The Coastal Challenge Day 3 – Rough

Woke up at 3:30. Packed my stuff, ate a little and approached the start line. I was having some stomach cramps, which are not desirable before what we were told was the most difficult day. Later note: those cramps were probably from me taking salt pills too often; felt better after easing up on them.

Titled “Feel the coastal acid” (I don’t know what acid is that, maybe lactic), the route was 44 km long with 1800 m in climbing. The difficult part was the section between km 4 and 10, where we would be going up a river bed.

It was extremely technical. The wet rocks were slippery and hard to see in the moving water. Going was slow, with my feet constantly hitting rocks from all directions. At some point I saw a few people swimming. I thought “Those Costa Rican kids.. pura vida!”, but they I saw they were actually “runners” on the route.

Somewhere around here my GPS decided to stop being waterproof and died. RIP little Garmin, you have served me well these past 3 years.

After clearing this section and a few more kilometers on dirt roads I got to Nauyaca Waterfall. Being a gorgeous area and a highlight of the race, a couple of photographers were waiting, taking photos of contestants (still waiting on those photos though..).

Ran on some village roads. Without my Garmin I lost some of my usual in-the-race activities: count the minutes, count the kilometers, count the elevation.

The route continued to climb through the forest. The trail was simply legen- wait for it -tacular! At times it became very narrow, with thick bushes on both sides. I don’t know who came up with it and I can’t imagine the number of machete swings needed to clear it up. But then it got better. We started climbing up another river. It felt very wild. There were plenty of places to sit and chill in the water. Pura vida!

And when I thought it couldn’t get better, we got to another waterfall! Couldn’t help myself and had a selfie with it.

With all this technical terrain, we were moving very slowly. And, for the first time during the race, there was a cut-off time. I made that 23 km checkpoint in 5h30′, with the cut-off 1h30′ away.

From here it was mostly downhill. At times the trail got insanely steep and, being on dirt, it was very slippery. Several runners took some falls here, luckily I managed to stay on my feet.

Got down to the beach for about 9 km along the coast. Had no will to run, so I just walked and enjoyed the views. After another 3 km on road, I got to the finish line in 9h31′.

We camped again next to the beach. While yesterday we were in a small tourist village, now we’re in a campground all by ourselves. And if I were to describe it briefly, I’d say just this: ants! Ants everywhere! I don’t know what interest they have in the shorts I hung out to dry, but I find it disturbing.

I keep using “Pura vida”, what’s up with that? It’s basically a phrase that Costa Ricans use to describe their way of live (and many more). And they use it often. For example, let’s say you go to a store. You ask for a drink and the lady at the counter gives it to you. You say “gracias” and she responds “pura vida”.

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