Monthly Archives - January 2017

Kaci Lickteig – Dreams Do Come True

Dreams do come true!

Kaci Lickteig ran her first ultra in 2012 aged 25-years. A small lady, she does pack a punch. It’s all wonderfully echoed by her nickname ‘Pixie Ninja’ – that sums up Kaci in a nutshell.

Some may say, 3rd time is a charm. It certainly is the case with Western States 100. The rise of this lady has been gradual but logical – 6th in 2014, 2nd in 2015 and yes, you’ve guessed it, top spot in 2016. The ‘WSER‘ is rolling course, which begins in Squaw Valley, California. It climbs more than 5500m and descends nearly 7000m before reaching the finish in Auburn some 100-miles later. It’s the ‘Grail of Trail!’

Lickteig was recently announced 2016 female ultra-runner of the year by voters in Ultrarunning Magazine, a huge honor but one that is deserved. Lickteig is on a roll of victories now, 7 consecutive at my last count. What impresses many, is the diversity of those wins. Western States is far removed from the tough and gnarly conditions that Kaci encountered at Bear 100. In and around these two top results, victory has come at 50k and 50-miles, the last result coming in Iowa at the Hitchcock Ultra which took place at night.

Some days, everything lines up and clicks the 2016 ‘Western’ was exactly one of those days, ‘Western States definitely was the race of my life. Everything came together so perfectly that day. I had a once in a lifetime race day experience. I had only dreamed of winning Western States and wanted someday for that to happen. All the stars aligned and I could win. To be among the winners’ list is surreal…I admire and respect all those women and men who have won. It’s such an honor to have my name listed as a winner of Western States 100.’

Kaci Lickteig

It’s not all been plain sailing though, severe anemia and a calf injury way back in February may well have scuppered what has been an incredible year. It’s easy to drop your head and give in when this happens, especially when one wants something so much! believe me, Lickteig wanted victory at the 2016 Western States!

Accepting the injury, cross training became a way forward not only for the body but the mind. A strategic and planned approach, allowed iron stores to return and without losing too much fitness, Lickteig was on the start line of Lake Sonoma 50 where she placed 2nd.

The countdown was on and Western States loomed. Jason Koop, her coach since 2014, has gone on record in the past saying, ‘I tell her she can step on the starting line and expect to win!’ This is not arrogance or bold statement. It’s a fact. It’s all about work ethic and the ever-changing world of ultra-running. The introduction of faster and faster runners, a world-class runner these days can’t just churn out the miles. It’s all about peaks and troughs; Lickteig follows a plan of immense variety.

‘A typical training week varies throughout the cycle I am in. Farther away from an ‘A’ race, I will do the least specific work for the race and as I get closer to the race it will be race specific work. So, for my 100 miles ‘A’ races I will start off early in the season with shorter intervals for workouts and less volume running. The closer my race comes I will progress to longer tempo runs and more volume on more course-specific
terrain. I am scheduled a day of rest either every week or every other week.’

Let’s not forget vertical too… no good being fast if you can’t climb and descend when it’s required (view Lickteig’s training on Strava here) This variety and dedication is what makes Lickteig’s victories at Western States, Bear 100 and all her other races so impressive.

Money or fame don’t motivate her, or so it seems. Lickteig holds down a full-time job as a physical therapist, surely this goes hand-in-hand with her ultra-running? ‘I am able to distinguish normal muscle soreness versus soreness related to an injury. I can then be proactive at treating any injuries that may occur. Knowing your body well and knowing the physiology of the body are both key elements for me to stay injury free.’

Ultimately, no matter who you speak to, several words are repeated when talking about Lickteig: stubborn, trains hard and she’s tough.

At 5′ 3″ and weighing around 90-pounds, Lickteig personifies the term, ‘Pocket Rocket!’ Watch her run and she seems to float, no levitate over the trails. Diets don’t interest her but rock music does. She laughs and smiles a great deal and let’s face it, the end of 2016 and the arrival of 2017 has brought much to smile about! Lickteig’s 2016 results have been recognized and she has gained the title many covet – ‘ultra-runner of the year!’ But looking ahead to 2017, Western States is, of course, a primary goal but Pixie Ninja has been given a shot via IRUN4ULTRA to run the iconic UTMB in France.

Western States

“UTMB is a dream race for me and so many others. It’s the iconic race known around the world. It’s so big and pristine. To be able to run this race with the depth of worldwide competition is like no other. I am so grateful to have been given this opportunity and I am excited to go on the journey.”

It will be a whole new ball game for the lady from Omaha, Nebraska. It will be a first-time experience racing outside the USA and arguably on the biggest stage, the ultra-world can offer. Is she intimidated? I very much doubt it! Nikki Kimball very much paved the way for US ladies’ in France, I have a feeling that Lickteig may well pick up the baton and push on, after all, Krissy Moehl, Rory Bosio, Stephanie Howe Violett and Magdalena Boulet amongst many others have taken Kimball’s inspiration and moved it on.

It’s good to dream big and aim for the stars, after all, if you fail, you may just land on the moon!

Career Highlights:

Black Hills 100 1st 2013

Rocky Raccoon 100 2nd 2014

Western States 100 6th 2014

Javelina Hundred 100 1st 2014

Western States 2nd 2015


lake Sonoma 50m 2nd 2016

Silver State 50m 1st 2016

Western States 100 1st 2016

Psycho Psummer Run Toto Run 50k 1st 2016

Bohemian Alps 50k 1st 2016

The Bear 100 1st 2016

Goatz Trail Runs 50k 1st 2016

Hitchcock Experience Endurance Runs 50m 1st 2016

Kaci Lickteig Ultrasignup HERE

Credit ©iancorless.com

Img Credit: Paul Nelson, Sweet M Images, Kaci Lickteig

Coastal Challenge

The Coastal Challenge (TCC) 2017 Race Preview

The Coastal Challenge is multi-day race over 6-days starting in the southern coastal town of Quepos, Costa Rica and finishing at the stunning Drake Bay on the Osa Peninsula. Considered by many an ultimate multi-day running experience, it challenges even the most experienced runner.

TCC’ is not a self-sufficient race, but don’t be fooled, MDS and other multi-day veterans confirm the race is considerably harder and more challenging than many other adventures they have participated in. It’s a race that can provide a steep learning curve; intense heat, high humidity, ever-changing terrain and the need to adapt!

Hugging the Talamaca coastline, The Coastal Challenge travels in and out of the stunning mountain range that runs parallel to the sea. Dense forest trails, waterfalls, river crossings, long stretches of golden beaches, an abundance of palm trees and many winding and interconnecting dusty access roads provide a unique challenge.

 “A backdrop of some of the most breathtaking rainforest and coast on the planet, The Coastal Challenge has joined the exclusive club of iconic multi-day ultras.” – Steve Diederich, UK agent for TCC

Reigning ladies’ Champion, Ester Alves will return after incredible memories of the 2016 event, “Everything is special, the heat, the forest, the solitude of the race, the hot pacific sea, the intimacy between organization, camping, athletes, workers and locals from the little villages. The closeness between my new ‘coastal family’ was enormous and in a week of racing and relaxing, I created bonds for life… it’s what makes the race so special.”

At times, technical, the combination of so many challenging elements are only intensified by heat and high humidity that slowly but surely reduces even the strongest competitors.  In 2017, Ester will have a tough race with competition coming from Anna Comet, two times winner of The Everest Trail Race and 2015 Marathon des Sables champion, Elisabet Barnes.

The Coastal Challenge

Elisabet raced the ‘The Coastal Challenge’ in 2016, “It was great to race against Ester in 2016. She is a lovely girl and a genuinely nice person. I am very happy for her that she won the race. I now know more about her strengths relative mine and how I can improve to reduce the gaps that led her to victory.”

The Coastal Challenge

Anna Comet will no doubt push Elisabet and Ester every step of the way on the 2017 journey and of course, at this stage, other female elite racers may decide to enter the race. The TCC has a long history of the top female competition – Anna Frost, Jo Meek, Julia Boettger, and Nikki Kimball to name just a few. “I’ve been twice to Nepal and won, now I really want to go to Costa Rica,” said Anna. “I like to compete against strong competition. I think it’s a chance to grow as an athlete and to become better. And of course, I will be happy to meet Ester and Elisabet in competition and then relax later in the camp chatting.”

Finally, Chile’s Veronica Bravo is returning to the race she loves. She has run the race many times and notably, in 2015, won the race ahead of Nikki Kimball and Maria Rivera. ‘Vero’ knows the terrain, can handle the heat and after missing the 2016 edition, she will be looking for another victory.

The ladies race will, without doubt, be special, however, the men’s line-up is beyond impressive with UK based mountain/ sky runner Tom Owens traveling from the cold, snow and ice of the UK to the heat and humidity of Costa Rica, “The heat and humidity will be massively challenging. I’ve not worked out how to run well in these conditions. It will be my first big block of running in 2017 and so interesting to see how the body holds up. I also find running in the sand really tough…”

The Coastal Challenge

We all know Tom can handle the rough and technical stuff – the river and bouldering sections will be terrain that he loves. But Costa Rica will have sand too, albeit not soft sand. It may well be a whole new learning curve. Costa Rica may well prove to be much more of a test with Sondre Amdahl participating alongside Hardrock 100 winner, Jason Schlarb. This duo are good friends and raced each other at the 2016 Marathon des Sables.

“One of the aspects of stage racing I appreciate the most, is being able to spend quality time with other athletes over multiple days,” said Jason. “There are great opportunities to make lifelong friends at stage races. I look forward to reuniting with my Norwegian Altra teammate Sondre Amdahl at TCC.  Sondre placed 8th and I was 12th at MDS. I wouldn’t mind setting things right and beating Sondre at the Costal Challenge in February :)”


I caught up with Sondre from his home in Norway,” The tropical climate is a real attraction and it will be a great escape from the cold winter in here. I can’t wait to run on the beach and explore the rainforest”

Renowned for specific training, Sondre often immerses himself in preparation for a key race. As he has said, Norway is not going to be the ideal training ground for a high humidity race with hot temperature. It begs the question; how will he train for this challenge?

“TCC will be my main target for the winter/spring of 2017. I have had a couple of easy months after a DNS at the Tor des Géants (due to injury). I have had a good block of training in November, December, I raced at Ultra-Trail Tai Mo Shan in Hong Kong (115km) on New Year’s Eve which I won and then in January I will go to Gran Canaria to prepare for TCC.”

Jose Manuel ‘Chema’ Martinez placed 4th in the 2016 edition of TCC, he also placed 5th at the 2016 Marathon des Sables. Chema is a 2:08 marathon runner and has an impressive history as a 5000 (13:11:13) and 10.000m (28:09) runner. He represented Spain at the Olympics on two occasions. Chema is coming back to Costa Rica for victory… watch out!

And finally, a last-minute entry by Vicente Juan Garcia Beneito will, without doubt, make all the other runners turn their heads and wonder what this Spaniard will bring to the race? Vicente placed 2nd in the 10th edition of TCC behind Michael Wardian, who at the time set a course record. Vicente is a multi-day specialist and has gone on to win Grand to Grand in the USA, Everest Trail Race in Nepal amongst many other top results. He is the only runner, in history, to have won all of the 4Deserts (Atacama, Sahara, Gobi, and Antarctica) in one year.

“Reaching the 13th edition is humbling and gratifying. It is a privilege and not to one to be taken lightly. We are happy and grateful to have made it this far.” – Rodrigo Carazo, race director, and co-founder.

One thing is for sure, The Coastal Challenge has experienced some epic battles over the past years, now in its 13th edition, with this line-up, 2017 is once again going to be another epic year! It’s important to note that a wealth of talent will join the race from Costa Rica, with Erick Aguero and Ashur Yousseffi who will run his 3rd TCC. In addition, runners will travel from all over the world to take part in what will be a classic edition of The Coastal Challenge, Costa Rica.

“This is no easy course. It’s a really tough event. I have loved every moment in Costa Rica. It’s a stunning race and the last day around Drake Bay is just so special.” – Iain Don Wauchope, 2x winner, and course record holder.

Catch up on the best “Hints ’n’ Tips” for The Coastal Challenge HERE

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