After a year and a half of orchestrating grueling, epic slogs through Costa Rica’s tropics and volcano country, up-and-coming adventure race organizer Euforia Expeditions will crown its achievements promoting the sport with what is fairly considered the most difficult race Costa Rica has ever hosted. Slated for April 10-18, “Between Two Continents, Between Two Oceans: Costa Rica Solo Adventure Race” is a course that has attracted worldclass individual racers and encompasses 250 kilometers up mountain peaks, along whitewater rivers and into the heat of the rainforested Pacific plains.
Departing from the team-racing format employed in most adventure races, this one will pit top athletes against one another singly, in 60-80 hours of continuous racing.
The stakes are a pot of $12,000 cash for the winners in both the men’s and women’s categories.
“The course is quite tough, and definitely not just anyone will be able to finish it,” said Gergard Linner, a Costa Rican race veteran and support-team director of one of the course’s four regions.
In his years in the business, Linner has seen the worst the country could throw at its challengers, but he insists that Euforia’s monster is “the hardest of all”.
“In what has gone on in Costa Rica, there’s nothing that compares,” he said. “You have to be prepared physically and mentally, because you’re not going out there to play around.”
The exact route has not been disclosed, as it must be kept secret from competitors until race day.However, organizers say it will be in volcano country in the north-western province of Guanacaste.
The course rises and falls through an elevation range of more than 6,000 feet. Contestants will be assailed by drastic temperature shifts, from cool mornings of around 12 degrees Celsius (54 Fahrenheit) that could rise throughout the day to 35 C (95 F) or more. The variety of disciplines in which racers will be tested include trekking, land navigation, kayaking, swimming, rappelling, mountain biking, canyoneering and others.
The course’s ferocity and its setting in Costa Rica, an up-and-coming adventuresport destination, have attracted big names in the international adventure-racing community, including Paul Romero and Danelle Ballengee of the United States, Uruguayan Rubén Mandure and Mexico’s Ernesto Rivas.
Romero, owner of the California-based adventure race company Baja Travesia, said he likes the twist of a solo expedition in Costa Rica.
“It’s big, brave and dangerous. We’re up for it,” he said.
Award-winning racer Ballengee, from the U.S. state of Colorado, said she leaped at the opportunity to see Costa Rica for the first time as the scenery around a racecourse.
“This is the longest one I’ve seen that’s solo,” she said. “I hope I can go there and test myself and find out what my strengths and weaknesses are. I’m excited.”
Chris Doyle, director of the Adventure Travel Trade Association, of which Euforia is a member, and editor of the association’s AdventureTravelNews, ranks the race as one among an emerging trend of organized races linked to adventure travel. Euforia offers travel options to racers and those who accompany them, helping them explore the country while they are there to compete.
“It seems that racers and athletes are looking for more exotic locales in which to enjoy their hobbies,” Doyle said.
Costa Rica “is at once very Western, modern and developed in parts, and yet still holds many promising opportunities to explore special areas, wildlife and people and cultures that remain exotic to most foreigners. (It) boasts incredible diversity of microclimates and terrain – from jungle to volcanic rises – as well as a diversity of activities,” he added.
Entry slots are still available to interested racers. For information, contact Euforia at 263-2752 or [email protected], or visit www.euforiaexpeditions.com.