Injury-hit Liverpool look to avoid FA Cup upset

first_img Liverpool are in the middle of a gruelling schedule – it will be the team’s sixth game in 19 days – that is taking its toll on the squad. Manager Jurgen Klopp is without a senior centre back for the match, as Mamadou Sakho, Dejan Lovren, Martin Skrtel and Kolo Toure are all hurt, while attackers Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho are also injured. The match comes three days after a League Cup semi-final match at Stoke, and five days before a Premier League game against first-place Arsenal. Klopp could even make 11 changes to the team. “It will be a team that hasn’t played too often together,” Klopp said. “If this is a chance for Exeter, then they have to take it.” This will all be music to the ears of Exeter’s players, whose team is 16th in the 24-team League Two – a gap of 76 places to Liverpool in the English ladder. The last time Exeter reached this stage was in 2005, when they took Manchester United to a replay after a goalless draw at Old Trafford. MANCHESTER, England (AP): It’s a match that has all the ingredients of a classic FA Cup upset. An injury-hit, inconsistent and potentially jaded Premier League heavyweight making a 500-mile round trip to a team in the lower reaches of the fourth tier with a small ground, poor field, and a recent history of shocking a top side. Exeter’s home game against Liverpool today is the pick of the games in the third round of the FA Cup, when the giants of the Premier League join the teams from the lower leagues and non-league in the world’s oldest club knockout competition. As always, the search is on for a huge shock on one of the most exciting weekends in the English calendar and it could come at the 8,500-capacity St James’ Park, which – located in the south-west corner of England – is one of the most remote grounds in the country. THREE-PEAT Arsenal are bidding to become the first team since Blackburn in 1884-86 to win the FA Cup in three straight years, and to extend its record-setting haul of FA Cup titles to 13. With his team having its best chance in years to win the Premier League, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger must decide whether to rotate his squad. Wenger said Thursday that Alexis Sanchez is not yet ready to return from a hamstring injury, but midfielder Mikel Arteta is available. GRUELLING SCHEDULElast_img read more

Costa Ricas Moon Run highlights Monteverdes hidden side

first_imgRelated posts:4,500 runners prepare for Tamarindo Beach Marathon Monteverde’s community radio station aims to inform and entertain town’s diverse population Dealing with climate change in Costa Rica’s treasured Monteverde cloud forest To pave or not to pave? Monteverde’s ongoing roadway saga MONTEVERDE, Puntarenas — As they race this daunting, 62-kilometer ultramarathon, there’s a small stretch where the runners are required to do the most counterintuitive thing imaginable: walk.Participants in Saturday’s Moon Run in Monteverde had to stroll along the 150-meter-long hanging bridge that drapes over the brilliant canopy of one of the world’s rare cloud forests like a string made of metal, so as not to shake it.“If they’re caught running here they could be disqualified,” said freelance photographer and fourth generation Monteverde native Félix Salazar, who has covered the race annually since its inception here five years ago.Besides a few athletes looking for record times, it’s hard to see why anyone would want to rush across this scenic bridge without first taking in the intense onrush of nature around them. A blue hummingbird chased butterflies through the maze of leaves and branches that swayed underneath. Early morning clouds motored on at the same tranquil pace of the runners on the bridge, and each runner seemed to be smiling and joking as they passed by.“Another tough day at the office,” one runner joked before he advanced from the bridge and descended back into a vegetation so dense that any trace of his figure disappeared in seconds. Within the forest at the privately owned Selvatura Park, runners were greeted with mud-ridden paths that quickly turned swamp-like and large fallen branches that impeded their pace.Quetzals flitted in front of the path as if to cheer the runners on, while echoing cries from wild hogs and monkeys rang through the mist. The route created just for the race was far off the paved steps of the park’s visitor trail and is normally off-limits, as are most of the non-paved trails in Selvatura and other area reserves.“That’s the biggest complaint about Monteverde is that so many of its reserves are restricted from the average traveler,” Salazar said. “The runners get to see a whole different side of this place.”From Selvatura’s cloud forest reserve, runners then proceeded west towards the remote mountain town of La Florida de Tilarán where they were met with a punishing climb that foreshadowed a 10-kilometer circuit of steep hillside track. The Moon Run’s 60-kilometer Ultra trail stretches as far west as La Florida de Tilaran of Puntarenas province. (Courtesy of Unlimited Productions)Atop the copper-colored, rocky hill, a pair of falcons soared at eye-level. Marching legs churned towards the menacing loop of narrow dirt trail carved through these chains of mountains that no one seems to know the names of. Here, during what most runners described as the hardest part of the ultramarathon, Moon Run co-founder and Monteverde native Andrés Vargas snapped pictures and shouted encouraging words at the runners. With a mural of flowering clouds and wavy green hills behind him, the curly-haired 36-year-old said this race was partly designed to offer up an often-hidden side of Monteverde.“They see what 99 percent of tourists aren’t going to see,” Vargas said. “It’s a totally virgin area and they’re passing through the same tracks that tapirs or pumas come through. There is flora and fauna that exist here in Monteverde that aren’t in any other place in the world.” Amanda Zuniga/The Tico TimesVargas should know. Afterall, he was born and raised in these mountains and mapped out the courses for the 62-kilometer ultramarathon, the 42-kilometer marathon and the 22-kilometer adventure race, among other shorter races that took place Saturday. Vargas first hiked from Monteverde to Arenal volcano when he was 12, giving him an intimate knowledge of the terrain.“I was raised between the moss and the mud,” Vargas said. “I had spent some time away from Monteverde for awhile, but still I always felt connected to the mountain.”The initial Moon Run was held in Dominical in 2008 and started in the afternoon so that runners would finish after sunset, hence the event’s name. But in search of better infrastructure — and because of Vargas’ ties to his hometown — the race began to be held in Monteverde two years later. “There the seed was planted,” he said.This year, because of troubles securing permits from public agencies like the Public Works and Transport Ministry to race on public roads after dark, the races were done almost entirely during the day for the first time. Moon Race founder and Monteverde native Andrés Vargas took pictures and provided oversight at this year’s event, though he says he wants to compete next year. Amanda Zuniga/The Tico TimesDespite the bureaucratic hiccup, akin to having to change the Super Bowl from Sunday, Sergio Sánchez, who co-founded the event with Vargas, said it gave the opportunity for participants to fully take in one of Costa Rica’s most beautiful locales.“That’s the whole objective of this — to show off Monteverde as it really is,” Sánchez said. “They’re going through the most internal parts of the forest and there you get a very up-close relationship with this nature that not a lot of people get to ever see.”Sánchez, whose company Unlimited Productions hosts adventure sports across Costa Rica, said Monteverde is such a unique backdrop in a country full of natural riches because of its community.“The community of Monteverde is so unified and there’s a great environment of people here,” he said. “These are a diverse set of people that have a vision and don’t depend on the government to do everything for them because they can do everything on their own.” Ultra trail runner Diania Marisa Qusipe makes her way through the 2015 Moon Run on Saturday, December 12. Amanda Zuniga/The Tico TimesAnd the community of Monteverde is linked to the event as more than just a beautiful backdrop. This year’s edition of the Moon Run partnered with the Tropical Science Center, a non-governmental research center in Monteverde that prioritizes environmental conservation and education, to spread awareness among racers and community members.At Saturday’s event, more than 600 runners registered in five different Moon Run races, including 71 in the Ultra Trail. Vargas said each racer brings two family members or friends, on average, meaning that nearly 2,000 people injected money into the local economy this weekend because of the race.“In the case of assisting Monteverde, that was one of the reasons for bringing the race here,” Vargas said. “So I’m satisfied with that.”Runner Fidel Ramírez Hernández from Cartago, who finished third place in the ultramarathon for the second straight year, said he’ll continue coming back to the trail run in Monteverde because of the sheer diversity it offers runners in just a single route.“It’s a very special place,” he said. “Monteverde is unique and it’s always worth it to run here because of how beautiful it is.” The 2015 Moon Run in Monteverde hosted over 600 participants, including 71 runners that competed in the ultramarathon. Amanda Zuniga/The Tico Times Facebook Commentslast_img read more