017 World Series champion, Ragna Debats here, will have her first taste of Costa Rica and its amazing landscape after an incredible 2017.

They say it is hot in Costa Rica – with this line-up, the trails between Quepos and the finish at the stunning Drake Bay can expect to be scorched as these fast guys and girls blaze a trail over this iconic multi-day event. As the locals say, “Pura Vida!”

I caught up with Timothy, after a tough 2016, 2017 saw a return to form for the American. It was my first question, how was 2017?

2017 was a solid year, I hope to build on that health and fitness and have a strong 2018. It is always nice to get a good win against solid competition and I achieved that. I plan to continue to train smart and have lots of fun getting in long runs in the mountains.

You have recently been training in Chile, how was that experience?

Chile was great, it was fun to explore and have a fun Holiday with my family there. I did a TNF Endurance Challenge race and then after the race I took some time off and enjoyed some chill runs with my wife and kids. So there wasn’t much training, I hope to get back to Chile and explore the mountains down south. 

You have signed up for TCC to kick-off 2018 – what is the attraction?

Costa Rica is an amazing place filled with life, lush greenery and so many amazing places to explore. I’m excited to try a stage race, push myself with some fast runners and enjoy nature and chill beach camping

We have quite a line-up for the 2018 race – Tom Evans, Michael Wardian, Marcus Scotney, Hayden Hawks, Sondre Amdahl, Chema Martinez and more… The local competition will be strong too! It is tough way to start a year – do you embrace that?

That is quite the lineup! Just like any race, I line up and try to give my best, I don’t really concern myself with other competition. However the competition does motivate me to be in good shape and work on my speed game to be ready to go. This will be a great opportunity for me to push harder at the start of races to keep contact with the leaders. This will be a challenging yet fun way to start the year. 

Costa Rica – hot, humid and challenging, In many ways it sounds perfect for you?

We’ll see, I don’t mind heat, but day after day of intense running and heat can catch up to you. I hope to race smart and be mindful that we’ll be racing for 6-days. I do like a good challenge, so I’m excited to see how it plays out. 

What are you most looking forward to at the race? The reason I ask,  family is joining you beforehand – is that a bonus or distraction?

The family will travel back to the States when I start the race. Traveling with family definitely has its distractions to my training and sleep schedule but it sure is fun to experience this world and travels together. It definitely enriches the experience having family around, but I’m excited for a week focused on running for the Costal Challenge. 

Mindfulness, tell me what it brings to your racing and your life in general.

Mindfulness is a practice of being aware of your body and mind – connecting them together with your breath to focus and bring ones attention into the present moment. I feel like running and being in nature encourages me to be present and appreciate each moment. In training and racing, the practice of breath awareness and focus allows me to push myself and train hard when it’s called for. My practice of mindfulness through meditation plays a tremendous roll in both my training and life in general. Being mindful of my training encourages me to prioritize recovery and chill days too which keeps me healthy and helps me continue to enjoy running. With kids, jobs and the chaos of life, my meditation practice allows me to be present with my family and when challenging moments arise, I use my practice and instead of reacting unconsciously in those moments I can respond appropriately and make wise choices.

Is this your first multi-day in the style/ ethos of Marathon des Sables?

Yes, I did TransRockies a while back but wasn’t really racing. I had a fun partner and we had a great experience but I’m excited to try it out with a little more effort. 

Any plans for other multi-day races?

Not as of now, but if some multi-day race offers me a solid deal to come out and join I’m more than open to more of these.

What does 2018 hold beyond TCC.

I’m really excited for this next year of racing. After TCC I think my next big race will be Madeira 115k in April. I haven’t figured out much after that, but I’m looking at UTMB. Still open to suggestions that I should consider. Maybe the Broken Arrow Sky race in Tahoe in June. It should be a great year and I look forward to pushing my limits in 2018. 

*****

TCC as it is affectionately known is a multi-day race starting in the southern coastal town of Quepos, Costa Rica and finishing at the stunning Drake Bay on the Osa Peninsula. It is an ultimate multi-day running experience that offers a new challenge even to the most experienced runner. Taking place over 6-days, the race hugs the coastline of Costa Rica, traveling in and out of the stunning Talamanca mountain range. Even the strongest competitors are reduced to exhausted shells by the arrival of the finish line due to the combination of technical trails, dense forest, river crossings, waterfalls, long stretches of golden beach, dusty access roads, high ridges and open expansive plains.

You can read and view images from the 2017 edition HERE

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The Coastal Challenge

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Website (UK) HERE

Website (Global) HERE

Hayden Hawks to join the line-up at The Coastal Challenge 2018 #TCC2018

Hayden Hawks is one of those rising stars in the sport. A fast-guy moving from tack to trails and leaving scorch marks behind… But who is this 25-year old from Utah? In 2016, he burst on the scene with victory at Speedgoat 50K, sponsorship with Hoka One One followed and victory at Capstone 50K in November laid the foundations for that very memorable head-to-head with Miller at San Francisco 50. I profiled Hawks for IRUN4ULTRA and you can read that article here.

In 2017, Hawks toed the line at Transvulcania Ultramarathon. We expected a dominant performance and in the early stages, along with Tim Freriks, the American duo set a relentless and fast pace. By the time they reached the high-point of the course at Roques de los Muchachos, Freriks was looking strong and pushed ahead whereas Hawks felt the pace and had to eventually ease up but he pushed on for a finish, way outside his and all pre-race expectations.

It was a learning curve, but with learning comes knowledge. Hawks then turned un in Chamonix to toe the line at the CCC, one of the shorter races over the UTMB weekend – he won it!

It was all starting to click into place and just recently, Hawks once again toed the line at San Francisco 50; the super-fast showdown that often concludes a racing season for many an elite. It was Freriks once again who took the top slot but this time Hawks sealed a podium place (3rd) rounding out a solid 2017.

With 2018 around the corner, Hawks has secured a place at the 2018 The Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica #TCC2018. It will be a seriously competitive start to 2018 and in a race that will bring a new experience and learning curve for the Utah man.

The 2018 edition of TCC is already looking like a stunning race. Two-time MDS champion Elisabet Barnes will return to Costa Rica and the UK’s Marcus Scotney who won the Cape Wrath Ultra and the Dragons Back Race has his first TCC experience ahead of him. – read HERE.

In addition, the UK’s Tom Evans will also run the 2018 TCC, read HERE the unstoppable Michael Wardian HERE and just recently, two new names have been added, Sondre Amdahl and Ragna Debats – more news to follow on this!

I caught up with Hawks to find out a little more ahead of the 2018 TCC

  1. You have been tipped as one of the ‘new wave’ of US ultra-runners who will make an impact on the world ultra-scene – how does that feel; does it bring pressure?

I am excited to be in this situation where I can inspire and help others. That is really what’s it’s all about. Of course, it can bring pressure but learning how to embrace that pressure and turn it into positive energy is what you need to do as an elite. This is a dream come true and I feel so blessed to be in the situation I am in, doing what I love every day. Life is wonderful and amazing and I hope to be the best I can for years to come! 

  1. You have some fast friends, Jim Walmsley and Tim Freriks, do you guys push each other to new limits and expectations?

We definitely push each other in races, sometimes training, and definitely inspirationally! These guys inspire me and help me want to be better. I know that I have to be on my A game at all time. We are all pushing the limits and making our sport more exciting and fun to watch. We always want to give our best and push the limits. It’s also great to have competition that you also call friends. Isn’t our sport awesome?  

  1. You started 2017 with Transvulcania, what was it like racing in Europe on those trails?

I actually ran 4 races before Transvulcania in the USA to start 2017 that all went great. I always wanted to race in Europe though and really enjoyed my time. I was pretty tired going into that race and should have been more prepared. It was a great learning experience that I would never change, this blow up has changed my career and helped me so much from the lessons I learned. European trails are definitely different and need to be practiced on, but they are fun and amazing to run on! I really enjoy them.  

  1. CCC was a great moment for you, tell me about it?

It was a career changer! Definitely the best and most exciting race I have won to date! I had a great time and felt so strong for that race. I crossed the line and felt like I could have kept going. It was just one of those perfect days! Can’t wait to go back! I appreciate everyone that believed in me after some rough races and the support and congratulations that I have received. 

 

  1. You have decided to run TCC in Costa Rica in 2018 – it is a multi-day race in heat and humidity – are you intimidated by the race?

I am not intimidated. I have been to Costa Rica before and know what the weather, trails, and culture will be like. It will be amazing! I have been training by doing 150+ miles a week in 6 Days for years. My body and mind know how to do that and I believe that it will really bring out my strengths competing in this style of event! I also love climbing and so the vert will not be intimidating but embraced! 

  1. You will have strong competition from Mike Wardian, Tom Evans, Marcus Scotney, Chema Martinez and more – you are going to need to be fit, healthy and strong – does that excite you?

I love competition! It gets me excited to know that I will be going up against athletes like these! They are also good friends of mine so I am excited for the fun times we will share together! I always make sure I am prepared and expect my competition will do the same. We will have many hard fought, exciting, fun miles! 

 

  1. Tell me a little about your preparation for Costa Rica – what are you doing at the moment?

Right now, I am doing 100 miles in 3 Days in the Bears Ears area in Utah that is under attack for protection. This is a very rugged and technical land. I will be doing upwards of 150 miles in 6 Days training for this race. I will be prepared!  

  1. What will a multi-day race bring you for your plans later in 2018?

A multi-day race will help my body learn how to push even when it is tired. I will need this for the longer races I will be doing, specifically the 100 mile races. This will be a great race as well as great training in a wonderful land! 

  1. What are the plans for 2018?

I will be doing some long races in 2018, capping it off with my first 100-mile race. Not 100 percent sure what that race will be. I love the long events and will be running Mt Gaoligong 125k and Penyagolosa 100k this spring! 

  1. Finally, what is your lifetime, long-term dream race or goal?

My dream race like many other Americans is to be the first American to win UTMB. I love the vibe and fans of this race and the area it is held in. I would also like to travel the world running races across the world experiencing new cultures and lands! 

TCC as it is affectionately known is a multi-day race starting in the southern coastal town of Quepos, Costa Rica and finishing at the stunning Drake Bay on the Osa Peninsula. It is an ultimate multi-day running experience that offers a new challenge even to the most experienced runner. Taking place over 6-days, the race hugs the coastline of Costa Rica, traveling in and out of the stunning Talamanca mountain range. Even the strongest competitors are reduced to exhausted shells by the arrival of the finish line due to the combination of technical trails, dense forest, river crossings, waterfalls, long stretches of golden beach, dusty access roads, high ridges and open expansive plains.

You can read and view images from the 2017 edition HERE

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RUN the RUT 2017 Race Preview

3-days, 3 races and 3 incredible experiences, Big Sky Montana hosts the Run the Rut weekend of racing. If ever a race weekend existed that should combine with a holiday experience, this is it, Big sky is located between the idyllic town of Bozeman and the iconic Yellowstone Park.

The isolated Lone Peak mountain provides a stunning backdrop for the Run the Rut races of VK, Sky and Ultra with all races climbing to its summit via technical ridge and difficult climb.

Utilizing what would be ski runs in winter, it’s easy to understand why the Rut has gained a reputation for providing a tough and technical test even for the most experienced runner.

The VK is the next race in the new VK World Circuit and this race takes place on Friday September 1st. The Sky Classic and Ultra continue the 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner World Series taking place on Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd respectively.

The Rut races have become flagship races in the USA. And are the only US based races in the 2017 Migu Run Skyrunner World Series. This is primarily due to the technical nature of the trails. You see, access to open land and mountains is not the same as in Europe. Strict land management is in place and ‘off-trail’ races just don’t exist. The Rut have managed to work around this by using the Big Sky resort which does not have to comply with land permission issues.

Vertical K

The VK kicks off the action from the Big Sky Resort up to the summit of Lone Peak at an altitude just short of 3000m gaining 3,632 feet in just over three miles.

SkyRace

The SkyRace is the most pleasing race of the Rut weekend as the proportion of vertical gain and technical running all blend together in the most logical and pleasing course.

The men’s race has all the makings of a classic with some serious competition coming from Aritz Egea who is looking for 2017 SWS victory – he raced last weekend in Switzerland and will be tried.

But Jan Margarit is a man on form with victories at the Dolomites SkyRace and Comapedrosa, for me, he is the odds on favourite for victory! Remi Bonnet has won in the USA in past years and is the likely contender to give Margarit a tough run. However, Pascal Egli is having great year and he will no doubt be one to watch.

Eugeni Gil Ocana is on fire in 2017 and if he is not too tired after placing 2nd at Matterhorn Ultraks, he is a likely podium placed finisher. Expect strong competition to come from Julien Martinez, Oscar and Marc Casal Mir, Sintu Vives, Marc De Leon, Eduard Hernandez, Pere Rullan and Dai Matsumoto.

Laura Orgue is the hot favourite in the ladies’ race having raced well multiple times in 2017 – victory at Dolomites SkyRace and 2nd place in Comapedrossa. Hillary Gerardi has been a revelation in 2017 with a string of strong and consistent performances. Addie Bracy, Glykeria Tziatzia and Jennifer Asp (still not sure if she will run the Sky or Ultra) are also podium contenders.