Race Report: Merrell Adventure Run 2013

The local folk song, “Planting Rice Is Never Fun” has never been so apt in describing the farmers’ hardships and sacrifice while toiling their lands to plant rice and other crops for our staple food and that of their sustenance. The lyrics…

Planting rice is never fun,
Bending over ’til the set of sun.
Cannot sit, cannot stand,
Plant the seedlings all by hand.

I’m sure many runners at yesterday’s MERRELL Adventure Trail Run got a glimpse of this experience, although just fleetingly and without even bending to plant anything.

I was giddy and apprehensive at first when we approached this tiny rice field after a race marshal informed us that we had about 5kms to go on our 21k run. No inkling whatsoever that another major obstacle was just a few meters ahead. Seeing the runners wade through this slimiest of mud, clenching their shoes on one hand and using the other for balance, we got the drift that if you wore them on, the shoes would get stuck under it and would be hard to retrieve them.

So while wading on just about 20 meters of this paddy that’s knee deep, felt like a quick-sand and very muddy, me and the others got to experience a very yucky feeling while stepping on some bulge on the soft ground that’s very slippery and slimy…you get to trash underneath on Carabao’s poop that lies together with the mounds of mud under it!

When we emerged from this “obstacle”, the stench on all of us was very revolting as we all smelled like “carabao shit”, from head to toe! No water was immediately made available when we landed on dry ground so we just used the grass to wipe-off the mud clinging to our toes, calves, hands and knees. This may well be Merrell’s version of the X-Terra Race, “Putik Pare” (Mud Run) and what better term could you call this but the “Pooh-Pooh, Pare”!

This was actually the second of two muddy obstacles, the first which came after the 8th km mark when we had to crawl for about 15 meters beneath a chicken wire and sharp bamboo twigs dangling in our heads  where the crowd got backed-up to wait for their turn.

To sum up the race, here’s  some observations/notes which i took during the race:

  • The 21k race route was awesome… great scenery, trails galore, river crossings, mountain ranges
  • Though views were beautiful, the course itself was very difficult! Lots of uphills (so lots of walking), some of the downhill parts were very steep and slippery as i saw a lot of runners slide down, tumble and roll from side to side with some injuries
  • Though not frequent, water supplies were adequate and they served really ice-cold water with cubes of ice that you can place in your hydration back pack.
  • Race Marshals were adequate and were in crucial junctions to guide the runners
  • Mud-pit crawl area should have been placed on a wider road. The area was too narrow, only 3 rows of runners could be accommodated so there was a huge back up at the entrance
  • It was so nerve-wracking that the last kilometer was all uphill and we had to stop-and-go several times before hitting the finish line. A marvelous moment though when you reach the top!
  • Race Director Thumbie Remigio was hands-on, observing the conduct of the race at many points along the course, even taking pictures while at it. Good job, Thumbie!
  • Thanks to lady Runner #97 for the push at the back to get me over the rice paddy.
  • At the turn-around point at the end of the river crossings, there was a woman half submerged in water singing religious songs on the top of her lungs which the race marshals fondly described as a “Shokoy” (half-human, half mammal)! LOL!
  • The bamboo barricade obstacles was absolutely ——! A nuisance rather than an obstacle. 🙂
  • Showers with soap were adequately provided near the finish area but had to spend another hour or so at our bathroom at home to scrub and scrape out all residual slime in my body
  • Bread, eggs, bananas and water bottles were also given to all runners

This is probably one of the best trail runs ever organized and obviously, a lot of preparation had gone into it. After those grueling uphills and downhills, stumblings and tumblings, continuous river crossings, mud crawls, the pooh-pooh walk and the last insane crawl to the finish, i finally made it to the finish in about 4 1/2 hours!

A very satisfying event and a great memory to bring home! Congrats to the Merrell people and to RD Thumbie Remigio!

I’m leaving you with some of the pictures i took from the race. Other photos courtesy of Thumbie Remigio!

See you all at the PIMCO Run2Run Adventure Trail Run in Tanay, Rizal next Sunday, May 5! (https://jazzrunner.wordpress.com/2013/04/24/pimcos-run2run-trail-run-in-tanay-may-5-2013/)

For more updates on trail runs, follow me on TWITTER @ https://twitter.com/jazzrunner

RACE RESULTS are now out! Here is the link: http://www.strider.ph/

The views around us before the start

With friends and our clean apparels before the run

On an uphill double-track trail

The trek to the first river crossing begins

Threading in slowly as the rocks under the river are unstable and slippery

A river trail, literally with cassava plants watching the proceedings

The views can’t get any better to take pictures during rush hour

The first mud-pit obstacle (photo by Thumbie)

Long lines waiting

This is another river crossing

Slippery rocks really slowed the runners down

The heat was just overwhelming so it was on shades like this that we had time to rest

Friend June, enjoying the scenery

A long and winding dirt road

The rice paddy

Mud looks like soft cement

Pooh-pooh pare!

Time-out!

Getting out of the water was another obstacle

I lost my water bottle here

Good job leaving your Poo-pooh, Mr. C!

Bamboo barricades

An instant Vibram Five-Fingers minimalist shoes

Single-track trail descending to another river

Another shaded path

This lady (L) literally pushed my butt so i could emerge up from the rice paddy. Thanks, Mam! 🙂

The last 2kms was a grueling uphill climb. This is the last 500 meters

Over-took this lady who was struggling to ascent like all of us did.

Dang uphill!

Last 350 meters and counting. the “Moses tablets” is in the foreground

So near, yet so far!

No, that’s not a calf compression i’m wearing. It’s the sticking mud we all got from threading the rice paddy (photo by Manghusi Photoshop)

My Ultrasipre Surge Hydration pack, camera, shorts, all soaked in mud!

My previously immaculate white Adidas socks now soaked in dirt and grime. RIP!