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The Coastal Challenge: Why She's Doing It

Posted Jan 15 2009 11:43pm

Maya Kass, Kristen Trujillo and Rachael Kadell

You don't have to be an elite runner to take on The Coastal Challenge. You just have to want it badly.

In a continuing series of profiles of people who have signed up for this amazing, six-day stage race (about 135 miles) through the jungles of Costa Rica, we asked Orange County, Calif. resident Kristen Trujillo why the heck she is doing the Coastal Challenge in Jan./Feb. 2009 with her two running buddies, Maya and Rachael.

Is she nuts? No. Just fit, and ready for adventure. My kind of person.

(To read a previous post about Rachael, click here ).

Hey Maya, you're next!

By the way, if you sign up for The Coastal Challenge through me, you get a 5-percent discount. Click on the photo on the right side of this blog for details.

Anyway, about Kristen:

She is 37, and grew up in Carlsbad. She has lived in Irvine for seven years and is the single mother of a musically gifted 18-year-old boy, Robert. Kristen has been working as a Cytogenetic Technologist for 11 years.

We don't know what the hell that means, Kristen, but it sure sounds impressive.

"I've been athletic my entire life, with my main interests being running and cycling," Kristen says.

"I ran the very first Carlsbad 5000 when I was 15, and I completed the Rosarito-to-Ensenada 50-mile bike ride when I was 16.

"Although I ran and biked off and on over the years, I became 'serious' about running five years ago when I decided I needed to lose some weight."

Kristen happened to be thumbing through the classes offered by Irvine Community Services, and one of them was "How to Run a Marathon." The class started the next day, and Kristen showed up.

"And that was that!" she says.

Says Kristen: "There is nothing quite like the feeling of crossing the finish line of your first marathon. As a result, I'm still friends with several people from that first training group, and I became hooked on marathons.

"The next year, I joined TNT (Team in Training) as a fundraiser, then again as a mentor. Now I'm a member of two running groups: FROC (Friends Run Orange County) and the SoCal TrailHeadz."

The FROC group has many friends from Kristen's TNT days, and the TrailHeadz help her fulfill her current passion of running and training out on the trails.

Kristen has completed six marathons and one ultra, a 50k, and about 20 half-marathons.

"Honestly, I can't say what my future running goals are, except to complete the Lake Tahoe Triple Marathon at the end of September, and to have an awesome time running in Costa Rica."

So, why did Kristen decide to take on The Coastal Challenge?

"Hahaha...well...I love Costa Rica. I love running. I love pushing myself to the limit and surviving.

"I read about this race in Competitor magazine, and it took about 10 seconds for me to say, 'I want to do that!'

"I e-mailed my two partners in crime, Maya and Rachael, and here we are!

"The race will not be easy, but that's the whole fun of it.

"You could describe me as your 'average adrenaline junky.' I'm not extremely fast, I don't have any 50- or 100-milers behind me, I love to eat and drink beer, and I carry slightly more weight that your sinewy trail runner.

"What I have going for me are guts and determination. The idea of running through the jungle, with high humidity, tons of bugs, camping out every night, represents the ultimate adventure.

"I'm not going there to win; I'm going there to experience something that can't be experienced anywhere else, and maybe to learn something new about myself, and to come away with a heightened sense of what I am capable of.

"Although I've been through many tough things in my life, running has given me more a sense of self than any other thing. The stress release that it offers, as well as the confidence I have built from my accomplishments, has made me a better mom, daughter, friend, employee --- pretty much a better everything.

"Running has been so good to me that I simply want to keep pushing myself to see how much better I can get."

Rock on, girl! We know you're tear it up -- and have the time of your life!
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