Salomon X-Trail Race: A Dead-End At The Halfway Mark

There were many eye-openers, sometimes quite painful lessons to learn from my first Trail race at the Tagaytay Higlands last Saturday during the Salomon 24K Mountain/Trail Run. Each trail run experience is different for anyone, but some harsh realities are applicable to everyone if, for no other reason, a fair share of caution.

The trails and mountains of the Tagaytay Higlands were daunting and arduous. We ran through muds, ran inside forests, up steep hills, we walked along fenced edges of ravines, we descended with the help of a rope down a steep embankment and the most bewildering part for me was we ran past a huge, agitated and rampaging cow which charged us head-on and once we dodged its bulldozing head, it came back at our backs as we scampered anew saving our arses in the process!

I and the other runners could barely walk on the sideways, laughing out loud recalling this very unusual experience!

Unlike other trail races I joined in the past, this course was well-marked with ribbons and banderitas guiding us into those mazes, the race wasn’t the least bit crowded, it had a friendly vibe, marshals were stationed on very unlikely sections of the forest and they had enough sports drinks and water stations to fill up our hydration bottles without having to worry when the next station will be. Indeed, it was a very well-organized race.

The start

Group Pic before the run

Single tracks at the beginning

The first trail section of the run felt really good as i and other runners had already ran this 6.7 km trail section on a test run a few weeks before. I was picking up tempo quite good although my breathing has always been labored which happens always when running uphill trails. Most of it were single track, rocky, steep and quite technical—you really had to watch your step and go easy on those slippery short down hills.

I ditched my regular trail shoe in favor of my Mizuno Prophecy road shoe that had nice clinging outsoles and performed very well during our test run on these same trails. I thought that it would perform just as well during the actual race on both roads and trails and that I could just coast along with it. Boy, was i wrong! I had forgotten that it had rained several days prior to this race that part of the course had become wet and muddy. I had to stop several times to remove the mud off the shoes and if you didn’t, it felt like you were dragging a pair of military boots.

Well placed signs

A view on what lies ahead

At the 10km mark going towards the main asphalted highway, I was still going on nicely until I felt a sharp twitch of pain on my left heel. I scaled back into a run-walk mode. I then stopped into a road side, sat down to remove some pebbles that were inside my right shoe. When I rose-up to start again, that pain was very sharp and lingering this time, not just on the left foot but it was also creeping into my right heel! My old nemesis, plantar fasciitis had returned!

I was in survival mode for the next 2 kms as I could barely move. The pain, especially on my left heel was excruciating every time I make a step. The pain became unbearable that at the last hydration table on the 12th km mark just before climbing the highest peak of the course, I threw in the towel and informed the marshals that I was going to abandon the race. I had fought the thought of quitting a dozen times during those 2 kms before the half-way mark even if it would take me to walk all the way to the finish but the odds seemed not to be in my favor. This was my first DNF.

With my head bowed, I was driven back on a motorcycle of a security escort to the finish line area where an ambulance was already waiting and I was immediately attended to by the medics.

In summary, even though my run didn’t end the way I wanted it to be, I’m glad I ran it, just the same. Just to be able to feel and experience the struggle of running a difficult course even when injured, is rewarding in itself.

The race was a humbling and learning experience. I had trained on hilly terrain for this race so I thought I was ready to face up the challenge. I had 25k LSD runs on my own. I thought I had adequate shoes that would stand the rigors of the terrain. Apparently, not so. The hills and those shoes eventually got to me and what these two didn’t do, my plantar sure did!

I hope to be back soon and looking forward to the next challenge.

Here are some more pictures of the race:

I was tailing this group

All uphills from here

Long winding trails

At about the 4km mark

At the 2nd half of the trails

Val blends well with his surroundings

ARC: More Than Just A Running Store

The only running store located in the city of Manila and a stone’s throw away from the running paths of Roxas Boulevard, A Runner’s Circle (ARC) seems to be enjoying its exclusivity in the area and content enough to cater to the running habitues of Manila and even beyond.

Two weeks ago, during the Condura Skyway Marathon, i bump into Raul Acuna, ARC’s local managing partner (while he was handing out free GUs to the runners along the marathon route) and he invited me to visit the store. This was going to be my second visit. The first time was during their opening launch last October and they had a still modest selection of products but has grown since then (read here).

But what caught my attention later was how the mission of the store has evolved over the months into much more than selling shoes and gear. It has supported some local runners through sponsorships by way of free running gear and entry fees. They even have sponsored some fun runs that starts from their store going to Rizal Park and back with overflowing snacks and drinks.

Although just a recreational runner, Raul even goes further by attending races and lends hand by giving out sports drinks and gels along the course to any runner who wants it. But Raul isn’t stopping here. He has some grand plans in the offing and will be more inter-active with the running community as well.

The group fun runs will continue and ARC will sponsor various running activities that will tap the main running clubs of Metro Manila. They will also provide seminars and clinics on everything about running from how to have the proper running form to getting motivation while injured. Raffle draws will be had.

To interact more with the runners, they will set-up an information center that will provide race applications, schedules, names of running clubs to join, recommend running coaches and sports doctors and point you to places for your runs. However, their main thrust is to continue to impart their wealth of experience, knowledge and insight into running and getting the right shoe for your fit and avoid running injuries.

Raul envisions ARC as a gathering place for runners where people can come in to hang-out and talk about everything from their upcoming race, their last work-out, the value of a new shoe and to talk about whose hot in their get-ups and crushes among the members.

So who says you can’t talk about your crushes too?

Here’s a look inside their store now:

Complete Brooks line-up

Love the Kinvaras

Hydration belts, fully represented

More on Amphipod

Shoe inserts/injury prevention products

Gels galore. Buy 3, take 1 free!


K-Swiss too

No, this isn't buy 3, take 1 too:-(

I'm pining for this!

The ARC singlet and shirt

ARC honcho, Raul Acuna. The bottle brandy behind him is not for sale.:-)


Team ARC!

Jeff Galloway: “Gallowalking” in Manila

He is probably the world’s leading authority on Running and has authored more than a dozen books about the sport, including his best-selling Book on Running. He also writes a monthly column for Runner’s World magazine.

JEFF GALLOWAY is arriving in Manila and in Cebu to give a series of lectures on training used by elite runners apply to runners of all levels. He explains his secrets for running better, and his revolutionary ideas on the Galloway method of running, “run more-walk some” which i fondly refer to as “Gallowalk”. Jeff tells beginners how to get started sensibly and provides unique training for all run distances.

Jaymie Pizarro (thebullrunner) and the forwardleanrunning team are bringing in Mr. Galloway with schedule as follows:

Manila Talk Schedule:
  • Feb 2, Wednesday, 6 to 9 PM, Colegio de San Agustin Basketball Arena, Dasmarinas Vill., Mkt
  • Feb 5, Saturday, 2 to 5 PM, Colegio de San Agustin Basketball Arena, Dasmarinas Vill., Mkt
Tickets are currently being sold at P500 for the lectures, but they are providing special group discount of 15% OFF for 50 TICKETS should you wish to purchase in bulk for your company/ running group/ club/ clients/ friends/ partners.
For more info, you can check out Jaymie’s blog (here) or e-mail her at: