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!)

Brooks Happy Run Recap

It’s tough to be at the receiving end of criticisms and complaints specially if you’re the Race Director of a major race that didn’t live up to expectations, even if it wasn’t the RD’s fault at all. At last Sunday’s Brooks Happy Run, the 15k runners who were already lined-up at the start were told there would be a slight delay before they would be fired-off. Five minutes had passed, then 10 and the runners became restless. Doc Marvs and i were standing just outside the starting line waiting for these runners to start so we could also prepare and line up for our 10k and 5k races which were to follow.

Fifteen minutes had passed and the runners were beginning to get incensed. I was looking at the 2 DJs nervously as they were continuously harping on other things to entertain them which only further agitated the runners. They should have just given an explanation why the delay was taking so long.

Little did we know that the cause of delay was happening a few kilometers from the starting area. It seems that the group which was contracted to deliver the water and set-up the water stations arrived late and had to scramble to get these ready before the runners arrived. This was relayed to us by one of the Brooks organizers, Julius who had just arrived from the area and hurry back to the starting line.

Race Director Thumbie Remigio had to make that crucial decision of delaying the start as he didn’t want the first wave of runners to reach Buendia Avenue without the water stations set-up first. So there. Definitely no fault of Thumbie’s but the delay have a trickle-down effect and it showed during the race. I was told that the water stations at the 15k route were set-up at irregular intervals, some of them had even run dry and marshals were not in their proper places.

Good thing for us 5k runners, there was nary a hitch on our run and except for the late start, we had adequate supply of water, markers were present and the marshals were at crucial positions of the route. I’m sure Thumbie will be able to improve from here as he has delivered well-received races in the past. Here are some pictures of the race:

Calm before the storm

The 15k runners were waiting patiently for the gun start

Crowd of runners have now swelled up to the tail end where the 10k runners already positioned themselves

Not even the banters of DJ Chloe helped in pacifying the runners as Doc Marvs, Jay Em and myself waited for our event to start

Some friends from the race, not one but three!