2007 Coastal Challenge Tests Competitors During Brutal First Day of Action
Costa Rican Juan Carlos Zuniga and Beverly Abbs of the United States Sit Atop Leaderboard
Full Leaderboard is available at: Checkpoint Tracker.
The 2007 Coastal Challenge has begun, and the 68 competitors from 12 countries have conquered mountainous challenges during the first day, including overcoming more than 1,100 meters of elevation gain for the Expedition Runners, who completed two challenging climbs along parts of both Cerro Chato Volcano and Arenal Volcano, one of the worldâ€™s most active.
Competitors assembled at 10 a.m. in the shadow of Arenal Volcano in the town of La Fortuna, Costa Rica, before hitting the trail heading northwest to battle steep climbs, technical descents and blistering heat. At the end of the day, Juan Carlos Zuniga of Costa Rica and Beverly Abbs of the United States finished in the top spots in the menâ€™s and womenâ€™s Expedition categories, respectively. Four of the seven Adventure Category runners finished the 115-km race within mere minutes of each other, including Jamie Capiscolto, Marlo Tadashore, Martin Mufich, and Greyson Quarles.
A local favorite, Zuniga led the pack the entire stage and finished approximately 13 minutes in front of the next best competitor. Zuniga, who finished second in the past two Challenges, covered the 21-km course in 2 hours, 22 minutes and 54 seconds. Fellow Costa Rican Ronald Torres, who won last yearâ€™s race, finished second with a time of 2 hours, 36 minutes and 1 second. Kurt Lindermeyer, originally from Munich, Germany, finished third with a time of 2 hours, 37 minutes and 47 seconds. Lindermeyer, a self-described â€œnewbieâ€ to the adventure racing scene, smiled while describing the course as â€œfun, but really, really hard,â€ and added that â€œthe heat was very tough.â€
Zuniga and todayâ€™s fifth place finisher, Javier Marina, are two Costa Ricans to beat this year, said Rodrigo Carazo, the local course designer. â€œZuniga is great on the hills and technical terrain, and Marina is very fast on the flatter grounds,â€ says Carazo. â€œTheyâ€™re both strong competitors and either could win it all.â€
American Beverly Abbs was the top female finisher and also scored the seventh overall spot with a time of 2 hours, 50 minutes and 23 seconds. â€œIt was muddy and hot,â€ said Beverly, who cited the courseâ€™s â€œmassive climbsâ€ as the most difficult aspect of the stage. In preparation for tomorrow, she plans on carrying more water and possibly switching to running shoes as the 60-km leg will require added endurance and strategy.
Ligia Madrigal of Costa Rica and Meghan Hicks of the United States rounded out the top three women, finishing in 3:07:51 and 3:43:37, respectively.
The race has just begun, and the â€œRoute of Fireâ€ is proving to be as challenging as promised. Runners who struggled in the heat and hills today will face the longest run of the race tomorrow, a gruesome, 60-km stage heading further west.
# # #