21.12.09 : La Transtica 2009 Race Report
The major part of the organization arrives at San Jose on November 15th and worked in San Jose to prepare and buy the school and medical donations for our aid action and on the field in order to finalize the last recognitions of the course.
November 19th, La Transtica 2009 begins officially with the press conference in Gran Hotel Costa Rica, in the presence of the Ambassador of France.
It is an occasion to reinforce the solidarity towards the Costa Rica by the means of the association “Passions sans Frontiéres”, represented by Georges Cauchois and Michel Ménage, who carries out the first donation of La Transtica 2009, while offering to the Foundation for the Development of the National Hospital of los Niños of San Jose, 23 hearing aids for deaf children.
The exchange of flags and equipment between the French and the Costa Rican Firemen was a prelude to a fraternal and efficient collaboration, with this year, 16 Costa Rican reinforcing the organization.
The drawing lots of the numbers took place during the meal offered by the Ambassador of France in his residence, a mean of exchange between the French runners whom felt at home and the foreign runners, by introducing them the French hospitality through its fine gastronomy and its wines.
The following day, November 20th, on the beach of Manuel Antonio, at the beginning of the prologue, 31 runners were aligned representing 5 different nations, Australia, Canada, Costa Rica, France and Italy.
The heterogeneous profiles of the participants promised a great human adventure. If for some, this prologue is a start up, for others, it is a manner of imposing themselves as a leader of the race.
November 20th, 2009, Prologue: Beach of Manuel Antonio, 6 km
15:30 the departure is given on the Beach of Manuel Antonio, for 3 loops of 2 km.
On 31 runners, 16 are engaged on the Adventure course.
Upon the departure, Rémy Jegard (FRA), number 19, Adventure course, gives the tone and the rhythm finishing in 23' 44 before Michael Snell (AUS), number 1, in 26' 13, Extreme course, and Roberto Giordano (ITA), number 6 in 26' 20.
Karol Barbosa (CR), number 24, Extreme course, Yannick Navarro, number 13, Extreme course and Sylvie Raoul, number 18, Adventure course, pointing respectively in the first 3 places of the women classification.
After a swim in the waves of the Pacific Ocean, each one attended the race briefing announcing the next stage before going to lie down in a superb hotel being next to the national park of Manuel Antonio where the runners were able to see and photograph monkeys, sloths and reptiles.
November 21st, 2009, Stage 1: Playa del Rey - London - Rancho Tinamu.
9:30 the departure is given for the Extreme, on the Beach of Playa del Rey, for 40,6 km with difference of level of + 1.200m/- 400 m.
The weather is hot, very hot, 30 to 35 °, 85% humidity, and the first 17 kilometres in the palm plantations which carry out the competitors to Londres, hurts a lot, Laurent Amiot prefers to give up, Jean Luc Gillet suffering of hyperthermia stops for long minutes
In Londres, the runners of the Adventure attend a donation of medical devices to the dispensary of Londres before springing on the common portion with the Extreme, for 23.1 km, with difference of level of + 995m/- 305 m to reach Rancho Tinamu.
Rémy Jegard arrived first on PC3 marking the beginning of individual the track of 1,5 km in full jungle, closely followed by Roini Villegas (CR), number 4, and Roberto Giordano. The rest of the runners following few minutes after.
The race tipped over at this time …
Following an error of beaconing a few hundred meters before the PC4, the runners are badly directed and are inserted in full jungle far from the route envisaged. As soon as the direction of race received the information, it has been decided to neutralize the last runners at the PC3 and the organization started to research competitors by going up and down the path between PC3 and PC4. Roini and Roberto will find a passage through the jungle and will manage to find the initial route to join Tinamu.
The others will use their emergency whistles and will be finally found not far from the PC4, before being repatriated by the vehicles of the organization or taken back on the good route. At the end of the afternoon torrential rains start to fall, the tracks become increasingly impracticable when the pick up containing the luggage of the competitors breaks down. Another incident to face and a noria with the remaining vehicles is organized, in order to be able as fast as possible to bring back the runners luggage to the bivouac. Some route exits will play with our nerves but before 10 p.m., all the competitors retrieved their luggage, had dinner and went to sleep in a dry place.
The times appointed for this stage are those pointed at the passage on PC3, on the Extreme course, on the stage classification as on the scratch, Roini Villegas finishes 1st before Yannick Navarro, and Christian Coudert (FRA), whereas on the Adventure classification, Rémy Jegard finishes 1st , before Roberto Giordano and Daniel Garita (CR), number 16.
November 22nd, 2009, Stage 2: Rancho Tinamu - Las Rejas, link stage
The following day, a beautiful sun bathes Rancho Tinamu. At the breakfast briefing, the organization confirms that the stage of the day will be, for safety reasons, neutralized and transformed into connection stage for everybody.
In the following minutes, the 31 runners leave for a connection 20.6 km, with difference of level of + 1730m/- 630m, with including 19 km of individual track in the jungle, a succession of rivers and water falls.
Local pick up (another adventure) will transfer the competitors for the 20 km separating Las Rejas de Santa Maria de Dota.
The heat of the lodging of Rancho Guayabal, where we will be able to sleep with dryness once again and the beauty of the landscapes of the link stage will make everybody retrieve the smile.
Before the race briefing of the evening, after Laurent Amiot, 4 other runners decide to rock on the course Adventure. One starts to take the measurement of the difficulty of the Extreme course, which is a true challenge.
November 23rd, 2009, Stage 3: School of Esperanza - Tapanti - El Humo.
After a donation carried out at the profit of the school of Esperanza, all the runners spring in the national park of Tapanti, for 24.1 km, difference of level +585m. /-1830m., for the 21 Adventure runners and for the 10 remaining runners on the Extreme course, a Marathon distance of 42.1 km, difference of level of +985m. /- 2830m.
3 km of rise up to 2840 meters, culminating point of the race, before the entry of a single track of 3 km which goes down in the middle of the Tapanti, a course muddy and slipping with steep slopes which often require a de-escalation, everyone tries to cling to the branches in order to avoid the falls which are inevitable in this tangle of roots in a primary forest, followed with passage of rivers and finally the path cut by the machete of our local guide in order to create a deviation to avoid a swarm of nervous bees. Then the runners join a track in the middle of the plantations of coffee-trees which will bring them until the PC3, end of the Adventure stage.
Rémy Jegard carries it with a good advance in 2:19, before Josué Sandoval (CR) number (20) in 2:41 and Ronald Arce Coto (CR), number 23 in 2:46. In the general classification, Rémy Jegard remains 1st before a group of 4 Costa Rican firemen.
Runners of the extreme, have still 2 passes and 18 kilometres to cover to join El Humo under the rain and on a track smashed in the middle of a wet tropical forest. A paradisiacal stage for them. Roini Villegas arrives first, in 4:33, one minute before Jacques Rey (FR), number (2) followed by Steven Miller (CAN), number 5, in 4:51, 1 minute before Yannick Navarro, Karol finishing courageously in last position in 5:53 accompanied by a member of the security team on the last 18 kilometres.
A cordial and convivial reception organized by the habitants of El Humo during the dinner will be the prelude to a short night, (wake up 3:00 a.m.), since the departure of the stage of the following day will be given at 4:00 a.m.
November 24th, 2009, Stage 4: El Humo - El Silencio - San Pablo
4:00, the group of runners will walk together to cover the 2 kilometres which separate them from the village of Pejivalle, surrounded by the flashing lights of the firemen but at 4:36, when the departure is given, the competitors are inserted in the fresh night, with the gleam of their frontal. 23km to join the village of El Silencio, a first effort on Cerro Atirro, then up and down in the middle of fincas of coffee-trees and of sugar cane before a heavy climb on the 4 last kilometres to reach PC3 (arrival Adventure course) in front of the School of El Silencio. From there, Extremes will have to cover an extra 19,1 kilometres which separate them from San Pablo. The landscapes are different and that looks like the Alps with cows and mountain lakes, in the area of the well named “La Suiza”.
Rémy Jegard consolidates its place of leader on the general classification; Roberto Giordano catches up with a part of its delay and behind him the fight is tight to integrate the top 10.
On the Extreme Scratch , Steven Miller makes the good operation of the day finishing 1 minute behind Yannick Navarro, still 3rd in the general ranking behind Jacques Rey and Roini Villegas.
One afternoon of rest in the school where we stopped, is a prelude to another donation, with testimonies of friendship and a spectacle organized in our honour by the children of the school after the evening meal.
The moments spent with the community of San Pablo, whose reception was particularly cordial, will remain in everyone memories.
November 25th, 2009, Rafting, Río Pacuare
9:30 we are leaving for one day of transfer in rafting on Rio Pacuare: sensations guaranteed on this marvellous classified category III-IV, moderate-difficult river. Declared like one of the best sites in Latin America for its white water, this salvage river is one of the last experiments of wild sport in the Tropics.
Rio Pacuare is a fast river with brutal changes, known as one of the most vigorous excursions of rafting in Costa Rica.
Our competitors take places in rafts and start the 20 kilometres of descent on the Pacuare.
Rio Pacuare did not fail to its reputation and the passages of rapids going up to level 4+, were tumultuous and agitated.
The picnic break and the donation to the indigenous communities will offer a calmer interlude, before going back to face the rapids for the last part of the course in which a raft will be turned over causing some frights to its occupants.
But, on arrival, all have “the banana”, better testimony of the exceptional and intense moments which they have just shared.
At night we will arrive under the rain on the Caribbean coast and will bivouac in Cacao Trail but the typical Caribbean meal causing a wave of “Turista” which will awake the majority in the middle of the night.
November 26th, 2009, Stage 5: Cacao Trail - Manzanillo
7:00 the departure for the last stage of Transtica 2009 is given on a small path behind the restaurant of Cacao Trail.
1,7 kilometres of path made muddy by the rains of the night, brings the competitors on the beach, to the Estuary of Rio Carbone.
The water level is high, further to the combined effects of the rains of the night and the tide, and it is necessary to swim to cross.
Alain stops the competitors because the installation of a safety rope was not yet finished. Certain competitors do not listen and take the risk to cross.
A first one is carried by the current, then another one is victim of cramp. In spite of a beginning of panic, the joint intervention of the organization, of the firemen and certain competitors helped all the runners to join safely the other side. A new departure can be given at 7:45.
It remains approximately 20 kilometres of beaches, roads and coastal paths before arriving at Manzanillo.
The sand is soft, the road is smashed and it is a final of suffering for some runners in a paradisiacal landscape but thanks to God under a veiled sky. By chance the sun will rise for the picnic on the beach in the presence of the Ambassador of France which had promised to visit us on the final stage.
Rémy Jegard finishes first in 1:32 and confirms its first place in the general classification, followed by Giordano Roberto in 1:38 and Roberto will finish 3rd in the scratch at less than 4 mn of the second Josué Sandoval.
Cécile Durand finishes first woman followed by Sylvie Raoul, Chantal Rousseau and Chantal Coudert finishing 3rd equal.
The Extremes have an additional loop of 4 kms approximately in the amazing beauty of surrounding coastal paths and through a national park where the red frogs find refuge.
Roini Villegas finishes first in 1:57, followed-up by Steven Miller in 2:04 and Michael Snell in 2:07.
Roini Villegas (CR) finishes 1st in the general classification before Jacques Rey (FR), and Steven Miller (CAN) and the first woman Yannick Navarro finishes 4th.
Yannick Navarro (FR) lead the scratch before Karol Barbosa (CR) and Brenda Williams (CAN).
November 27th, 2009, return on San Jose, closing ceremony:
We are back in Gran Hotel Costa Rica in San José for the closing dinner and the awards ceremony. It is the moment to reward the first of each category and to give to the 31 runners their Finisher 2009 Tee-shirt largely deserved.
But, it is also the occasion to give other rewards:
The award of courage to Jean Jacques Père, who surpassed himself to finish this Transtica.
The award of the smile to Brenda Williams (CAN) who illuminated the race of her smiles in all circumstances.
The award of the most radiant couple to Cécile Durand and Michel Bernard whose good mood and smiles comforted all of us.
In this occasion were also thanked the representatives of the donors who allowed us to exceed our solidarity objectives on this Transtica 2009, Nicolas Antonelli for the company Technip, Georges Cauchois and Michel Ménage for “Passions sans Frontiéres” and the solidarity commission of Total, Cécile Durand representing Edialis, Gerard Verdenet representing the associations CTE Amathay Longeville and the “Club de l’Amitié”, Micheline Jouslin representing the association “Run et Sens”.
The firemen of Costa Rica, largely represented on the race and on the podium but also on the course as an efficient partner were largely applauded by the whole of the assistance.
Exchanges of shirt and material between Europeans and Costa Ricans testified of the strong bonds which were established on this Transtica 2009.
The evening finishes in front of good “Cerveza”, each one enjoying the last night of La Transtica.
The 2nd edition of La Transtica did not failed to its reputation, it was a real adventure intense and rich of emotions for the runners as well as for the organisation.
The traversed landscapes, the contacts with the communities, the exchanges between all, the people met will remain for ever in our minds and our hearts.
We will come back home, reinforced by an intense and unique sporting and human experiment, in the heart of a magic country.
Our objective “the discovery of a country and its lifestyle through a sporting event with humanitarian goals” was largely achieved, at the price of some imperfections that we will be able to correct for the edition 2010.
A great thanks to all the members of the organization, to the “bomberos”, who gave without counting, as well as the 31 runners whom made live this Transtica 2009.