The Coastal Challenge

The Coastal Challenge

AUTHOR: Patrick Bodzak

The Coastal Challenge (05-10 February), one of the world's most grueling, scenic, and exciting long-distance stage races, takes place in our backyard – showcasing the area's rich biodiversity, stunning scenery, and unspoiled beaches. Over six days in February, a small group of elite runners will be (thoroughly) tested, both physically and mentally, with no room for weakness, doubt, second thoughts, or hesitation – this is the big leagues!

It sounds like a week to remember?! The race comprises six daily stages spanning over 230 kilometers. It has 8,750 meters of vertical gain (nearly the height of Mt Everest), taking the runners over beaches, through mangroves, thick jungles, up and down the coastal mountains, and across waterfalls and mountain rivers, all in our steamy Costa Rican tropical heat.

Ben Arriving

The start line is in Quepos, with the track meandering southward to Dominical, along Costa Ballena, Palmar Sur, and ending in Drake Bay - right on the doorsteps to Corcovado National Park, described by National Geographic as "the most biologically intense place on Earth in terms of biodiversity." 

We will have local representation as Ben Bodzak, who lives in Ojochal, will take on this challenge for the second time (he first ran the race in 2019). By day, Ben is a real estate franchisee with RE/MAX We Sell Paradise. Every morning, before 5.00 AM, he sets out on a training run up and down the mountains. He is not only carrying water but also a flashlight (he is running in the dark) and a taser (on numerous occasions, he has seen Black Panthers in the area, and they are very active around twilight). 

Ben is taking this race seriously, as he should. "This is one of the hardest runs in the world. Imagine running a marathon every day for six consecutive days, except you are not running on flat roads but instead going over sand, rocks, rivers, mud, and up and down big mountains. And you are doing this in tropical heat, the sun scorching you all day long. Ben shares: "Myself and most runners don't care about the clock or who finishes in which place, all we care about is that we finish each stage, and we take things day-by-day."

In between stages, the runners camp out in tents with a 3:30 AM wake-up call and a 5:30 AM start – the sun is still below the horizon, and Howler Monkeys are just starting to wake up. The organizers provide three meals daily, with aid stations along the way.

Join us in wishing Ben the best of luck, and be sure to give him a friendly honk or wave when you see him slugging along the Ojochal area in the early morning!

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