That Thing Called DBB Mt. Sembrano Uphill Trail Challenge: 7 Hugot Quotes From This Trail Run

Hugot #1
Me: Oh, bakit ka nakaupo na..napagod ka naba?
Aleth: Napuyat kasi ako kagabi, wala pang training
Me: Kung wala kang training, magdala ka ng maraming inspirasyon. Kung wala ka din nun, ako na magbibigay syo!

I had a little trepidation when i was invited to run the DBB Uphill Trail Challenge knowing that the mountain trail route to Mt. Sembrano had a less than kind reputation where you wrestle for the first 5 kilometers of continuous uphills on gnarly trails. Still, i think this is going to be one of the best trail races of the year even with the negligible blips of getting lost on the trails which made this race even more exciting.

So i’m sitting here typing this post with still aching thigh muscles trying not to over-emphasize the harshness of last Saturday’s trail run. It’s hard not to, Mt. Sembrano does possess this treacherous but scenic trails, similar to that of Mt. Talamitam but the former does have more gorgeous views with great sights of Laguna Lake, Talim Island, Mt. Banahaw and the Sierra Madre.

Hugot #2
JB: Ang lungkot naman sa trail na to, lalo na siguro pag ikaw mag-isa at walang kausap
Aleth: Uu nga, malungkot dito pag wala ka kasama
Me: Pag nag iisa kyo, tandaan nyo lang—hear your heartbeat, connect with yourself. Once you connect with yourself, there will never be loneliness!

With all its hardcore route, moderate to steep rocky trails through open forests, mountain ridges, steep ravines and magnificent views, there’s a certain aura that this race possess and is really hard to describe because it’s something you have to experience for yourself. From the whole trail course, i was able to deal with 2 beautiful people who made the whole journey very worthwhile! Here are some of my insights:

  • A reunion of sorts with other hard core trail runner friends whom you hadn’t seen for a long time.
  • Got to test run the AHON Gaiter product of Ronald Declarador and put it through its paces. Positive on all aspects! Will do a review later.
  • Started the run with runners i barely have seen in running events and ended with them as friends. Thanks to you both, Ms. Aleth and Ms. JB, to whom i dedicate this post!

Old trail running friends (c) rickyfrancisco

  •  A no frills, all thrills race. Nice free buff given to all runners before the start with our names printed on it! Instead of race bib numbers, our numbers were emblazoned on our arms, like in triathlons.
  • “Starting gun” jammed and fired 10 seconds after the runners were sent off via countdown providing some comic relief for the runners.

Hugot #3
Aleth: Ang hirap naman ng rutang ito! Puro paakyat! Wala bang patag naman?
Me: Wag mong hanaping ang rutang madali syo, ikaw ang mag adjust sa rutang tatahakin mo! Parang pag-ibig, wag mong pilitin ang sarili mo sa isang di ka naman gusto, hanapin mo yung lalaking makapag bibigay ligaya syo, o di ba?

At the start

With Aleth and JB (Actual hugot 1 scene)

  • Rocky trail after about 700 meters from the start. It was all uphill from there.
  • Trails galore; single track, rocky, some fire roads and mountain passes
  • Where stations ran out of water, we took advantage of spring mineral water provided by the locals or from bamboo shafts hanging above rocks and trees. And they taste good!
  • Getting lost at one part of the route when we entered a shaded trail instead of the open trail below the power lines.
  • Fresh coconut was being sold atop Peak 1 for P30.00, an increase of P10.00 just an hour before, as informed to us by marshals.
  • Stopping several times as i experienced cramps on both my thighs. So excruciating was the pain that i had to call the Race Director who was pacing nearby and he got me up like a post and held on to him so i could stretch my legs! Thanks DBB! 🙂
  • Confusion along the trails as to where the 30km runners should pass to complete their remaining distance.
  • Witnessed the organizers’ dedicated trail sweeper, Andrew Aquino who was not far behind us, remove or cut the trail ribbon markers after we, the last of the group had passed by the trails. Thanks to him also for being our trail guide.
  • Recounting race stories, life experiences and our “That Thing Called Tadhana” moments with Alex Reblora and JB Cionelo, my companions throughout the entire race.
  • Running and walking the hottest, most intense heat during the last 2.5 kilometers and imagining having super thirst-quencer halo-halo at the finish line
  • Unlimited Cobra Energy drinks at the finish line and nice swags to bring home.

Over-all this race has exceeded expectations and with just a few tweaks like adding marshals to junctions and providing more water atop the mountains, this should be a must race to be aspired for all trail runners. Hard work and dedication should bear fruit once you conquer this race and that’s definitely the case here, as this was one of the most grueling yet rewarding trail races I’ve done yet.

This mountain run is not for the weak of heart or for people who are looking to set a fast pace but I would recommend it to those looking to deviate from road events and challenge themselves with a difficult but doable trail run. Congrats to Dabobong Delos Angeles, Jon Las Bruce, Daphne Codilla, Cezar, Andrew and Ariel Aquino, Ronnel Go, Dianne Palogan and to the rest of Team MGM for a job well done!

Hugot #4
JB: Grabe, ang gaganda ng mga bulaklak dito sa trails! Paano kaya sila nabubuhay dito sa gitna ng kagubatan na di nasisilayan ng araw o tubig?
Me: Ang mga bulaklak na nabubuhay dito sa kahirapan ng gubat ay syang pinaka natatangi at pinaka maganda…parang kayo!
Aleth: At anong klaseng mga bulaklak naman kami?
Me: Hmm…Chicharon bulaklak?!

Hugot #5
Me: Teka, hihinto muna ako, grabe sakit ng cramps ko!
Aleth: Sige, dahan-dahan na lang. Samahan ka naming maglakad kung gusto mo! Ito technique dyan, kausapin mo legs mo at makiusap na wag na sya mag cramps. Works for me.
Me: (Nakatingin sa cramps ) “LEGS, SHUT UP!”

Hugot #6
JB: Pagod nako, gusto ko na maglakad!
Aleth: Uu nga, maglakad nalang tayo, tutal naman abot pa tayo sa cut-off time
Me: Sige, ok lang maglakad. Pwede din kitang kargahin kung gusto mo, pasakayin kita sa tricycle!

JB taking a break to massage her aching plantar before her assault to the first peak

At the first peak with Andrew Aquino (left) who took off the trail ribbon markers once the last runners passed by

Nice to see Marissa who has been a constant fixture in various trail races in the past

View from the peak

What happened to your hair?

Wrong entry! We mistakenly entered this trail when we should have taken the open trails near the power lines. Lost a few hundred meters.

Finally finding our way back on the right track

It was mostly downhill from here

Long downhill to go before we reach sea level

It was great to have these Gaiters which kept tiny pebbles out of my old worn-out but still great NB 660 trail shoe. Nice gaiter from the local AHON group which will be out in the market soon!

We started out together and also finished together well before the cut-off time! Great company!

Hugot #7
Aleth: Im a strong woman. I can conquer the greatest fears. I can handle the toughest moments. I can ignore any pain. Thats why i want someone to make me feel weak…
the way you do..
JB: Boom!