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

Stats:

Total 230.5km

Vertical 9543m

Descent 9413m

Description

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.

THE ROUTE

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!

THE RUNNERS – MALE

 

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.

THE RUNNERS – FEMALE

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

Michael Wardian returns to The Coastal Challenge #TCC2018

Michael Wardian never stops…. He is a real life Forest Gump. Just recently he ran 400km in the Gobi Desert, a first for him! Wardian though started the year with a world record running 7 marathons in 7 days on 7 continents, you can listen to an in-depth interviewer with him HERE about this incredible feat.

It’s a dangerous question asking Wardian, ‘So, what is next?’

It is never a one word answer.

For example, in a few days, October 14th, he will toe the line at Hartford Marathon Charity Chase. Followed by the Marine Corps Marathon on the 22nd. November brings NYC Marathon, JFK 50 Miler, Flanigan’s 10km… do I need to go on? You get the picture!

In 2014, Wardian toed the line at The Coastal Challenge and had a great race winning and at the time setting a new CR ahead of quality runners such Philipp Reiter, Martin Gaffuri and Nick Clark.

Wardian promised he would return and in 2018, he will once again arrive on Costa Rican soil for a race that he loves.

 1. Michael, you run and run, race and race. It seems a weekend never passes without you racing at least one race and more often than not, two or three… How do you keep the enthusiasm to race/ run so much? 

MRW: I definitely enjoy toeing the line and throwing down.  The thrill of racing is this something that is internal and I believe keeps me fresh and focused.  I love seeing what I am capable of and I hope I inspire people to do a bit more than they think they can. 

2. This amount of racing and running must take a toll on you and your body – how do you avoid injury?

MRW:  I do race a lot and ask my body and mind  to perform at the highest levels repeatedly but I think instead of causing injury it actually avoids injury a bit because my body is continually adapting and evolving and always improving. That said since my injuries in 2012, I am super mindful to error on the side of less miles and more recovery if something seems off. I also take massage often, foam roll, stretch and work with a personal trainer to get strong and avoid imbalances and injuries. 

3. You have had an incredible 2017 with a full calendar – what are the highlights?

MRW:  2017, has definitely been a banner year, some events that comes to mind are:

1) 7 marathons in 7 days on 7 continents, average pace of 2:45, new World Record

2) Big Sur Marathon Champion 

3) Kauai Marathon Champion

4) Leadville 100 miler/ Pikes Peak Marathon double break Marshall Ulrich record from 1993

5) Ultragobi 400k finish, new personal record for distance and time. 

4. You have raced TCC before, you won it! What is bringing you back to Costa Rica?

MRW: I loved TCC, when I won it a few years ago and have been wanting to come back since but with scheduling it didn’t work out but as soon as the schedule permitted I knew I would come back if the opportunity was there. I loved the organization, culture and nature. 

5. When you won the race, at times you struggled with some of the technical terrain. You used your run speed to close gaps and seize an advantage – any new plans or strategies for 2018?

MRW: I think I got pretty lucky last time to win the TCC, I was was just getting my fitness back and used what has always been my strength faster road running but since 2014, I have really focused on trails and feel much improved so looking forward to putting those earned skills to use in 2018. 

6. You placed 3rd at Marathon des Sables some year’s ago and this year, Tom Evans matched this. Are you excited to race toe-to-toe and see who is the better on Costa Rican soil?

MRW:  I am very excited to race Tom Evans but even more excited to get to run with and know the guys and girls racing. I love connecting with people and making new friends so hoping we get to push each other during the race and become friendly after. I am also excited for my family to meet some of the top athletes in the sport on a personal level and see who is causing me to suffer everyday. 

7. Chema Martinez will return to TCC and the UK’s Marcus Scotney will run, do you know much about them and do you have any strategies to get the edge for victory?

MRW: I just heard of Chema Martinez from my buddy Paul during the 400k UltraGobi, he sounds strong and exciting to get to race with him. I don’t know Marcus Scotney but I am sitting with some English guys and they said he is very strong and on the English 100k World Team…I think I just need to stay in the hunt and run hard when I sense an opportunity. 

8. Heat, humidity, a variety of terrain and stunning views – what excites you most about coming back to TCC and for those new to the race, what three tips can you provide that will make the 2018 experience a special one?

MRW:  I definitely think you should be ready for heat, humidity mixed terrain, the views are spectacular and I am super excited about them. A few tips are be ready to run hard because the pace can be fast especially for early in the year, there are legit climbs and some parts can get technical. Also, there is a little altitude that I didn’t expect the first time. 

9. You are bringing family to TCC this year, does this make it extra special?

MRW: I am definitely excited to share TCC with Jennifer, Pierce and Grant and it will be super special as none of my family have gotten to experience the Tica hospitality. I think they will be as blown away as I have been by the nature, beauty and landscape but most particularly the people. 

10. Finally, TCC is in February, dare I ask what the rest of 2018 holds for you?

MRW: 2018, should be super interesting, I am trying to decide exactly where to race right now and would like to do some new events in different and unique places. If you know anything cool please let me know or your audience. 

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.

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

Follow #TCC2018

Twitter @talkultra

Instagram @iancorlessphotography

facebook.com/iancorlessphotography

The Coastal Challenge

Facebook HERE

Website (UK) HERE

Website (Global) HERE

THE CHAMPION RETURNS – ESTER ALVES and The Coastal Challenge #TCC2017

©iancorless.com_TCC2016-2474

Ester Alves a former road cyclist from Portugal, who represented her nation at the 2009 UCI Road World Championships and ladies winner of the 2016 The Coastal Challenge has confirmed that she will return to Costa Rica in 2017 to defend her crown.

It was a tremendous experience. Every day is like your last day, and after the end of each stage, you have only few hours to reborn, to recover. It’s an amazing transcendent experience. Similar to a cycling stage race…. You always give your best for each stage and then you just hope your body will recover as soon as possible.

©iancorless.com_TCC2016-6285

The Coastal Challenge is multi-day race over 6-days starting in the southern coastal town of Quepos, Costa Rica and finishing at the stunning Drake Bay on the Osa Peninsula. Considered by many an ultimate multi-day running experience, it challenges even the most experienced runner.

Everything is special, the heat, the forest, the solitude of the race, the hot pacific sea, the intimacy between organisation, camping, athletes, workers and locals from the little villages. The closeness between my new ‘coastal family’ was enormous and in a week of racing and relaxing you create bounds for life… it’s what makes the race so special.

©iancorless.com_TCC2016-1059

‘TCC’ is not a self-sufficient race, but don’t be fooled, MDS and other multi-day veterans confirm the race is considerably harder and more challenging than many other adventures they have participated in. It’s a race that can provide a steep learning curve. Intense heat, high humidity, ever-changing terrain and the need to adapt, Ester says in 2017 she will be better prepared.

I will try to go to Costa Rica or I will do some specific training using heat sessions at home. Maybe a sauna will be a good idea as it is winter in Portugal in the key training phase. In 2016 I went from 8 º C To 34 ºC, the first day was tough! Each day I adapted to heat and the my body recovered better, to make this adaptation in advance would be very beneficial.

©iancorless.com_TCC2016-1841

Hugging the Talamaca coastline, the TCC travels in and out of the stunning mountain range that runs parallel to the sea. Dense forest trails, waterfalls, river crossings, long stretches of golden beaches, an abundance of palm trees and many winding and interconnecting dusty access roads provide a unique challenge.

Every day I ended  a stage with the feeling of lungs burned and legs tired, and in the next day I was running again with a reinforced motivation. I can’t wait to return.

©iancorless.com_TCC2016-1113

At times technical, the combination of so many challenging elements are only intensified by heat and high humidity that slowly but surely reduces even the strongest competitors.  In 2017, Anna Comet, 2x winner of Everest Trail Race and someone you have raced against in Skyrunning along with Elisabet Barnes will be present. When Ester was asked  about the challenge, she replied:

I will run with all my soul and strengths as always, but next year with more knowledge I can hopefully enjoy the forest and the trails even more, TCC is just a wonderful experience.

©iancorless.com_TCC2016-0246

 

With victory in 2016 secured, Ester has a busy year ahead racing in the Skyrunner World Series, something she has embraced, particularly in 2015 where she had great success at races such as Transvulcania. Many runners however will sign up for the 2017 TCC with little or no experience of Costa Rica, the heat, the humidity and the terrain; what advice would Ester give them?

Train hard and consolidate the marathon distance before the race and prepare the body for the heat and dehydration. Also teach your body to be more economic, it’s a long and difficult race!

A long year ahead but Ester is already looking into the distance, thinking of the heat, the humidity and the beautiful surroundings that Costa Rica provides.

The Coastal Challenge is more than a race, it’s an experience, it something to be shared. It provides closeness and an intensity of feelings that will never be forgotten… I wish to be there right now.

©iancorless.com_TCC2016-9965

All images ©iancorless.com – all rights reserved

Contact Information

Email: HERE

Website: HERE

Facebook: HERE

Twitter: @tcccostarica

Global Contacts: HERE

TCC_2017_JoinUs?

More information:

Read the full 2016 TCC race story HERE

View and purchase images from the 2016 TCC race HERE

You can read daily reports from the 2016 TCC edition HERE

©iancorless.com_TCC2016-0221

Fuego Y Agua 2013

Ometepe

The fourth running of Ultramaratón Fuego Y Agua, features 3 races: 100 km, 50 km, and 25 km trail races. Taking place on February 16, 2013, the race this year has a very strong contingent from the US taking part. Held on Ometepe, an island known for its astonishing biodiversity with prehistoric rock carvings and a vibrant local culture. It rises out of Lake Nicaragua. It has twin volcanoes, one of which is still active. The lake is the largest in Central America and situated in the SE of Nicaragua. Ometepe is the world’s largest volcanic island in a fresh water lake, It was made a UNESCO biosphere preserve in 2010 to promote sustainable development of agriculture and ecotourism.

220px-Ometepemap

An Ultra Trail du Mont-Banc qualifier for three points.The Fuego Y Agua 100K trail race course is a rugged single-loop course. The terrain includes technical single track trail, paved road,dirt trail, technical single track trail, and the infamous “jungle gym” section where racers will navigate a chaotic web of Ometepe trees. The course includes the Volcan Maderas and Concepcion climbs and has11 Aid Stations spread throughout the course.

  • Start Date/Time: Saturday February 16, 2013, 4:00 a.m.
  • Start/Finish Location: Main Street, Moyogalpa
  • Cutoff Time: 24 hours/4:00 a.m. the next day.
  • Aid Stations: Start (Moyogalpa), San Jose Del Sur, Ojo de Agua (outbound), El Porvenir, Volcan Maderas, Monkey’s Island Merida, Ojo de Agua (inbound), Altagracia, La Flor, Volcan Concepcion, El Galillo, Finish (Moyogalpa)

*Finish in under 11 hours and receive a refund on your entry fee!

THE 2013 RACE

Dave James just one week ago dominated the 6 stage Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica. Not only did he perform at the top level everyday but racing in a rainforest in high heat and humidity will mean that he is adapted and well adjusted for the conditions in Nicaragua. He is an odds on favourite for the win providing the 236km have not fatigued him too much.

iancorless.comP1060084

 

The front of the race will also have the presence of Brit (based in the US) Nick Clark. Nick will be gunning for the win with Dave James but he is coming from cold temperature is the US with little time to adapt. Also, this is the first big race of the year and Nick has a very busy year ahead as he plans to Grand Slam.

iancorless.orgIancorless_transvulcania_037

 

Ian Sharman is also in Nicaragua but it would appear that a knee injury has raised its head and he may well not start the race. I had an email from him last night and I am just waiting confirmation on this. Of course, should Ian be fit he has the speed to be up at the front pushing the pace. However, it is still early in the year. He extended his 2012 season to the New Year and by his own admission he should have ‘stopped’ when he had planned to stop. He has run a marathon recently so watch this space.

Ian Sharman in La Palma copyright Ian Corless

Ian Sharman in La Palma copyright Ian Corless

Yassine Diboun from Oregon, Sean Meissner and the Coury brothers,  Nick and Jamil add spice at the front end of the field. I met Nick and Jamil in Costa Rica as they passed through on the way to Nicaragua. Great to hear that Nick has now been placed first option for the 24hr World Championships. Nick will be in the mix at ‘Fuego’ with that ‘leg speed’ but rumour has it Jamil will drop to the 50k distance.

What I am unsure of is what local competition will turn up and push things at the front end of the race. South America has a real talent pool of runners and one can’t underestimate the ‘severe’ conditions that this race will take place in. The heat and humidity takes some getting used to.

The course record is 11:08 held by Javier Montero set in 2009. Female record is held by Amy Sproston, 13:12 set tin 2008.

Ultrasignup link HERE

2012 results for reference HERE

The mission of Ultra Fuego y Agua is to bring responsible ecotourism to Isla de Ometepe in the form of challenging and exciting jungle races.

Our purpose for the race is to bring an event that gives back to the island without taking anything more than beautiful memories and experiences.

The word ecotourism is a form of tourism that appeals to ecologically and socially conscious individuals. Generally speaking, ecotourism focuses on volunteering, personal growth, and learning new ways to live on the planet; typically involving travel to destinations where flora, fauna, and cultural heritage are the primary attractions.

By using local guides, local food preparation, locally owned hotels and businesses, to name just a few, Ultramaraton Fuego y Agua hopes to boost the local economy and promote sustainable events on the island. For example, finisher’s trophies are locally crafted and produced by island artisans.

Runner’s and volunteers are encouraged to participate in the annual Isla Limpia trash pickup. This organized effort promotes local awareness of the island as a natural resource that must be preserved and maintained.

Portions of race entry costs and donations are used to host the Calzado Ometepe Kids Run, a children’s race for local islanders. The children’s race promotes running, fitness, healthy eating and awareness of the island as an endangered environment that must be cared for. All participants of Calzado Kids Run receive a pair of running shoes donated by supporters and participants of Ultra Fuego y Agua.

About Isla de Ometepe

Isla de Ometepe is a volcanic island (approx. 276 km sq) located on Lake Nicaragua (also known as Lago Cocibolca) in the southwestern region of Nicaragua. Two volcanoes form most of the island. Volcan Concepcion (1610 meters) is considered an active volcano but has not had a major eruption since 1957. Concepcion is thought to be the most perfectly formed volcano cone in Central America. Volcan Maderas (1394 meters) has a crater lagoon and is surrounded by cloud forest and thick jungle. Its slopes are dotted with petroglyphs and stone idols.The forests of Ometepe are full of monkeys, tropical birds, rare insects, plants and flowers. Both volcanoes are now protected as national forests. The island is full of legends surrounding the volcanoes and its former inhabitants, the Nahuatl. Ometepe literally means “two hills” in the native Nahuatl language. The fertile volcanic soil makes Ometepe an agricultural phenomenon. Coffee, cacao, beans, rice, tobacco, bananas and many other fruits are plentiful on the island.

There are two major towns on Ometepe, Moyogalpa (pop. 2900) and Altagracia (pop. 4080). The total population of the island is only about 30,000 with an economy mainly based on livestock, agriculture and tourism. See our activities section for more information on Isla de Ometepe activities.

The Story of Ometepe

As the story goes, long ago there was no Lake Nicaragua or Isla de Ometepe, only a lush valley of the gods named Valle de Coapolca. Several tribes who were hostile to each other lived around the valley and would visit it often to gather fruit and hunt game. One day, a young warrior named Nagrando met and fell in love with Ometepetl, a beautiful maiden from an enemy tribe. They tried to keep their romance a secret, but eventually Ometepetl’s father learned of the affair and vowed to kill Nagrando. The young lovers fled and hid in the forest, where they decided that the only way they could be together was by committing suicide. The pair slit their wrists and died in each other’s arms. As Ometepetl fell backwards, the sky darkened and rains flooded the valley, forming Lake Nicaragua. Ometepetl’s breasts then grew into the twin peaks of Volcan Concepcion and Volcan Maderas, and Nagrando’s body became the nearby Isla Zapatera.