This may well be one of the most beautiful and varied 21k trail course outside of Tanay and it was good to have run these rarely used trails for the very first time. Camp Sinai in Pintong Bukawe, San Mateo, Rizal was near a former dump site where trash were as high as the mountains surrounding it that made the area a no-no visit or even pass through it.
Things change however, when the land-fill was closed a few years ago and this time, a burgeoning resort-like ambiance grew on its outskirts where outdoor activities have again flourished like mountain biking, trekking and now trail running.
With rolling hills, many technical terrain and about 1,200 ft of elevation gain, it’s not an easy course but the winding switchbacks to and from the river rewards you with stunning views of rural vistas, broad valleys where many sections offers sweeping views of the vast Sierra Madre Mountains.
As with previous Merrell Adventure Trail Race editions, this year’s route was selected by trail race expert and Race Director Thumbie Remigio who has again devised a route to challenge adventure seekers. Me and a group of runners from the Merrell and Saucony groups including some bloggers were given a glimpse of what to expect.
We ran just 11 kms of the 21km route and i was very surprised at the amount of variety, from gnarly rocky paths to broad rough roads and the various river trekking one has to pass with plenty of vegetation on the sides. Warning: the last part of the race will be all uphills and i advice runners who plan to participate in this race to train on hills. Arduous as it is, the organizers will even set up mud pits to give it more a rather dirty look for trail runners!
For those who plan to join the trail run, here are some details to guide you through in registration: http://registration/merrell-adventure-run-2013-at-pintong-bucawe-san-mateo-rizal/
I’m leaving you some pictures for a sneak peek of the Merrell 2013 race route and trails. Enjoy!
The welcome sign, 300 meters upwards
The views atop Camp Sinai where the starting line will be
Cottages at Camp Sinai
Briefing from Race Director Thumbie Remigio
The start of our run
It will be all downhill for the first 3.5 kms.
A small river that will greet runners on the way down. No crossings here
Views on the downhills were excellent
Trails passes at the side for a better view of the mountains
A bump during the downhill portion
All the trails you want
Seldom used trails here
With the group taking a break
There will be a long section of these on the trails
Stopping at a cross-road while Thumbie giving some instructions
At the 3km mark during this point
Single track trails leading to sterling views of the Sierras
Atop a portion of the mountain
This trail leads down to the river
One of the best views of the run!
Picture doesn’t give justice to the feeling while you view this. A wow scenario!
The group waiting at the edge of the river
Root crops at the river’s edge
Trekking towards the river’s edges
Wish we could just lie down and enjoy more of the views
About to cross the river
They didn’t want to get their shoes wet?
In the middle of it all
View from the other side
This will be part of the route
Threading some trails before we cross to the other side
Approaching a fenced property
Only the 21k runners will pass through here
An elevated path
It’s back to the river
Thumbie and Nonoy
Deep portion of the river. The bamboos are so old and brittle that it was crackling while crossing it.
Back to the boondocks
Posing with 2 local farmers and their dog
Up to the green mountains
At the second half of our run
Lots of banana trees here
Rough roads will also be part of the route
This is a very long uphill trek
…with good views while walking the steepest part
Kids running towards us
The view behind us
Exiting the Sitio Watershed P7, Pintong Bokaue
A large boulder at the edge of the trail
A sprint on the downhill part
Going up back to Camp Sinai
The 10k and 5k runners will be scaling up this steep climb to the finish
Me on my way up…
Resting at a side mountain cafe at Camp Sinai
Moses’ tablets (Samsung?) You just don’t know the enormity of this until………….
…you actually come close to it!
150 meters before the run ends. Back to where we started.
Took our lunch here
And despite the 2 hour++ gruelling, uphill, downhill, river trekking run–we find this sign posted at a sanctuary…