COSTA RICAN JUAN CARLOS ZUNIGA AND AMERICAN BEVERLY ANDERSON-ABBS WIN THE COASTAL CHALLENGE 2007
“Route of Fire’s” Unique Three Category-Platform Proves Competitive, Challenging and Adventurous for Entire Field
BAHIA SALINAS BAY, COSTA RICA — The Coastal Challenge 2007, called “The Route of Fire” for its location, weather and competitive nature, culminated today at Bahia Salinas Bay in Northwestern Costa Rica.Â Costa Rican Juan Carlos Zuniga and American Beverly Anderson-Abbs won the men’s and women’s categories, respectively, each earning the $1,500 grand prize.Â Zuniga receives the prestigious honor of Champion of this year’s race.
Zuniga, who finished second in the past two year’s races, blazed through the course finishing the entire six-day, 200-km Expedition Category in 19 hours, 38 minutes and 55 seconds.Â He out paced the next fastest runner by more than one hour total time.Â Anderson-Abbs took fifth over-all and topped the women’s Expedition Category by more than three hours total with a total time of 22 hours, 5 minutes and 44 seconds.Â
Second and third in the men’s Expedition Category were Kurt Lindermeyer (Germany) and Javier Montero (Costa Rica), respectively.Â For the women’s Expedition Category it was Ligia Madrigal (Costa Rica) in second and Megan Hicks (United States) in third.
Winners in the Adventure Category were Gary Cambridge (24:43:48), from Canada, and Kari Borka (25:39:08), from the United States.
Sixty-eight competitors from 12 countries embarked on the epic journey, a six-day stage race that took runners from the base of Arenal Volcano up along a rugged course of varied terrain to the Northwest corner of the country.Â Fifty-five of them finished each stage ranked including 41 Expedition runners and 14 Adventure runners.Â Each competitor received their Coastal Challenge “Route of Fire” medal as they crossed the finish line, which overlooked the bay.
“This was our best race yet, and my hat goes off to everyone who pushed through this grueling course,” said Race Director Tim Holmstrom as he watched runners finish.Â “We worked hard to raise the bar this year and implement the three categories in a cohesive event.Â The runners and guests responded this week proving we have a successful model.”
Mark Hartinger, a Coastal Challenge veteran and Expedition Category runner from the United States who placed 29th overall commented on the event.Â “This is what I’ve come for — the entire week.Â The hard parts were very hard, and the recovery days were well planned.Â The organization of the event and the course was great.”Â He later said, “The best part is the people — the volunteers and the runners.Â That’s what keeps me coming back.”
“It’s exciting to see so many people from around the world get together for a week-long adventure,” Holmstrom added.Â “The Costa Rican country and people provide a spectacular backdrop for this international event.”
The Adventure Category, new and unique to The Coastal Challenge this year, was implemented in part based on previous runner feedback.Â According to race rules, runners can either sign up for the Adventure Category initially, or if they miss mandatory safety cut offs within the longer Expedition run, they may drop into the shorter category and continue to race ranked.Â The Adventure course is slightly shortened on the longest days but is still designed to be an extremely challenging run covering more than 125 km total, including one marathon-length day.Â Seven runners started in the Adventure Category and another seven dropped into that category during the race.Â Thirteen runners did not finish the race due to cut offs, or typical racing illness or injury.
Along side the race, and also unique to this event, five people partook in the Guest Adventure Tours, which included a wide range of outdoor activities.Â Tours took the guests on educational outings through the Costa Rican country that included hiking through rain forests, rappelling down waterfalls, rafting river rapids, and viewing the erupting Arenal Volcano.Â The guests reconvened with the racers back at camps each night.
Another addition to this year’s event on the second day, longest stage, was the “nuun Endurance Award” — a one year supply of nuun electrolyte tablets.Â Provided by race sponsor nuun, the awards were given to the fastest male and female times on the longest “Expedition” length day, which was 60+ km for Expedition runners and 40+ km for the Adventure runners.Â Winners were Zuniga and Anderson-Abbs in the Expedition Category and Jamie Capiscolto, Canada, and Melissa Taylor, United States, in the Adventure Category.
The final day’s race was followed by cultural Costa Rican entertainment when racers, event volunteers and staff were all invited to a Costa Rican bull fight and celebration at a nearby town.Â A closing dinner, awards ceremony and party followed back at the Bolanos Bay beach-side resort, where awards were given to the top runners.
More information, including final standings, stories and photos from the event, are available at www.thecoastalchallenge.com.Â The Coastal Challenge 2008 date and course, which will change again for next year, will be announced in early spring.
About The Coastal Challenge
Set on Costa Rica’s Northwest Coast, The Coastal Challenge is the “World’s Expedition Run,” releasing runners over approximately 230 kilometers of exotic and wild Costa Rican mountainous regions and coastline.Â For six days, runners embrace the spirit of adventure, discovery and camaraderie within a long distance running competition while navigating volcanic regions, wide river crossings, rainforests, jungles, windswept highlands, beaches, and rock outcroppings.Â It is an expedition run of epic proportions introducing competitors to the hospitality of the local Tico culture while pushing the limits of their will and endurance.
The Coastal Challenge is sponsored in part by Land Rover, Gramicci, nuun, Grupo Mudanzas Mundiales and Eagles Nest Outfitters.Â Media partners include Trail Runner magazine, CheckpointZero and AdventureTaxi.com.