FAQs

Race/Route Questions

Q: Who should consider The Coastal Challenge?

A: Any runner who wants to challenge themselves on many levels and experience the thrill and satisfaction of pushing themselves further than they ever thought possible. If you appreciate the camaraderie that naturally develops when a diverse group of individuals share in that kind of experience together then you’ll appreciate this event. 

Q: I’ve only done one marathon. Can I possibly complete this race?

A: Yes, it is mostly a matter of having desire, determination and embracing the unknowns of an adventure. You should also be making every effort to condition your body and your feet to be attempting the distance, even at a brisk jog/walk. Otherwise, while you’re on course it will really help to have a high threshold for discomfort, pain, temporary self-loathing

Q: Will the route be more on trail, roads or beaches?

A: We will be utilizing more trails and open lands. In order to cobble together a point-to point-race that encompasses so much varied terrain and covers so much ground in 6 days, there are areas where dirt roads are unavoidable but we’ll make every effort to steer clear of paved roads and continue exploring ways to provide varied terrain, varied running surfaces and as much unexpected rugged running adventure as possible. As always, this will include areas rain forest, mountain ranges, cloud forest, trail, beaches, rocky outcroppings/reefs and river crossings.

Q: How long is the route?

A: The entire route will be 225-235 k depending on where camps are set and other logistical factors.

Q How long is each stage?

A: Days will vary from 24 k to 60 k in length but if possible we attempt to stagger the distances and difficulty so hard days are separated by shorter, relatively easier days (recovery days.)

Q: What are the cut-offs each day for Expedition Category?

A: We don’t have cut-offs each day. On days where the distance is over 40 K there will most likely be 1-2 cut-offs on longer days and they will vary depending on the terrain and distance. Typically cut-offs will require a consistent speed of  3.75 mph or a 7 hour cut-off to reach a 26m/42k checkpoint.

Q: What type of terrain will I see?

A: The course is set along Costa Rica’s tropical Pacific coastline but weaves at times into the Talamancas, a coastal mountain range in the Southwest corner of the country. You’ll finish near the border of Panama in a serene fishing village that until recently was only accessible by boat.

Terrain will include: jungle and rainforest trails, mountain trail and single track across ridgelines, highlands and coastal ranges; beaches, rocky outcroppings and reefs, river and estuary crossings, as well as a stage running through Corcovado National Park, one of the premier rainforest experiences in the world and a Unesco World Heritage Site.

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Q: How are the distances measured?

A: Surveyors wheel, GPS and odometer where possible.

Q: Will aid stations be on course or do we have to carry all our fluids and energy food with us?

A: There will be aid-stations with water, fruit, and snacks. We recommend traveling with food that you prefer in case there isn’t something that you prefer at the next station. We require you to carry water and whatever food you think you may need to get to the next aid station.

Q: How far apart will the aid stations be?

A: It will vary, depending on the length of the leg but they are generally set every 12-18 kilometers apart.

Q: Will there be cold drinks at the aid stations?

A: It’s difficult to promise at the aid stations because it depends on how long available ice holds out each day but thanks to competitor feedback we’ll try to arrange for cold/cool cokes and an occasional cervasa at the finish/camp where possible, even if means coaxing an enterprising volunteer to go on a coke/beer run into the nearest town and setting up their own refreshment stand. Remember, we’re often in the middle of nowhere. Not many expeditions enjoy the luxury of ice-cold drinks.

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Q: Will detailed maps of the course be provided on the web?

A: Yes, for registered participants a route profile is provided .

Q: Would you recommend carrying a compass during each stage?

A: No, a compass is not required at our event.

Q: Is the route marked? Can I possibly get lost?

A: The course will be marked and critical decision points will be staffed. But here may be times where not paying attention at a turn off may result in getting off route. We also mark the route for a good distance just after a turn so if after a split in the trail you don’t see flagging tape or painted marking then you may have to backtrack. When there is no course marking or tape the trail is usually very intuitive. We mark off each runner as they step up to the race start each day and mark them off again when they cross the finish line. We also have staff sweep the course each day.

Q: What type of markers will you be used to mark the race route?

A: The markers will be presented during the pre-race meeting. These markers will be very visible and will consist (cones, flagging tape, or spray painted symbols)

Q: Will there be race staff on the route? Where are they placed?

A: Yes. Placement will vary depending on the stage but they are normally found at critical directional points or aid stations. There are also re-supply and medical and staff vehicles traveling to aid stations or road access areas monitoring the race.

Q: Will there be any kilometer/mile markers along the course?

A: No. Using the aid stations and perhaps a few other reference points in your Racer Guide or your own GPS will be the only way to approximately determine your location on route.

Q: When is race start each day?

A: That depends on the length of the stage each day but on most days the race will start between 5:30 and 7:00.

Race Category Questions

Q: What is the major difference between Expedition Category and Adventure Category?

A: The Expedition route is twice as long and may have more technical sections at times.  It also applies some psychological pressure in terms of pacing yourself and pushing yourself to avoid missing indicated  time-cut offs. These pre-designated time cut-offs are placed at certain checkpoints on the longest days. This requires many runners to strategize, plan out their days a bit and challenge themselves in interesting ways. These cut-offs are made in the interest of safety and to keep the competitive level very high in the Expedition Category. People who begin to slow down significantly run the risk of missing a cut-off on a long day and being reassigned to Adventure Category.

Q: What are the cut-offs each day for Expedition Category?

A: We don’t have cut-offs each day. On days where the distance is over 40 K there will most likely be 1-2 cut-offs on longer days and they will vary depending on the terrain and distance. Typically cut-offs will require a consistent speed of  3.75 mph or a 7 hour cut-off to reach a 26m/42k checkpoint.

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A: We don’t have cut-offs each day. On days where the distance is over 40 K there will most likely be cut-offs and they will vary depending on the terrain and distance.

Q: If I sign up for the Team Category, will my time also be ranked as an individual?

A: Yes, if you race everyday as part of your team you will also be ranked individually. Teams can be made up of 3-6 individuals. So in teams of 4 or more some team members may exercise the option of “sitting out” a day since only the top 3 times are factored into the team’s combined time each day. If a team member takes a rest day they will become unranked on the official leader board.

 

Gear Questions

Q: Do you transport our clothes and camping gear?

A: Yes. With the exception of your tent, it must all fit into a 24 Gallon Rubbermaid “Action Packer” or equivalent. Lockable Hard-Case Storage bins (A.K.A. Action Packer) are not provided by Race Management. We require that participants bring a hard case bin that is water resistant, stackable and preferably lockable. We recommend the Rubbermaid Action Packer because it is a field-tested product that has proven reliable in many expeditions events. If you have something that resembles the Action Packer, it should be fine. The reason for requiring lockable hard-case storage bins is primarily for logistical and transportation purposes, as well as being a good theft deterrent. It will also hold up well over the expedition and protect your clothes and valuables from both insects and the elements.

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Q: Where can I purchase an Action Packer?

A: You can order these bins online from a retailer and have them shipped to you. These are no longer available from Rubbermaid directly but you can purchase from Target for $ 19.99. You can also find this for $36.00 at REI http://www.rei.com/search?query=action+packer

You can also consider an X-Large Dry Bag/Duffle  (Both action packer or Dry Bag will be transported By race organizers from camp to camp)

We recommend that participants have a bin that is approximately 24 gallons per person. However, if you are traveling as a couple or a family you may combine gear into a larger gear bin. Should you choose to share bins please look at the 48 gallon Action Packer but check airline restrictions because these usually now qualify as oversize should.

Q: Is it possible to purchase a similar storage bin in San Jose?

A: Yes, at a store called EPA but we highly recommend that you purchase one before arriving in Costa Rica. It will be easier.

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Q: What Gear is Mandatory?

A:

Tent
Headlamp
Hydration system (bladder or bottles)
Energy food
Electrolyte replacements
Container for storing camping gear and clothes (see above)
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Q: What Gear is Strongly Recommended?

A:

Travel hammock (w/ nylon rope to sling it)
Travel medical kit with extra needles
Sunscreen
Sleeping bag or sleeping sheet
Race clothing
Casual clothing
Sandals for camp
Foam or lightweight Air Mattress (Thermarest)
Other items to consider:

Extra energy food
Salt tablets
Water purification tablets (in case you need water from unknown source)
Duct Tape (always, always good to have)
Ear plugs for sleeping
Extra set of sneakers one half-size to full-size larger than your running shoes.
Insect repellant
Mosquito netting
Toilet paper/wet wipes
Lightweight “Quick dry”camp towel

 

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Camp Questions

Q: Where do we stay and what do we eat while on the Course?

A: On the course you’ll be camping each night in a variety of pre scouted locations that are comfortable, private and very scenic.  The camps are set up to form a wonderful community atmosphere, with the tents and hammocks sequestered away from the noise and bustle of the kitchen, dinning and social areas.  

All meals are set up in a comfortable dining environment, with tables and chairs as well as a covered tent if needed. The kitchen (a complex of portable stoves, heaters, prep areas and cooks) provides a movable feast, serving plenty of delicious hot food, fresh local fruit and vegetables, great snacks, and lots of liquids to replenish you.  We typically camp in areas where we have access to local bathroom and shower facilities or we create our own environmentally responsible and clean privies and outdoor showers.  There is a lively social atmosphere every night including a slideshow of the day’s run as well as a race briefing of the next day’s course highlights. We will also try to work in presentations by locals who can describe the course terrain as well as the flora and fauna you will experience each day.  Sometimes, we even have local vendors that will set up stands selling local food and goods. Massages are also available along with any medical assistance.

Q: Where will we camp?

A: Camps are typically located on a town soccer field, a sprawling private property or a beautiful secluded beach.

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Q: Do we have to bring our own tent or are tents provided? (NEW TENT OPTION FOR CAMP) contact us before November 1st if interested or  book online.

A: We offer teams of 3 or more the option to use our new 6-8 person tents, which camp staff will set up at camp each day. The fee is $100 pp using TCC provided tent. Any team of 3 or 4 will share a 6-8 person tent so there will be ample room for you and your gear.  We will place your action packers next to your tents.

Q: What are the meals like?

A: Delicious and Plentiful!  Every morning you will awaken to the smell of a savory hot breakfast served with fresh local fruit and juices as well as plenty of piping hot Costa Rican coffee.  During the day and right after the race you can find plenty of fruit and snack food to replenish you until dinner which consists of a multi-course hot entrées along with fresh salad, local fruit, more liquids and coffee as well as several options for your sweet tooth.

Q: Will we be camping each night?

A: Once the race gets underway you’ll be in a camp each night until you reach the final finish line. Your last night will be spent at a beachfront resort in Bahia Salinas.

Q: Where will we camp?

A: Camps are typically set either in town soccer fields, on sprawling private properties or on beautiful secluded beaches.

Q: Will there be toilet and shower facilities at the camps?

A: Each Stage will have toilet facilities available. There will also be rustic “Tico” Style shower facilities. Depending on the stage, you may be able to shower at the local school, within the town, or we will be building temporary showers for your use.

Q: How many meals will be served each day?

A: There will be a full breakfast and full dinner with a limited selection of food like sandwiches and snacks available in the kitchen area in the afternoon for competitor. A meal schedule will be in the race guide. The kitchen schedule will be posted in camp and the kitchen area will close for a period of a few hours each afternoon.

Q: Will there be menu options for vegetarians?

A: Yes, but you must notify us by email of your dietary needs when you register. We will try to work with you and accommodate your diet as much as possible. A vegan diet is a bit more complicated so we suggest you work closely with our nutritionist and head chef in advance. 

Q: Is there food on the Course?
A: Yes, we provide aid stations at regular intervals on the course which have plenty of water, electrolyte, fresh local fruit, and race type snack food.

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Q: What is the typical weather at the places we camp?

A: For the Rainforest Run you can expect warm weather, sometimes humid, sometimes balmy and sometimes windy depending on coastal weather systems. You can also expect short bursts of cyclical rain, mostly in the late afternoon or evenings as we get closer to the Osa Peninsula and Corcovado National Park.

Q: Will there be power for charging batteries for my camera, race watch, lap top etc?

A: Yes

Q: What types of stores (if any) will be located around the start/finish areas to purchase anything we’d potentially need or forget to bring?

A:You may see small markets on route or in towns that have many basic items. Larger stores are located in San Jose

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Travel/Accommodations Questions

Please also refer to the event itinerary on the Route Page for more travel and event information.

Q: Where should I arrive for the event?

A: Fly into San Jose: Airport code (SJO) The official name is Juan Santamaria International Airport.

Q: Where should I stay before/after the event?

A: We recommend The Best Western Irazu since that is where we will have the pre-race registration, reception and briefing.

Q: Who can I talk to regarding hotel reservations?

A: Our contact at Best Western is Carolina Arias. She is very responsive and can help you make arrangements and give you a special rate for The Coastal Challenge competitors. The best way to contact: Carolina is via Email: carias@gmhospitality.net. You may also try her phone Tel: 011- 506- 2290- 9300 ext. 2805

Q: How do I get to the hotel?

A: There is a free and direct shuttle from the airport to the hotel every 30-45 minutes. If you choose to take a cab it takes about 20 minutes and should cost you about $10 last time we checked.

Q: How do I get back to San Jose after the race?

A: When the race is over you will be transported back to the Best Western Hotel the next day. Plan on arriving late afternoon unless you take an early morning shuttle and then plan on arriving late morning or early afternoon. Book your travel accordingly. If you need the early morning shuttle please let race staff know in advance. There will be a sign up sheet and space may be limited.

Q: Can I be dropped off anywhere if we are traveling onward in Costa Rica?

A: The only place we can drop you on our way back to San Jose would be Liberia where you rent a car or can arrange for a shuttle if you are going to a nearby resort.

Q: Is a visa required to travel to Costa Rica?

A: Not from the US or Canada. If you’re entering from another country you may want to inquire about Costa Rica’s visa requirements.

Q: Is there a departure tax?

A: Yes. $ 26.00

 

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General Questions

Q: Can a competitor bring a family member for support?

A: We encourage it but as we are in a moving camp all guests must be registered and travel with the camp. Non-competitors have two choices. They can sign up for the Standard Guest Package or the Adventure Guest Package. Pricing and details can be found by going to the registration page.

Guest Adventure Tours

Q: New for 2008 “Soft Adventure option” Want to experience our Adventure Tours but don’t want to camp?

A: We now offer guests the opportunity to come to the main racer’s camp everyday, go on our Adventure Tours, and then return to nearby haciendas, hotels or bungalows for the evening.

Q: Is the water in Costa Rica safe to drink?

A: Water is clean and safe to drink from the tap. All water, including tap water, is overseen by a governmental agency and the quality is not in question. We’ve never had any water related health issues reported in 3 years of running the event.

Q: Will mosquitoes be prevalent at the camps or on the route?

A: It’s not usually something that we hear any complaints about but it really depends on your individual body chemistry and where you find yourself along the route. Mosquitoes and “No-See-Ems” do exist and we do recommend having spray or Mosquito netting at night just in case. It often depends on the weather, the amount of moisture or recent rainfall in the area and your individual body chemistry. We’re in the jungle/rainforest much of the time. Come prepared.

Q: Are there any immediate dangers that I should be concerned about, during each stage? Is there a reason to be concerned about snakes, wild animals, insects, etc.?

A: There are dangers to be sure and possibilities for injury do exist. Costa Rica does have venomous snakes, exotic insects and small, snarly dogs. Our routes do take you through rugged, uneven terrain, deep rivers and jagged coastlines. Costa Rica does have animals that living in the Jungle that may choose to give chase. There is always inherent risk in an authentic adventure.

Q: Will there be medical support staff or doctor on site?

A: Yes, we will have our committed contingent of US doctor(s) from Adventure Med www.adventuremed.com, volunteers with EMT experience and local paramedics and Red Cross ambulances on course during the event. If possible, we will continue to have foot care clinics at camps. Along with any necessary patching up you’ll also receive guidance and pointers in the areas of blister prevention and overall foot care so that you may become more self sufficient as the week progresses.

Q: What if I have to cancel my trip?

A: We have a straightforward but strict refund policy. It’s based on when you notify us, not on the reason for your cancellation. This is to avoid being placed in the difficult position of having to decide which reasons merit a refund. We strongly recommend that you review our refund policy when registering. We also recommend that you consider travel insurance. You can find a link to a good insurer next to our refund policy on the website’s registration page.

Q: Is there an emergency contact number?

A: Yes. If you require one just let us know.

Q: Is a visa required to travel to Costa Rica?

A: There is no visa required for travel from the US or Canada. If you’re entering from another country you may want to inquire about Costa Rica’s visa requirements.

Q: Is there a departure tax?

A: Yes. $ 26.00

 

Quick Overview

Q: How long is this year’s route?

A: The entire route will be 200-250 k depending on where camps are set and other logistical factors.

Q: Where is this year’s route?

A: In the south. We will be exploring the possibility of offering an east to west unsupported race for more of an expedition approach in 2014, in addition to The Rainforest Run.

Q: Will the route be more on trail, roads or beaches?

A: We will be utilizing more trails and open lands. In order to cobble together a point-to point-race that encompasses so much varied terrain and covers so much ground in 6 days, there are areas where dirt roads are unavoidable but we’ll make every effort to steer clear of paved roads and continue exploring ways to provide varied terrain, varied running surfaces and as much unexpected rugged running adventure as possible. As always, this will include areas rain forest, mountain ranges, cloud forest, trail, beaches, rocky outcroppings/reefs and river crossings.

Q: Will detailed maps of the course be provided on the web?

A: No, but we will provide maps with the race book with distance and elevation profiles.  (see examples of Route of Fire maps on Route/Itinerary Page)

Q: What other info will we find in the Race Book?

A:The Race Book of the route, with designated start and finish points and aid station locations, will be issued to each runner at competitor registration/check in. After years of staging the race in this area the route is familiar to us at this point, yet we will we still attempt to  include new areas and features each year as well as terrain surprises and there will always be a wide range of things impossible to control or predict, such as the weather, so that the race never loses the “Expedition” quality we’ve always enjoyed.

 

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Team Rules/Strategy Questions

Q: What are the rules and guidelines for teams ?

A: Download the Rules & Strategy PDF

Q: What strategy ?

A: We have two courses at TCC. Expedition is the full course (200-225k) and Adventure is the shorter course (130-150k) We typically have 2-3 ultra days (longer than 26.5 miles) in the Expedition course. Historically the longest stages have been on Days 2 and 5 but that can vary due to course design changes.

If you have more than 3 people on your team you may choose to keep a runner in reserve or allow part of the team to relax their pace but you then risk that if less than 3 members make the time cutoffs on any stage the entire team is then knocked out of the Expedition Run as a team.

The following is IMPORTANT for both teams and individuals who start out in the Expedition category: If you fail to meet a time cut off, you drop to Adventure and your cumulative daily times are now counted toward your overall time in the Adventure Category. In practical terms this means the longer you stay in Expedition the harder it will be to get a good ranking if you do eventually fall back to Adventure because some days you may have been on course 1 or 2 hours longer than someone running in the Adventure category the entire time.  In terms of rankings the worst possible thing is to DNF at any point. While the next worst thing would be for a ranked Expedition Runner to miss the time cut off on Stage 4 (or final ultra day)

As the race progresses, with item (3) to consider, you may voluntarily choose to switch from Expedition to Adventure by stopping at a time cutoff or at the end of any stage. You must notify timing officials or race management of your decision ASAP.

**  Being part of a team won’t affect your individual ranking since individual times and rankings are calculated independently of team rankings.

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