Run United 2, 32k Race: A Short Race Recap

What’s even better than driving over at Cavitex? Running over it and last Sunday’s Run United 2 offered that chance for me to run it once again after the Santey Barley Half-Marathon last year. This is the first time that a Run United race have used the Coastal Highway and Cavitex for its route and it’s a nice change of scenery!

The 32k Afroman course is relatively flat through mostly Roxas Blvd, except for the fly-over bridges along EDSA and Buendia and the Cavitex interchange bridge. It’s an out and back course which seemed that it would be tedious but the views at Cavitex all changed that and it was one great run over-all!

With team mates at the Yellow Cab before the start

At the starting line

Weather conditions were tolerable, humid and dry at the start and it got really warm at the finish. Water stations were aplenty although it got too crowded when both the 21k and 32k runners merged along the route starting somewhere at the 24km distance.

It was great to be running with my team mates, Team 90% and except for a few who were abroad, we were part of the large 12,000 plus runners who toed the line at the start and we all had a nice time.

Approaching the finish line

Thumbs up to the WRFGH photographers

So this is the 2nd race done from the Run United trilogy and i get to scratch this off my list. One more to go and that will be the RU Philippine Marathon on October 5, 2014.

After the running the 32km distance, we were all elated having experienced this awesome race. At the finish line we were given our medal and a bag with some sports drinks, dri-fit finishers shirt and small goodies from Unilab.

Overall it was a nice experience and we’re all looking forward to RU’s full marathon this October. Thank you to Janice Castillo and Claire De Leon-Papa of Unilab for the hearty breakfast at the Media Center!

Check out this link for the race results: http://runrio.com/2014/06/run-united-2-2014-results/

Our finishers shirt and medal

Goofing off at a 7-Eleven convenience store after the race

Trail Chronicles #13: The Salomon X-Trail Run

Quite possibly the most technically demanding trail race i have ever joined! The 32k route was relentlessly hilly with the inclines so steep that even the best of the trail runners i know were reduced to staggering zombies, our faces etched like doomsday ahead of Semana Santa!

I had been to the Hamilo Coast and ran the Salomon X-Trail Race last year and though it was just the 12k distance i took part in, the mountain terrains was one you would need to train for–lots of hill training and mountain hiking! Sort of a déjà vu returning back to this place and seems nothing change when i first set foot on this place last year.

I knew it would be a stretch to finish the 32k within the designated cut-off time of 7 hrs given the outrageous mountain course but i was quite confident to finish the damn thing. I have trained for it and bringing with me the confidence that i finished the recent hilly Love A Tree Daraitan 33.8k Trail Race last February in 6:57. But nothing would really prepare anybody for what was in store for the Salomon X-trail run last Saturday.

We arrived at the venue at around 2:50am just in time for the 3:00 am opening of the Hamilo Country Club gates for vehicles to enter. I was with good friend Jun and with Ashley, both newcomers to Hamilo Coast but no less determined to finish their respective distances with Jun doing the 24k while Ashley had her sights on the 32k, like me.

The race started promptly at 5:00am and i had a pretty smooth start, me and Ashley pacing each other at the initial concrete road until we settled to a walk on that first uphill. Ash is a fast runner but is more adept on hilly mountain terrains so we tucked into each other and we held on until she decides to leave me up those mountain passes.

We maintained our pace until around the first turn-around overlooking the sea as we tried to conserve as much energy as possible when we would assault those uphills later. Then it was on unto a construction site leading to a dirt road with a trail that was now being occupied by so many runners making their way up the hill. It was so unusual seeing so many runners merging on one uphill.

Ash and i weaved in between the runners until we were at the crest and found lines of runners getting hold of ropes to pull them up into a slope. The ropes i think were not necessary as we found ourselves pulling our bodies up effortlessly with our own weight.

The second hill was a long one called the “Powerline” route and it went much the same with long lines, reminiscent of those you find at the North Ave. MRT Stations stretching to as long as 250 meters as we waited for our turn to reach for that one single rope to summit up the hill.

That’s Ashley enjoying every minute of it!

Thumbs up! 🙂

Ash and i were on each other’s tail as we exited the ‘traffic’ trail and entered peripheral trails that led us into a farm land. Entering into this area, i was by myself alone for the first time as Ash forged ahead. I was glad to take-in those views at my own time and pace and not have to be heaving heavily from those in front. Oh, and i took pictures as well!

Here are some of the pics i took from km 12 to km 15.

By Km 16, I was able to catch up with Ashley and we both trudged on one of the most technical part of the route, a dry river bed with big boulders splayed out. We had to hop, crawl and skip from one boulder to another and the farther we went, the bigger those boulders became and there were parts that were really slippery.

Here i saw some runners who had sprained ankles or who had bruises on their knees and legs. We were able to reach the first cut-off of the route at 18.6kms in 3 hours and 40 minutes, a good 20 minutes inside the cut-off time of 4 hours.  So far so good.

But the relentless uphills really took a toll for most of us and many were really struggling just to keep within each others sight, walking a few steps at a time, specially during the 900 meter uphill trek to the power station. It was here that Ashley took off and never to see her again along the route.

To my surprise, i was able to creep up on faster runners who were also battling fatigue and we went as a group, scaling for a few meters then resting for a minute then hiking up once again. Little by little, i was feeling the cramps soar up my thighs and hamstrings and it got to a point that the pain was really debilitating that i had to stop, sit and lie down on the side of the trails under the heat of the sun.

My water had ran-out but good thing there were other runners behind me who helped massage my leg and feet! Many thanks to Alex Tejones and Kne Man Ville for the help and the push! Couldn’t have re-started without you guys! I honestly can’t remember the last time I cramped in a race, and there was nothing I could do but watch the other runners walk away from me as i limped step after step.

Disappointing as it may be, there was nothing i could do but to thread on and continue. It was 24.7 kms and my time was 7:24 past the 7 hrs cut-off for the race. I was really bent on finishing the remaining 6 kms, crawl if i had to. Unfortunately, the marshals’ net were there waiting and i was pulled out together with more than a dozen other runners who arrived ahead of me. It was past cut-off time, rules are rules and that was that. We rode on a pick-up truck and brought to the finish line!

This experience led me to believe that we can’t win them all, that there would be struggles that we all have to go through but the will and perseverance to survive will always be foremost in a runners heart!

I was happy to see Ashley at the finish line and asked if she was able to finish on time. Turns out that she had abandoned the race much earlier together with many other runners at the beach shore-nipa hut before the 23rd km and rode with them in a speed boat that brought them to the finish line! Jun was a casualty too!

To sum it all, this was a test of physical and mental endurance. One of the best (and harrowing) experiences of my life as a runner! 🙂

Congratulations to all who finished this challenging course! And to the 70% who failed to finish, there will be another race and another battle to conquer! Let’s all move on!

(Check out the race results here: http://www.results.runningmate.ph/index.php/event/result/154)

A runner takes her time to rest.

That’s Ashley (left) taking the selfie shot at the speed boat! 🙂

Thanks to Ashley for letting me use some of the photos here and on Facebook!

 

 

Wall To Shotgun 10 Mile Challenge: Race Recap

If there was one truly hilly race in the metro that would bust your lungs and may want you to rush for the nearest exit, then last Sunday’s Wall To Shotgun 10 Mile Challenge Race would be it! It’s probably the last resort a Race Director would have– a super hilly venue to hold a race given the usual, often-used routes many runners now shy away from.

Coach Roel Ano’s Wall To Shotgun 16.8k is a very challenging race through and through. It’s a tough course but if you have run other road and trail courses, it won’t be anything you can’t handle (Salomon Trail Run, Nathan Ridge Run, PIMCO-Tanay Trail races, cover the same tough hills). The only thing that hindered this race was the presence of cyclists, with dozens of mountain bikers and hikers sharing the roads with you.

A portent of things to come

The uphills going to Timberland which to many is called “The Wall” (where the start and finish line are located) and Shotgun Road are really home to cyclists trying their mettle in uphill biking so the course began to really get crowded during the latter part of the race. Regardless, the event was very well organized with marshals manning the course and sufficient hydration stations positioned in strategic areas.

Coming back from Shotgun Road

Fortunately, the temperatures were mild Sunday morning with overcast clouds trying to shade us for most part of the run. I could probably count the number of kilometers that i actually did “run” and maybe half of the 16 km distance i did by walking the uphills! Walking up the “Wall” part TWICE was a seemingly endless ordeal. It lasted about 2.8 kms of continuous uphills but seemed like forever!

At the turn-around point of the WALL

However, once you finish the second turn-around point up that newly opened subdivision with a nice view of the city, you are basically home free. Two kilometers to go of downhill running and when you think you’re just a few steps left before the finish, you are directed to a backdoor alley down to various steps leading to the backyard of the Divine Mercy Shrine.

As i was running all alone, it felt eerie at that place that i had to rush out of that area as fast as i could, which was probably my fastest part of the run before exiting to the main road and on to the finish.

Sharing the road with cyclists

I finished the race distance (16.4 on my Soleus Fit) in an excruciating 2:30:07, almost the same time i did at the RU1 21k the week before! Hahah..!

This was one of the most challenging 10-miler i’ve done. I hope Coach Roel can rectify the course a little bit next time by foregoing the second loop towards the Wall and instead extend the distance in other areas like the Shotgun Road area or perhaps extend the course up to the Timberland Sports Club and beyond if permits are not a problem.

My Soleus family

We didn’t get to join the Boodle Fight after the run as we knew it would be crowded so me and running buddy Rhett just rushed out to get our fill at Vivian’s Tapsilogan in Marikina.

This is an epic race from Coach Roel, organized as his birthday run and it sure did fulfill a tough but satisfying event! Saludos, Coach Roel!

Basta Bisaya, Gahi!

(Check out for the race results here:  http://www.results.runningmate.ph/index.php/event/result/152)

Love A Tree 32k Trail Race Recap

Finally, we were able to nail down this labyrinth of a route with all its hazards, obstacles and in pitch darkness. We did at times stray off the designated trails but recovered quickly before we got too far and it was one long, graphic adventure.

Having familiarized myself with the route twice during daylight, I was still worried about how we would go about finding our way in this circuitous maze of a jungle trail in the wee hours of dawn, with only the flicker of our headlamps peeking through the shallow river, rocks and narrow pathways.

Yes, the race started at 4:00 am, too early i might say, and we were off from our start in front of Sampaloc Inn, as running buddy Jun Santiago ran along the 1.2 cemented highway and up on the trails thereafter. We were all basking at the cool “Baguio” weather and didn’t sweat a bit until we reached that uphill assault in a small village where i could hear gasps of runners around me trying to catch their breath. Mine was as wheezing as theirs!

This was our first salvo into the trails and a portent of things to come! With one uphill after another, we were then led into a long downhill rough road then into more uphills and into a Barrio called Dayapa. Since this is an out and back route, i could just imagine the struggle we would encounter as we would tackle back the hills that we went through.

At about the 4th km, my main headlight went bonkers as it would switch off every time i skip or jump over a rock. And every time i re-set it on, it would go off again once i step on a bump! Good thing i had taken with me a spare single LED light which sustained me for the rest of the run.

The course came out to this river trail and we had to cross or wade through it several times, some knee-deep high. This part offers the most incredible running on the trail as we had to figure out which way to cross to the other side of the river. Groping in the dark, there were really very few options on how to move forward and it was a hit or miss thing finding the right trails. Regardless, we did our best to work around it.

There are probably a dozen scenes that vary from one trail to another—every surface from soft-packed trails to steep rocky ones and every kind of environment from vegetable fields to river and rock trails, often in different scenery.

There were arrow signages and yellow ribbon markers along the trails but they were far and few in between. You can’t see most of them in the dark so we were always keeping a sharp eye, like connecting the dots through these ribbons but as long as we saw some hanging on branches, we knew we were on the right track.

The course came out of the woods around the 10km mark and it was daylight by then. Six kilometers more of rough roads before the turn-around point at the Tinipak River and Rocks, my favorite part of the route.

The second half of the route was a long and arduous one as we re-traced our way back from Tinipak river to Daraitan Road then to the jungle maze then finally going through those hellish uphills which reduced many of us to walking. We made it again running into the small villages before hitting back on that 1.2 cemented highway for one final time.

I knew i was just a few hundred meters away but didn’t see the finish from the road as it was tucked inside the front parking space of the Sampaloc Inn. Still, i tried to make a dash for it and it finally came abruptly as i made a slight left turn to hit the tape! It was great to be done as the distance covered was actually 33.8 kms with my time at 6:57.

First place finisher, Manolito Divina who clocked in at 3:44 will be one of three runners representing PIMCO for a 50k trail race to be held in Hong Kong next week.

Running buddies Jun and Rhett

Instead of using the entrance bridge going to the Tinipak rocks, we were detoured to cross this shallow part of the river. No to bridge toll fees! 🙂

You can miss this scenery, on our way up to the trails of Tinipak

Chinky and Dave

Ashley, Rhon and Aldrin

The trail along the river banks

This was on our way back with about 3 kms to go

Over-all, it was a well-organized race with lots of hydration this time although i wished that they had moved the starting time a little later than the 4:00am start of the 32km distance and the 4:30 start of the 15k. I was told that majority of the 15k runners were not able to see the waterfalls at their turn-around point at the 7.5 km mark since it was still dark when they reached there.

Still, it was well worth the effort for the organizers to give us a good race. Our kudos to the Pimco Team of Alvin Balderama, Manny and John Santos for a job well done!

If you came from the usual fanfare of other local races in the city which were held simultaneously last Sunday, this Love A Tree Trail Run would pale in comparison in numbers but if you look past the loot bags and after race programs and gimmicks, this is one beautiful trail run with great back-drop all around.

If you love picture card scenery, this trail run is for you!

For RACE RESULTS you can check it here: http://www.pimcosportingevents.net/#!32k-love-a-tree-y3/cwls

Running The Marathon at The Rock!

To be able to draw deep and pull something out of yourself is one of the most tremendous things about the marathon.” — Rob De Castella (former Australian Olympic Marathoner)

Drawing deep not once but several times during the last  few kms of the inaugural Corregidor Marathon was what i did and it was truly amazing to have finished this difficult 42.195 km race!

I am thankful to have friends in the running community, like the Soleus Running team of Judith Staples, endless road training with Team 90% and a whole lot more of cross-training that brought me to the starting line of one of the toughest marathons i have ever finished. And this is my 24th!

After Judith informed me that i would be running the full marathon instead of the half, i immediately began focusing on doing uphill runs which was not so easy to do having just finished the C2L 53k Ultramarathon the week before. Having ran two Corregidor Half-Marathons the previous years, i knew this would be one arduous rolling mountain route to tackle so training on hills would be a factor to rely on.

This was like a week-end-vacation for me as i arrived at the Sun Cruises Ferry station at the back of Folks Art Theater last Friday at 12 noon. Me and Team Soleus were soon afloat along the strong currents of Manila Bay that took us an hour and a half to Corregidor Island. Right off the boat to a tranvia-like bus for the 4 minute ride to our hotel, the Corregidor Inn!

L-R: Grace, Tj, Gerard, Judith, moi and Pedz!

We explored the hotel grounds and parts of the island for the rest of the afternoon and it was windy, the cold air brushing our hair and light apparels that we were wearing. We even took a short jog up to the hilly part of the middle barracks but cut short our run as we thought of just reserving our energy for the following day’s marathon.

With Judith and Alfred

That night, we were brought to the grand ballroom of a resort where we had carbo-loading dinner and treated to a movie, the Spirit of the Marathon which was cut short when the organizers sensed that people were starting to leave as it was getting late. So they started the race briefing instead and had raffle prizes drawn out and we left the gathering at about 9:00pm.

Back at the hotel, i was sharing a room with Gerard Pizarras, the barefoot runner and tv/movie actor who was going to run the marathon again… barefoot! We exchanged stories, not about running but about life in general, his stint in show biz, children and stuff.

THE RACE

My alarm went off the following morning at 3:30am, got up, took a shower and prepared for the 6:00am start. We had breakfast of fried rice, tocino, fried eggs and coffee–not exactly your ideal pre-marathon race breakfast but good enough to help sustain you for the 5 hours of pounding the roads and trails of Corregidor.

We were now waiting at the starting line and there were no more than 60 of us doing this inaugural marathon, a very ideal number which means that it won’t get crowded–on the roads, trails, at aid stations and toilets that were situated in establishments along the course.

The view at 300 meters from the start

At about 6:10am, all 60 of us took off, with the scenic sea shore as a great backdrop. I started off conservatively as others who were familiar with the course did, trying to hold back what was to come in the next few hundred meters. I was pacing with Alfred (Running Atom) who usually would zoom out at the very start but restrained himself and ran cautiously too.

At about less than a kilometer from the start, the Achilles heel of the course would finally reveal its ugly foot when the 300 meter juggernaut of a hill, so steep that one would have to stop and walk up to the top came to greet us with pangs showing as in a devilish grin! The marathoners would have to tackle this murderous hill not once but thrice as part of the course! Wtf!

The roads leading to the grassy airstrip at Kinley Field was moderately downhill so i took advantage of this by shifting to a higher gear until we reached the Japanese gardens then to the turn-around point at the beach resort complex where we had our carbo dinner the night before.

One of tho most beautiful parts of the route was a trail of about 3 kilometers long located at the outskirts of the middle side barracks. It was were i took several stops just to take pictures of it. Most of it were dirt roads,  single and double tracks which were camouflaged by big dry leaves and had large embedded rocks that when not threaded carefully might get you to trip on some.

I’m going to write a separate blog about it but here are some pictures i took on the trails:

The support of this race was tremendous and i love the volunteers for being pro-active, giving encouragements, some upbeat, some just smiling but their eagerness to assist really showed! Tinny weeny snacks were served like bananas which i wish were served whole instead of cutting it into pieces that i had to peel several of them to get the full taste of it.

Cranberries, coconut juice and even marshmallows dipped into honey that expanded into your tummy when you start your run again were available for the taking.

The second loop of the course was harder as we had to scale the long uphill to the middle barracks and it was here that runners preferred to walk than run! However, we had our vengeance when we went through the same route from the artillery/barracks up to the Dock which were all downhill and made up for lost times.

The finish line at the Beach Resort Complex was kind of obscured as you don’t really know how far it is right after turning around near the main hall and turning right on that isolated road. I knew i was going to do a sub-six so i just kept pumping to the finish.

Breasting the tape at the finish and getting one of those “platito-like” shinny medals will be one of my best running memories of Corregidor for sure.

Over-all, the race was amazing and one that every runner should strive to join-in. Thanks again to Judith and Team Soleus and congratulations to Race Director Edward Kho for an excellent inaugural Corregidor Marathon!

Oh by the way, i got first place at my age group category and received a Certificate of Achievement for it (if ever you can call it one!) 🙂

You can check the race results here: https://www.facebook.com/CorregidorMarathon

Finishing at 5:51

With Alfred and Lorna, the Female Marathon Champion! (Pic by We Run For Good Health)

Team Soleus

Safeguard-2XU: The Last Leg at Nuvali

That last 4km detour of connect-the-dots-like route before the finish line sure made my head spin, like a pin-ball that kept bouncing back and forth. I felt i was entering into a maze, trying to keep my wits and wondering when i could finally see the exit and the final straight to the finish. Even though i knew it was just a matter of time, i felt i was moving in perpetual motion towards a mirage in the vision of a finish line arc. And it finally came!

Still, Runrio’s last leg of the Safeguard-2XU Sole running was every bit a success, taking me for the first time to an all-road route at Nuvali, ditching the trails which i was accustomed to running during past races here. The route was pristine, mostly cemented while navigating the rolling terrain of long uphills and downhills with lights emanating from large floodlights that the organizers had set-up at dimly-lit roads.

Nuvali seems to be a perfect race venue to stage races except that it’s quite inaccessible specially to those who live in the metro. Nevertheless, i was one of those who truly enjoyed the ambiance and the cool weather–yes, it was cold and in Nuvali at that, was great for racing!

The mood was upbeat, hydration stations were abundant with Gatorade and ice-cold water given on every stations, saw some portalets along the course and a shout out from Coach Rio who despite looking drawn and haggard was able to acknowledge me and other runners at a dead-end corner.  The distance was on the mark too (21.1k per my Suunto Gambit2).

A hundred meters away from the finish line (Photo by Jazz Run)

Everyone left with a wide smile on their faces and i’m sure many runners will come back for these series of races if they stage it again next year!

A big thumbs-up to Runrio and staff!

Check here for the Race Results: http://runrio.com/2013/10/sole-racing-2013-leg-3-results/

A hearty breakfast with friends after the race! (Photo by Noel C.)

At the ponds in Nuvali

RUPM Trilogy: Done!

Before the start with Team 90%

I was looking forward to getting this done, the last of Run United’s trilogy race. This marathon got me thinking whether i would be able to finish it without the internal discomforts that bothered me during training, knowing the ordeal i went through after failing to finish the Milo Marathon a few months ago. Back then, i had suffered from diarrhea and a bad case of acid reflux.

My goal was just to redeem myself, finish the race before the prescribed cut-off time and put all those bad experiences behind me.

WARM UP: Fifteen minutes before the start, we had the usual cursory warm-up exercises but what made this warm-up special was that this was lead by no less than our team mate Gemma, a Doctor by profession who also dabbles as a physical fitness instructor at Gold’s Gym!  She had the crowd of about 3,000 runners moving on their feet, dancing on some Zumba beat with our movements suppressed, given the limited space runners had to stretch and swing their legs on!

Me, along Seaside Blvd. (Photo by Running Photographers)

START: The 3:00am start was right on the dot… 3:00am! We were positioned at the middle, right side and since there were only about 3,000 runners for the 42k, no wave corrals were necessary. The gun goes off  and i’m seeing many in blue and white all around me. Always funny to see male runners dashing into the first available walled fence to relieve those over-loaded bladders while getting heckled from the other runners. I even so a female runner pulling down her shorts oblivious of the other male runners around her! Wtf!

I was still worried about my acid reflux and could feel some discomfort while pacing with Betty and Carol so after about 3 kms, i decided to just slow down and keep my pace a little tolerable.

WATER STATIONS: They were pretty abundant and every aspect of it was very satisfactory. Lots of cold water, plenty of extra ice where volunteers would even pour some into your water bottles, abundant sponges which i didn’t feel any need to use since i could pour cups of cold water into my head unlimitedly. Gatorade drinks were also limitless but the taste would vary from station to station as some were blandly mixed while others had the taste just right.

PORTALETS: I saw some that were strategically scattered along the route but there were lines that you have to queue into and that would take precious time. I had already felt some ramblings and queasiness in my tummy and wanted to relieve myself but seeing the long queue prompted me to delay the visit. However, the chance came when i reached the Petron station at the corner of Buendia and Makati Avenues so decided to sprint up the second floor and make a #2. Oh la la!

TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT: I think the marshals, Police and traffic aides did a great job in controlling the intersections although there were points that we really had to be stopped to give way to the motorists for a few seconds and that was fine with me. Bottlenecks were at the Buendia-Dian junction, corner of Roxas Blvd and Buendia, junction of Buendia and Macapagal Highway and the bus crossroad near the coastal highway along Macapagal Avenue.

Along Roxas Blvd.

MEDICAL SUPPORT: They were all over the place! One thing i like about them is their medics carry with them liniment oil which they readily sprayed to whoever needs it. One tip to keep cramps at bay is to have your calves and thighs sprayed with this oil even if you do not feel any cramps coming as yet. I had my legs sprayed twice and for someone who cramps during the end part of the race, i didn’t feel any tightness for the whole duration of the race.

FINISH LINE: Nice touch at this year’s finish when after crossing the finish line, the marathoners are led to a chute that passes beneath the stage as we exit to a supposedly throng of crowds waiting in the open area while they’re watching on the going-ons up stage. Except that there were few people out in the open field (most were under the shade of tents watching from afar).

I think the intended purpose of getting people to cheer you when you come out of this chute was lost as people watching the awarding ceremonies and the pop bands that were playing at the stage didn’t mind who finished the marathon or what. It became a perfect photo-ops session instead, 42k finishers proudly displaying their medals and Philippine flags while photographers from the fantastic Photo-Ops Photographers Team were clicking their cameras non-stop.

OVERALL: A great experience and every aspect of this race was so well organized. Water stations, medics, all-you-can-eat bananas, great race photographers and fantastic runners whom you bump and chat into, sharing thoughts, commiserating each other’s pain, breathing together step by step until the end.

The small Philippine flag given you 400 meters before the finish line is a great booster, at a time when you just want to throw in the towel or just jog to the finish. There was a runner who i assume is from Singapore asking the marshal if he had any Singapore flag to carry instead of the RP flag. Told there was none, she just graciously accepted the Philippine flag and wave it over her shoulders with a broad smile on her face.

(Picture by Photo-ops)

Runrio and Run United put together a great event and i’ll look forward in running it again next year! A special mention of thanks to my photographer friends along the route, my team mates at Team 90%, Mommy Vimz Mendoza, Claire Papa, Janice Miguel, Dada Teves, Runrio, Run United, Judith Staples, my product sponsors and my 2 inspirations, Chica and Marlies! 🙂

Results of last Sunday’s race here: http://runrio.com/2013/10/2013-run-united-3-philippine-marathon-results/

With Soleus big boss Judith Staples

Quick Race Recap: KOTR 2013 Philippines

I haven’t seen a route so crowded as was in yesterday’s Adidas King of the Road (KOTR) 2013 race and from my viewpoint, the runners resembled like an end-less MRT train that chugged in their footsteps along the streets of Bonifacio Global City, Kalayaan Flyover then on to Buendia Ave. and back.

To be somewhere in the middle of the pack is a great vantage point of experiencing the enormity of this mega race and for somebody who prefers small, simple but well-organized races like this, a KOTR race is simply hard to pass up.

I was amazed seeing the huge number in a mass start and what should one expect if all the 8,000 + runners, about half which ran the 16.8 distance that started 30 minutes earlier would merge with the 10k runners near the finish line? A mass finish which luckily did not result into chaos, and a flawless finish for all, thanks to the fine race organization of the Proactive race organizers.

The start! KOTR 2013 Philippines

This morning, i would be running with Chito Carreon, who i have been training with for the past several years together with the rest of Team 90% who for some reason have opted to sit this race out. Chito was just going to take it easy, having done a 32k LSD the day before, so he would be practically just keeping step with me being the slower runner that i am.

Chito and i at the start

The first 2 kilometers was more of a dash than i would have expected, as runners were trying to avoid bumping each other, so Chito and i got away as soon as we could and settled into a more relaxed pace. While settling into our groove, we couldn’t help noticing the awesome cheering groups that the organizers have assembled and it was great to see the Fabulous Running Divas in their tutu outfits and the Ponkan Group cheering their lungs out to the appreciation of the runners.

Running up the Kalayaan flyover towards Buendia, i noticed the long line of runners as far as the eyes can see and that seem like an endless line . It was at this point that the leading Kenyan runners were on their way back and saw top Pinoy runner, Vertek Buenavista running in 4th position.

I had placed a bottle of Cobra Energy drink into my water belt but after just a few sips during the early part of the race, i noticed that it was missing when i tried to retrieve it at the 8th kilometer mark along Buendia. It might have slipped out of the small opening at the bottom of the holster’s pocket. Anyways, i still had my Booster Energy Shot as back-up.

With Chito (in blue) on our way back along Buendia Ave.

Now approaching the uphill part of the Kalayaan flyover, we made it up without much ado as we had tackled even more arduous ones during training runs at White Plains in Q.C. I could see a lot of runners now walking at this part probably preserving their strength for the last 3.8 kilometers or those who just ran out of gas.

Took the Booster Energy shot when i reached the crest.

I noticed that Chito was trying to rev up the pace during the last 3 kms and egged me on to do the same so i was like hanging-on to him for dear life and felt relieved every time we slowed down during water station breaks.

At the last 2 kms, we glanced down at our watches and still had a full 20 minutes to clock-in in sub-2 hours time so we made a go for it. We paced at about 6 mins/km and relished reeling-in a lot of runners who were also making their move to finish in under 2 hours.

We crossed together at the finish line in an unofficial time of 1:56 flat! Not a great finish time, but I was just satisfied with the outcome knowing that we could have done better had we not eased our pace somewhere along the 10th to 11th km.

The last kilometer

Hordes of runners about to cross the finish line

Crowd cheering on the runners

A dash to the finish 🙂

We did a high-five at the finish, got medal’d (is there such a word?) and proceeded immediately to the loot bag counters and got some freebies! We lined-up for some bread, hot dogs, ice cream and other goodies which were being offered in the tents!

Wearing the finely-crafted KOTR Finishers Medal

Got to meet some old friends too at the aNR tent and took some pictures with them..

With ultra runner friends

Beside the aNR tent

With Mailyn of Wyeth Phils

Baves, Nikkie, Chris and Cherryl

Fun group!

This is definitely one of the best race for 2013! Organization is tops with lots of ice-cold water, bananas, well-controlled traffic, cheering groups plus the medal was awesome!

T’was a great week-end!

RACE RESULTS HEREhttp://race.proactive.ph/Adidas-King-of-the-Road-2013

(Thanks to Photo-Ops, John D. Photography and the Running Photographers for my grabbing some of their pictures!)

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!

Time-out!

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!

The Mt. Pinatubo Eco-Trail Run: Weirdest Place I’ve Ever Ran!

We got lost going to the Nayong Filipino grounds at Clark, Pampanga, site of the start of the Columbia Mt. Pinatubo Eco-Trail Run last Saturday. The driver of our media bus got lost as we were already heading straight to Capas, Tarlac instead of Pampanga so imagine our dismay when the driver realized his mistake after several frantic calls with other bus drivers who were also bringing other runners to the site! so we turned back and when we arrived at Clark, we were still groping our way inside the former airbase.

By the time we finally arrived at Nayong Pilipino, the 25k runners, the distance i was to run had already been fired-off, a good 15 minutes ahead and now the 10k runners were about to be sent off! Wow, this is the second time i had been late at the start, the Rexona Run a few weeks ago being the first one but that was just about 5 minutes late! The runners in my group were still struggling to get their bibs and gears ready and as we proceeded to the starting line, the 10k runners were now sent running. Oh such pressure!

As we struggled at the tail-end of the 10k runners, i realized that i had forgotten to put water in my water flask and if this wasn’t still enough, i felt some growling noise in my stomach, not a good sign for somebody who was going to do a 25k run! The first 2.5kms was running like hell, a lot of things going into my mind as i knew i was far behind from the original 25k group and had nobody to run with the rest of the way.

Finally the first water station appeared, the growling in the tummy had gone away by then and i was finally able to take a few sips and fill up my water bottle. So now, it was time just to enjoy and concentrate on the race.

This race is dubbed the Eco-Trail Run but if you look at the course itself, it sure looks far-fetched from the ordinary forest trails we’re used to running. If this is a trail, then this should be the widest and biggest trail in the world! It’s like running in a wild-valley, almost similar to trekking in a moon-like surface with vast ash fields and rushing river streams.

I made a photo-blog of this run for you to see the place. Enjoy!

Less than a kilometer from the start, we turned right into a short trail leading us under a bridge to start our journey to the Pinatubo river bed

An ash trail of about a km long leading to the open river

The first water station, right before the main route. Drinking water, at last!

The main route now visible and ready to be conquered

This is it! A vast field of sand, streams and the mountains of Pinatubo

The runners kept on the left side which was drier and the route seem endless

Pockets of streams were ever-present during the earlier part of the route. The rivers would be flowing on the latter part

The “widest” trail in the world!

River streams begin to emerge after the 6 km mark

No matter which part you went, the sea of streaming water seem endless. Safest part was on the left side going towards the crater

Approaching a crease, one of several near the 9 km mark

Here, the streams seem to be the trail itself!

Approaching runners on their way back

Now more of a river trail, you can’t stop on your tracks because once you do, the sand below you would sink to about the height of your shoe so you have to keep moving

The waters here are about 3 to 5 inches deep. No dry part on sight

The feeling of running through the water is indescribable! You just have to push and wade along

Getting through between these mountains was a relief after seeing an open space view

He took my picture as i took his. Way to go, bro.

From Raiders of the Lost Ark!

Lady offered me an energy drink! Thanks, mam!

Ultrarunner Jhunbie Serna emerges with his wife tagging along

Time out to remove sand off the shoe

My own time-out

Thumbs up for a nice run, so far

Marie Joyce Negapatan

Gey Enriquez and her friend, Neil

A few meters from the turn-around point (12.5kms)

At the home stretch

Finished the 25k. No, that was not my time

My Fila Everest Volcro Trail shoe, part of the outsole detached from the midsole after it had endured so much water and rocks during the run.

Oh and also, if you ran this race and want to know your time results, check it out here   http://strider.ph/