Brooks Cross Country Challenge: A Short Race Recap

Downhills, uphills, rocks, an almost dry waterfall, mountain scenery, stream and river crossings, town folks cheering, a near fall from my rappelling–these may well be the gist of my run at last Sunday’s Brooks Cross Country Challenge in Tanay, Rizal where i did the 24k distance.

Though i’ve ran here several times before, i still marvel at the views like i’m running it for the first time. The trails in Laiban, the mountains and rivers towards Maysawa are impressive. So was the race itself. Adequate water and Gatorade stations every 3 kms (except for the last 2 kms when they ran out of those containers), presence of marshals and unlimited fresh air are what we experienced along the route.

With some of the running bloggers

At the start, with friend Ener in raised fist

One thing unique about this race is that the starting line is located inside the grounds of the Sierra Madre Resort and Hotel, within backdrop of pine trees and not off the street fronting it, as you might expect. This hotel area has been the jump-off point of many trail runners and serves as an access in exploring the many labyrinth trails of Tanay.

You got to love this place as it epitomizes the perfect start of a trail race. The Brooks Cross Country run is a challenging course and don’t let the starting downhill fool you. The downhill road represents most of the first 4km descent and had us rolling easily. However, being an out and back course, these hills haunted us back with a vengeance.

The temperature was surprisingly cool when the race started at 6am but after 2 hours passed, the sun was really blazing down on us but i guess that was part of the obstacle and many more man-made obstacles during the last kilometer of the race.

It was dry, most of the streams were just ankle deep and even the waterfalls at Maysawa which many had hoped to splash and wade under it turned out to be a “falls-alarm” as runners jokingly defined, like reduced to just trickles of water dripping down from a kitchen faucet! Summer woes!

Directions of the route was marred when somewhere at the 9 km mark before reaching the Maysawa Falls, many 24k runners missed going to the Falls for the first turn-around and instead turned right directly to the 2nd turn-around point. When marshals realized the confusion, they immediately set up wooden barriers to block the right turn path. By then those runners whom we overtook were now ahead of us on the return.

More pictures here:

Water falls no more

With eventual Champion, Lito Divina

Those last 3 km uphills were the worst part as i struggled walking, together with those around me just to make it 100 meters at a time. The inclines were tough and so was the very warm temperature.

Entering back to the Sierra Madre Resort for the finish, we still had to run about a mile around the resort grounds and hurdle several man-made obstacles that were erected. I nearly fell and got bruised during the first rappel when i went off balance and partly slid off the ropes, my back againts the ground.

Clinging on the ropes, i froze momentarily for a few seconds trying to figure out how to recover from the situation. With all my might I made a reverse turn as the marshals were shouting to hold the ropes in between my legs. Slowly, i lowered myself to scale down the last 12 meters off that ravine! I got a nasty cut on my elbows and wiped off the blood several times with my gloves.

Unofficial time: 4:25. Ugh!

Shout-out to the organizers of this event, Ian Alacar and Ben, his father for a very challenging race! It was great seeing and greeting other friends along the route, Ener, Franc, Jham, Erick, Chips, Pedz, Irish, Norma, Alvin, Lito, Weng, James and many others. Good job to you all!

Thanks to Vimz Mendoza and to the other bloggers who were all part of this race!

(Thanks to Ener and Photo-Ops for some of the photos!)

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