Costa Ricans Sweep Expedition and Team Categories; U.S. Wins Adventure Category
First-time TCC Competitor Scott Jurek Finishes Third in Men's Expedition Category; Team Project Athena With Robyn Benincasa Finishes Second in Team Category
By Matt Draper, TCC Staff
BAHIA DRAKE, Costa Rica (February 6, 2009) – The 2009 Coastal Challenge (TCC) crossed the finish line Friday afternoon with 70+ competitors from eight countries dashing across the beach in Bahia Drake in Southwest Costa Rica. Launching from the sand at 7 a.m. CST, racers followed a circuitous route that included river crossings and a waterfall traverse before finishing back on the beach at Bahia Drake. Competitors, who ran a total of either 233 kilometers (Expedition Category) or 160 kilometers (Adventure Category), put forth a herculean effort over six days on a sweltering course that featured rainforests, jungles, valleys, grasslands, ocean, and rivers.
Defending Champion Javier Montero of Costa Rica cruised to the Men's Expedition title, and fellow Costa Rican Ligia Madrigal finished first in the Women's Expedition field. American Adrienne Gordon finished atop the Women's Adventure category, and Bill Butcher, also of the U.S., won the Men's Adventure category. Team Costa Rica won the second-annual Team competition. The winners of both the men's and women's categories will receive free entry to next year's competition.
"Today's stage gave competitors a final taste of exotic Costa Rican terrain," said Tim Holmstrom, race director. "After running through a riverbed in the rainforest, they reached a single-track jungle trail and heard rushing water before coming upon a massive waterfall that provided a mental and physical cleanse after grinding out hundreds of kilometers. We were honored to host an amazing group of competitors and volunteers at this year's race."
Montero won his second-straight TCC with an overall time of 27 hours and 22 minutes, 114 minutes ahead of the second-place finisher, David James of the U.S. (29h, 16m). American Scott Jurek finished third overall with a time of 31h, 1m.
"This year's race was more complicated and tough because of the distances, elevations, and temperatures," said an exhausted Montero, through an interpreter. "The river climb on day three and the descent on day four were difficult. I liked the course very much and finished today with the will of coming back to defend my title next year."
Jurek, who came to TCC in pre-season training mode, finished third. He also gave a post-race running clinic on Friday, where he spoke about training and nutrition, and passed out free gear from his sponsor, Brooks.
In terms of the Women's Expedition field, Madrigal finished second on the day and claimed the overall victory with a time of 34 hours, 59 minutes. Madrigal, a new mom, said she kept her eight-month-old baby on the forefront of her mind in order to stay focused.
"My baby is more important than anything. When I run I think about her little face," said Madrigal, eating watermelon while sitting on the beach at the finish line. "Today I'm dedicating this race to my baby." Madrigal added that foot maintenance was the key to keeping her pace.
American Jaclyn Greenhill traded pole position with Madrigal throughout the six-day race, but pulled back on Friday due to blisters and a sprained ankle. She finished second overall with a time of 35 hours, 31 minutes. Kelly Ridgway of the U.S. finished third overall (36h, 33m). Also of note was TCC-veteran Doone Watson, who bounced back from a slow start to finish first on Friday.
"I figured now that I'm over 50, I could just take it easy and stay in the back," said Watson. "But then I heard Kelly (Ridgway) was over 50." Watson added that the course proved fun and challenging, saying "there's something about running the jungle trails that can't be beat."
Bill Butcher won the Men's Adventure category, finishing with a total time of 24 hours and 17 minutes. Butcher was competing in his first expedition race since coming off an injury. Costa Rican Javier Sanchez took second in the Adventure group (24h, 26m), while American Tim Meyer finished third (28h, 22m).
American Adrienne Gordon won the Women's Adventure category with a total time of 30 hours, 13 minutes. Canadian Carla Cesaroni finished second (31h, 19m) and Rachel Bussetti of the U.S. came in third (32h, 54m). Bussetti finished with the same overall time as husband Andrew Frevert; the couple spent their honeymoon running this year's TCC.
Team Costa Rica swept each day of the race to win the Team competition with an overall time of 119 hours, 56 minutes. Team Project Athena, led by founder Robyn Benincasa and Athenaship recipient Sara Jones, finished second (147h, 27m). Team Coastal Cuties finished third (151h, 44m).
According to competitors, the 2009 edition of The Coastal Challenge proved to be the most difficult and scenic in the history of the event.
"I used to see these races and athletes in magazines," said Leonardo Soresi from Italy, who finished first during the final two days and fourth overall. "I didn't think I could do such things."
Check out pics, route books, and the final leaderboard at www.tccadventures.com.
About The Coastal Challenge
The Coastal Challenge is the "World's Expedition Run™," 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..