It’s one of those rare thoughts that i wished i was just snugged tightly in bed early yesterday morning, enjoying the cool breeze permeating from my bedroom window while i was out there sweating it out in Tanay running the 21k PIMCO Nature’s Trail Discovery Run (NTDR).
The constant rains and the onslaught of typhoon Santi really wrecked havoc on the trails and it just felt natural for most of the runners to fall, slip, slide, crawl, ski and everything in between on the trails of mud. It was a trail-fest of sludge! And it was hard for me to get to grips running on this slippery surface as i kept on sliding down those hazardous slopes.
Nature forgive me for the number of small branches i must have broken while trying to cling on them while crashing downwards! The ropes that were provided along the steep ascents and descents were barely of help, but this provided me my safety harness as i nearly fell off from the edge of a cliff and i was hanging on for dear life and eventual embarrassment as i literally came into grips with the rope and the river below while the other runners that came after me just watch in suspense!
Funny that the first thing that came into my mind during that struggle to get myself up was to ask, “does anybody have a camera here to take a picture of me?” Had i blurted out those words, i would have probably been kick off by the others down that cliff!
After last Sunday when i ran the RUPM 42k, i was in the mode of just taking it easy for the rest of the week prior to yesterday’s trail run but sometimes, shit happens. The day prior to the race, a team mate celebrated her birthday and so we had breakfast with the rest of the team. Not contented, we proceeded to Betty’s house and continued the celebration with a few drinks. By the time i realized that i was running the NTDR the following day, i already had way too many of the Double Black that was served so by the time we went home, my body was already aching to sleep!
After just a few hours of sleep, i woke up at 1:00am, head still spinning, so i took a shower, prepared some stuff for my hydration back-pack when running buddy June arrived. I was able to take a few bites off a hotdog sandwich at a 7-Eleven convenience store and that was to be my breakfast!
We arrived at the Epic Rainforest Park in Tanay at about 4:15am with thick fog enveloping the vicinity around the area. In a few minutes, about 15 brave souls running the 50k Ultra-trail race were sent-off. I opted to run the 21k as a recovery run to the previous Sunday’s Run United Philippine Marathon as i’m still in the grips of a stubborn acid-reflux which has been recurring (thanks to my friends, JW and Alfonso) plus the aches on my thighs so i was taking this one as just one fun run. And what one hell of a fun run it was!
The 21k runners were fired off at exactly 5:00am, still pitch dark outside of the gymnasium where we started.
The first 2 kilometers was a gentle downhill, our headlights blinking down from our heads while the cool breeze was pleasantly blowing at our faces. By the 3rd kilometer entering a forest trail at the rear of the Park, things began to get sour as we faced the first of our water loo when we had to struggle on what was like an obstacle trail course.
The trails were deep in a forest on mostly single tracks with short but very steep, almost 90 degree ascents where you held on to ropes, branches and trunks of small trees to propel yourself up! Several times, we had to stall and wait in line for each runner to figure out where to step, cling and move his/her butt up, all in total darkness with just our headlamps as guide.
Other times, we just had to give a push or pull up the one behind us in order to start on the next obstacle after another. Worst, some branches were suffuse with thorns so many of us had cuts and blood oozed from our hands.
The second waterloo was, for me the more dangerous one as it was all MUD galore while you go downhill. Not even the best trail shoe out there could put a break on the very slippery slopes. Runners went berserk clinging to plants and branches while literally rolling down like a wheel, others sat down and just slid down on their butts like what children do when they slide on those sliders at playgrounds.
With runners breathing down my neck, i didn’t have much time to think, a quick reaction was just required so i moved, fell, got up and moved again. Runners on trails are helpful, chatty, fun to be with and will even ask if you’re ok after a nasty fall.
This was just the first 5k and the next 16 k have a story of its own. I was now lagging behind with just a few 21k runners behind me and the long stretch of trail outside of the park was what regular runners of the Tanay Trail Discovery Run were pinning for, the breathtaking scenery, various river crossings, single track trails, mountain ranges, a highway route and the extra servings of mud which we really didn’t expect to be trail-wide and this kept the run more daunting and challenging!
This trail route used parts of the previous NTDR Buddy Run which pass through Sitio Maysawa, into small villages and back. For more than six hours, i was running side by side with June who was as exhausted run-walking the craggy uphill and downhill slopes. There were enough water along the water stations and the organizers even provided sponges and bananas.
Over-all, this race for me was the hardest i have ever done, considering that my time at the RUPM Marathon was even faster that what i had registered here for this 21k trail race! Go figure!
PIMCO’s last trail race, the NTDR finals will be held on November 24 and i’m just looking forward in doing better–all for the love of the trails!
Here are some pictures taken during the race. Thanks to my friends for providing me some of the pictures posted here!