The rains were heavy in Q.C. from late Saturday evening up to early Sunday morning, and i was already having second thoughts if travelling for more than an hour to get to Tanay for the Natures Trail Discovery Run was worth the trip.
While waiting for running buddy Jun to fetch me, i even texted Manny Santos, over-all Race Director of the NTDR to ask if the race was pushing through. He was surprised at my message and re-assured me that the race would go on as planned and that only a short drizzle hovered over Tanay the night before.
Truly, the roads and trails in Tanay were almost dry while the rain held-out Sunday morning for the duration of the whole race and we had very good weather over-all.
Jun and i arrived at the venue at about 4:30am and were in for an unusual sight. The start and finish line area was located inside a large multi-purpose gym just in case it rains outside. We then claimed our race packets and in a few minutes we were off, together with the other 21k runners.
When the starting gun was fired, i was so not feeling it! Felt sluggish, even sleepy that i had to struggle on that first uphill road. Things change a bit when we hit the trails and it was daybreak by then, no need really to use those head-lamps which i forgot to bring anyway.
Having ran this route in a familiarization run organized by Pimco a few weeks ago, it was nice being up there seeing the Sierra Madre mountain range once again as we crossed small rivers and intruded into small communities where residents were still fast asleep on those early hours.
The trail part is short, just about 2.5kms before emerging on the national road on the way to Daraitan. This part is largely uneventful, a mad dash along the highway, vehicles still scarce as you crissed-cross the road to cut corners leading to Gen. Marking Road.
This stretch of road seem to go on forever. It’s a combination of rough and cemented roads, some parts crowded with people while the rest are mostly just farm fields but with great views of the mountains. Except for a short detour at the Macaira Gardens, it was mostly this road that we had to contend with, an uphill-downhill of rolling slopes.
I was feeling good at this point, met some new friends while re-filling our hydration bottles at one of the aid stations and one thing positive about this race is the availability of ice, lots of it and cold sponges. Some parts of the rough roads were sandy and i had to stop several times to untie my shoe and remove small pebbles which found itself inside that made it uncomfortable to run on.
It was like heaven when we finally reached the wooden bridge at Daraitan after like running forever. The trails were both sandy and rocky but at least, we were in a Nirvana-like scenery, the gushing river running beside us, more mountain views and large, white boulders scattered all over the place.
The way back was a tough one, knowing you’ll be running the same endless road of uphills and downhills. It would now be a test of perseverance, walking ability and still lots of stored patience! Seems that the only way to overcome it is to move slowly during the uphills then get back to the shuffle/run rhythm at the downhills. I was quickly losing steam and all i wanted to do was to get to the end.
The sponges provided on crucial aid stations were God-sent as i was able to pour ice-cold water on my head may times and that was refreshing! I already knew that the distance we were going to complete was about 28 to 29 kms just based on the distance at the turn-around point which was 14 kms. Nice bonus for us mileage addicts!
When we finally reached the National Highway, there was another 4 to 5 kms to tackle before the finish line. I got back into a running rhythm, really forcing myself to run the downhills fast and slowing down to a walk during long inclines. Around this time, I went past several runners who were slowing down or were just walking continuously.
At around the 29 km mark, i could now see the side of the roads teeming with people as the area is a highly commercialized one where business establishments abound. The sight of the gas station on the right side signaled that i was nearly there at the finish. And finally, the sight of the Gym where we started about 5 hours ago. Eventually i was inside the gym and crossed the finished line with some announcements of my arrival (thanks to event hosts, Iris and Nonoy).
The distance was 30.7 kms finishing it in about 4:59 (per my GPS watch). I felt exhilarated, finishing another 30+ km run after running the 32k Run United-2 race, just the week before.
Capping the run was a free 30 minute++ massage and the therapist really worked on both my legs and feet!
Over-all, another great race by Pimco with stunning views to die for!
Thanks to Lito Mallari, Rnold Eming and Voltron Visda for some of the photos!