Pimco’s Last Hurrah: NTDR Leg 3 Trail Run

At the start with Pimco’s Manny Santos, far right

Nice cool breeze, newly discovered trails, beautiful scenery, a gigantic almost 90 degree descent and another chance to discover the vast highlands of the Sierra Madre Mountains! What else could there be?

We were one hour late after the gun start of our 21k run thinking that the race would start at 5:30am (instead of 4:30) so we were caught off guard when the last batch of the 5k runners were just sent off as Jun Santiago, Jackie Gutierrez and myself where still inside Jun’s car trying to find a parking space near the starting line. So we rushed to the registration area and as soon as we got our bibs, we immediately were off, treating this race as an LSD trail run instead of getting a fast time so, no pressure at all.

Pimco Sporting events, the organizers of the Tanay Natures Trail Discovery Run series has provided one of the best trail routes, mostly located in Tanay. However, PIMCO boss Manny Santos is having his last bow as this would be his last managed race under PIMCO and is letting his main race director Alvin Balderama continue with the trail series under new management.

As this was PIMCO’s final leg of its NTDR trail series, Manny wanted it to be his ultimate offering, something that would galvanize Tanay as the mecca of trail running that he so popularized. And he did not disappoint! The route was grandly arduous but there’s no mistaking the rapturous enchantment felt by the trail runners themselves.

It was a trail retrospective covering the small Baranggays of Cuyambay, San Andres, Cayabu, Sto. Nino and other small sitios. It launches through rice fields, dry single track trails to mountain ridges, heavily wooded areas, waterfalls, uphills and a killer downhill where we went sliding with out butts holding on to tall grasses to break the free-fall!

It doesn’t take long to recognize that RD Alvin Balderama has made the route another challenging one and it’s sometimes a hassle treading on a very technical course without the presence of any “safety net”. Alvin is an incredible trail finder who has a knack for discovering new, untapped trail routes. With his energy and enthusiasm, he knows the ins and outs of the trails in Tanay, being a resident there!

The course was clearly marked and there’s no way you can get lost especially with the orange string markers hanging above the trees and volunteers telling you where to go, so there’s little to no confusion on where you’re headed.

Manny describes Tanay as a great trail destination, whether you’re new to trail running or an elite–there’s something for everyone and that’s exactly what it is. He left us some beautiful views of mountains and rivers to discover, some brutal uphills and downhills and a pile of fascinating trails and waterfalls–a trail running mecca, near the heart of Metro Manila.

Thank you Manny for the discovery!

Here are the pics of NTDR’s final offering. Enjoy!

Helping out an injured runner, led by Doc Forrest Arayat

Marie Joyce!

 

Fell twice off the downhills. Moral lesson: Don’t take pictures when threading on a steep downhill!

This was like Shangrila–a place of very green plants and trees!

One of the highlights of the route

Another waterfalls

Trail Chronicles #12: Mt. Batolusong and Maypatag Plateau (Last of 2 Parts)

Last of 2 parts of our familiarization run on PIMCO’s forthcoming trail race route for its May 25, 2014 Natures Trail Discovery Run in Tanay Rizal.

There are still about 6 weeks before PIMCO’s Nature Trail Discovery Run (Leg 1) kicks off on May 25 and i’ve been getting a lot of inquiries already on how to register since i posted Part 1 of our familiarization run of the route the other day (you can read it HERE).

The first part was a glimpse of the Kay Ibon Trails/Falls and the Duhatan Trails which form part of the 10k, 21k and the 50k race routes and this is a course which have never been used by Pimco on its past races before. And like the first part, Mt. Batolusong and the Maypatag Plateau are very panoramic.

Its trails, green views, rolling pastures, ridges and deep ravines is a running hot spot, a perfect back drop for pictures, hiking and of course trail running. Mt. Batolusong is one of its attractions – a bit difficult in the beginning (until you reach the Maypatag Plateau), but plenty of places to stop for a breather and to catch a view.

It’s not a tall mountain, but it will definitely give you great views of the nearby Susong Dalaga peaks, Banahaw, Cristobal, Laguna, Rizal and as far as Quezon. It does have a couple of spots where elevation can cause you to huff or puff a bit.

Littered throughout this mountain trail were cannons, wild birds and a nice 360 view of the Sierra Madre Mountains.  Head up just another quarter mile or so to the peak for an even better view of the Susong Dalaga Peaks and you can see why it’s called such.

Here are pictures we took along the trails and these only represent part of the route for PIMCO’s upcoming NTDR Trail Race on May 25…

Duhat trees abound the area

That’s not a monkey..that’s Jackie!

Start of our assault of Mt. Batolusong

 The view on your left with cliffs and ravines at the edges

 

Approaching some mountaineers at the Maypatag Plateau

At the Maypatag Plateau

The ‘Susong Dalaga’ Peak is at the background

The UP Mountaineers Club packs up and starts to make their way down

Our turn to scale our way down

It’s back to the trails

Photo by Rhett Del Rosario

Trail Chronicles #11: Kay Ibon and Duhatan Trails (Part 1)

Just when you thought you’ve covered all trail routes worth running in Tanay, another rave scenery was just waiting for us to discover, tucked in an inconspicuous entrance along Tanay’s main highway.

Alvin of PIMCO was leading all 14 of us trail runners to test run this new route for the 1st Leg of their NTDR Trail Race for May 25 and we were running along the main highway wondering where he would lead us, when we suddenly swerved right into a single track trail and found these sceneries. The views were pretty amazing!

I had ran through great waterfalls, mountain ridges, river trails, shaded single track trails, all in Tanay but this is something else.

I’ll be showing you first the first part of our run which are the Kay Ibon and Duhatan trails while the Maypatag Plateau and Mt. Batolusong trails for Part 2 will be coming up in the next few days.

Enjoy!

 

Before the run. Taken in front of the newly built PIMCO Trail Runner Clubhouse in San Andres, Tanay

Arriving at the Kay Ibon Waterfalls

The indefatigable Jackie Gutierrez climbs up that wall unmindful of the steep drop below her

 

The guys doing their thing while Jackie waits for her turn

Trail Chronicles #3: A Look At Laiban Trails

Third in my continuing chronicles of our week-end trail runs for 2014 features the trails of Laiban in Tanay, Rizal.

Laiban was in the news early last year concerning a billion dollar hydro-power dam project that had been planned to be erected in the area by the MWSS and this has outraged more than 5,000 families, many from indigenous Sierra Madre communities.

There has been no update yet about the planned dam construction but i can just imagine the destruction it would have on trees and other ecological life that relies on the nature of Tanay and Quezon, not to mention the displacements of these families from their ancestral homes.

Laiban offers amazing views of the Sierra Madre Mountains and its clean, pristine rivers. There are whole branches of trails you can take if you’re feeling adventurous though i suggest to thread on the main trails first if you’re running here for the first time.

Running buddy Jun and i came back here the other week-end and explored further the vast labyrinth of trails and rivers. Laiban has been one of the “showcase” trails that PIMCO, organizers of the Nature’s Trail Discovery Run series of trail races in Tanay have been presenting to runners and it’s easy to see why.

The trails are quite moderate to difficult, with long uphills and downhills and you have to cross mild streams and small rivers many times over. We counted six (6) river crossings (one way) and the uphills on the way back is really heart thumping!

It may only be a quick one-hour trip from Marikina but when you’re up there in the cool mountains and flowing, pristine rivers right in the middle of nature, it just takes you away from the concrete haze of the metro, the noise and air pollution and the constant hustle and bustle of city living.

I like that these trails are seldom used by bikers, hikers, runners and other 2-wheeled motor vehicles, there is much more breathing space when you’re running and can fully enjoy the quietness around you.

Here’s a glimpse of Laiban’s trails. Enjoy!

With Manny Santos and Alvin Balderama of PIMCO, after the run

Trail Chronicles: The Lost Garden of Tanay

In the mountains of Tanay, one place holds a special allure to those who have ran its trails and crossed its rivers…the rugged scenery of Sitio Maysawa. If you have ran any of PIMCO’s Natures Trail Discovery Run (NTDR) trail series in Tanay, you just might have passed some of its rocky terrain, steep uphills and an abundance of streams and rivers that greets you endlessly along its course.

A few days ago, running buddy Jun and i decided to re-visit the trails as we last did during the Pimco Buddy Run2Run 21k held last year. The Maysawa trails are beautiful but jagged, rocky on some parts, wooded on the inner portions  following shallow but crystal clear rivers plus a couple of different ridges through the woods. It throws in a couple of relentless uphills and descents. The terrain on the end part, after reaching Brgy Laiban is a mix of woodlands, creeks, open space and the occasional cultivated field.

We felt like little kids running on a playground again as we  made a recon of the route, starting at the back of the Sierra Madre Hotel and made our way down to Sitio Laiban, another scenic backdrop suffuse with gorgeous trails and rough roads which leads to Maysawa.

This time however, Jun and i went off the beaten path and instead explored the inner sanctum of its wooded area, a path not used on any of Pimco’s trail races before. We managed to run and walk endlessly for about 2 hours and discovered three falls from rushing streams, white rocks and a garden-like deep pond where we had to cling on rocks to get over the other side of the stream.

It was as surreal as it can get, the deep green-colored water was hollow on its surface but you can just see the deepness when you get near its core where the rushing water was like waterfalls pouring into a garden of rocks.

Probably Tanay’s version of the lost Garden of Eden, if ever there was one.

The three falls leading to the site were not too high and the rocks took on a whitish limestone-like texture but were not too large, unlike the ones found at Daraitan, also in Tanay.

We tried to venture further inside this enclave but found it too deep for comfort and found no way out so we headed back to the falls on our way back.

Sharing with you the pictures that we took…

Laiban Trails on the way to Sitio Maysawa

The trails at Laiban traverses along clean rivers

The entrance to the falls and rock gardens

A stranger was kind enough to brief us on what to expect inside. Note the white rocks

A dormant waterwheel near the falls

Jun poses on the small waterfalls

There’s a pond just in front of it where you can take a dip

Venturing past the falls on top

You can wade into the shallow stream or step on those rocks as you wish

The trails lead into wild fauna

The entrance to the eternal place

Jun ventures into the deep green pond

Climbing up past the rock formations. Notice the deep sink hole of the pond on the left

Slippery here. Trail shoes is a must!

It’s either we found the Lost Garden or we were the ones who got lost!

A stair-like rock formation on an imagined Roman garden

A closer look

Endless river trail which seems to go nowhere

We venture back to Sitio Laiban for the 10k uphill run back to base

We will be back here

Anyway, the place is amazing as anyone with a good grip on his trail shoe can climb the rock formations and you’re not afraid to wade on strong streams to wallow in the beauty of this far-off jungle and surrounding landscape.

Definitely a fun discovery trail run and will come back here once again! Bring your cameras with you!

The Trails of Epic Park–Tanay, Rizal: In The Eyes of Iris Torculas

My guest blogger is Iris Charine Torculas, an excellent trail runner as she recalls our recent test run at the Epic Park Rainforest Camp in Sampaloc, Tanay in preparation for the PIMCO Epic Park Trail Race on October 13, 2013.

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Excited to go back to my playground! In case you’re wondering where that is, it’s in the mountains of Tanay. I prepared my things and made sure that I slept early. I woke up at 3:30am and was hoping to have the energy to run the trails even if i didn’t have anything for breakfast!

So Erwin, Jackie and i set off for the Epic Park, Rainforest Camp located in Sampaloc, Tanay, Rizal. Reaching the main road near the Sierra Madre Mountains, we were met with thick fog making us feel like we were in the Silent Hill movie. But then later we were greeted by the beautiful sunrise with mountains surrounded with sea of clouds. We were mesmerized by the views so even if we were already running late, Jackie asked to stop our car to go down and take pictures.

The views along the way

When we reached Sampaloc St., we didn’t know exactly where Epic Park was so we waited for Rene (Jazzrunner) and June who were just a few minutes behind us so they could lead us to where the exact location was. They arrived in a few minutes and we convoyed together going to the rainforest.

We now saw the entrance to Epic Park, proceeded past the security gate as we entered a large property with lots of pine trees. There, we were met by Sir Manny, Pimco’s President and race organizer with Alvin Balderama, his Race Director. I can smell the greens surrounding me and out of so much excitement, I told Alvin that we should run 21km that day. But my excitement turned into sadness after Kuya Manny told me that we shall be running only about 14kms that day and the full route was to be ran on September 1, the race day itself. Well, its saving the best for race day!

Chatting with the group

Our group pic inside the entrance

We were with about 20 other trail runners and we were off for the test run inside the rainforest camp. We made a turn at the courtyard, going to the beautiful mossy forest, the Elma trail. Actually this was a really funny experience. The trail was moderately hard and technical, it seemed like we were running a total of 4km already but was actually only 2km and we were separated into 3 groups going out from 3 different parts because there were lots of forks inside the forest.

Inside the forest

Rough and tumble

Slippery Trail

I noticed that there were no trail marks on the route so i suggested that they should put these marks on each fork so that no runner will get lost. The trail was full of slippery downward slopes and kind of steep uphills. We told Alvin that they should put a rope for runners to be able to hold on to because it will be hard to cling to branches as they have spiky thorns that can scratch and prick your hand. Moreover, there were lots of fire ants on branches and trunks so wearing gloves here is a must! Also, there will be times that you will have to push yourself up using your hands from the ground.

A forest marshal guides the runners

We eventually meet up again after getting lost inside the forest

We’re moving on. That’s me, getting to re-start the run!

One of several small bridges leading to the trails

That’s Jazzrunner and i got his back!

The one scary part here and the one thing that will test the strength of your legs is the narrow, slippery, single track slanting to the right facing a deep cliff. Scary because one wrong move and down you go to the ravine with sharp rocks covering a dry river bed… and did I mention before you reach the ground you’ll hit a lot of trees? So be careful, better not look down!

Past the rain forest

With Jackie and Alvin

During one of our stop-overs

On a stream with Jackie

My new styled shorts! Part half, part 3/4! Near Calinawan Cave!

The roads were muddy..i hope it won’t be on race day!

There will be some river crossings, though not like the other races of Pimco where you will really need to cross long kilometres of river. In this route, there will be just patches of river crossings to give you a chance to clean your muddy shoes only to get it muddied again. There will be a lot of deep mud trails so choose wisely where you will pass. Make sure you be careful as there are a lot of slippery and sharp rocks on the trails.

I love these trails

With the Jazzrunner and Jackie

Can’t wait for lunch..gutom nako!!!

Nasan ang patis?

With all the wonderful trails that we did this day, i was a bit shocked when Kuya Manny asked that (or should I say, requested, para gumaan lang loob ko) that I cannot run on the event day itself because he wants me to host the event, from start to end as i did with past Pimco races only after i have done my 10k races!  Awww… but I’m still glad that I was able to do the test run and did 16km. Not only that, I am glad because at least I will be able to support and greet ALL the finishers at the finish line. See you all on September 1 for the Epic Park Rainforest Camp Trail Run!

For more information about the race, you can check Jazzrunner’s blog here:https://jazzrunner.wordpress.com/tag/epic-rainforest-park/ or visit Pimco Sports webpage at:  www.pimcosportingevents.net or Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/PimcoSportsEvents

Test Run: Epic Park Rainforest Trails In Tanay

I woke up amidst drizzles of rain yesterday morning to get ready and test the new trail route Pimco was organizing for its October 13 race in Tanay. It’s a new trail venue called the Epic Park Rainforest Camp located in Sampaloc, Tanay and seeing the vast 200 hectare property with its vast secluded rainforest, wildlife and greenery for the first time took me by surprise!

Regular running buddy Jun arrived at around 4:30am to pick me up then we proceeded to our favorite pre-run breakfast hang-out where we had pipping hot, lugaw and egg. That would carry us over whenever we had scheduled runs together.

We reached Tanay an hour later and met up with the group of Erwin (Power Grid Rrunner) who seem to have been lost in getting to the venue.  So we set off together until we reached the entrance of Epic Park, going past a security gate then finally into a large sprawling area of cottages and pine trees which reminded me of Camp John Hay in Baguio City. There, Manny Santos of Pimco, Alvin Balderama, Race Director of the Pimco races and many other runners were already waiting.

A group pic before the start of the trail run

I think this is by far the largest gathering of runners who have attended Pimco’s test runs, most of whom are first timers and we were lucky indeed to run on these still untapped trails. This is a great trail discovery by the Pimco team to stage their next trail race on September 1.

The ambiance of this place is quite alluring and there is a Camp John Hayish feel to its surroundings, with pine trees as tall as their counterparts in Baguio City. Far from pollution, the air here is fresh, not cold nor warm but just the right setting to have a great run within and outside of its confines.

There are four major trails inside this sanctuary, all with individual names that more or less describe each. One is called Elma’s Trail which was perhaps the most rugged of them all! It was inside a forest, with very long perpendicular and slippery down slopes and equally steep ascents that one has to be pulled or pushed-up on his butt by another runner in order to scale over the obstacle.

I was lucky enough to be trekking with some of the female staff of Epic Park who were adept and familiar with the terrain as i was guided like a lost sheep while taking pictures of the trails. There were small trees and vines to hold on while trying to scale down the muddy slopes but there were trees whose trunks were spikish… sharp, big thorns that i got pricked many times over. Wearing gloves here is a must! Also an arm sleeve would be advisable as ants would surely feast on your arms and even down your spine.

What i was most scared about were the very narrow trails, just about two feet wide and slanting on the right side facing a deep ravine. I had to thread that part very slowly clinging to whatever trunk or vine i could hold on to as one false move and you plunge into this 50-foot ravine with sharp rocks that cover a dry river bed below.

The other trails were more scenic and tolerable, the Durianan and Dagat-dagatan trails. They were rugged, muddy but it was outside the dark and murky forest and you get to see more of the outdoor scenery.

To those running the 21k+ and the 50k ultra race of Pimco’s  Natures Trail Discovery Run (NDTR) 2nd Leg on September 1, the route will pass through the majestic Daranak and Batlag Falls which will serve as the turn-around point for the 21k runners. The race will run on on 85% of trails/dirt roads and 15% of concrete which is barely noticeable.

Here’s a glimpse of the route. Enjoy!

Starting inside Epic Camp with wonderful views of tall trees and the ever green surroundings

This route goes further down the so-called rainforest

There’s this part of the route that goes up this flight of stairs

We now enter inside the rain forest

Trails were so dark inside the forest

Thanks to these wonderful Epic Park staff who guided us during the first stages of the run. Special mention goes to Maritess (?) and MM who pulled and pushed me from impending dangers of the cliffs and ravines!

One of the most slippery parts of the Elma trail where you had to literally slide down on your butt!

One of the hanging bridges inside the Park. Caution: Slippery when wet

One small hill at the outskirts of the park

My push going into the wilderness

Parts of the trails that runs within the rainforest park

Many parts were muddy brought about by the recent trains but anything goes when trail running!

Hoping for a drier surface come race day on September 1

Just to show you that most parts of the trail are technical, like this one…If you have trail shoes, use it!

A brief stop while waiting for the others

Nothing beats exploring new trails! The joy of trail running!

Another of those moments posing against the mountain backdrop

Jagged, rocky and maybe muddy–this is what trail runners should expect on September 1

Three sexy running buds! :p

Prepare for the many uphills along the route!

Feet takes a break from the ragged trail

Iris taking the mud off her legs

The clean, gently flowing stream that’s so soothing to the feet!

With Usana Jackie and Iris 🙂

Reaching the entrance of Kalinawan caves, near Daranak Falls

That’s the cave’s entrance at our back

21k runners will get to see this nice river

Jackie doing one of her planking antics. One mistake and she’ll plunge to about 100 feet below..

On our way back!

This is what it will look like on the way to the finish. Best to walk it and with a buddy!

As some parts of the trails were wet, this part was just right

With Bel, my running buddy during the last 2 kms. Gatorade “endorsers”!

An obstacle along the trail

Back into the wilderness!

This is going back to Epic Park

Well maintained dirt road

Some bird poop must have dropped over my head. Good thing it was a small branch stem!

Back to where the tall trees are

Not a single soul on these trails other than us

Will see you on September 1st!

Getting ready for lunch. With Manny, June and Alvin

For more information about the race, you can check my previous blog here: https://jazzrunner.wordpress.com/tag/epic-rainforest-park/ or visit Pimco Sports webpage at:  www.pimcosportingevents.net or Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/PimcoSportsEvents

Thanks to Erwin Hermosa (Power Grid Runner) and Jackie Gutierrez for some of the photos used here!