The Coastal Challenge Shows No Mercy - Page 2Day 4—37.5 kilometers
Howler monkeys made their displeasure clear at being awoken at 4 a.m. A short bus transfer was required today to Coronado. Billed as possibly the hardest stage of the race, runners started with a tough scramble up to 998 meters, where the roller coaster course unfolded with lush green pastures, rutted farmland and rolling valleys.
Today all came down to the final, extremely steep, quad-busting descent thick undergrowth. Dave James once again dominated. Having had two second places and one fourth place, stage Slaughter took stage four, crushing the female competition to leave Hale in second overall and Meyer third.
Slaughter said her only goal for the day had been to finish, not necessarily to win. She described her strategy: walk the climbs, run 80 percent of the flats and “shuffle” the downs. “My quads felt like they were being stabbed by knives; it was so painful.” Energized by children who came out along the course to wave and smile at the runners, she pushed hard to the finish at Palmar Sur.
Day 5—47.5 kilometers
It was a remarkable achievement of Carazo and has team to pull off this audacious stage through dense, untouched rainforest. A bus transfer took the participants to the village of Sierpe, where a small boat transferred them across the river.
I took a speedboat down river and retraced in the forest to see the early stages of the race unfold, before running to the finish. Thick clay mud turned to lush forest trail as we ran through mangroves. Lush fields with an occasional farm provided rolling doubletrack. A long stretch of trail finally cleared away to a small village, where I purchased an ice-cold Coke. Wow, I can’t tell you how good that Coke tasted.
Just down the road, a water crossing cleared the way for a couple of road miles and the finish on Drake Beach. James was suffering a little; however, he never relinquished any time and after running all day with Dris, gifted him the stage win. Slaughter, on a high from the previous day, once again dominated the stage for the ladies. Hale and Meyer had decided to stick together, finishing side by side for second and third.
With a campsite that backed on the beach, the atmosphere that evening was one of victory. Tomorrow’s final stage would be a victory lap; the top three in the male and female categories were already decided. Barring some major disaster, James and Slaughter would take the wins.
Day 6—24 kilometers
Every runner welcomed a 7:30 start for the final stage; I, however, was already sitting in a river in the dark at 6:00 to ensure I could capture the early action. The break of first light in the rainforest is a privilege to see. Snakes moved from one bank of the river to the next, birds flew between trees, hummingbirds between flowers.
Voro Guillem Boras, Drake Bay on final stage. Copyright iancorless.com
A loud splashing noise in the distance signified that either I was in big trouble from approaching wildlife or that runners were heading my way … the splashing noise increased and then I was surrounded as runners went left and right. James led the way, Dris behind. I jumped in to run the remainder of the stage with Slaughter—running through the river, a rocky waterfall, dense rainforest, more farmlands, another river crossing, in and out of coves on the beach, then finally through trees until the finish line was in sight.
It was a most incredible end to six stunning days. Tam Miller, of Vancouver, Canada, summed it up when she said, “I feel whole and complete and I have no unfinished business.”
The 10th edition of the race will take place at the end of January 2014. For more information, see www.thecoastalchallenge.co.uk
Ian Corless is a creative director and host of an ultrarunning podcast called Talk Ultra, available every two weeks 'for free' on iTunes and talkultra.com. In addition to this, Ian is a photographer, writer, reviewer and blogger at iancorless.com. Ian is currently travelling the world capturing stories from some of the most iconic ultras on the planet.