Well, that was definitely the toughest race of my life. No amount of training from coach Rory Coleman could prepare me for the extreme humidity of the Costa Rican jungle and beach on The Coastal Challenge earlier this month, neither was it in his power to stop me getting a stomach bug! I was in perfect physical condition and my legs were working great.
In a nutshell, I raced day 1 and day 2, got to the top of the mountain in day 3 and bailed due to extreme loo issues, I used day 4 to recover, got fed up, blocked myself up with Imodium and continued the race on day 5 and day 6. So I didn’t get my medal, but I did learn A LOT about myself, met some AMAZING people and saw some BEAUTIFUL butterflies, birds, beaches, views and trekked through rainforest that most people will never get the chance to. I’m so privileged to have been given this opportunity.
If you are looking for the ULTIMATE CHALLENGE, and like hot climates, then this is definitely the race for you. During the race I asked a couple of racers who had completed the Marathon des Sables and they said The Coastal Challenge is tougher due to the humidity, apparently a dry heat is more easy to cope with.
I can’t describe how the humid Costa Rican heat affects you but I’m gonna try! On the start line at 6am you’re already too warm. You set off at a jog, and you start to sweat. Profusely. Soon you reach an incline and you’re forced to slow to a walk even if it’s something you’d usually jog or power walk. Next time you have a really hot shower, afterwards step out and do 20 burpees, 10 press ups and run on the spot for 10 minutes. Then imagine someone has locked you in for 8 hours to continue this regime.
Just when you think you can’t take a moment more, heaven smiles upon you and a river crossing comes up. I rolled in every single one (forgetting about the jelly beans in my pocket!) and was blissfully cool for the next 20 mins before the heat set in again. Once I stopped mid rainforest path to cool down, big mistake! The heat rushed over me like a blanket in an oven. The pictures don’t really show it – you’ll have to do the race yourself to appreciate how nails you have to be to complete this astounding race, and to truly see how much I admire every person who completed every single day of The Coastal Challenge, including Trail Running mag reader Chris Unger who won our free race entry prize.
Check out more ace pics from Ian Corless here. I’m just trying to madly edit Trail Running magazine now I’m back, so will sort out pics at the weekend and try to blog about each day sometime soon. If you are thinking of doing this race, do get in touch, I can give you loads of useful advice – mainly run very slowly on Day’s 1 and 2! I thought I was but it wasn’t slow enough! At least 10 people who were slower than me completed the whole thing, I am so impressed by them and it defo teaches you a big lesson about multi-day racing.