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Coastal Challenge Stage 4 – The Tortoise & The Hare


As the week and race go on, the team both as a whole and individually is getting stronger. This really is a great experience to be watching and participating in.

Today was Pavel’s toughest day spending almost the entire day on his own and four hours without really seeing anyone. The challenge was magnified by there being no water available over the last 15km and many carrying 4L for that section alone.

Everyone has some pretty serious blisters but Pavel’s had them since day one. He’s otherwise really strong and pushing through the pain, heat, exhaustion and terrain. Tomorrow is the last real challenge on the course – chatting with Pavel tonight I know it’s going to e a long day for him but he’s got it covered.


The Hare

Some of you may already know but Gemma had another amazing day finishing over an hour ahead of the next female. The female overall leader had a rough day so this now has Gemma with a +/- 40 minute lead. As long as she can maintain her pace tomorrow she has a great chance of winning her first ever race. She won’t exactly be regarded a “race virgin” anymore.

The Tortoise

This moniker is not the best identifier. I haven’t detailed much about Marissa’s week yet but if you know her, well, none of this will surprise you.

When I sent the Stage 2 update Marissa had been, err, missing for a couple of hours and we were pretty worried. When everyone else got to the beach and turned left for the last 10km, Marissa turned right and ran 2 hours in the wrong direction.

She arrived into camp emotionally exhausted after realizing her mistake and falling at the feet of another racer walking along the beach.

Her feet are both now essentially blisters yet for the past two days she has covered 91.5km of distance and 4000m of elevation. She always arrows into camp ecstatic and full of energy.

I have tremendous respect for her spirit and attitude. While at times I wonder if she should push herself so hard I do realise that she is just completing what she set out to do. There’s 63km left over the next two days and I’m looking forward to Marissa getting stronger over that time.

My status is unchanged for tomorrow because I want there to be many more tomorrows and many more races. The Coles Notes version is that basically I feel like I got kicked in the nuts, but in the kidneys, and harder. For the longer version:


The past couple of nights I’ve really been able to focus on helping the team get through each day and make their individual plans. As disappointed as I am to not be out there with them I did set out with the goal if giving people a similar experience as to what I had in Nepal.

I’m hoping to run the final day of 23.7km but I really need to get my system feeling better.

I look forward to updating you in how everyone is doing tomorrow.

Coastal Challenge Stage 5 – Control the Great


Stage 5

Control the great in yourself, think fundamentally and do not confine this to what can be measured.

The great thing about no longer racing is the opportunity to see everyone finish and to go out and cross the finish line with each teammate. Today had some amazing story lines and it was a privilege to have a front row seat.

Gemma – the Cinderella story continues as she placed 1st again for females and 8th overall on the day. Her overall lead is now +/- 60 minutes.

Shawn & Pavel – these guys set about a longer day with the goal of simply getting through the 47.5km day. Naturally they did it in style. I met them out on the beach for the final km each with a beer in hand.

Tony – after his early struggles he has proven his resilient self. Slogging through the jungle Tony got through his longest day of the week in great spirits though he did ask to be taken off the email list for the next adventure :)

Tam & Marissa – two impressive women. With no time cut offs today they focused solely on finishing the day – of course this would not happen without some extra adventure! Leaving check point one they took a wrong turn and headed 5km in the wrong direction.

After backtracking they found CP #1 completely taken down and started following footprints through the jungle. Equipped with whistles and tenacity Tam & Marissa got directions from farmers and eventually caught up with the sweepers who were taking down the course markings.

Pushing forward they were pressured with impending onset of darkness. Tam hit her wall and after being Tony’s support on day one found herself wrapped in Marissa’s arms being encouraged and driven to move forward.

Tony, worried about Tam & Marissa, waited at checkpoint three for as long as the race staff would let him before making him continue.

Under the cover of darkness Tam and Marissa hit their finish lines for the day and the Going Coastal team had the first female cross the finish line and the final racers cross the finish line.

One of the big talking points for the week from participants, race staff and organizers has been what a remarkable group of people are on this team. Many other teams have crumbled and become overwhelmingly negative on course and in camp. With every turn of adversity and humbling experience Tam, Tony, Shawn, Pavel, Gemma & Marissa have ultimately risen to the challenge, stared at their limits and watch them back down. There is always laughter coming from our group and section of the camp site.

Tomorrow is the last leg of the race, which I have decided not to participate in. There will be more opportunities to run but there will not be another opportunity to see my friends and teammates complete their race.

Sometimes when you think you are done, it is just the edge of beginning. Probably that’s why we decide we’re done. It’s getting too scary. We are touching down onto something real. It is beyond the point when you think you are done that often something strong comes out. -Goldberg

I’m saving a few experience highlights for tomorrow once everyone is confirmed across the finish line. This challenge has taken on a different shape for me than anticipated but it is one that I am happy came to me.

Coastal Challenge Stage 6 – Spark by Irreplaceable Spark

Stage 6

The reason we race isn’t so much to beat each other, but to be with each other – MacDougall

A year in the making, all six of my teammates have now crossed the finish line at the Coastal Challenge. At different points over the past week each person has been pushed beyond a place of tears.

Personally I knew the decision to withdraw after my kidneys failed was the obvious, right and immediate choice. That doesn’t mean it was easy. Initially I felt like I had let my teammates down and that a year’s worth of preparation was gone.

The reality is that I got a first class ticket to the experience my teammates were having – for which I am very grateful.

Each team member has completed a post-race interview and their big highlights were the ways in which the team supported each other, how when we reached for a helping had there were several reaching back. I wish I had the post race photos to show you how close this team has become.

The are no great people in this world, only great challenges which ordinary people rise to meet. – Halsy

Congrats to newbie runner and now female race champion Gemma Slaughter.

Marissa successfully navigated the course on the final day with the second longest overall time & distance spent on course. I actually think Marissa is happier with her performance / result than Gemma.

Tam has a bigger challenge ahead of her; figuring out how to explain this experience to her daughters. What a mother of two thinks about while lost in a Costa Rican jungle is beyond me.

Tony put the biggest self selected challenge of his life in front of him and after questioning his ability to start day 2 he confidently strode to the finish line today.

Shawn is likely to offer this challenge up to others that he knows and activate them to redefine the limitations they have imposed on themselves.

Pavel has come an incredible distance from how he was feeling a year ago. Embracing this challenge and everything that it encompassed has given him confidence that he will carry & apply the rest of his life.

I had my first DNF for any race I’ve started and I don’t even know if I care anymore. This adventure started out with a goal that each of these individuals would experience something beyond their expectations and previous capacity for understanding. Sitting here listening to post race discussions I know that was accomplished.

Perhaps the genius of ultra running is its supreme lack of utility. It makes no sense in a world of spaceships and supercomputer to run vast distances on foot. There is no money in it and no fame, frequently not even the approval of peers. But as poets, apostles and philosophers have insisted from the dawn of time, there is more to life than logic and common sense.

The common question is why do I do these things? Countless hours of training, sacrificed time with friends and family, all to compete in races that I have no chance of winning. Understanding that choice is pretty difficult I get it.

I will say again that we do these things to learn how little we know about ourselves. I have spent nearly 32 years with myself and these experiences create the greatest learning opportunities to dive deeper into who we are and how we can contribute to the world.

I know also believe that they give me the best vehicle through which to activate someone or a group of people. Fundamentally I believe the world is at a point where positive efforts are gathering steam. Engaging in philanthropic causes and proactivity is emerging from a younger generation. I am excited to see the work that they do and progress that they make.

I’m going to take you on the greatest adventure of your life. You will probably never even thank me. Let’s go. -Radcliffe

Some of you have already asked to join in on the next adventure. To be honest, I’ve got this shit eating grin on my face because you are crazy and have no idea what you’re in for but it’s already too late for you to back out. And don’t worry, you’ll succeed, 98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.

Going Coastal Team

Underwater Audio


A few days ago I picked up the Underwater Audio Waterproof iPod Bundle. With the seasons changing in Vancouver and a couple of running injuries sending me to the pool more often for workouts I wanted something to listen to help keep me motivated while training.

This is a big departure from my normal routine. As trail runner I’ve moved away from listening to music while I run to better help me focus on footsteps on the unpredictability of North Shore trail running; having fallen in love with the runners high not to mention to be able to avoid the number of mountain bikers who’s trails I am encroaching on.

As the weather gets wetter and the snow pack returning to lower elevations I find myself wanting / needing something to listen to while I transition back to road running, to push me through tempo runs. Sure, you can throw your iPod in a ziploc bag and away you go.

This is where Underwater Audio really steps it up. Not only do you get a waterproof iShuffle but you also get waterproof headphones. Over the past two years I’ve probably blown through 4 pairs of headphones due to water damage.

So what do you get:

  • - One genuine Apple iPod (4th Gen, 2 GB) waterproofed by Underwater Audio, your choice of color
  • - Original Apple USB cable, earbuds and packaging
  • - One pair of short-cord 100% Waterproof AquaSonic Headphones* (black)
  • - 3 sizes of earbuds to create a custom fit
  • - An extension cable to lengthen headphone cord
  • - One pair of Swimbuds extra-short cord waterproof headphones* (white)
  • - 3 sizes of earbuds to create a custom fit
  • How does it work:
  • - Proprietary waterproofing process 
  • - iPods are sent straight from Apple to Underwater Audio
  • - salt water test to 200 feet (4-10x the depth rating of competing products
  • - iPods are immersed for weeks at a time
  • - plugged and unplugged in salt water over 800x
- the bundle includes multiple headphones with very ear buds for personal fit
- short cords and long cords
- you can use in salt water (though I haven’t tried yet)
- music while you’re swimming
- value of the bundle = $175 on sale
- better workouts (arguably)
- fast delivery (I received mine within 36 hours of placing the order though I am guessing this isn’t typical)
- smaller than other waterproof mp3 players
- convenient
- Shipping cost to Canada – $35 with UPS + $20 in COD (makes it worth having a US P.O. Box right there)
- because you are underwater most people will increase the volume from a normal listening level of 90 dB to a volume level that they prefer. Apple maxes out at 120 dB but less than 15 minutes of listening at this volume level can start to cause hearing damage. I suggest you noise inhibit the iPod in iTunes and test it out. If you need to increase the volume beyond 90 dB (two thirds of max volume) make sure you limit the amount of time you are using the iPod. (Note this is not a con of the product but all mp3 players.)
- Audiobooks seem to only play through one ear. They are almost near impossible to hear while swimming (see above).
Overall Ranking:
4.5 / 5
It’s a fantastic addition to my training and I used it 3 times in the first 4 days I bought it.

training test

nutrition test

Gear test

Seek the Peak race

Going Coastal is super proud of team member Jodi Eckland! Jodi is being profiled weekly by Grouse Mountain as a competitor in this year’s Seek the Peak race. Seek the Peak is a challenging race starting at Ambleside Park in West Vancouver followed by a mix of trail and road running leading to the Grouse Grind. After tackling mother nature’s starimaster Jodi will still have to run all the way up to the peak before finishing back down at the chalet. It’s a gruelling 16km race and great foreshadowing for what she’ll experience during the Coastal Challenge.

Check out her first post and share in her journey!