The Field Battles Steep Climbs and Muddy Forests Before Heading Further South Along the Costa Rican Pacific
By Matt Draper
Playa Dominical, Costa Rica (February 2, 2009) – What a difference a day makes. Following a relatively short, 33-kilometer first day, competitors at the 2009 Coastal Challenge (TCC) encountered a mountainous day-two route that featured more than 2,200 meters of elevation gain over 39 kilometers. With temperatures hovering in the mid-90s, the field of 70+ competitors battled sun and sand in a course that moved from the misty, muddy rain forests of Savegre Valley to the sundrenched sand of Playa Dominical. The competition is also heating up as the top three male competitors continue to jockey for the lead in the expedition category.
"We designed stage two to give competitors their first taste of wild Costa Rican terrain," said Rodrigo Carazo, race designer, who forewarned competitors at the pre-race briefing that day two would test their determination. "We started them (competitors) on a climb through dense rain forest to give them a taste of the hills, and then challenged them with a lot of technical trail running through mud, grasslands, and streams."
Competitors, who camped in the rain in a lush valley on Sunday night, woke around 3:30 a.m. Monday before starting at 5:30 a.m. in order to spend as little time as possible under the hot afternoon sun. Regardless, the field shared the same sentiment in terms of the day-two course: it was cruel, tricky and, most importantly, fantastic.
"The course was pretty hard and I wasn't happy with it," said American David James while smiling at Carazo. "I got my shoes stuck in the mud and the trails were difficult in the woods."
James, a TCC veteran, finished third on Monday with a time of five hours and 12 minutes. Defending Champion Javier Montero of Costa Rica again finished first (4:29), while Scott Jurek of the U.S. came in a close second (4:34). The same three men finished in the top three spots during day one, setting up what appears will be a back-and-forth battle until Friday's finish.
Ligia Madrigal of Costa Rica finished first in the women's expedition category with a time of five hours and 59 minutes. Madrigal, who gave birth just eight months before the event, created her own brand of cross training for this year's TCC; she often woke around 4 a.m. to get in a few hours of running before spending the rest of the day working and taking care of her baby.
"I got seven hours of sleep last night and it made all the difference," said Madrigal, who, because of her role as a new mom, hasn't had more than a few hours of sleep since giving birth. "The course was amazing and the views were incredible. You could see the mountains, the water, everything."
Americans Jaclyn Greenhill (6:09) and Kelly Ridgway (6:18) placed second and third, respectively, in the women's expedition category. Ridgway, a first-time TCC competitor, said at one point she thought she lost her shoe and sock in the mud, but could only find her shoe. "I couldn't find the sock anywhere, and then realized it was still on my foot but covered in mud!" She also had rave reviews about the course: "If I die after this race I will have truly lived."
Bill Butcher of the U.S. finished first in the men's adventure category, while Carla Cesaroni came in first in the women's field.
Team "No Artificial Ingredients" from Costa Rica again placed first in the team category.
Day three of the 2009 TCC will move the field from Playa Dominical further south to Playa Ventanas. The route, titled "Feel the Coastal Acid," will be the longest trek of the competition, stretching 52.5 kilometers.
Check out daily pics, route books, and the leaderboard at www.tccadventures.com.
About The Coastal Challenge
The Coastal Challenge is the "World's Expedition Run(TM)," releasing runners over approximately 230 kilometers of exotic and wild Costa Rican mountainous regions and rugged coastline. For six days, runners embrace the spirit of adventure, discovery and camaraderie within a long distance running competition while navigating wide river crossings, rainforests, jungles, windswept highlands, beaches, and rock outcroppings. It is an expedition run of epic proportions introducing competitors to the hospitality of the local Tico culture while pushing the limits of their will and endurance. For more information visit www.thecoastalchallenge.com or www.tccadventures.com.