“Go fast enough to get there but slow enough to see”.
Borrowing this quote from Ashley’s FB timeline, this may well be the gist of our 24k trail run yesterday in Sampaloc, Tanay where we savored the views along the route but mindful still of finishing fast and strong.
The trails over the 2X Trail run offered a surprising level of challenge, and while there’s nothing too extreme (crossing the rivers went smooth), there’s not too many trail runners who can make it through the whole route without clipping out. I had to stop a couple of times to catch my breath while walking on those steep hills and nearly stumbling a few times while maneuvering around rocks embedded under the river.
The scenery changes every few minutes. Waterfalls, mountain views, rivers, hills galore, beasts of burden, open fields, single track trails, mountain ridges and a thousand different types of tress – this trail route has it all! This is about as good as it gets for trail running and this race in particular where we really had so much fun; challenging course, just enough water to fill-up the gaps in our water bottles, a coconut juice station and amazing views!
Now to the race itself..
The starting line was low-key, no race arch nor big banners, just two twin posts and a white floor marker in between that showed where the start was and it was just at the doorstep of the Sampaloc Inn Hotel, a major sponsor of the run. Some runners said it was warm but i didn’t feel that way at all.
Gun went off at exactly 5:00 am for the mass start of both the 24k and 12k runners which i would estimate to be a hundred people or less. Although it was still dark, we had cool air, overcast skies with very forgiving temperatures pretty much the whole way through and even the sunlight towards late morning was bearable.
I started out slowly with running buddy Jun, Ashley Dimanlig, a strong trail runner, trail habitue James Yap Lim and later, Ricky Francisco. This was the group i would be running with from start to end.
We started along the right lane of the main highway, turned right into a residential area after about 400 meters then passed through market stalls, another residential street before descending into a wooden bridge on the way to the trails.
The trails could have been marked a little better. My group over-shot a mark when the leading runners were coming back from a downhill portion, apparently lost too, just 1.5 kms after the start. We back-tracked a bit and found our way back through a poorly marked uphill climb and we were all now following the leading runners. There were a few inclines at the early stages that were a bit more difficult than expected (a precursor of more difficult climbs to come) but it was all worth it!
“Always rely on the markers because the person in front of you may not know where they are going”.
Not when the markers are pointing in the wrong direction!
A funny thing happened when we were about 4kms into the trails. We reached a “Y” junction that was manned by two young gay marshals, their lips glowing with bright red lipsticks, heavy make-up and all, who were emphatically telling us to turn left, as it was the correct route. It seemed that earlier, they had inadvertently turned the arrow marker (located beside them) to point to the right side road which the leading runners followed as they thought was the right route!
The blunder was only discovered when other marshals, who were stationed a kilometer away after the junction, were worried why no runners had emerged towards them when the first batch should have passed through their station half an hour earlier. At this point, more than half of the 12 and 24k runners have already entered the wrong way! Imagine our laughter when these two poor kids told us their blooper and the predicament they were in! Hahah…
Since the route is a loop, all the runners who followed the wrong way took it to themselves to continue the run, to run in reverse of the course since they were way too far to turn back (more laughter)!
When we reached the next water station after the junction, our amazement were further heightened when Ricky Francisco, a 12k runner who was ahead of us by a minute was told by people manning the station that we were the first 24k runners who have reached their post! Funny as it seem, with our “run the flats-walk the hills-sprint the downhills” scheme, the five of us were now technically leading the race! LOL!
“On the trails, any which way you go is always the right way”!
Like the rest of the group, i was walking most of the uphills which were more pronounced during the last stages of the run. And there were a few instances that when Ashley stopped in front of me, my legs stopped moving too for a moment before having to spur myself onwards when she began to start again. Usually, these were on uphills that we were summitting non-stop but we would compensate by attacking all downhills.
Our group finished the race a few minutes of each other with Ashley and myself crossing the finish line together. My thighs were painfully bruised and throbbing from the relentless uphills but still, it was a great trail run and no matter which direction you run, clock-wise or otherwise, it isn’t where you came from, it’s the journey that counts!
Here’s the rest of the story, in pictures..