Jungle gem

Jungle gem

Chattanooga's Greenhill is runner-up in Coastal Challenge in Costa Rica

March 5th, 2009 by Kathy Gilbert in Sports - Outdoors

For six days, 31-year-old Chattanoogan Jaclyn Greenhill battled local favorite Ligia Madrigal to Costa Rica's Coastal Challenge finish line.

Seven miles from the end, Greenhill's ankle gave way.

"I was running through a mangrove forest and I felt great," she recalled recently. "Then I just lost focus and sprained my ankle on a rock. It was actually the least technical day of all six, and I sprained it."

Greenhill still finished second among the women in 35 hours, 31 minutes - 32 minutes behind Madrigal - and ninth among the 70-plus runners overall. There were 29 other women from the United States, Canada, Mexico and Costa Rica.

Not winning stung, she said. But ultimately she decided it was a good experience.

"It was a life-changing experience," Greenhill said. "I loved every minute of it. It was incredible and really beautiful."

More local runners are looking at multiday races in rugged but lovely locales, said Kris Whorton, 42, a co-founder of Chattanooga's Wilderness Trail Running Association.

Kris and her husband, Randy, raced for seven days in Switzerland in 2006 and ran a multiday event in the Czech Republic the next year. The couple also created the three-day, 60-mile Chattanooga Mountains Stage Race to encourage area runners to hit the dirt.

"It's a fantastic way to travel, see the countryside and enjoy running," Kris Whorton said. "I hope it's a trend of the future, because it's really fun."