I had the chance to travel to Costa Rica a couple of weeks ago to work, report and participate in the inaugural Rev3 Costa Rica Triathlon weekend. The event took place in the Guanacaste province of Costa Rica, on the Northwest coast. The inaugural triathlon festivities included a KidsRev race and SprintRev and OlympicRev races on Saturday. On Sunday the Professional OlympicRev race took place as well as the premier event, the HalfRev.
Revolution3's decision to put on a triathlon event in Costa Rica had been in the works for well over a year, before the announcement was made back in May of 2010 to stage a race there. The mid-winter event in the Tropical, Central American country of Costa Rica in February couldn't have been a better decision. What triathlete wouldn't want to escape the winter misery while relaxing and racing in paradise. "Pura Vida!" (The most commonly used phrase in Costa Rica literally means "Pure life", but the saying goes beyond its simple translation: it's a way of life. Contextually, then, it symbolizes the idea of simply enjoying life and being happy.)
I caught a glimpse of the region flying into Liberia International Airport, rugged, hilly and remote with awesome looking beaches. Upon stepping out of the plane and onto the tarmac I experienced the other thing the country has to offer, HEAT! (New and modern airport terminal was under construction) The event is staged on Playa Conchal, in the Reserva Conchal community/resort which is roughly and hour drive from the airport. I did not stay at the host hotel; instead I was taking care of clients about 10 minutes away at the Flamingo Beach Resort & Spa who traveled to Costa Rica for the event with Endurance Sport Travel.
The race expo and registration was held on Friday, as well as the bike drop off for the SprintRev and OlympicRev races, a nice little feature due to the parking and logistics for athletes on race morning. The HalfRev also features a bike drop off on Saturday. It was great to see many Ticos (slang for native Costa Rican's) in and around the area on Friday and throughout the weekend. There was one bus that came in from the Capitol city of San Jose, about 5 hours away that brought many athletes and bikes.
I had the opportunity to participate in the SprintRev race on Saturday, which pretty much covered the course for all of the races with the exception of a separate out-and-back for the HalRev.
Swim: The cove for Playa Conchal was pristine with a calm surf. The water temperature was perfect, no need for a wetsuit here. You could use one if you wanted/needed to but you would not be eligible for prizes. Some people, including many Pro's used swim skins. The water was pretty clear with many buoys on the course. The SprintRev consisted of one loop, while the OlymicRev was two, which included an exit out of the water for starting the second loop. The HalfRev was two loops as well, but with an additional buoy in the mix. The white sand beach had plenty of room for spectators. As is the case with many other races in US, sometimes the distance on the swim is a bit off which was the case here, but for many this wasn't their A race of the year anyways. It was very cool to have the Rev3 arch to sight for the swim out. It was a short run into transition.
Bike: Two things were on the mind of most athletes for the bike, the hilly 4km out of T1 and back to T2 (suggest a 25 or 27 cassette on the rear) and then the open course to vehicle traffic. Rev3 did a great job, selecting Unlimited Productions to help stage the race and hiring a small contingency of local officials to help control the race day vehicles on the road. While a minor inconvenience to local residents, traffic on the roads was pretty calm with the exceptions of a few things here and there, but with no major incidents.
You didn't get much time to catch your breath after existing T1 because shortly after a small rough patch you started climbing on a challenging 4km route to the exit of the resort and onto the road. (4km hilly challenge video clip) The little stretch reminded me of a bit of what I experienced at Ironman Switzerland. Once you were out of the complex, it was great riding through the Costa Rican countryside on nice smooth roads, mostly flat with some a couple of minor climbs. The SprintRev was one loop while the OlympicRev was two loops. The HalfRev was a three loop course with an added out and back arm added to the existing course. We had some wind on the course, which was a crosswind on the initial stretch before it became a nice tailwind. It wasn't long before it became a headwind and crosswind to deal with again. The bike leg drew many locals out of their house to watch and cheer. Conservation is key when returning to T2 as you still need to deal with the 4km hilly challenge back to transition, you need to climb and then negotiate some steep descents.
Run: It seems that it doesn't take long for the sun to warm things up in paradise. A challenging mix of off-road and road running in the heat greeted athletes. You have a bit of everything on the unique run course which featured a covered trail, running on the beach, an uphill portion of paved road leading out of the tiny village of Brasilito before entering the resort complex for more hills on the way to a downhill finish. The OlympicRev and HalfRev had multiple loops which included a run segment through the golf course, before starting the loop again. For most athletes, running on the beach with the beautiful scenery was great, especially knowing it was cold back home.
Aid Stations: Again, something unique for those that have never done a destination triathlon or any other race in Latin America greeted them at the aid stations. Water was not served in cups it was served in cylindrical plastic bags that you could carry with you and use when you needed to. Gatorade was served in cups and in plastic bags on Sunday during the HalfRev. (See picture above, Kate Major with the plastic water bags or this video clip)
Summary: I've officially joined the Rev3 Triathlon Revolution and can't wait to check out one of their races in North America. The inaugural Rev3 Costa Rica Triathlon event in the middle of winter in paradise was a challenging success for me, many athletes, Revolution3 and Costa Rica! It was a HOT and challenging race and would recommend it to anyone thinking about it or looking for a destination race to do. It's a great way to get out and do some outdoor training if it's not your "A" race. It's situated in a great location, with many things to do before or after the race that will definitely give you a taste of what Costa Rica has to offer.
The pre and post race festivities while relaxing on the beach over shadow any issues anyone might have encountered, including spectators. I truly believe Rev3 learned and few things while putting on this inaugural event and will take care of those things before next year's race. As for safety, never once did we feel unsafe or have an issue.
It was GREAT to see the Tico's out racing, including the little kids that kicked off the event early Saturday morning, most of them with local team tri-suits. It was good to see local native triathlete Leonardo Chacón from Liberia win the Pro OlympicRev race. Many of the local athletes I had a chance to talk to truly enjoyed the event. They are glad Revolution3 came to town and can't wait for next year. Check out some of our post race videos from the race on the TRIJUICE YouTube Channel
Tourism: Athletes can decide to relax on the calm beaches, head down to Tamarindo or Playa Grande for some surfing or check out the many other things the country has to offer, including visiting the Arenal Volcano area and its many activities, like Zipline/Canopy tours and walks through the rain forest.
Thanks to Charlie, Krista, Eric and Jill from Revolution3 for helping me bring you this race review. Thanks also goes out to Ken Glah and Ty at Endurance Sport Travel for getting me there.
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