What exactly is the Coastal Challenge? We get tons of emails every month from people inquiring about this 6 day stage race in Costa Rica. And this year, we are so excited for 22 runners to toe the start line of the race this year with our love and support.
Almost 3 years ago now, the three of us toed the start line to the biggest challenge in that moment. We had never done a stage race before, and Courtney and I were both very new to the trail running and ultra-running world. Having only completed one 50km the day the race started, we had no real idea what to expect. We found the event via a friend who had done it before and we were convinced that running 6 days in a row down the coast of Costa Rica by way of the mountains, rivers, back roads, trails and beaches was an excellent idea. And man were we right… to this day, The Coastal Challenge remains one of our favourite, life changing and challenging events we have ever participated in. It taught us so many things about ourselves… that we are stronger than we ever thought we were, that anything is possible with determination and dedication, and that stage races are a really amazing way to see and experience a country. And now, we are proud representatives for the race and have been given the opportunity to help others find out about the race, prepare for the race and then cross that finish line after 235km and 6 days.
If you’ve been thinking about doing something different, finding your next big challenge, trying your first stage race, or seeing a country in a really cool and unique way… then the Coastal Challenge might be for you!! We are here to help you prepare as much as possible for the race by sending you a detailed package with everything you need to know, connecting you with our online coach and meeting you in person at the race and being there to support you each day of the event!
Here is the quick and dirty on what to expect from this awesome, challenging, life changing, grueling, absolutely beautiful event!
- Each day is something different:
You run from just outside Quepos Costa Rica to Drakes Bay. If you look at it on a map, you will see it is quite an impressive distance. The route doesn’t just hug close the coast line… instead you will find yourself in small remote villages, passing through hidden waterfalls, climbing up and over mountains and venturing through the rain forest. The beauty is incredible and it is a nice distraction from how challenging the event is. For the full distance, you will be running anywhere from 25-50km a day, starting and finishing at a different camp each day. You will run on single track trails, up river beds, over dirt back roads, on the beach, along the road, over bridges, past waterfalls… diversity is king at this race!
- All you have to do is run:
Camp is set up for you, transportation is provide, meals are cooked for you. All you have to do each day is run… and shower, and make sure you get food and liquids in to your body. There is something so awesome about a week of living where your biggest concern is getting your gear set up for another day of running.
- It’s hot:
Oh baby… welcome to the rain forest!! Be prepared with electrolytes, anti-chaffing materials and enough clothes that you can have something dry for each start and finish each day. You will literally learn the definition of being drenched in sweat! Possibly one of the most glorious things about this race is the aid station volunteers pouring water all over you or the multiple opportunities to submerge your body in water. It is basically heaven!
- You will meet awesome people:
Every single day, every single racer finishes, sleeps and eats at the same place. Since the race is normally kept to 100 people a year, you will no doubt make close friends with fellow racers. Whether it’s post-race with your feet up outside your tent, at the lunch table, or waiting in line for the shower.. .you are going to meet fellow likeminded, crazy runners.
- You are camping:
This adds a whole different element of challenge to the race. No one really sleeps that well in a tent, plus it is hot, and you’re sleeping next to your friend (unless you opt in for the private tent option) or someone you just met. And then you have the pee in the middle of the night, or you can’t quite get comfortable. And then the race alarm clock goes off..”RACERS… IT’S TIME TO GET UP” at 4:00am… and you realize it is time to get up and do it all over again. Yep. This factor makes is so hard, but challenges make it even more worth it at the end. It’s what sets you apart, it’s what builds your character.
- You are going to see places that not a lot of people see:
Travelling to a country is one thing, but running hidden rain forest trails, passing by secluded waterfalls, and reaching surprise viewpoints are pretty amazing ways to see parts of a country you would have never otherwise seen. Don’t forget your camera for this event, it is truly a stunner!
- The race directors/team pour their heart and soul into these event:
Pulling off a 6 day stage race in any country is quite the feat. Pulling it off in a small, developing nation is a whole other thing. I have worked on the back end of the race and seen how much work goes into make it a reality and it is truly incredible. The team works as one solid entity, seamlessly getting jobs down, packing up and setting up camp each day, flagging and sweeping the course, catering to runners, covering the race on social media… it is like one perfectly oiled machine.
- It is probably going to be one of the most challenging things you’ve ever done:
But that is also what makes it so amazing. When you push yourself out of your comfort zone, train for something that seems beyond you and achieve greatness… you will truly learn how strong you are and that you are capable of anything you set your mind to. You are going to be sore, you are going to be hot, you might chafe, you might get a blister. You might have moments where you want to give up, where you think you can’t wake up and run the next day, where you can’t get your dinner down. But you also will have moments of sheer joy, of incredible highs, of feeling so proud of yourself. You will cry, you will laugh, you will swear, you will smile… and then… after 235km you will step foot onto the beach in Drakes Bay and look across at that finish line… at your finish line… the finish line that you have worked so hard to get to. Not just in the past 6 days, but in all the prep that got you there. When you cross that finish line, all the ups and downs, the struggles and the triumphs… will all be worth it.