Love A Tree, Love Tanay!

It’s been two days since the Tanay Love A Tree Half-Marathon Trail Run and my thighs are still sore but i’m still riding high after such a great running event! Although i had been swearing on those torturous hills and the long time it took us to wade on that river crossing, i can’t help but be satisfied and thankful that i survived that ordeal.

This run ranks as one of the most arduous half marathons i have ever done, up there with the Nathan Ridge 21k Run.

We were the first ones to arrive at the race venue, the Sierra Madre Resorts Hotel and since we arrived early, June and i decided to doze off a little as we pulled down the seats of the car. After about half an hour, i could here Betty’s voice talking and laughing who arrived with the rest of my group and were parked just behind us so i knew it was time to get ready.

We got our race packets from the ebullient Arleen Lindo of Chris Sports (thanks, Arleen!) then headed at the back of the Resort where the race would start.

Milling around Arleen Lindo (in green shirt) of Chris Sports before the start

The simple start and finish line area at the foot of the Sierra Madre Resort

My group before the start

A Zip-line platform above the starting line area

The race started in an open field, near the base of a zip line platform and quickly descended on a sunken trail which had all of us rolling down like stray balls. That was like a 200 meter descent which had our knees hurting. But what caught us unprepared was the sudden climb uphill which saw most of us walking up those ridiculously steep hills that included stairways! We had to cling to the railings to propel us up! Sheesh! This early, the organizers had to beat us up real bad before we could even start to get our bearings!:-)

The start of the run

Start of the 200 meter downhill (Tonette is at front right). Photo by Jose Ramizares

After that initial roller-coaster of a run, we finally ascended into the Highway and got my rhythm back but my shoes, an old All-Terrain New Balance was giving me problems on my plantar so i had to scale back. I altered my foot strike a bit and felt the pain subside thus, worked my way through the throng of runners. I pulled over to Leo who was taking a drink  and we paced each other for about a kilometer. About 4 kms into the run, Betty and Tonette would sprint up to join me and we were together for most of the first half.

At about the 6.5km mark, we made a right turn unto new territory and headed into the inner sanctum of villages which we haven’t seen before. The running here was exciting as we were now venturing into rough and dirt roads with intermittent stretches of hills and acacia trees to shade our run. There were plenty of water stations during these stretches and we were even served bananas wrapped in plastic.

The National Highway, the start of a horrendous route

Leo takes a pose before the hills of the Sierra Madre mountains

Tonette and Betty getting a break

We had barely reached the 8th km mark when these leading Kenyans were already on their way back

Our very own Chris Sabal struggling in 4th behind the Kenyans

The rough roads deep inside the Sierra Madres

Tonette doing her own thing

Another stop for a picture pose!

We ran through different villages until we reached the turn-around point located in front of a small elementary school. As we went back, we were wondering where the river crossing would be and just as we were beginning to increase back our pace, an arrow sign that pointed left suddenly appeared and we knew that we were now headed into the waters.

The river, though knee deep at most was about one of the most difficult and time consuming part of the course as it was…part of the course! You had to walk on the middle of the river itself, parallel to it and not just to cross it. During  my first attempt at crossing, i slipped down a rock and in the process, felt my left calf muscle cramp, it was excruciating that i had to go back just to stretch the muscle. The banks of the river had slippery rocks and ankle-deep mud so this was not a good place to walk on. I had probably spent a good 20 to 25 minutes before finally getting off that river!

First part of the river crossing. Here it was ankle to knee deep

Leo removes his shoes before crossing the river while Tonette hands-over her bamboo pole

A runner lends a helping hand to 65-year old Leo

To wade or not to wade, that is Betty and Tonette's dilemma while a boy marshal leisurely walks at the river's bank

There was no choice, actually. All runners got their feet wet!

This shows the level of difficulty in wading through the river. You have to literally crawl to get to its banks. (Photo by Jose Ramizares)

June takes it easy

The faster runners on their way back from the river crossing

The only single track trail after the river crossing

The last 6 kms of the route saw as back the main highway and that was mostly uphill all the way. I had to walk the steepest ones to conserve energy and run again when i was in level terrain. Finally, as i reached back the Sierra Madre Resort under the watchful eye of soldiers manning the entrance, i wondered if i would have to negotiate that roller-coaster uphill-downhill back to the finish again. Turns out that that part was scrapped as we turned left instead unto the bottom of the short hill and turned right straight to the finish.

Over-all it was a great race, very well-organized, lots of hydration stations and the route took you to some breathtaking scenery. It’s not strictly a trail race per-se as the route took us more on dirt and rough village roads and mostly on the national Highway but still, I would thoroughly recommend this race for its very challenging course!

Success with our half-marathon mountain trail run

One more time. L-R: Chito, Leo, me, Tonette, Betty, Sylvia and June

Bowls half empty. These runner-friends might be eating something good inside at Mang Vic's!

Reward to ourselves. Piping hot Bulalo and Liempo at Mang Vic's!

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8 responses to “Love A Tree, Love Tanay!

  1. The starting route of the race reminds me of Mayon Trail Run last year (where I DNFed). Steep descend, then biglang steep ascend ;) Congrats for finishing ;)

  2. Hi Kuya Rene,

    Very nice blog about Love A Tree Run. :) Very nice photos too. ;)
    Tama ka, it was a very challenging course indeed. :
    Btw, can I borrow some of your photos here?
    Thnx. :)

  3. I was deliberating on whether to join this but now I’m sad I didn’t go. Did you get any feedback from other runners about the shuttle service? Did they commit to holding this event again next year? It seemed to me from the pics there weren’t a lot of trail shoes being used I could be wrong.

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