coach Steen > Rev3 Costa Rica critics and race report.



Rev3 Costa Rica – The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

The Good:

  • Beautiful, challenging course
  • Beautiful location
  • Great transition layout

The Bad, Ugly, and Otherwise

  • Long swim both days, 1900m for the Olympic, and ~2700 for the Half
  • Poor course description online, along with lack of course profiles, meant many athletes were unprepared for the course
  • Non-professional announcer was overly enthusiastic and mildly annoying
  • No water in T1 as promised
  • Confusing Bike Mount Line
  • Aid stations not stocked as advertised
  • Drafting penalties not enforced (warnings only, and few of those)
  • Run course not marked or monitored, and many took shortcuts
  • Resort security rude, if not hostile, to racers and spectators
  • Finish not accessible to/from transition and start (see above) except by shuttle
  • Too few shuttles and a long wait in the sun
  • Racers and spectators blocked from entering resort/restaurant
  • Results not official for 24+ hours
  • Long wait for awards
  • No overall awards
  • No local flavor to awards – generic plaques
  • No post-race gathering or party



I arrived in Costa Rica a week early to participate in the Training Bible Coaching camp, so I’ll begin there and come to the race in a bit.

I flew in Sunday, and Coco Bay Estates, our host for the camp, had a driver waiting for me at the airport. As a coach and an athlete, I’m not used to someone holding a sign with my name on it, schlepping my bike and bags, and driving me to a resort. It was a nice way to start the trip!

Our house was Villa Santa Luz, owned by quite a nice gentleman from Oklahoma whom we were to meet later in the week. Ana, the housekeeper, greeted me when I arrived and showed me where I would be living for the next week. The house and pool were great, and the view of Papagayo Bay was spectacular.

Athletes and coaches trickled in throughout the night and we had dinner, unpacked, and built bikes. Monday started early with a run through town down to the beach. After a quick breakfast we headed out on the bikes, then came home for lunch and a quick nap before heading to the ocean.

That was to be our routine for most of the week. We had a great time, did some amazing training and worked on the technical aspects of each of the sports. Breakfast and lunch were provided; at night we either cooked in or took the short taxi ride into town. We had athletes from Venezuela, Canada, and the USA and we had a fine time getting to know each other and the bonds quickly grew through shared suffering and learning.

Thursday was a bit of an easy day as we knocked off early, napped, and many of us got massages. Friday was another short day, and then we loaded up the bus for a transfer to Playa Conchal for packet pickup. That went smoothly, and we were shortly on the bikes for a course-preview. We quickly found the course was more challenging than we’d thought, especially the first and last climbs (15%). However, compared to what we’d been riding all week, this was going to be easy (the climb to the villa was 30%).

The swim that afternoon was spectacular; the water felt good after a hot bike ride, the surf and current were small, and the clear water was gorgeous. I’m not trying to make it sound like paradise, but it is one of the prettier beaches in Costa Rica, so… it’s nice!

That night we did a group dinner together of gnocchi and chicken, and then turned in early. The bus transfer Saturday morning was for 3:45! Everyone was sleepy, drinking his or her Ensure and coffee, and gradually waking up. For me, I was bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and ready to go. I saved the Ensure for later and made up a plate of eggs and toast, which the triathletes assured me I would later regret. It’s been my go-to breakfast through many races, so I wasn’t concerned, and I truly enjoyed the real food!

Transition closed early to accommodate the kid’s races. We sat around a bit, and then I headed down to the beach for an easy run and swim to warm up. I went in the first wave, and lined up wide left, on the front row. The first buoy was diagonally out to the left; so many of us ran down the beach a bit before entering the water; much to the surprise of the spectators who had formed a corridor from the start to the water.

I went in on the feet of the eventual winner, fellow Training Bible Coach Adam Zucco, but quickly fell back as I looked for feet more my speed. It was an uneventful swim, although I did struggle to find feet until the second lap. They were more than welcome; I’d found a nice rhythm as we rounded the final buoy, but lost it on the beach run and it took me a few minutes to find again on the second lap. ‘My’ feet were easy to keep track of, the guy was courteously wearing red compression socks that were easy to track.

As I rounded the final buoy for the homeward leg on the second lap I focused on my form and sped up a bit; it felt good to feel good and know the bike, my strength, was fast (okay somewhat fast) approaching.

I took an extra minute in T1; I knew the first climb was unrelenting, and figured the extra moment to catch my breath and grab a drink would pay dividends. The mount-line was difficult to ascertain with all the crap stretched across the road; I actually started to mount in the wrong place but quickly realized my mistake and avoided a penalty. Maybe next year the mount-line won’t be the 4th line you come to!

The short gravel section was unremarkable and then the hill started. The steepest parts were 15%, and there was really no way to take it easy. All told we climbed 260’ in the first mile.

Once out of the resort the road became much flatter, and we did 3 laps of the out-and-back before returning to T2. Each lap was 5.9 miles with 2 180* and 1 90* turns, and about 220’ of elevation gain. I moved up 53 spots overall, so I did a lot of passing. With the narrow roads open to traffic I was glad for the small field size. I was only held up once, at the 90* intersection, when cars blocked the road and a slower competitor occupied the small shoulder. I took a risk and blew between her and the bus, and learned a few Spanish curse words in the process!

Overall it was a fun course; mostly smooth with just a few potholes and rough spots to look out for. With all the u-turns it was easy to pick out rabbits to chase, and keep time checks to other racers. I caught most of my early rabbits, but dialed it back on the return leg to save a little for the run. I caught my last rabbit just a mile from T2 as we climbed the back side of the big hill, another 15% pitch that really started to hurt as it was at the end of a 1.2 mile, 210’ elevation gain.

I stayed off the brakes as we flew down the twisty descent, drawing gasps from spectators and volunteers as I rocketed around the two roundabouts. I also scared the volunteer waving a caution flag as we approached the gravel section; I went in hot and only hit the brakes at the last minute, entering the gravel at 20mph and blowing past 2 athletes gingerly picking their way through.

T2 was fast, and I actually surprised myself at how quickly and smoothly it went – it felt so fast I paused to make sure I’d not forgotten anything.

The first bit of the run was along a dirt road, and then we hit a witch of a little hill before breaking out onto the beach, and the sand, for several hundred meters. It was a 2-loop run, and included a 100’ ft hill at the entrance of the resort before dropping back down past the finish, through the golf course, to the beach to start the 2nd loop.

I had drained my bottle about ¾ of the way through the bike, so I was happy to help myself to the plastic water pouches at the 4 aid stations along the way, although as hot as it was I avoided Gatorade until the 2nd lap. Those water pouches are like king-sized otter pops, only without the coloring or flavoring; you just bite the end and squeeze. I took 2 at each stop; one to drink and one to go over my head. Temps were at least in the mid-80’s, so it felt good to cool off.

I only gave up 4 positions on the run, which I was happy with. A girl caught me the 2nd time up the big hill, but her ragged breathing was so annoying I attacked to get rid of her. I could also see some racers slowly gaining on me, and as I feared a sprint finish I tried to push a bit harder. When I did round the corner into the finishing chute I was surprised it was over, and gave it everything for the last 200yds.

Overall it was a great day of racing and I was pretty happy. My times were not what I’d predicted, but given the heat, the nature of the course and the extra distance on the swim (1900m instead of 1500m) I was pleased.

Steen has been competing in cycling and multisport events for 15 years and coaching for 5. Steen is a 13-time State Champion and 3-time National medalist in cycling.

Racing at an elite level while coaching (, and being married to a triathlete in grad school with a 60hr/week job. His coaching philosophy is focused on balance and perspective and getting the most out of limited training time by making every workout count. His coaching blends his passion for sport, his extensive experience, the best coaching practices and the most current information and technology to help athletes achieve their goals.




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