“Trail running is like dancing on the trails. If you stumble, make it part of the dance.” –rv
The Daranak 21k Trail Run has billed itself as the most challenging in the 3 legs of the Nature’s Trail Discovery Runs in Tanay and that proved to be an understatement! The race was grueling, one of the toughest trail race i have ever encountered and i am still limping from my aching quads and hamstrings in run-walking those uphill climbs.
I had expected this to be a difficult course but it was far more torturous than i anticipated, specially on those ridiculous technical climbs and descents. Well that was just the hardest part but for most of the other runners who did the shorter distances, it was a run full of thrills and adventure:
Here is a short synopsis of the race:
4:50 am : June and i arrived at Daranak Resort and there were already full of cars lined-up on the streets leading to the entrance. We were asked to park on the right-most edge of the road as vehicles were arriving in droves.
5:10 am: We were greeted at the entrance by Norphy’s Ceasar Valderamma and told to proceed to the convention area where runners collected their race packets. June got his race packet and also took hold of Chito’s who we expected to arrive soon. Chito didn’t make it to the venue.
5:45: It was no less than Mr. Manny Santos, PIMCO Prexy and race organizer who started the countdown while Ceasar Valderamma fired the starting pistol.
During the test run we did weeks earlier, i had expected that we were to proceed to the river directly after the gun start but the organizers seem to have changed the plan.
Instead, we headed directly to the entrance bridge then out to the main street where we parked our cars and to some rough roads leading to a wide bridge. Runners stopped to take pictures. It was so wide a bridge for a river that looked like a single-track trail!
The view from the bridge (Photo by Jeffrey Ubalde)
Approaching the bridge while runners took some pictures
Past the bridge and going uphill
TO THE BATCAVE!
Runners were in for a treat when we approached the Calinawan Cave. I was a little concerned when my headlamp was going kaput when i tested it at home so had to change the batteries. I kept it in a small case attached to my hydration belt and as soon as we entered the cave, i wore it right back and it lit brightly as i turned it on.
I can hear the giggles of some runners when they maneuvered along the dark pathways and some even had to stop to observe the stalactites above them. This became like a school field trip instead of a race! No one could overtake so one has to toe the line and wait to move in tandem with the others.
To the cave entrance
Surprisingly, the walk to the cave was very orderly, no pushing nor shoving. There were marshals who guided the runners inside. Nice job!
The ground was mostly dry this time unlike our test run a month ago which was muddy and slippery inside
There were narrow passages that each runner has to wait to get through
The view inside
THE RIVER CROSSING:
This has got to be my least-liked part of the race when aside from crossing those rivers, you have to climb very wet boulders, secure your footing and cling to whatever your hands can grip on to avoid falling. This was the most dangerous part of the route and saw some runners slip on the rocks and fall down the river.
One scary part was one female runner stepped into a very deep part of the river and was swept by the strong currents and couldn’t hold on to anything. She was dragged a few meters and into a marshal who was standing on top of a boulder watching the proceedings. The marshal held on to an arm of the lady but couldn’t get her to stand up as if her foot was stucked underneath!
The lady was already screaming. She was gasping for air! Other runners scrambled to help and it took another minute before they could pull her up. This was one close call (pictures below).
The river trekking took forever and glad that it ended when it did!
Steep ravine at the edges of the trail that lead to the river
A long winding trail where you could already hear the gushing river at the other side
The first view of the river that greeted the runners
We had to criss-cross the river to avoid the strong currents
Climbing over slippery rocks was not an easy task
Clinging on rocks and getting the correct footing was the order of the day
A runner and a marshal rescues this female runner from being swept by the strong currents
Another runner to the rescue until she was finally pulled-out. The dangers of river crossing.
The river trek was slow. Getting up and down those rocks was a journey in itself
Glad to have avoided that downhill stream
River crossing na, may rock climbing pa!
Rock formations were a plenty during the river crossing. Must be centuries old
Part where a lot of runners slipped and tumbled
These bamboo poles were deemed useless because they were slippery when you tried to step over them
Stairs To OUR LADY OF RAWANG:
The only technique needed to conquer these flight of stairs is to put one foot forward in front of the other, one step after another until you reach the top. Easier said than done as i was going into zombie-mode just half-way this 346 flight of steps.
June poses while scaling the 340 step Grotto stairs
UPHILL CLIMB TO THE TOP:
Climbing up those mountain ranges was one tough battle all 21k runners had to endure and it had to be the most challenging of all legs of the Nature Trail Discover Tanay series. Your quads are going to hate you because they will keep on pounding while climbing on those continuous rocky trails! Many of the rocks had jagged edges and one false move can cut you up real bad.
I had slight cuts and scratches on my legs when moving about on the uphill trails and most of the runners who i encountered during the climb had their share of bruises and cuts too. I saw a runner who was lying down on the ground in pain, apparently of severe leg cramps and was being helped by two other runners.
None of the hard training could have prepared me for the torturous run up Masungi mountain and it was a long 5 kilometer trek to reach the peak! The trails up were priceless though and it had some of the most picturesque views in trail running.
Three hours had gone by when i finally reached the peak at about 1,600 masl. Not much excitement up there where i saw runners who were either eating, resting and taking pictures of the vast Laguna de Bay below. Here we were given a green ribbon signifying that we had reached the turn-around point and had to get back on the same route.
The downhill journey was harsher on our thighs as the pounding doubled, causing me to cramp on both thighs at the 16th km mark. The heat was enormous and I had to stop several times to massage my thighs and the ambulance waiting on the 18th km mark was no big help as they had no liniments nor knowledgeable personnel to give your leg a brief massage.
I noticed at this mark that runners should turn right and make a 2.5 km. circular loop before heading back to where the ambulance stood in the other direction. However i saw many runners skip this loop and immediately turned left without completing the loop. Marshals should have been stationed to man this checkpoint but it was only the ambulance truck that was there.
I finished the 22.1k race in 5:46, a PW (personal worst) but still below the given cut-off time of 6 hours.
Over-all, it was a great race, very challenging and one beautiful race route!
I’ll leave you with some pictures June and i took at the trails:
The start of our mountain trek
The single track trails were nice and easy during the early part but became very technical during those climbs up those mountains in background
Views of the Sierra Madre mountain ranges
Another view at close range
The 5-km uphill trek was both torture to the quads and feet.
Rocky single track uphill trek
On one of the mellower trails
One of the many picturesque trails
Blue skies and hot weather. Got hotter during the latter part
June signals that he is still alive!
Love this part of the trail…
…while June zooms along
Another rocky part
A wide trail
At the peak
Background is Laguna De Bay
Tough race! Congrats to all!
With Goldy, the “Precious” one
With Aquiz, the running photographer
With popular runner Marie Joyce Negapatan
With Manghusi (JR)
Guess what? PIMCO Sports, organizers of this event is going to hold another trail run, the Love A Tree International 50k-trail ultra-marathon on February 10, 2013 which will be held on a new route, also along these great trails of Tanay. An accompanying 6k, 12k and 24k race will be held here simultaneously.
Details will be posted on their Facebook account and website. Yikes, another trail run to look forward to!