Running The Trails Of Nuvali

The notion of trails conjures up jaunts in old-growth, secluded forests that goes through wild sceneries of rolling terrain alongside gently flowing rivers and cascading waterfalls. Except…i was running right smack on the waters of a flowing river, this time! 

Last Sunday, having been invited by Ann Tajonera, Assistant Brand Manager of New Balance, Planet Sports, Inc., i had the pleasure of joining 22 other trail runners try-out a 15km trail in the Nuvali Headlands in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, parts of which will be used during the New Balance- Trail Adventure Run this coming June 20th. It was also an opportunity to practice in its truest form the art of Chi Running (CR) and no less than certified instructor Lit Onrubia was on hand to lead the charges, giving tips during the run and between rest breaks. 

This particular trail was mapped-out by Neville Manaois of Second Wind. The first half of the route featured mostly single track paths and weaves through rolling, open view sceneries. The trails offer excellent footing, a pleasant scenery although it could be hot in the open except that we had perfect weather during the early morning run. 

The second-half of the trail was more scenic, running through light forest, wider tracks but not too technical. However, all that changed when we were led into a deep, sharp descent towards a ridge and a river channel of lush wilderness. The river run was going to be the highlight of this trail. We were only able to run some shallow stretches of water as we were reduced to threading the waters which at some sections were knee deep high. It was slippery on the rocks and one false move, we were down on our knees on the water! For starters, these were some of the pictures taken:

Lit Onrubia giving instructions before the run

Neville Manaois giving a short briefing of the trail

Start of the run at about 5:00am

On one of the course's uphills

Sprinting runners behind me

Lit giving instructions on how to attack the downhills...

...and the uphills

More tips on running form

Our first water break after 3 kms

Off we go again

Running on a single track

Time out for a picture!

The wide, open plains of Nuvali

Past grazing cows on the left

One more briefing before we head for the river

At the 10k mark

Another hole to get through

Ann's all too excited to reach the river

Final assault of the river

Finally reaching the river's embankment

Lit giving tips on river running

Getting our feet wet!

Threading on the slippery rocks. Neville (in red) doing a balancing act

Deep inside the levee. I'm way back still taking shots

A stop at a cascading waterfalls

We were all wet at this point

We all sank ankle high, sometimes knee deep

Poor trail shoe!

A deep ravine on the right side

The group on our way back to Manila

I was just content in threading the river trail very slowly as i ran/walked most of the route shooting away pictures. Runners were passing me but i didn’t mind. I was able to reach a female runner ahead of me and we decided to run the last kilometer together. 

Finally, we saw the finish area as we gently jogged the end of our run. Hallelujah! I learned a tremendous deal on this particular trail run and i thank Lit for the invaluable tips. Foremost among the various techniques Lit imparted are: 

—  Be loose on the “downhills.” Posture your body on a sitting-like position and focus on a faster cadence, keeping your feet soft, light and nimble while keeping shoulders relaxed. Drive down hard if you want. 

—  Focus on maintaining “effort” level and not pace. 

—  Take it easy on single tracks, but go fast on wider lanes. 

—  Let your arms do the work on uphills and lift-up your head. 

—  When running through rivers, attack the shallow parts without minding if your shoes get wet. If tiny stones and sand get the insides of your shoe, don’t hesitate to stop and remove them to avoid blisters. 

—  If racing on trails, shoot corners/bends. It means sprint past the corners when runners behind you can’t see you and you should be able to increase the distance between you and the runners following you. 

Over-all, it was another fun trail run that should be experienced by all trail enthusiasts!

Of Cardiac Hills, Trails and BJs

It was an auspicious run to start the New Year! When the 35 of us runners decided to tackle what is known as Cardiac Hill at Sta. Rosa, Laguna, little did i know that we would be running on trails, dirt roads, unrelenting hills and that we were sharing these trails with bikers.

While the trails, located just past South Forbes Golf City is originally a bike trail, it offered many runners who have not experienced running on trails the opportunity of hitting the off-road dirt paths, inner rural roads and experience the tranquility, beauty and fresh air of moving through nature.

Paseo de Sta. Rosa

Doc T, Emil and I arrived at the Paseo De Sta. Rosa at about 4:30am with our usual running group from The drive from Quezon City was quick and snappy as the South Luzon Expressway was still deserted at this early hour. we had light breakfast first then prepared our hydration belts with Gatorade and water.

I had worn my red Nike Human race dry fit shirt in anticipation of things warming up and had to stack another bottled water in my belt bag, just in case. I brought some chocolates and a GU and was ready for the long haul.

At the start, Paseo De Sta. Rosa

Short briefing from Brian

While waiting for the arrival of others

The first 2 kilometers followed the road inside the South Forbes Golf City. I was with the group of Doc T, James and Rico at the tail end with our escorts, Chelly and RJ who were riding mountain bikes. James had to make an early pit stop so Doc T accompanied him to what looked like a clubhouse so i was left with Rico and the 2 bikers.There was some confusion on what route to take as the lead runners overshot the course instead of turning right on our way to Cardiac Hills.

Rico, with flashlight in tow tackling the hilly portion of South Forbes

Jon's friend

The hill was probably the high point on the course and it was about 300 meters of straight uphill which many of us walked half-way through. We were exhausted but exhilarated when we reached the top. We had our picture taken up there and it was all fun just to be able to make it there.

Atop Cardiac Hill

Cardiac rest!

Getting ready for some more running

Start of the trail

Earl, Lorie & Carly


Pineapple plantation

6th km trail

The techni-kulay runners!

Had any of you had a BJ while running? Before our run, Doc T mentioned that he would have a BJ when we reached a certain section of the trail. I knew he was kidding but when i half-seriously asked if there was a brothel somewhere on the route, he laughed saying that there was a nipa hut where we could stop and buy fresh BJ or  “Buco Juice”  (Coconut Juice).

At the BJ station, finally. Aleth and Emil

Rodel with his Coco-gato drink

When we continued running downhill towards the boondocks, we encountered children who had a mantra every time we passed by them. They would say “Good Morning!” Seems that the front runners would greet everybody the same and when it was our turn to pass by them, the children would automatically initiate the greeting! We would then acknowledge them.

By the 5th kilometer, we came about the first of the trails until we reached the nipa hut with an old man selling fresh BJs. There were heaps and heaps of the coconut fruits strewn in the ground and one has just to buy from the old man and he’ll crack it open for you with his bolo. The scene could not have been more humorous and the funny thing did not escape us when the old man was also selling Gatorade (placed inside an improvised cooler) on the side. Selling fresh BJ side by side with Gatorade? Amazing!

Mang BJ doing his thing

The future Mang BJ!

Near the 10km mark

Tackling the uphill

Doc Eire and Ellen in a manger

The rest follow suit

Dirt road at the 15k mark

Last trail stretch

Last stop over at Tagaytay highway

We finished our 20km run in about two and a half hours and we were back at Paseo De Sta. Rosa. The post-run activities were now familiar: the runners described their ordeals, round and rounds of more picture taking, munching on breakfast and the usual ribbing and cracking of jokes.

Enjoying breakfast at Jolibee

Not one runner seemed unhappy about anything. There were no complaints about the heat of the sun, no excuses about pains in the legs, just all good vibes. I felt the camaraderie of one another. Absent are the distractions that sometimes interfere with the enjoyment of running. It was just a bunch of runners, a scenic but challenging course, a tremendous day.

We even got a mini “loot bag” of chocolate pretzels! Thanks, Junrox!