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Spending time with the family at the Coastal Challenge

Photo credit: Jess Adsett

Spending time with the family at the Coastal Challenge


Last updated: 22-Mar-19

By Susie Chan

Love spending your time with the family? You might even run with them from time to time. How about spending six days in the humid jungle, scaling scorching ascents on fire roads and wading through miles of river with one of your parents? This year, at one of the most difficult multistage races in the world – The Costa Rica Coastal Challenge – I met a father and daughter who did just that.

The Costa Rica Coastal Challenge takes place along the hot western coastline, dipping in and out of the thick jungle and taking in the sweeping beauty of beaches and mountains along the way. Covering over 150 miles and 34,000ft of ascent in six days, it draws a strong elite field.

Amongst the runners toeing the start line this year were Bill Adsett, a 54-year-old engineer from Malvern, and 24-year-old daughter Jess Adsett, a job destination manager for an expedition company. The drop out rate at this race is quite high as it’s an extremely challenging environment to run and live in day-on-day, but after each stage Bill and Jess crossed the finish line with smiles on their faces.

I had a chat with Jess after their race, as they became two of the few who achieved the coveted finishers medal.


Q. Whose idea was it to take part in the coastal challenge? And how did the other person respond?

A. Dad mentioned that he had seen the race and that he would like to do it in 2016 and I said that would be something I would also be interested in. I had travelled to Costa Rica in 2013 where I took part in a 3-week trek. I knew what a beautiful country it was and thought it would be a great opportunity to revisit and be able to show Dad as well.

The original plan was for Dad to do the expedition category and I would do the adventure (a shorter course at 130-150km), however before we signed up I decided that although it would be a bigger challenge it would be a more special experience if we were to do the expedition together. At that point I'm not entirely sure either of us were fully aware of what we had signed up to!


Q. Have you done anything like this before? Both the race & taking part in a challenge with your dad?

A. I've never done a multi stage race before but Dad did the MdS (Marathon des Sables) in 2014. He's also done a lot of challenges in his time to build up to this.

We have been on a lot of adventures together with the rest of the family (brother and mum) so from an early age me and my brother have both been given a taste of adventure and taught to be resilient. When we were about 8 and 6 our Dad would have us abseiling out of our attic much to Mum’s surprise! We've also had many times where we have been on walks and have nearly been blown off mountains and then had frozen chicken sandwiches.

Dad also regularly organises what we call “Bill’s Excellent Adventures” where he takes a group of friends and family out of their comfort zones - this has included bivvying in the mountains and sleeping in a tunnel for his birthday! These experiences have built a great foundation of adventure and setting us up for challenges such as the Coastal Challenge.

Q. You must get on really well, but it’s a very tough race in harsh conditions, I’ve got to ask... where there any arguments?!

A. Surprisingly we didn't argue once! To be honest, when we were out on the trails there was not too much deep conversation, with us mainly chatting about which tree we would run to next or checking if the other was drinking and eating regularly. We both had pretty tough moments and it was great to be able to do it together and have each other to lean on and motivate each other to keep going. We always made sure that whenever one of us turned round to check on the other, we would have a smile on our face - even if sometimes that looked more like a grimace.


Q. What was your highlight of the race, and what about the toughest time?

A. We loved the varied terrain of the race, and how each corner you turned provided something a bit different. Day 4 in particular was a day that provided us with our biggest highlights and lowlights. The highlight was the twisting trails that took us over the hills with amazing views either side and we felt on top of the world. However, you can never appreciate joy unless you appreciate suffering and this day also had a very steep decent that really took it out of us.

The relief and happiness of finishing was also a pretty good moment - jumping into the ocean, grabbing two beers and sitting at the beach at the end knowing we didn't have to run the following day - pure joy!

Q. What’s next for you and your dad? Any more challenges lined up?

A. At the moment we are just taking some time to let what we have achieved sink in. We both have little challenges lined up with a few triathlons and a few running races. We are planning future challenges and seeing what other adventures we can have!

All photos credit Jess Adsett

The Costa Rica Costal Challenge takes place along the hot western coastline, dipping in and out of the thick jungle and taking in the sweeping beauty of beaches and mountains along the way. Covering over 150 miles and 34,000ft of ascent in six days, it draws a strong elite field (more details can be found here).

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