I have been racing now for 4 and a half years. I have been on all sides of racing… I have volunteered, I have raced, and I have been a race director. I have a pretty good idea of what it takes to have a successful event go on, the amount of hard work, volunteers, supporters and amazing team work. When I signed up and ran The Coastal Challenge 6 day stage race in Costa Rica, in February of 2014, I really had no idea everything that went into the event. I simply just toed the start line each day, served myself three meals a day, found my gear bag at each camp every night and had a tent set up for me when it was time for sleep. I didn’t even think twice, I was just there… everything was so seamless, I truly never had to question it.
Fast forward three years later. I got the absolute pleasure of being on the other side of things. As representatives for North America for the race, we are now apart of the event and we must be there to support our racers. But I really wanted more out of my time at the Coastal Challenge than to sit at the finish line waiting for my racers. Instead, I dove full heartedly into the event that changed my life and developed an immense amount of respect for all the hard working, passionate people involved in making this race a reality. The team is what makes this event. Their hard work, their enthusiasm, their positivity, their hugs and high fives. Team work sings out loud at The Coastal Challenge!
Through out the 6 days I swept the course, manned aid stations, supported racers, helped set up and take down camp, transported staff, flagged the course and was at the finish line nearly everyday for our 4 Run Like a Girl runners! By the end of the week I was completely shattered… it was an exhausting week to say the least. The 3am wake up calls, the late nights, being out under the sun all day, the energy that you give to the racers and other staff… but none of that mattered at the end of the week, I was beyond excited to share the experience with my friends and to get an idea of what it really takes to put in on a 6 day stage race. This isn’t an ordinary stage race either, this is one where the organizers have worked incredibly hard to make it a reality in a place where there aren’t as many resources, sponsors or grand scale events. But you would never guess it with the way this event is put on. You get three meals a day, 2-4 aid-stations while out on course, on site medical staff and foot speciality doctors at any time, your tent set up and taken down, your gear transported from one camp to the next… and all this happens while you are out having an awesome day trail running in beautiful, sunny Costa Rica!
I think that people come for the race, but after I think people take home new friends, people they might call their family, an incredible love for Costa Rica and an immense appreciation for the entire team that works so hard to make the Coastal Challenge a reality. I am so thankful to have been able to do a small part to make the event even better.