Adventure Run At Ipo Dam

I had originally planned to run another 32k last Sunday to complement the 29k run i did the Sunday before figuring it would be a good way to get back to back LSDs before the big one in Camsur, three weeks from now. However, with regular training partners Betty and Mel “out of commission” (Betty is abroad while Mel is still recovering from his PAU 70k run last Sunday), i called up Harry Contreras, another Runnex member and asked him if i can join his group on their Sunday run. Seems that they were going to do a 19-20k mountain run and their destination…Ipo Dam in Norzagaray, Bulacan. So great, another adventure run!  

Harry fetched my at the Q.C. Hall at about 4:30am and he was with his son, Brian, also a runner. We arrived in Lagro before 5am and met up with his group and turns out to be other Runnex members (Obet and Gani, among them) who were also preparing for the Camsur Marathon. The drive to Norzagaray took another 25 minutes as we finally arrived at a Maynilad Office’s private compound where Obet’s brother works for.  

The Runnex group at the Maynilad compound in Norzagaray

Before long, we were up and about and did some warm up jogs and light stretching as we were warned before hand the the first 2.5 kms were all uphill and the rest of the route would be rolling up and down (whew, another Tanay-like route!). The distance up to the entrance gate was about 8kms and from there up to the Dam itself would be another 2k so it would be 10k, one-way. I was going to approach this run just like an easy training run, walk the ups, run the flats and speed-up the downhills. It would basically be a nice training run, with no expectations of time nor pace–just a fun day of adventure running. 

There were about 14 of us who lined up the narrow but scenic roads with Harry and Gani leading us to the ardous uphill passes that made me breathe heavily while trying to break those hills in segments. To keep the uphills more manageable, i tried to concentrate more in taking the views around me with mountain mists and flora that were attractions to itself. Here are some pictures: 

The run started with a 2.5 kilometer uphill climb

One of the breath-taking views along the way

Lush foliages at the right side of the highway

Continuous uphill going to a place called "Hilltop"

A rice paddy on top of a hill

Foggy mountain crests on the horizons

There were more of this views all throughout the run

Taking a break, from left Edwin, Gani, me and Harry

L-R: Edwin, Gani, Harry and Harry's son, Brian

At the 6th km mark

Coundn't resist taking a picture of this

After 8 kms, we're at the gates of the Ipo Dam at last

Thank God, "Running" isn't included in the no-no list:-)

The Ipo Dam is located at Baranggay San Mateo, here in Norzagaray where it siphons the water from the Angat River direct to La Mesa Dam and ends up at the Balara Filtration Plant in Quezon City. Ninety-five (95%) percent of the water requirements of Metro Manila come from Norzagaray through Ipo Dam. The compound leading to the dam itself have wide streets with tall Ipil-ipil trees lined-up in both sides which zigzags its way down to the bridge area. It somewhat resembles the roads going to Loakan airport in Baguio City except that on this area, the temperatures were now in the mid to high 80s, really hot if not for the trees that shaded us. 

Continuing our run down the tree-lined roads, we saw a small waterfall where we made a stop to freshen up. I had noticed the gushing water below that indicated we were nearing the dam. So close to it, we rushed down to see what’s in store… 

Now inside the reservoir, we re-grouped and took on the downhills slowly. L-R: Harry, Gani, Linda, Rizza, Doc Benny, Doc Lito and Glenda

We had the road all to ourselves

The view atop a zigzag road

Saying "hi!"

Enjoying the downhill but would be a torture later when we climb back those hills

The trees offered shade on a very hot morning

Linda, on extreme left is about to stop and buy a rice cake from that vendor

Just a few hundred meters from the dam

We see a small waterfall up ahead and rush to it

The waterfall can be barely seen, at right

Another shot after cooling ourselves

Winding down the stretch

Getting down to the dam which from here is now visible

Here we are now at the bridge stern of the dam

The view, at last!

The old Ipo Dam

We all were glad to have seen this place for the first time

At the other end of the dam which is all but dried up

A memorial marker which commemorates the recapture of the Dam by the Filipino-American forces from the Japanese invaders

Applying sun-tan lotion and hydrating for our trek back up to where we came from

The painful journey on the way up back those hills. "Gallowalking" rules!

Time seemed to pass quickly and soon we made the exit out. Harry, Gani, Obet and myself decided to run an extra 2.5 kms up the “Hilltop” which was the route going to the entrance of the National Power Corporation where the Angat Dam ( read it here)  is located. Obet, who grew up in the town himself, almost knew all the people we encountered at the streets saying his highs and we joked that if he would run for Mayor here, he would get all the votes, hands down.:-). As we stopped at the hilltop mark, with a birds eye view of Ipo Dam, we met some cyclists who were also on their way to Angat Dam. 

Cheers with C2!

Making our way to the "hilltop", we met these bikers who were on their way there too.

We got on top of the hill near the National Power Corp going to Angat Dam. At the back is the Ipo Dam

Ipo Dam. We were just on that bridge an hour or so ago

Completing about 18k, we headed back the main road on our way back to the Maynilad compound. I took my last sachet of GU banana-strawberry flavored gel and gobbled it down with some 8oz of ice-cold water before the descent. That was a nice long gentle downhill (part of the 1st 2.5k uphill start) that seemed to go on forever. It was an easy 6:30/pace coast until we reached our starting point. We covered a total of 22k. We all had a giant sized breakfast of eggs, giant tilapia fish, spare ribs, corned-beef, egg-plant garnished with tomatoes and onions, rice and even tasted for the first time “baboy damo” (wild pig) cooked as adobo. Yummy! 

Thanks to Obet and family for hosting us a great breakfast and to the Runnex club for taking us in an adventure run. It was a wonderful experience–the scenic route, fresh air and wonderful people–it’s one of the joys of running! 

On our way back to home base, we saw some trails that lead us to this stream

The water streaming here came from the Dam itself, as we were told

When Harry met Obet...Obet, a Bank Manager (in singlet) has about 12 full marathon finishes under his belt