Photo by Andres Vargas
After finishing the first day of action at The 2008 Coastal Challenge, competitors were both drained and dazzled by the route's meandering, muddy trails that swept through dense forest in Northwest Costa Rica. Forty-four competitors from 10 countries traversed more than 22 kilometers, including climbing 1,100 meters of elevation; scaling two volcanoes; and navigating miles of soupy, muddy trails that descended to a slippery finish at the shore of Lake Arenal.
"We adjusted this first day of the course to challenge competitors with steep inclines while running them through thick and lush rainforest," said Tim Holmstrom, race director. "Between the steep volcano climbs and monstrous steps carved into the mud, this was far from a typical long-distance run."
Rising before dawn competitors, volunteers and staff embarked on a bus ride to the race start at La Fortuna, a small town in the shadow of Arenal Volcano. Clad in yellow race jerseys, the field stampeded through town before hitting the trail to battle steep climbs and slippery technical descents.
"I felt like I was skiing during the downhill finish on that muddy trail," said David James of New York. Similarly, Steve Hodges from Idaho enjoyed his battle in the muck, saying he "walked, crawled and pulled" his way through "treacherous, spooky trails." Lucky for James and Hodges, the weather remained relatively mild hovering between 75 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit, and a natural pool at the finish line provided further relief for competitors.
With the first leg of the race complete, competitors turn their attention to day two, a daunting, 60-kilometer stretch that will push them through more hills and several bodies of water. Tomorrow's route also features the week's first cutoff, which will be revealed during tonight's racer briefing.
The Coastal Challenge offers four categories of participation:
Team Expedition Run
Team running, which features groups of three to six participants, is one of the focal aspects of the 2008 race. Teams from Canada to Spain will compete against the field while leaning on one another for strength and support. Of particular interest is Team Quebec, an ensemble of all-female members running to raise money for the Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation.
Solo Expedition Run
The cornerstone of the event, the nearly 200-kilometer Expedition Run is the ultimate test of will and determination. While the field contains participants of all ages and nationalities, TCC staple Jay Norman--who will celebrate his 70th birthday on Day 2 of the race--will be one of the key competitors to watch.
Solo Adventure Run
The Adventure Run offers a shortened, yet extremely challenging 125-kilometer route along the same terrain and landscape of the Expedition Run.
Guest Adventure Tours
The Coastal Challenge offers Guest Adventure Tour packages featuring activities like hiking and rafting so family and friends can participate in some of Costa Rica's most exciting activities. New for 2008 is a "soft adventure" option, which gives guests the opportunity to come to the main racer's camp each morning before going on an Adventure Tour and then retiring to a nearby hacienda, hotel or bungalow for the evening (no camping).
Join the fun and register for The Coastal Experiences
, a similar stage race taking place in October.