The Trails of Epic Park–Tanay, Rizal: In The Eyes of Iris Torculas

My guest blogger is Iris Charine Torculas, an excellent trail runner as she recalls our recent test run at the Epic Park Rainforest Camp in Sampaloc, Tanay in preparation for the PIMCO Epic Park Trail Race on October 13, 2013.

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Excited to go back to my playground! In case you’re wondering where that is, it’s in the mountains of Tanay. I prepared my things and made sure that I slept early. I woke up at 3:30am and was hoping to have the energy to run the trails even if i didn’t have anything for breakfast!

So Erwin, Jackie and i set off for the Epic Park, Rainforest Camp located in Sampaloc, Tanay, Rizal. Reaching the main road near the Sierra Madre Mountains, we were met with thick fog making us feel like we were in the Silent Hill movie. But then later we were greeted by the beautiful sunrise with mountains surrounded with sea of clouds. We were mesmerized by the views so even if we were already running late, Jackie asked to stop our car to go down and take pictures.

The views along the way

When we reached Sampaloc St., we didn’t know exactly where Epic Park was so we waited for Rene (Jazzrunner) and June who were just a few minutes behind us so they could lead us to where the exact location was. They arrived in a few minutes and we convoyed together going to the rainforest.

We now saw the entrance to Epic Park, proceeded past the security gate as we entered a large property with lots of pine trees. There, we were met by Sir Manny, Pimco’s President and race organizer with Alvin Balderama, his Race Director. I can smell the greens surrounding me and out of so much excitement, I told Alvin that we should run 21km that day. But my excitement turned into sadness after Kuya Manny told me that we shall be running only about 14kms that day and the full route was to be ran on September 1, the race day itself. Well, its saving the best for race day!

Chatting with the group

Our group pic inside the entrance

We were with about 20 other trail runners and we were off for the test run inside the rainforest camp. We made a turn at the courtyard, going to the beautiful mossy forest, the Elma trail. Actually this was a really funny experience. The trail was moderately hard and technical, it seemed like we were running a total of 4km already but was actually only 2km and we were separated into 3 groups going out from 3 different parts because there were lots of forks inside the forest.

Inside the forest

Rough and tumble

Slippery Trail

I noticed that there were no trail marks on the route so i suggested that they should put these marks on each fork so that no runner will get lost. The trail was full of slippery downward slopes and kind of steep uphills. We told Alvin that they should put a rope for runners to be able to hold on to because it will be hard to cling to branches as they have spiky thorns that can scratch and prick your hand. Moreover, there were lots of fire ants on branches and trunks so wearing gloves here is a must! Also, there will be times that you will have to push yourself up using your hands from the ground.

A forest marshal guides the runners

We eventually meet up again after getting lost inside the forest

We’re moving on. That’s me, getting to re-start the run!

One of several small bridges leading to the trails

That’s Jazzrunner and i got his back!

The one scary part here and the one thing that will test the strength of your legs is the narrow, slippery, single track slanting to the right facing a deep cliff. Scary because one wrong move and down you go to the ravine with sharp rocks covering a dry river bed… and did I mention before you reach the ground you’ll hit a lot of trees? So be careful, better not look down!

Past the rain forest

With Jackie and Alvin

During one of our stop-overs

On a stream with Jackie

My new styled shorts! Part half, part 3/4! Near Calinawan Cave!

The roads were muddy..i hope it won’t be on race day!

There will be some river crossings, though not like the other races of Pimco where you will really need to cross long kilometres of river. In this route, there will be just patches of river crossings to give you a chance to clean your muddy shoes only to get it muddied again. There will be a lot of deep mud trails so choose wisely where you will pass. Make sure you be careful as there are a lot of slippery and sharp rocks on the trails.

I love these trails

With the Jazzrunner and Jackie

Can’t wait for lunch..gutom nako!!!

Nasan ang patis?

With all the wonderful trails that we did this day, i was a bit shocked when Kuya Manny asked that (or should I say, requested, para gumaan lang loob ko) that I cannot run on the event day itself because he wants me to host the event, from start to end as i did with past Pimco races only after i have done my 10k races!  Awww… but I’m still glad that I was able to do the test run and did 16km. Not only that, I am glad because at least I will be able to support and greet ALL the finishers at the finish line. See you all on September 1 for the Epic Park Rainforest Camp Trail Run!

For more information about the race, you can check Jazzrunner’s blog here:http://jazzrunner.wordpress.com/tag/epic-rainforest-park/ or visit Pimco Sports webpage at:  www.pimcosportingevents.net or Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/PimcoSportsEvents

Test Run: Epic Park Rainforest Trails In Tanay

I woke up amidst drizzles of rain yesterday morning to get ready and test the new trail route Pimco was organizing for its October 13 race in Tanay. It’s a new trail venue called the Epic Park Rainforest Camp located in Sampaloc, Tanay and seeing the vast 200 hectare property with its vast secluded rainforest, wildlife and greenery for the first time took me by surprise!

Regular running buddy Jun arrived at around 4:30am to pick me up then we proceeded to our favorite pre-run breakfast hang-out where we had pipping hot, lugaw and egg. That would carry us over whenever we had scheduled runs together.

We reached Tanay an hour later and met up with the group of Erwin (Power Grid Rrunner) who seem to have been lost in getting to the venue.  So we set off together until we reached the entrance of Epic Park, going past a security gate then finally into a large sprawling area of cottages and pine trees which reminded me of Camp John Hay in Baguio City. There, Manny Santos of Pimco, Alvin Balderama, Race Director of the Pimco races and many other runners were already waiting.

A group pic before the start of the trail run

I think this is by far the largest gathering of runners who have attended Pimco’s test runs, most of whom are first timers and we were lucky indeed to run on these still untapped trails. This is a great trail discovery by the Pimco team to stage their next trail race on September 1.

The ambiance of this place is quite alluring and there is a Camp John Hayish feel to its surroundings, with pine trees as tall as their counterparts in Baguio City. Far from pollution, the air here is fresh, not cold nor warm but just the right setting to have a great run within and outside of its confines.

There are four major trails inside this sanctuary, all with individual names that more or less describe each. One is called Elma’s Trail which was perhaps the most rugged of them all! It was inside a forest, with very long perpendicular and slippery down slopes and equally steep ascents that one has to be pulled or pushed-up on his butt by another runner in order to scale over the obstacle.

I was lucky enough to be trekking with some of the female staff of Epic Park who were adept and familiar with the terrain as i was guided like a lost sheep while taking pictures of the trails. There were small trees and vines to hold on while trying to scale down the muddy slopes but there were trees whose trunks were spikish… sharp, big thorns that i got pricked many times over. Wearing gloves here is a must! Also an arm sleeve would be advisable as ants would surely feast on your arms and even down your spine.

What i was most scared about were the very narrow trails, just about two feet wide and slanting on the right side facing a deep ravine. I had to thread that part very slowly clinging to whatever trunk or vine i could hold on to as one false move and you plunge into this 50-foot ravine with sharp rocks that cover a dry river bed below.

The other trails were more scenic and tolerable, the Durianan and Dagat-dagatan trails. They were rugged, muddy but it was outside the dark and murky forest and you get to see more of the outdoor scenery.

To those running the 21k+ and the 50k ultra race of Pimco’s  Natures Trail Discovery Run (NDTR) 2nd Leg on September 1, the route will pass through the majestic Daranak and Batlag Falls which will serve as the turn-around point for the 21k runners. The race will run on on 85% of trails/dirt roads and 15% of concrete which is barely noticeable.

Here’s a glimpse of the route. Enjoy!

Starting inside Epic Camp with wonderful views of tall trees and the ever green surroundings

This route goes further down the so-called rainforest

There’s this part of the route that goes up this flight of stairs

We now enter inside the rain forest

Trails were so dark inside the forest

Thanks to these wonderful Epic Park staff who guided us during the first stages of the run. Special mention goes to Maritess (?) and MM who pulled and pushed me from impending dangers of the cliffs and ravines!

One of the most slippery parts of the Elma trail where you had to literally slide down on your butt!

One of the hanging bridges inside the Park. Caution: Slippery when wet

One small hill at the outskirts of the park

My push going into the wilderness

Parts of the trails that runs within the rainforest park

Many parts were muddy brought about by the recent trains but anything goes when trail running!

Hoping for a drier surface come race day on September 1

Just to show you that most parts of the trail are technical, like this one…If you have trail shoes, use it!

A brief stop while waiting for the others

Nothing beats exploring new trails! The joy of trail running!

Another of those moments posing against the mountain backdrop

Jagged, rocky and maybe muddy–this is what trail runners should expect on September 1

Three sexy running buds! :p

Prepare for the many uphills along the route!

Feet takes a break from the ragged trail

Iris taking the mud off her legs

The clean, gently flowing stream that’s so soothing to the feet!

With Usana Jackie and Iris :)

Reaching the entrance of Kalinawan caves, near Daranak Falls

That’s the cave’s entrance at our back

21k runners will get to see this nice river

Jackie doing one of her planking antics. One mistake and she’ll plunge to about 100 feet below..

On our way back!

This is what it will look like on the way to the finish. Best to walk it and with a buddy!

As some parts of the trails were wet, this part was just right

With Bel, my running buddy during the last 2 kms. Gatorade “endorsers”!

An obstacle along the trail

Back into the wilderness!

This is going back to Epic Park

Well maintained dirt road

Some bird poop must have dropped over my head. Good thing it was a small branch stem!

Back to where the tall trees are

Not a single soul on these trails other than us

Will see you on September 1st!

Getting ready for lunch. With Manny, June and Alvin

For more information about the race, you can check my previous blog here: http://jazzrunner.wordpress.com/tag/epic-rainforest-park/ or visit Pimco Sports webpage at:  www.pimcosportingevents.net or Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/PimcoSportsEvents

Thanks to Erwin Hermosa (Power Grid Runner) and Jackie Gutierrez for some of the photos used here!

A Sneak Peek Of The Epic Camp Trails: Pimco’s NTDR Leg-2

After the successful staging of their scenic NTDR Daraitan Trail Run (Leg 1) last June 9, PIMCO’s next Nature’s Trail Discovery Run-Leg 2 (2nL) will be held at the Epic Park Rainforest Camp also in Tanay, Rizal. The race has been re-set for October 13, 2013.

I have not seen the place but heard about it but from the organizers and from what i’ve gathered so far, Epic Park, which means Ecological Playground Integrated Commune for Prayer, Adventure, Recreation and Culture is 200 hectares of rain-forest nestled in Sampaloc, Tanay with large pine trees, mountainous slopes, greeneries and breathtaking views of diverse landscapes.

The area is actually one of the few least known bird sanctuaries in the country, with more than 70 different rare species sighted and documented in this area. The rain forest has countless century-old trees with wild and exotic plants that surrounds it.

The EPIC PARK Rainforest Park has several unique nature trails. Some are for relaxing and peaceful strolls during which campers can appreciate the beauty of the forest. Other trails offer rugged terrain for the thrill seekers.

Durianan & Dagat-Dagatan Trails  are the main trails of this place winding through evergreen forests, rough roads that go all the way to Batlag in Tanay with stunning views of the high peaks. These trails are appropriate for trekking and ultra-running as the ruggedness and wilderness of the forest challenges the runners journey from Epic Park to Batlag and back.

Minor trails within the camp include Rosary Trail,  a place for reflection and meditation and  Elma’s trail  a 700 meter trail which is narrow, steep and muddy.

Early Bird Registration is now being accepted on Pimco’s Official Web site at www.pimcosportingevents.net. Early Birds will only be opened June 30, 2013. Regular registration will start on July 1, 2013.

There will be a Familiarization Run which is tentatively set on August 4, 2013. The Familiarization run is free to join for registered runners only.

At the entrance of the Epic Park in Sampaloc, Tanay

NATURE’S TRAIL DISCOVERY RUN II (NTDR II)

The Trilogy Championship Series Leg 2

Race:               NTDR 2nd Leg

Date:               October 13, 2013

Venue:             Epic Park Reinforest Camp, Tanay, Rizal

Trail Route:      Epic Park – Batlag – Epic Park

Registration:

For Online Registration please ensure to fill up information required such as valid contact number and email address. Registration shall not be automatically accepted instead you will be contacted on your mobile phone or email address to verify if you are the one registering for yourself. Use of other names for registration is strictly prohibited.

Regular Registration

Start of Regular Registration shall be on July 1, 2013

Registration may close anytime as soon as the Limited Slots are filled up.

Late Registration

Late Registration shall be on August 26-30. Late registrants shall have to redeem their Finishers kit after the 2nd Leg race or on or before the 3rd Leg Race Event. Any Finishers kit available in case regular registrants failed to attend the race shall be on first come, first serve basis. A redemption voucher shall be given to finishers who are late registrants.

Categories:

Newbies (5k) ; Advanced (10k); Seasoned (21k); Masters (50k)

Foreign nationals are welcome to compete in any category.

Registration Fees for Leg 2:

Newbies (5k)                 – P    550.00

Advanced (10k)           - P   750.00

Seasoned (21k)            - P    950.00

Masters (50k)              - P 1,750.00

Awards and Prizes: (No Cash Prize in the Leg Winners but Gift Packages to Top Winners)

Legs Winners, 1st Leg, 2nd Leg, and 3rd Leg winners shall be the runners who will come in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd fastest time for Men and Women Division. Each will received Winners Medals and Winners Gift Package from Sponsors.

  1. Finishers for 5k will receive Finisher Medals and Loot Bag
  2. Finishers for 10k, 21k, and 50k will receive Finishers Medals, Finishers Shirts, Loot Bags

2nd Leg Newbies Awards and Prizes

Leg Winner 1st Place – Gift Package + 1st Place Medal + Winner Shirt

Leg Winner 2nd Place – Gift Package + 2nd Place Medal + Winner Shirt

Leg Winner 3rd Place – Gift Package + 3rd Place Medal + Winner Shirt

Finishers Awards – Finishers Medal + Loot Bag

2nd Leg Awards and Prizes Advanced (10k); Seasoned (21k); Masters (50k)

Leg Winner 1st Place – Gift Package + 1st Place Medal + Winners’ Shirt

Leg Winner 2nd Place – Gift Package + 2nd Place Medal + Winners’ Shirt

Leg Winner 3rd Place – Gift Package + 3rd Place Medal + Winners’ Shirt

Finishers Awards – Finishers Medal + Finishers Shirt + Loot Bag

Note: Cash Prizes are given only to Trilogy Champions and runners up on conclusion of the Championship or Final Leg for the Categories – Advance (10k), Seasoned (21k), Masters (50k)

Assembly and Gun Start

2:00 am           Assembly Time at the Start & Finish at Epic Park, Tanay, Rizal

4:00 am           Gun Start of Masters (50k) Ultraman

5:00 am           Gun Start of Seasoned (21k)

5:15 am           Gun Start of Advanced (10k) and Newbies (5k)

Cut-Off Time

Masters (50k) shall have a cut-off time of 11 hours so that runners should be at the Finish Line by 3:00 pm. At 3:00 pm sweeper will bring the runners still at the trails back to the venue hall and shall not be allowed to cross finish line.

Seasoned (21k), Advanced (10k), and Newbies (5k) all have the same cut off of 7 hours so that runners should all be at the finish line by 12:00 noon. Sweeper shall bring the runners back to the venue hall and shall not be allowed to cross finish line.

Awarding of Winners

Awarding of Winners shall commence at 11:00 am or when all the winners of all categories have already crossed finish line whichever comes first. Should winners in each category are not yet complete and identified, Awarding may be delayed to allow winners to be completed.

Provisions and Miscellaneous Services

Shuttle bus services is available for all categories. Master (50k) participants may avail of a separate shuttle services considering they are to start ahead of others and possibly will arrive later than others. Shuttle service fee is P300 per passenger back and forth. Pick-up points are the following:

Makati Shell Station at the crossing of Ayala, Mackinley, and Edsa near MRT Station

Mandaluyong Boni Ave. Circle in front of Jollibee

Quezon City Circle in front of City Hall

Masinag in front of Mercury Drug Store

Only riders with confirmed reservation or with bus stub, shall be allowed to ride the shuttle bus.

Hydration  - Runners are provided with “refilling stations” for free hydration. Please bring at least 20 oz hydration bottle. In observance of Environmental laws, we will not serve cups in the stations along the race route not more than 5 kilometers apart.

Banana – Free banana for the runners are available in designated stations and at the Finish Line for the needed potassium supply of the body.

Runners should bring their own energy drinks and replenishment. Some sponsors may at times provide sampling of their products but this is not guaranteed.

Food Services – There will be food available at Epic Park at affordable prices for the runners, you may buy your own food. There are also food services outlets near the venue the choices are varied but prices affordable. Runners may avail anytime of the day.

Accommodation – There will be available spaces for overnight camping at the venue for those in budget while there are available resorts and hotels around the area near the venue such as Ten Cents To Heaven, Sierra Madre Hotel, and Sampaloc Inn to name a few.

Public Transportation – There are available public transportation however for those not taking the shuttle. You can take Jeeps and shuttle from Shaw Blvd, Mandaluyong going to Tanay and then take tricyle going to Sampaloc. There are Jeeps available at Cubao going Cogeo from there you can take Jeep going Sampaloc. The Cogeo jeep is available only from 5 am to 7 pm so it is suggested to take this only if runners plan to take resorts hotels or camp at the venue from June 8.

Here are some pictures of Epic Camp:

One of the structures in side the rain-forest park

One of the many trails going inside the rain forest

More of the views inside the camp

The forest camp which is also a bird sanctuary

Over looking the rain-forest

Thick foliage inside the forest

A tree house inside the sanctuary

Scene from the view deck. This may well be the starting line

How To Get There:

Take Marcos Highway going towards Masinag Market via Aurora blvd. passing below the Katipunan overpass. Cross Sumulong highway (Masinag Center is at the corner on the left) heading straight which becomes the Marikina Infanta Road towards Tanay.

Upon reaching the Sierra Madre Resort go straight where you will pass by the Pranjetto Resort. Continue towards the intersection of the  corner of Marikina Infanta Highway and Sampaloc Road which was the venue of the NTDR Leg 1, then turn right going to the Tanay town proper. Epic Park is approximately 2.5 kms on your right from the Ynares Sports Gym, venue of the Leg 1 race towards the resort of Daranak.

Photos by Tina S. Mallari and the APBFoundation.