Nathan Ridge Run: The Uphell And Downhell Of It All!

If you asked me to pick my favorite adventure race of the past 12 months, my brain would probably short circuit. The Corregidor International Half-Marathon (CIHM) is like running in an outdoor museum, the Merrel Trail Run in Timberland Heights is fun and challenging. But yesterday’s Nathan Ridge 21k Run in Tagaytay Highlands must have been the most grueling mountain run i have ever encountered.

And if you have to ask again which race has the most torturous hills on its course, that distinction should go to last Sunday’s Nathan Run, hands down! Whoever invented the terms “downhell” and “uphell” was right on the mark!

Tagaytay Highlands is an exclusive enclave of prime residential housing located within the Tagaytay mountain ranges. Some of the scenes, like the panoramic views of Taal Lake and its famous volcanoe and Mt. Makiling tell a story. You’ll see an incredible range of landscape and the setting, where you’ll feel like you’re surrounded by a ring of mountains and enveloped by the cool Baguio-like breeze is just gorgeous.

But don’t be fooled by the pristine surroundings, the breath-taking views and its runner-friendly roads. This place was an undiscovered gem for me until about a month ago when i had the chance, together with other bloggers to participate in a familiarization run sponsored by Nathan Sports. My stories (here, part-1/  ) and (here, part-2/ ). We were only able to run the first 3 kilometers and were greeted by some of the most relentless hills until we reached “The Peak”. But there was going to be more of those come race day.

At the start. 21k race started promptly at exactly 5:30am

Come race day morning, i arrived at ROX at the BHS at about 2:00am and saw Rod, who already was seated on a bench. Amanda, another blogger came later. We rode on a bus exclusively for the media and bloggers and since there were only a few of us inside the bus, other runners were allowed to ride with us. We arrived at Tagaytay Highlands at around 4:30am and since it was still early for our 5:30am start, we were allowed to rest at the sprawling Sports Center deck area. We had cool weather but no surprise here since temperature has been constantly in the high 60s around this area.

The 21k race started promptly at 5:30am and we were off. Despite the cool temperature, it warmed up real fast as the course went uphill immediately. I took off like a caged bird but as fast as we went, we were stifled by the steep and long hill upgrade so most of us went on “walk” mode. This continued until we reached “The Peak” for our first turn-around. Up there, a lady was gracious enough to rub some Bodivance oil to my calves which were prone to cramps in hilly terrains like this one.

Check out the Sponge Bob runner!

All smiles while running. They were the noisiest group i've ever encountered!:-)

From reading the elevation profile and course description of Nathan’s FB page, i thought the uphills would just be in the early part of the course and then back down in about the same way. Sheesh, i was wrong! I thought i could just run-walk the uphills and then hit my strides on the level parts and just let my legs take over the downhill part of the second half. But there was a lot more uphills on the second half than i thought!

For most of the race, i strike-up a conversation with Blas (The Titanium Runner) who i was with during the familiarization run. We immediately noticed the elevation drop from kilometers 6 to 8 which really had a tremendous downhill slope that we decided to walk rather than let gravity pull us down or face the risk of falling flat on our faces. We rued the fact that we would climb this up on our way back! Oh man! At least we would be treated to some great views of Mt. Makiling!

The 5k and 10k runners during our way down to the Midlands

Catching one's breath was the norm of this race

Another uphill at Midlands

The water aid stations were really plentiful. Speaking of the aid stations. There was no plastic cups provided. The race required runners to use their Nathan Hand-held bottles that came in free with the race kits. I didn’t use my hand-held bottle but instead used my Nathan Speed 2 Hydration belt. The stations were well stocked with cold water and limitless Gatorade and runners had to simply refill their water bottles and off they went. Surprising that there was no over-crowding at these water stations and it was nice to see that there were no litters and trash of plastic cups that we usually experience in other races. A great innovation!

I was in survival mode at the start of the inclines from Km 16 to 18. Blas had gone ahead in his patented power-walk up those mountains and i was worried that my thighs and calves won’t last the entire race. Just putting one leg in front of the other was already a struggle. Runners were passing me but i didn’t mind.

I finally reached the main road which was all downhill to the finish, or so i thought. I saw the Sports Center building which was where the finish line was but the course went away from it then looped back! Ugh! Again, even at the very end, the road went up to some steep incline and wow, that was mean! Then it gently descended to the finish line. Praise the Lord!

My time was 3:05 which is the slowest 21k time i ever had. But i’m reasonably happy with my time considering the elevation and the time spent walking. You should have seen the face of Neville Manaois, the Race Director who was wearing this wide devilish grin when i was lamenting to him those killer hills. He seemed to relish the hardship and struggle we runners had to endure to finish the race! Grrrrrr…:-)

Over-all, this was one great run, a great running experience for the runners, excellently organized and the volunteers were awesome! Kudos also goes to Ms. Mariel Flores, Nathan Performance Brand Associate, Ms. Laira Legazpi and Ian Belleza of Primer Group and Ian Lumibao of M2M Communications and their respective teams for a job well done! You guys rocked!

(Thanks to Greentenial and ARC for some of the pictures i used.)

Green views during the course of the run

That's Blas (Titanium Runner) who i was pacing with during the second half of the race

Running couple friends whom i bump into several times during the run

Taking a breather at the 14th km mark

One of the long stretches just before the killer hills

The view in front at the 17th km mark

View at the 18th km mark

Rush to the finish

A well-deserved breakfast!

The Nathan Ridge Run: A Sneak Peek, Part 2

The 1st Nathan Ridge Run at Tagaytay Higlands this November 20 will probably rival the Corregidor International Half-Marathon (CHIM) in Corregidor Island (December 10) in the scenery and hills department and for me, these 2 are probably the most scenic and difficult race courses that a runner would want to experience!

Just less than 2 hours drive from Makati, Tagaytay Highlands seems like hundred kilometers away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Tucked into the vast ridges of Tagaytay is a mountain lovers paradise, a perfect get away for those wanting some peace and quite and for runners who may want to experience a different scene, far from the smog, noise and other pollutants of running in the city.

While the CIHM race is warm and humid owing to its late race start and being an island surrounded by water, Tagaytay seems to be cool all year round and the Nathan Ridge Run’s staging this November would surely be a blessing for runners who will encounter cool, crisp weather.

Just be forewarned. The thing about this race is that there will be no race cups provided at the water stations and instead, runners will use their hand-held hydration bottles which comes free with the registration and fill this up at the refilling stations. You can also bring your own hydration bottles if you want. The race is in line with its GREEN theme to help clean the environment.

Here’s the official Press Release from Nathan Sports:

Nathan  Ridge Run coming this November

Eco-friendly race boasts scenic, challenging route

A breathtaking view of nature overlooking the lush greeneries of Tagaytay, an uphill road course through rolling hills, and never-before-opened running areas set the Nathan Ridge Run apart from your common fun run.

Slated for November 20th at the Tagaytay Highlands, the race is organized by renowned multi-sport accessory brand Nathan Performance Gear (Nathan), who will challenge Filipino runners in a unique test of athleticism, endurance and environmental advocacy.

Nathan will provide participants access to previously off-limits tracks, resulting in a fresh, challenging and steep uphill road course meant to push the limits of each runner. While in the venue, runners can also take advantage of several exclusive perks, including access to some of Highlands’ amenities and discounts.

The Nathan Ridge Run features three race divisions for the beginner to the elite with its 5K, 10K and 21K road distances. Runners are set to get their hearts racing for health and for nature. Beginners can hone their craft and endurance, while veteran athletes can improve their level of game.

In the spirit of greener practices, the use of environmentally harmful plastic cups will be ditched in favor of free Nathan handheld sports bottles included in the race kit or the racers’ own hydration gear. Runners can use innovative bottles such as the Nathan Quickdraw Plus, which provides them easy access to hydration while on-the-go.

Runners can park, refill, hydrate and go for gold. Simple and efficient, the Quickdraw Plus is best for keeping dehydration at bay; no need to wait until the next check point to replenish, and no need to use harmful disposables.

Instead of the typical water stations you see in most city races, where plastic cups are lined up for the taking and disposed of as soon as runners are sufficiently hydrated, Nathan will be setting up conveniently placed refilling stations in different points of the road.

I’ve blog parts of the Nathan Ridge race route in Part 1 (PART-1) and here are the rest of the pictures taken during our rendezvous at Tagaytay Highlands last week-end:

Arriving at the Resort's Sports Center, (L-R) Cj, Jojo, Ed, Blas, Amanda, Me, Carina and Irish

At the briefing room presided by Mariel, Brand Associate of Nathan Gears

The fog grips above the ridges and is just an awesome scene!

A view from above the Country Clubhouse

The hills were no match for the scenic view

A Cabin Log at the Midlands

With Amanda and Carina

An old favorite versus the new ones

This is not the singlet that will be provided with your race kits but a different one which will be unveiled soon

A Sneak Peek at the Nathan Ridge Run 2011 Race Route: Part 1

When Primer Group, race organizers of the 1st Nathan Ridge Run decided to stage this race at the Tagaytay Highlands and Midland Resort, i thought that there wouldn’t be any more better place to run this race outside of Metro Manila but looks and scenery could be just as deceiving.

And there’s nothing like getting up on a race course that’s to be run on some of the most challenging hills, most of it never been ventured. For sure it’s going to be a devil’s hill race and a reality for one’s lack of mastery on it.

A devil's race course in the sky

Experiencing the torturous hills here first hand is having a keen knowledge that this course won’t be a walk in the park, stroll-along-the lake kind of race (except perhaps, if you really would walk the whole distance).

The roads, wide and generous has its mixed feel: pine trees that line up along its edges, fog that hazes the horizon, cliffs and ridges that resemble scenes on National Geographic, log cabins that seem to have been uprooted from North America, an abundance of wild forest with wild birds gliding above it and the spectacular view of Taal Volcanoe in Lake Taal. You perceive its sheer beauty when running about it, yet experience its sharp harshness when you thread up those killer hills.

I was with fifteen other bloggers and runners who were invited by Ms. Mariel Flores, Brand Associate for Nathan Performance Gear for a familiarization tour of the 5k, 10k and 21k race courses, for the November 20, 2011 Nathan Ridge Run.

For those who haven’t been to Tagaytay Highlands and are running this course for the first time, here’s a snap preview of the race course. I’ll be coming up with a second part where i’ll focus on some of the scenes along the course. Here goes:

Near the start, Amanda gleefully strolls about

Trudging the short uphill while B (Titanium Runner) patiently waits for us

A sports facilitator of the resort leads the runners

It was a bit wet and damp during the run but was cool and breezy

Passing through one of the resort villages

Fog engulfed us along the ridge

Jojo and the rest takes a breather

The infamous uphill to one of the peaks

That structure up that hill is called the "peak"

A view at our backs

That's Jojo trying to be minimalist runner and photographer at the same time

Those are views that we'll see on race day

That's Amanda, baby of the group!

Pedz, the Running Atom

A cement trail somewhere...

An entrance to another village

One of the few flat surfaces on the course

Lots of zigzag roads here

One of the last hill before reaching the peak

Making the move..there are 2 more hills after this

Getting my bearings for the final push. Taal volcano in the background

100 meters from here will be the peak

The Peak

View below

Taking a respite, and we've only covered 3.2kms

Log cabins

The Nathan Running Dream Team! (Photo by Nathan Grp)

Back to the club house

A hearty barbecue spare ribs lunch after the run

Tagaytay Ridge Run 2011
November 20, 20111
Tagaytay Highlands and Midlands Resort

Registration Fees:

5K – P850 (singlet, Nathan Sprint handheld, post-race meal)
10K – P1,050 (singlet, Nathan Quickdraw Plus handheld, post-race meal)
21K – P1,050 (singlet, Nathan Quickdraw Plus handheld, post-race meal)

Nathan Quickdraw Plus (22 oz) worth P990.00

Registration centers at ROX, Toby’s Sports, Secondwind Stores, A Runners Circle, The Starting Line.

There will be more pictures and the race details in Part 2! Watch for it!