Wednesday, December 30, 2009


This week's fun is 6 days of Circus School! When I saw this advertised, I was all over it. I thought the trapeze would be a pretty cool thing to learn, plus all the other circus apparatus that they had rigged up. What a great way to spend my Christmas holidays.

However, it didn't turn out quite the way I expected. I spent all of day one feeling very nauseated from hanging upside down and swinging around. And I was hoping that an early night with lots of sleep would put it behind me but no; day two was even worse. I bought some motion sickness patches, packed a very simple lunch and also took a thermos of hot ginger tea. But by mid morning, I was already feel a bit yukky. And by the end of the afternoon I started vomiting! So today, I decided to stay home; I guess I won't be running away to join the circus after all!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


La Transtica was fun and definitely an adventure. We were picked up at the San Jose airport by none other than Bernard Marchall, the Race Director. That in itself was pretty incredible, but the fact that it was gone midnight, made it even more amazing!

We got to meet the other races (31 of us in all) at the press conference the next morning and it was fun trying to put names to faces from the website. We were then invited to the French Ambassador's residence for lunch. Ooh la, la! The following morning we headed out of the city towards the Pacific Ocean where we would start our race. The Costa Rican Fire Department (Los Bomberos) were providing security and medical back-up (we had our own ambulance!) so we got plenty of funny looks as we travelled along in convoy fashion.
After reaching our destination and sorting out our gear, we headed down to the beach for a 6km prologue, just to get the legs moving and see where everyone was at with their running. There were some pretty fast runners but I sure wasn't one of them! I found running on the beach really hard, plus the air seemed so incredibly hot and heavy. I moved as quickly as I could, bearing in mind that I had a lot of mileage coming up over the week, so didn't kill myself out there. There are 2 categories in La Transtica; adventure (approx 20 km per day) and extreme (approx 40 km per day). Steve and myself were in extreme.

The next day was suppose to be 43 km and it started out super hot. And hilly. And humid. My running skirt was dripping wet within in an hour which kind of freaked me out to start with but I figured it would be like that all week, so best to get used to being wet. We started on the beach and ran on a dirt road that ran next to the river, which happened to have crocodiles in it! Needless to say, I ran the first 5 km as quickly as possible. It was a tough couple of hours to start with due to the heat, but I felt a little better as I started to overtake some folks. I think everyone was suffering as we had all come out of autumn/winter for the race.

Unfortunately, there was a problem later on with the course markings and all the front runners were lost so the race was stopped while the organizers spread out to make sure that everyone was accounted for and safe. I'd only run 30 km and was starting to get into the groove (plus I'd overtaken 5 people at this point) so was disappointed that the day had been cut short, but what to do? We're in Costa Rica and things don't always go to plan so best just to let things flow. So, I sat back waiting for some of the other runners to come in and watched life in a local village which was fun. As we were transferred to our lodging for the night, the heavens opened and I got my first taste of "The Rain". Oh boy, it's torrential!

The next few days were spent dripping in the heat of the morning and running in the rain in the afternoon. I loved it! It was like being a big kid again, splashing through enormous puddles and mud, glorious mud! We ran past lots of coffee plantations and ran through some fantastic rain forests. The jungle sections were amazing - it was like Indianna Jones!

The nice thing about this event is that it's not just about the running as there is a humanitarian side to the it. As we ran across the country, we would stay in local communities where we helped deliver medical and school supplies to the village which was sweet. We would all help to present school kids with backpacks full of books, pencils etc and quite often there would be a delivery of a computer or building supplies. In one case, we delivered a wheelchair. We would camp in local schools or buildings and the local people would cook for us and the kids would put on a show of local dances. It was interesting to see how everything differed from region to region.

We spent one morning rafting which was incredible - it was 4 hours of Class 4 rapids pretty much continuous. It was a total blast - I think I spent more time laughing than I did paddling. We pulled in at one place for lunch and to make a donation to the indigenous indian tribes who live about 8 hours by foot, from the river. The elders and some of the school teachers had come down to receive the school and medical supplies, along with some of the kids who were shy but very excited! It was fascinating to hear about how they live.

We spent the night before our last day of running outside the Caribbean town of Limon where most of us unfortunately got food poisoning (the only time on the trip). Yuk! Luckily we only had 27 km to run, which is far enough when you've got nothing in you. The race took us from the rainforest to the beach and I decided I would run my legs off through the rainforest and give myself some headway as I'm totally crap at running in sand. After running through lots of mud, tree routes and swampy trails we hit the open beach where we had to swim across to a sand bar. The first part of this was okay, even though it felt a little strange swimming in all my running gear! But once we reached the sandbar, it was obvious that the next swimming section was going to be more challenging as the there was quite a strong current coming in with the sea. The first runner to start crossing needed rescuing pretty much immediately and once he was safely pulled back to the beach, we started to look at finding a safer spot to swim across. Once a safer spot was found, loads of people starting swimming and I felt comfortable doing the same. After swimming half way, one of the Costa Rican runners started to panic in front of me so I called out for help and tried to calm him down but found myself getting into trouble as he was thrashing out with his arms and legs and before I knew it, I couldn't keep myself upright or breathe properly; the thought of drowning was not fun. I somehow managed to find the energy to let out one last huge scream for help and someone pulled myself and the Costa Rican to shore. It'd been a pretty scary experience. Once everyone had gotten safely to shore, I figured I needed to stay focussed on the job at hand and continued with the rest of the race. It's probably the hardest 27 km I'll ever do and I can't tell you how relieved I felt getting to the finishing line as I was wasted at that point!

We were treated to a lovely resort that night where we had hot water (a novelty in C.R) and only myself and Steve in the room (instead of camping beside 40-something other people!) It was bliss! The next day we headed back to San Jose for the Banquet and Award Ceremony. There were 15 people in the extreme category and 5 of them dropped out after a few days (and moved to the adventure category). Steve came in 3rd overall and I came in 8th. We met lots of really interesting people and enjoyed seeing Costa Rica from the ground up. It was fun being amongst all the French people as they gave it a different twist and the Costa Ricans were lovely to be with. All in all, a great trip!

Saturday, December 5, 2009


Congratulations to those who were picked in the WS lottery this morning. I was watching the live feed hoping that my name would come up, but it didn't happen. Next time!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

We survived Costa Rica!

Wow, what a trip! The race was a full-on adventure. Packed with rain, mud, rainforest, jungle, crocodiles, snakes, frogs, lost people, i.v's, near drownings and french people! Who could want more from their holiday?!!

Race report to follow.