Test Run: Nature’s Trail Discovery Daraitan Trail Route

The Daraitan trail route is refreshing! And that’s not just a comment on its cool and sparkling river (above). The Tinipak rocks mushrooming on both sides of  the northern side of Daraitan river looks something like large chunks of ice falling down from the sky. Only, it didn’t melt away but gave the river an animating and intoxicating feel, ala scotch-on-the-rocks!

To describe yesterday’s test route run would be quite a task, but Pimco’s forthcoming Nature’s Trail Discovery Run-Daraitan Ultramarathon route this coming June 9 would be another jewel to their crown of showcase trails worth raving about. Pimco’s past trail races like the  Daranak Falls Trail, the Calinawan Cave pass, the Maysawa trails, the Sta. Inez Peak were all worth  every trail runners’ money and time and the Daraitan trail will be no less different.


I had no clue where the exact location of the test run would start so i texted Manny Santos, big boss of Pimco Sports for directions to the venue. Running buddy Jun and I were set to go and we were taking with us Iris Cortulas who wanted to tag along and try out the route. We bonded together and set off to Masinag where we were meeting other runners so we could do a convoy and leave in tandem for the venue.

Reaching Masinag at 4:15am, we were able to touch base with Ultra runners JJ Layug, Mar Marilag, Bong Alindada together with Milo Fitness Coach Jackie Gutierrez so they followed us in their car with ours, leading. Our destination: The Ynarez Gym at the corner of Sampaloc Road and Marcos Highway in Sampaloc Tanay.

This is also going to be the starting line of the June 9 race.

At the Ynares Sports Gym, Sampaloc Road, Tanay–the venue of the Daraitan Ultramarathon with Pimco boss Manny Santos (in pink shirt) and Race Director, Alvin Valderama, 3rd from left.


We arrived at the venue at about 5:45am and were met by Manny and Alvin of Pimco Sports. We couldn’t start as yet as we were waiting for other runners to arrive as some had lost their way and had over-shot the venue. But since it was getting late, our group decided to go ahead and all the others who arrived late will just have to follow so a guide of Pimco was left to wait for them.

The run started at about 6:20am as we were led at the other side of Sampaloc Road, crossing the street. The first kilometer was on a concrete road that took us inside a residential area that led to the start of the trails. The trails measured a distance of about 3-4kms.

This is one of the nicest sections of the route, all trails of mostly single track and offers excellent footing, uphills and downhills, a pleasant scenery including the vast Sierra Madre Mountains, old-growth forests, a river lagoon, farm animals and a variety of trees.

As always, i struggled over those uphill climbs and slippery river crossings but got over those as time went by. Here are some pictures of the trails with short descriptions as we went along:

The trails were mostly single track inside small villages

Uphills will be a continuous fare for this run

There will be wide open spaces but the views are exhillarating

Passing by an old shack

Running along the ridges with nice views of the Sierra Madres

Taking a short break, 2.5kms after our start

Mostly single tracks dominate the trails

Another small shack in the middle of nowhere

Approaching a small river crossing

Runners have to be careful here. These rocks are slippery!

A river lagoon

It’s one crossing runners will pass through

Figuring out how to cross that river and jump over to the other side 🙂

Getting help from Jackie and JJ. 🙂

A smile from everybody. Photo by Jackie

Jackie in her ceremonial dance. Liveliness!


Once we were out of the trails, we all found ourselves back on the main highway and it was a short jaunt to the road leading to Daraitan and to the Tinipak Rocks. We couldn’t help but stop on some areas to marvel on some views which you can never find in the city. To hell with smoke and smog, we were now breathing fresh air and savoring the soft breeze coming out of the mountain range.

A quick look on the way to Daraitan:

Coming out of the trails and running the stretch of this highway on our way to Daraitan

Iris leads the way.

Stopping over a bridge over-looking a valley (L-R Me, Mar, Jackie, Bong and JJ)

The road to Daraitan. It’s another 7 kms of rough roads and some concrete portions before we reach the place (I wonder why those bananas were hanging on the signage?)

A pause before we venture the ascents and descents to Daraitan

Start of rough roads going to Daraitan

The Macaira Garden Resort serves as the turn-around point for the 10k runners. However, runners of all distances will pass inside the resort.


Look what we found here! En-route to Daraitan, Alvin led us into an obscure resort called the Macaira Garden Resort which would serve as the turn-around point for the 10k runners. Veering inside astounded us all.

Here is what we saw:

A “blue” pool and an unusual rock formation greets visitors to the resort.

More rocks and a wooded area at the back

The limestones were here for ages

Iris and Jackie atop the rocks

A cluster of limestone rocks and Jackie as its guest model

Owner says there is a cave beyond those trees which we weren’t able to see due to lack of time

A small rest house at the base of the rocks

It was one of the most fascinating views i have ever seen! I cannot even describe to you succinctly how this rock formation came about as even the photos above don’t seem to do it justice. I could here some oohs and ahhs from the group as i could only mutter, wtf!

On to Daraitan!

More of the rough roads going to Daraitan

Emerging from a mountain trail

This is Iris’ turf. The mountain trails

More of the trails. We would reach that mountain farthest on the background later (Thanks for the pic, Jackie)

Endless picture taking

A backdrop of the road ahead. Iris giving the thumbs up

Two “punks” at a convenience store. They listen to Deicide and Slayer Bands

Finally, arriving at Daraitan

Almost dry river bed during this dry month

Trails along the river. It can’t get rockier than this!

The sandy trail leading to the Tinipak Stone river

The group in a hurry

The trails leading to Tinipak

Rocky trail ahead

Nearing the base of the Tinipak stones

Macadam trails

The 21k+ and 50k runners will pass these trails leading to Tinipak


After about 15 kms, we finally reached our destination! Daraitan with the Tinipak rocks looming everywhere like guards protecting their kingdom. I’ve been to this place once before about 3 years ago and it still was mesmerizing seeing it today like it was the first time i saw it.

The clear river was oozing with its rushing waves, the tall white rocks that everybody wanted to scale as soon as they saw it and the chorus of “WOWs” that emanated from everybody. The sight was absolutely stunning seeing so much of nature even just for a few minutes.

We lost no time in getting ourselves cool and intoxicated with the scene:

Finally here at the start of the Tinipak stones

Eye-catching view of the Tinipak Stones and river

Large rock formation

Jackie, Iris and Alvin

Bong Alindada, below

June Santiago relaxing with the cool waters

Nice views all around us

Climbing atop the rocks. Don’t do this on race day!

“Mt. Tinipak”

“Nagpapa lamig din paminsan, pag may time”

Great way to cool off

Caption this…

A look beyond Tinipak rocks

Group pic

Daraitan’s Ferrari tricycle (take a look at Iris’ expression). Wagas!

With Jackie

Capping our run, lunch of Bulalo, BBQ Chicken, vegetables…burp!

And before i forget, expect the 21k route to have some bonus kilometers added (the orginal 21k route did not include the Tinipak Rock section) and PIMCO has now decided to include this section so my estimate would be a total distance of 25 to 27 kms!

Registration for this June 9 race is still open. You can check out my previous post here: https://jazzrunner.wordpress.com/2013/05/15/natures-trail-discovery-run-daraitan-trail-run-june-9-2013/ or visit PIMCO’s webpage at: http://www.pimcosportsevents.com/