Race Report: Merrell Adventure Run 2013

The local folk song, “Planting Rice Is Never Fun” has never been so apt in describing the farmers’ hardships and sacrifice while toiling their lands to plant rice and other crops for our staple food and that of their sustenance. The lyrics…

Planting rice is never fun,
Bending over ’til the set of sun.
Cannot sit, cannot stand,
Plant the seedlings all by hand.

I’m sure many runners at yesterday’s MERRELL Adventure Trail Run got a glimpse of this experience, although just fleetingly and without even bending to plant anything.

I was giddy and apprehensive at first when we approached this tiny rice field after a race marshal informed us that we had about 5kms to go on our 21k run. No inkling whatsoever that another major obstacle was just a few meters ahead. Seeing the runners wade through this slimiest of mud, clenching their shoes on one hand and using the other for balance, we got the drift that if you wore them on, the shoes would get stuck under it and would be hard to retrieve them.

So while wading on just about 20 meters of this paddy that’s knee deep, felt like a quick-sand and very muddy, me and the others got to experience a very yucky feeling while stepping on some bulge on the soft ground that’s very slippery and slimy…you get to trash underneath on Carabao’s poop that lies together with the mounds of mud under it!

When we emerged from this “obstacle”, the stench on all of us was very revolting as we all smelled like “carabao shit”, from head to toe! No water was immediately made available when we landed on dry ground so we just used the grass to wipe-off the mud clinging to our toes, calves, hands and knees. This may well be Merrell’s version of the X-Terra Race, “Putik Pare” (Mud Run) and what better term could you call this but the “Pooh-Pooh, Pare”!

This was actually the second of two muddy obstacles, the first which came after the 8th km mark when we had to crawl for about 15 meters beneath a chicken wire and sharp bamboo twigs dangling in our heads  where the crowd got backed-up to wait for their turn.

To sum up the race, here’s  some observations/notes which i took during the race:

  • The 21k race route was awesome… great scenery, trails galore, river crossings, mountain ranges
  • Though views were beautiful, the course itself was very difficult! Lots of uphills (so lots of walking), some of the downhill parts were very steep and slippery as i saw a lot of runners slide down, tumble and roll from side to side with some injuries
  • Though not frequent, water supplies were adequate and they served really ice-cold water with cubes of ice that you can place in your hydration back pack.
  • Race Marshals were adequate and were in crucial junctions to guide the runners
  • Mud-pit crawl area should have been placed on a wider road. The area was too narrow, only 3 rows of runners could be accommodated so there was a huge back up at the entrance
  • It was so nerve-wracking that the last kilometer was all uphill and we had to stop-and-go several times before hitting the finish line. A marvelous moment though when you reach the top!
  • Race Director Thumbie Remigio was hands-on, observing the conduct of the race at many points along the course, even taking pictures while at it. Good job, Thumbie!
  • Thanks to lady Runner #97 for the push at the back to get me over the rice paddy.
  • At the turn-around point at the end of the river crossings, there was a woman half submerged in water singing religious songs on the top of her lungs which the race marshals fondly described as a “Shokoy” (half-human, half mammal)! LOL!
  • The bamboo barricade obstacles was absolutely ——! A nuisance rather than an obstacle. 🙂
  • Showers with soap were adequately provided near the finish area but had to spend another hour or so at our bathroom at home to scrub and scrape out all residual slime in my body
  • Bread, eggs, bananas and water bottles were also given to all runners

This is probably one of the best trail runs ever organized and obviously, a lot of preparation had gone into it. After those grueling uphills and downhills, stumblings and tumblings, continuous river crossings, mud crawls, the pooh-pooh walk and the last insane crawl to the finish, i finally made it to the finish in about 4 1/2 hours!

A very satisfying event and a great memory to bring home! Congrats to the Merrell people and to RD Thumbie Remigio!

I’m leaving you with some of the pictures i took from the race. Other photos courtesy of Thumbie Remigio!

See you all at the PIMCO Run2Run Adventure Trail Run in Tanay, Rizal next Sunday, May 5! (https://jazzrunner.wordpress.com/2013/04/24/pimcos-run2run-trail-run-in-tanay-may-5-2013/)

For more updates on trail runs, follow me on TWITTER @ https://twitter.com/jazzrunner

RACE RESULTS are now out! Here is the link: http://www.strider.ph/

The views around us before the start

With friends and our clean apparels before the run

On an uphill double-track trail

The trek to the first river crossing begins

Threading in slowly as the rocks under the river are unstable and slippery

A river trail, literally with cassava plants watching the proceedings

The views can’t get any better to take pictures during rush hour

The first mud-pit obstacle (photo by Thumbie)

Long lines waiting

This is another river crossing

Slippery rocks really slowed the runners down

The heat was just overwhelming so it was on shades like this that we had time to rest

Friend June, enjoying the scenery

A long and winding dirt road

The rice paddy

Mud looks like soft cement

Pooh-pooh pare!


Getting out of the water was another obstacle

I lost my water bottle here

Good job leaving your Poo-pooh, Mr. C!

Bamboo barricades

An instant Vibram Five-Fingers minimalist shoes

Single-track trail descending to another river

Another shaded path

This lady (L) literally pushed my butt so i could emerge up from the rice paddy. Thanks, Mam! 🙂

The last 2kms was a grueling uphill climb. This is the last 500 meters

Over-took this lady who was struggling to ascent like all of us did.

Dang uphill!

Last 350 meters and counting. the “Moses tablets” is in the foreground

So near, yet so far!

No, that’s not a calf compression i’m wearing. It’s the sticking mud we all got from threading the rice paddy (photo by Manghusi Photoshop)

My Ultrasipre Surge Hydration pack, camera, shorts, all soaked in mud!

My previously immaculate white Adidas socks now soaked in dirt and grime. RIP!

Update: Merrell Trail Run 2013 at Camp Sinai, San Mateo, Rizal

Four days to go before we hop and skid, jump and splash along the trails and rivers of Pintong Bukawe in San Mateo! But hey, don’t let the excitement cause you to forget important things to prepare before this race and the organizers have given these reminders for Saturday’s trail run:

If you don’t have these special equipments above, an empty water bottle will do or any container that you can re-fill water into and grip easily with your hands while running.

Please be reminded to come to the race venue on time, late comers will only be allowed to run if they arrive 10 minutes after the gun-start of their respective categories.

Please take note of the gun start time

I’m seeing many inquiries on the Merrell FB page https://www.facebook.com/MerrellPhilippines regarding where the venue is and where they could take a ride going to the site. If you were not able to avail of their special transport services from Trinoma or BGC, Merrell’s FB page have stated that there will be Jeepneys plying the SM-Masinag to Pintong Bukawe route starting at 3:30am early morning of Saturday.

Here is Merrell’s advisory:

For commuters, there will be provision of jeepneys AT SM MASINAG as early as 3:30 am until 4:00 am only. This service will bring you straight to the venue for a fee of Php 50.00, and will be on a first-come, first served basis. We strongly advice you to take this ride since there will be no public vehicles during this time. 

For non-commuters, going to Mt. Sinai will be via Marcos Hi-way, pass Masinag Market Junction to Brgy Cabading. Please take note that there is no passable route (that will reach Pintong Bukawe) from Batasan and San Mateo.

Shuttle Service

So there!

I am posting the map going to the venue itself and i hope others may find this useful.

Wishing everyone good luck and happy trail running!

Camp Sinai, Pintong Bukawe Trails: The Merrell 2013 Trail Route

This may well be one of the most beautiful and varied 21k trail course outside of Tanay and it was good to have run these rarely used trails for the very first time. Camp Sinai in Pintong Bukawe, San Mateo, Rizal was near a former dump site where trash were as high as the mountains surrounding it that made the area a no-no visit or even pass through it.

Things change however, when the land-fill was closed a few years ago and this time, a burgeoning resort-like ambiance grew on its outskirts where outdoor activities have again flourished like mountain biking, trekking and now trail running.

With rolling hills, many technical terrain and about 1,200 ft of elevation gain, it’s not an easy course but the winding switchbacks to and from the river rewards you with stunning views of rural vistas, broad valleys where many sections offers sweeping views of the vast Sierra Madre Mountains.

As with previous Merrell Adventure Trail Race editions, this year’s route was selected by trail race expert and Race Director Thumbie Remigio who has again devised a route to challenge adventure seekers. Me and a group of runners from the Merrell and Saucony groups including some bloggers were given a glimpse of what to expect.

We ran just 11 kms of the 21km route and i was very surprised at the amount of variety, from gnarly rocky paths to broad rough roads and the various river trekking one has to pass with plenty of vegetation on the sides. Warning: the last part of the race will be all uphills and i advice runners who plan to participate in this race to train on hills. Arduous as it is, the organizers will even set up mud pits to give it more a rather dirty look for trail runners!

For those who plan to join the trail run, here are some details to guide you through in registration: http://registration/merrell-adventure-run-2013-at-pintong-bucawe-san-mateo-rizal/

I’m leaving you some pictures for a sneak peek of the Merrell 2013 race route and trails. Enjoy!

The welcome sign, 300 meters upwards

The views atop Camp Sinai where the starting line will be

Cottages at Camp Sinai

Briefing from Race Director Thumbie Remigio

The start of our run

It will be all downhill for the first 3.5 kms.

A small river that will greet runners on the way down. No crossings here

Views on the downhills were excellent

Trails passes at the side for a better view of the mountains

A bump during the downhill portion

All the trails you want

Seldom used trails here

With the group taking a break

There will be a long section of these on the trails

Stopping at a cross-road while Thumbie giving some instructions

At the 3km mark during this point

Single track trails leading to sterling views of the Sierras

Atop a portion of the mountain

This trail leads down to the river

One of the best views of the run!

Picture doesn’t give justice to the feeling while you view this. A wow scenario!

The group waiting at the edge of the river

Root crops at the river’s edge

Trekking towards the river’s edges

Wish we could just lie down and enjoy more of the views

About to cross the river

They didn’t want to get their shoes wet?

In the middle of it all

View from the other side

This will be part of the route

Threading some trails before we cross to the other side

Approaching a fenced property

Only the 21k runners will pass through here

An elevated path

It’s back to the river

Thumbie and Nonoy

Deep portion of the river. The bamboos are so old and brittle that it was crackling while crossing it.

Back to the boondocks

Posing with 2 local farmers and their dog

Up to the green mountains

Jojo Pauly

At the second half of our run

Lots of banana trees here

Rough roads will also be part of the route

This is a very long uphill trek

…with good views while walking the steepest part

Kids running towards us

The view behind us

Exiting the Sitio Watershed P7, Pintong Bokaue

A large boulder at the edge of the trail

A sprint on the downhill part

Going up back to Camp Sinai

The 10k and 5k runners will be scaling up this steep climb to the finish

Me on my way up…

Resting at a side mountain cafe at Camp Sinai

Moses’ tablets (Samsung?) You just don’t know the enormity of this until………….

…you actually come close to it!

150 meters before the run ends. Back to where we started.

Took our lunch here

And despite the 2 hour++ gruelling, uphill, downhill, river trekking run–we find this sign posted at a sanctuary…

Surviving The Merrell Adventure Run

Runners congregating at the start of the race

Yesterday, i had the good fortune of joining over 1,500 trail runners for the Merrell Adventure Trail Run at the Timberland Heights in San Mateo, Rizal. It was an adventure of  monstrous proportions but for many of us including myself, it was a classic survival run of staggering hills, river crossings, slippery down slopes and getting muddied from foot to chest!

The trail conditions was far from perfect as it had rained the past several days. I’ve ran these trails in the past in mostly dry conditions and yesterday’s early morning drizzle just before the race was a portent of things to come…the dirt trails would be muddy and slippery!

The backdrop of the Timberland Race, cool mountain ranges

I arrived at the Timberland Resort with my friend June at about 5:10am and one thing we noticed at the race area was the sheer number of female runners who have entered this event.  Many of them came prepared, wearing trail shoes and some with camel-backs and I was wondering if they knew what what was in store for them as many were carrying cameras and fone-cams and running a trail race for the first time. Nevertheless, it’s was nice to see the ladies ready to get their feet and butts wet, daring enough to face the rough and tumble of trail running! Go, go ladies!:-)

As always on my trail runs and races, i carried my Fujifilm digicam to capture the scenery and the throng of runners every time we approach a new terrain or obstacle. Finish times are inconsequential in trail races as each race presents different terrains and levels of difficulties so it’s more of a reconnection to nature, just enjoying the scenery and highlighting the experiences of the runners themselves.

aNR UP Heartbreakers just before gunstart

The first 2 kms of the trail was all too familiar, being the same route as that of the All-Terra Mountain Race but goes straight to the woods on mostly single-tracks. They’re very technical trails in constantly changing terrain with unrelenting climbs, roots and gravel. In this race, it’s now more of dirt and mud! The volunteers and marshals were very helpful, offering to give their arms to runners to prevent them from slipping on the muddy slopes and while crossing rivers.

A kilometer after the race start

It's the first downhill of the trails

Traversing the single-track trails

The runners getting crowded on a narrow path leading to a river

Can't stand still to take a pic...

Approaching the first river crossing

This is when the fun really starts!

Getting our feet wet!

March on the river

A water station awaits the first hurdlers

Runners clinging to anything they can hold on to avoid the slippery path

The side edges seem to have the most grip

Lending a helping hand

One of the killer hills

At the crest

Markers were visible along the route

At the last 3 kms

I stopped on this part for several minutes taking several shots of this sweeping vista on my right side

I swear, this was more than 2 kms!

One dry part near the last km

Gearing for home

Nearing the finish

Home at last! (Pic by Louie Lopez)

Logistics and race organization was above par. The trails were very well-marked with prominent signage’s and kilometer markers. The water stations were adequately stocked and well-spaced although i still relied on my own hydration on parts when i really need a drink.

One nice thing i noticed about this race was when runners offered their help for other runners by clinging to each others’ arms and hands when crossing the obstacles. It was a nice feeling giving help and being offered the same that showed the generous side of runners.

The one longest uphill was a killer when i struggled to get up one step at a time. It was like climbing the last few steps of Mt. Everest—take one step, stop, take a few deep breaths then take another step and so on. My chest wanted to explode!

All these said, this race was a real adventure, an awesome run, dirty, but no matter what you call it, it’s a FUN, FUN race! Kudos to Thumbie, Jeff of Merrell, Ben Alacar, Jeremy and the rest of the race organizers for an all-around, great event!

My race souvenirs:

A muddied singlet

...shoes and legs!

Merrell Adventure Trail Run 2011

I’ve ran the trails of Timberland Heights a couple of times and there’s always something exciting to discover in this unwashed paradise in San Mateo, Rizal. The trails offer tree-covered hills on mostly single-tracks, wildflowers, spring crossings and some open fields. The terrain ranges from easy to difficult and there are parts that you really have to walk those uphills with little to hold on, except some thin branches of trees which breaks easily so there’s always those challenges.

For the past two years, there were races organized by Elite Multi-Sports Resources headed by Raul Ylanan, the All-Terra King of The Mountain Run and Bike Race which was very well-attended by both biking enthusiasts and runners. I’m not so sure if  there will be a race this year and the last race last year had one great post-run barbecue party sponsored by Mang Inasal.

Merrell is coming up with their own trail run and this will also be held at Timberland Heights on June 18. I’m sure Merrell’s will have their own route different from that of the King of the Mountain race and they will be having a 21k distance, aside from the 5k and 10k. Here are the details:


June 18, 2011


On its second year, the Merrell Adventure Run again leads you through dirt roads, flowing streams, river crossing, rock scrambling, and uphill & downhill trails in a new but equally challenging & breathtaking race course at Timberland Heights, San Mateo, Rizal. Brave up to this outdoor challenge and run on the rugged side this June 18, 2011.


Date: June 18, 2011 (Saturday)

Time: Assembly is at 5:00am for all categories. Race starts at 5:40 am (21K), 5:50 am (10K), and 6:00am (5K).

Race Distances: 5K, 10K, 21K


New Venue: Timberland Heights, San Mateo, Rizal

New Category: 21K

Exciting prizes and freebies await participants!


5K 10K 21K
1st (Male and  Female)  3,000.00  8,000.00 15,000.00 Cash prize and Gift bag
2nd (Male and Female)  2,000.00  6,000.00 11,000.00 Cash prize and Gift bag
3rd (Male and Female)  1,000.00  4,000.00  9,000.00 Cash prize and Gift bag
  • Prizes will also be raffled-off during the program. The Race Bib number automatically qualifies each runner for the RAFFLE DRAW.
  • FINISHER’S MEDALS will be given after the race to the Top 20 finishers of 5K, Top 20 finishers of 10K, and all runners of 21K who finish the course before the 9:00am final cut-off time for all categories.
  • CERTIFICATES will be sent through email within two weeks after the race date to those who finish the course in their specific categories.
  • RACE RESULTS will be posted on Takbo.ph and the Merrell Philippines fan page.


Trail running shoes, Hydration pack/Bottle belt, Cap, Gloves, Running gaiters and Energy bar or gel, especially for the 21K runners.


Download the MAR registration form from http://www.flickr.com/photos/62719183@N07/5709093152/ or get it at selected Merrell concept shops. Submit filled-out registration form with your fee from May 14 to June 14, 2011 at the MERRELL CONCEPT SHOPS listed below. Race Kits can be claimed June 1, 2011 onwards.


  • G/F Space 23-24 Phase 8
  • Gaisano Market Market
  • Taguig City
  • Tel. no. (02) 836-1560


  • Space 2128 M2
  • Quezon City
  • Tel. No. (02) 915-0197


  • 2/F Festival Mall
  • Alabang, Muntinlupa City
  • Tel. No. (02) 659-3284


  • Nepo Ave. Angeles City, Pampanga
  • Tel. no (045) 304-0654

Registration Fees: (Inclusive of Race Kit and Race Singlet)

  • P500 – 5K
  • P650 – 10K
  • P800 – 21K