Salomon X-Trail Run 2015: The Mountains, The Sand and the Beach

Last Saturday’s Salomon X-Trail Pilipinas 2015 was a very challenging course which consists of 15% pavement, lots of fire roads, uphills, mountain passes and single track trails. The race is well organized, hydration was well supported and the views were top-notch!

The one thing that stood out to me about this race was the support of locals who were on checkpoints everywhere on the trails. Also the presence of paramedics gave you an assurance of security as with the availability of water and Gatorade which were ever present, specially at the last kilometers of the race.

The last 6 kilometers was the toughest because you had to dodge large rocks along the beach and run along its shores which was next to impossible as your foot gets buried mostly in the sand.

Over-all, i enjoyed this trail race immensely and could see myself coming back next year to savor the sand, mountains and the sea once more!

Salomon X-Trail Pilipinas 2015: The biggest running event of the season

Post Press Release:

Leading trail running brand, Salomon, gathered over a thousand outdoor enthusiasts and trail runners of varying skills for an adrenaline-filled weekend

Time stopped and the earth stood still as nearly 1,500 trail runners gathered for the biggest trail running event of the season, the Salomon X-Trail Pilipinas 2015, last April 25.

For more than five years now, the Salomon X-Trail Run series has been one of the most anticipated trail running events in the Asia-Pacific Region. Held in Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and the Philippines, it has attracted numerous participants, from newbies to hardcore loyalists of Salomon. The race’ technical trail route combines different terrain surfaces including vertical ascents, long uphill climbs with multi-surfaces of dirt, rocks, sand, and concrete paths.

On its’ 5th consecutive year, Salomon Pilipinas X-Trail events were held at Premier locations outside Metro Manila, boasting beautiful sceneries, where mountains & coastlines merge together in the race route, with more than 1,200 participants – making it one of the most well-attended trail run races in the country. And this year is no different as it surpasses previous feats – cementing Salomon’s slogan, being the “#1 in Trail Running.”

This year, the race toured the roads, hills, mountains, and valleys surrounding the beautiful enclave of Anvaya Cove, one of the country’s premiere developments in Morong, Bataan by Ayala Land Premier. New trail routes were created exclusively for the event such as trail sections overlooking the cove that are steep and technical, with sharp and loose rocks, roots, and thick foliage. To recharge lost energy, runners were blessed with a breathtaking view of the sunrise that made the experience all the more worthwhile and memorable.

As the clock struck 5:00am, trail racers for the 32km embarked on an adrenaline-filled adventure as they sped through a mixture of challenging terrains, from asphalt, to sand, to rocks, to river crossing and technical ascents. The category simulated ascents of Skyrunning races – an arena wherein Salomon dominates. Given a seven-hour cut-off time, hardcore trail runners were surely tried and tested to push their boundaries and surpass the limits.

At 5:30am, trail runners of the 24km mountain run went blazing off into the trail and were greeted with technical ascents and varying terrain which likewise simulates ascents of Skyrunning races. The cut-off time for the 24km race is five hours.

By 8:00am and 9:00am, the participants of the 12km and 6km Road-To-Trail category were tested with a unique yet introductory trail running course, which consists of road & trail routes that are likewise challenging and technical. The cut-off times for the 12km and 6km categories are two and a half hours and one and a half hours respectively.

As the Salomon X-Trail Pilipinas is a Green Run, no disposables were provided at the hydration stations and participants were required to bring their own provisions.

At 11:00 am, the awarding ceremony commenced and this year’s roster of winners earned not only a range of prizes but most importantly, the ultimate sense of achievement upon taking on and conquering such a challenging feat as the Salomon X-Trail Race.

As an added, no one went home empty handed as Salomon gave away items during a raffle portion, together with awesome items from sponsors—Suunto, Otterbox, Eco x Gear and R.O.X.

It has been the absolute objective of Salomon to promote trail running and passion for the trails. Each year, it never fails to push every runner’s boundaries and test their limits as it inspires each one to recognize their potential and overcome challenges. Once again, the Salomon X-Trail race has proven to be the trail running event that runners can aspire to take part of each year.

The Salomon Xtrail Pilipinas 2015 is in cooperation with AXN & R.O.X., with official venue partners: Anvaya Cove, an Ayala Land Premier property. This event is also sponsored by Honey Stinger, Suunto, Gatorade, Sea to Summit, Sudeco, Otterbox, Goal Zero, Eco x Gear, Nalgene, and the Primer Group of Companies. Thanks also to our media partners:The Philippine Star, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Business Mirror,, Endurance Magazine, UNO Magazine, Clavel Magazine, Psst! Magazine, Multisport Magazine, and Speed Magazine.

Race Results can be viewed here:

A Sneak Peek of the Salomon X-Trail Run 2015 at Anvaya Cove

Anvaya Cove shoreline

From the harsh trails of Hamilo Coast, where the past two Salomon X-trail races were held, this year’s race will now happen at Anvaya Cove in Morong, Bataan that will showcase its more tolerable but still technical trails and its imposing mountains merging with the coastlines for a new exciting route.

Like the previous venues, Anvaya Cove is an exclusive country club and beach resort with mostly white sand, upscale housing units, hotel and restaurants and all the amenities you’ll find in a prime vacation resort. However, we were here yesterday to see for ourselves the new route, what it has to offer runners for their upcoming road to trail run on April 25, 2015.

The route gives you breath-taking sites of the ocean, the beach and the cove that fronts the Anvaya resort. The ocean takes on a variety of hues from different vantage points. When the clouds uncover the sun, the waters take on a shiny, silvery spark of brightness but when it’s overcast, the water transform into light blue with white shreds of overlays with mountain ranges as backdrop.

The race will start on a well-paved road that’s only a few hundred meters long before runners venture into trails that were developed for this event which then leads to the outskirts of Anvaya Cove. Although we were brought to the 6 km shorelines of Anvaya which is part of the route, we were not able to see much of the trails outside of the resort except for a birds’ eye-view of the valleys underneath Mt. Natib with ridges, uphills, a river plus a hanging bridge where runners will at one point converge to cross it.

However, we were assured by Salomon Brand Manager, Janice Tanada that this year’s route will be much more forgiving than the Hamilo Coast route of the last 2 years where from last year’s race alone, only 50% of runners of the 32k distance were able to finish it with-in cut off time.

245 MASL at the 12.5km mark of the 32k distance

Here are a few pics i took in sequence the moment we were sent-off up to the end of our run. Because of lack of time, we were only able to recon the beach part of the run and its adjacent areas including a visit to a Vietnamese memorial which will form part of the route.


Jazzrunner (c) Franc Ramon

With Franc and Pedz, the Running Atom

Thanks to Franc for this pic! 🙂

Like last year, there will be a speed boat-in-waiting for those too tired to continue..

A deserted Vietnamese memorial where a Vietnamese village once thrived

The trails, valleys and river below Mt. Natib are part of the 24 and 32k trail route

There’s also going to be a hanging bridge crossing

A closer look below

Outrun the Road, Outlast the Trail at the Salomon X-Trail Pilipinas 2015 The World’s #1 brand in Trail Running, Salomon– gears up one of the biggest trail events of the season

Trail fanatics & Running enthusiasts are sure to be thrilled once again, with the announcement of this year’s highly-anticipated Salomon X-Trail Run. Back for another round of exhilarating action, this race is one of Salomon’s trail running race series in the Asia Pacific Region, namely in Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, and the Philippines.

Reputed for being a technical trail running race, the “X-Trail” branding includes a mix of different terrain & surfaces– dirt, rocks, sand and concrete paths. The past years’ Salomon Pilipinas X-Trail events were held at Premier locations outside Metro Manila, boasting beautiful sceneries, where mountains & coastlines merge together in the race route.

Attracting more than 1,200 participants during the past years, this race attracts all kinds of participants, with varying trail skill levels– from newbies to hardcore loyalists of the Salomon brand. Hence, the brand has made it a point to keep things exciting and challenging for everyone, offering different race courses, different routes and challenges, creating excitement & anticipation year on year.

This year’s X-Trail Run will be offering four distances – 6km road to trail, 12km road to trail, and the much anticipated 24km & 32km mountain run. These are perfect for all types of trail runners and outdoor enthusiasts who want to test their skill and endurance in the sport.

For the 6km and 12km Road-To-Trail category, outdoor enthusiasts who want to take their running to a higher level will get the chance to do so, as it is a perfect introduction to trails.

The registration fee for the 6km Road-To-Trail category is P850 including a race bib, timing chip, Salomon X-Trail technical jersey, and a post race meal. Meanwhile, the registration fee for the 12km category is P1,100 which includes a race bib, timing chip, Salomon X-Trail technical jersey, and a post race meal.

The 24km and 32km Mountain Run is targeted for experienced runners who wish to test their limits with steep ascents and multi-terrain challenges which stimulates skyrunning – an area of discipline where Salomon dominates. This category is considered a more ‘hardcore’ route, the course is meant for trail runners who wish to partake in the real Salomon Experience.

The registration fee for the 24km Mountain Run is P1,400 with race bib, timing chip, Salomon X-Trail technical jersey, Salomon handheld water bottle, post-race meal, and a finisher’s medal for those who finish within the cut-off time. For the 32km Mountain Run, the fee is P1,600 with race bib, timing chip, Salomon X-Trail technical jersey, Salomon water bottle, post-race meal and a finisher’s medal for those who finish within the cut-off time. Mandatory Gears for this category is a headlamp, whistle, hydration pack/belt which will all be checked prior to race start. The race employs a strict No Mandatory Gear and No Race rule. The Salomon X-Trail Pilipinas is a Green Run, no disposables will be provided at the hydration stations and participants are required to bring their own provisions.

For those who wish to reserve a bus slot from Trinoma Mall to Anvaya Cove and back, registrants may simply add another P600. The offer is exclusive for the first 300 registrants only.

For all interested runners, registered participants will also get 20% discount across all regular priced items at Salomon Stores including SM Aura, SM Megamall, SM North Edsa Annex, Glorietta 3, Abreeza Davao, and in R.O.X. Bonifacio High Street.

Registration is ongoing until April 20 and registration may be done online via the website or at the following registration centers:

  • Salomon Store SM Aura, 4th floor, SM Aura Mall, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig;
  • Salomon Store SM Megamall, 3rd floor, Bldg D, SM Megamall, Mandaluyong;
  • Salomon Glorietta 3 Store, 2/f Glorietta 3, Ayala Center Makati City;
  • Salomon Store SM Annex North Edsa, 2/f, SM North Edsa Annex Building, Edsa, Quezon City; and at
  • R.O.X. Bonifacio High Street , Fort Bonifacio Taguig, 3/f Runner’s Runner Booth (Starting April 10).

The distribution of race kits is at R.O.X. Bonifacio High Street, starting April 10 to 23, at the 3rd floor (c/o Runners’Runner Booth). For accommodations, special rates of partner hotels of Anvaya Cove will be available at the website. For accommodation inquiries and reservations, email inquiry@ or visit for more details. (PRESS RELEASE)

Race Recap: Salomon Penitencia X-Trail Run

As the final Lenten week approaches, i will again witness bare-chested males marching in the streets of Pampanga, flagellating their bodies with bamboo whips until blood oozes out from their backs. Eventually, i will also get to watch on tv actual crucifixions where either men and women will be nailed to the cross for real!

These are Lenten rituals of some Christian devotees, an act of penitence to atone for their sins, give thanks for curing their illnesses or to grant their wishes.

Yesterday, I, together with a thousand others were subject to another form of penitence, not because we wished to repent for our sins and ask for forgiveness from the Almighty but because we, devout runners, had to scale ridiculously steep mountain trails of the Hamilo Coast in Batangas for this year’s Salomon X-Trail Run that in the end, we were asking for his salvation!

I didn’t expect it to be this difficult and even though i had only managed to enter the 12k run, it seemed like we were pushing at double the distance, much more for the 24k runners who were finishing it from 4 to 6 hours!

The mountains had undulating steep inclines and there were many more of it when we finished the beach run and started to ascend on the second mountain trails. The trails were pretty narrow on some parts so a single line were formed and it was rare that one could pass through other runners except when downhills would offer that chance. Every trail goes up until it comes down.

The run along the beach on our way to the second mountain

At the rocky shores before the first uphill climb

At the 2nd mountain

This was the scene for most of the trails. Like zombies wandering aimlessly!

One rare chance we get to jog (Photo by Runaholic)

I was feeling very sluggish and heavy during the ascend on top. Many times, i had to stop and so did the others as i felt my chest was about to explode or you get to drown on your own heavy breathing. Nice to have those small tree trunks to propel you up but it mattered very little when you were scaling continuously on top.

The downhills were much easier for me although i think you should have that level of self-confidence because any hesitation or doubts on where to land your feet would require much more energy or slow you down as i saw many runners who stopped, hesitated then fell on all fours on the steepest of descents. I had a misstep on the 8th km myself when i hesitated and missed the small rock i was to land on and the result, a fall on my butt that resulted to cramping on my left calf muscle.

One complaint i have on this race was the utter lack of hydration stations in the mountains. The organizers should have made the effort of hauling those gallons of water atop those hill crests as this is where runners need it most. One female runner even asked me if i could spare some from my backpack so i took the pack off, poured some water from the water bladder into her water bottle. She was safe in the meantime.

Rest muna, teh..

One instance when we all had to stop and catch our breath

One runner leaning on the trunk of a small tree

This runner seems to be like she was stretching

Despite the difficulties, i would love to come back on these trails again

Despite the slight rains the night before, the trails were dry and no marks of any muddy tracks, whatsoever.

There was to be a cut-off time for all the distances and so many of the 24k runners did not managed to make the 5-hour cut-off even if they announced late into the race that it was extended to another 30 minutes.

During the last 3km, i was just exhausted to even make a run for the cut-off time of 2:30 for the 12k distance even if it was all downhill so i just took my time. I just shrugged when i saw my time at 2:45 upon crossing the finish line. My usual 21k time on road races was even faster than this.

This is probably one of the hardest trail races i have ever done. I am however glad that i took part in it, getting to feel what a mountain race is all about.

Kudos to all runners who participated and finished this race!

With friends after the run

My next trail race will be the Merrell 21k Trail Run in San Mateo, Rizal next month. And before i forget, i saw Thumbie Remigio, the organizer of the Merrell run who was in the middle of the pack during the early stages of the 24k race! I hope he won’t upstage this Salomon event by changing the Merrell course into a more difficult one like what we experienced here at Hamilo Coast.

If that happens, someone is going to get flagellated this time! 🙂

Hamilo Coast Trails: A Peek At The Salomon Trail Run Route

One characteristic that The Salomon X-Trail races have lately is its unique locations, often on exclusive residential mountain resorts with stunning views of mountain ranges, lakes or oceans. Last year’s venue, the Tagaytay Midlands and Highlands offered lush mountain ranges with its cool climate, high peaks and great running trails.

This year, the venue will be at the mountains of the Pico de Loro Cove, part of the Hamilo Coast situated in Nasugbu, Batangas where i, together with several runners had the chance to discover and run parts of its trails that will form part of this year’s Salomon X-Trail Pilipinas 2013 race.

The venue is an exclusive country club and beach resort with fine white sand, condominium housing units, hotel and restaurants and all the amenities you’ll find in an upscale resort. However, we were here for the trails and what it has to offer runners for their upcoming road to trail run on March 23, 2013.

Me and about a dozen other runner-bloggers and the media left before daybreak from ROX at the Fort and arrived at the Hamilo Coast-Pico de Loro Cove 2 hours later. After some light breakfast, we were given a brief background on the event led by Salomon Brand Manager Janice Tanada and apprised on the route for the race by Pen Nepomuceno, one of the event’s race directors. Thereafter, we were led outside for the actual trail run and did parts of the 6k route.

Since it was only going to be a short run, i didn’t bother to bring my hydration vest any more and instead, opted with my trusted water bottle waist pack which could carry about 26 oz of water. The starting area is just at the  mouth of the residential condominium units. The first 400 meters was immediately on an uphill going to a rotunda where we would turn around and go straight to the beach shores. Then, we were on to the trails.

The Pico de Loro Cove mountains are lush and green, have challenging hills in the form of stair paths which are quite slippery when wet. The old-growth forest possess some tall trees and are quite peaceful. The 6k route forms part of the other 12k and 24k distances and is the only spot where the range dips down to greet the ocean via its view-deck.

The trails are mostly single tracks, gnarly and has undulating climbs with views of the South Philippine Sea.

Here are some pictures i took in sequence the moment we were sent-off up to the end of our run. I hope this will give runners who will be joining this race a good idea of what the trails look like. Enjoy!

(For more details of the race or on how to register, you can check out my previous blog here: (details/registration at salomon-x-trail-run-2013-now-set-at-hamilo-coast-batangas)

Mariel Flores leading the runners to the starting line

This is where the race starts, just a few meters away from the Pico de Loro club house

The starting line view, at the mouth of the Pico De Loro cove

No wasting time, first 400 meters was uphill!

The Running Atom (Alfred) leads the way

From the road, a view of the Pico de Loro Cove

We make a u-turn at the small rotunda

The pathway to the ocean-side then to the trails

Nearing the shores of the cove

I could just imagine runners making a stop at this berth and taking pictures. That’s Christine, Mars and Blas

Trail to the sea shore

Ms. Pen, one of the race directors guiding us to the entrance of the trails

A sign mark of the Eco Trail route

The trails begins here

Dried leaves and small roots take stage

Runners can still speed-up here before the uphills occur

Nearing the foot of the mountains

The start of the dreaded “stairs”. It’s all uphill from here!

Didn’t know that Ms. Mars is an excellent climber!

Surging up non-stop

A break from the stairs on the way to the peak

The views of the ocean are on the left

A nice teaser leading to more uphills…

The trails seem not to have been affected by the rains the previous days. It was dry but windy

More of the stair trail here

More uphills to the peak

My 2 friends seem to be nearing the peak

And there’s the peak with some guides waiting for us

The signs that says, “Highest Peak” at 115 meters but not so high for regular mountain/trail runners. Higher elevation will be encountered by the runners in this route.

The views along the peak

Birds eye-view of the Pico De Loro Cove

At the left side of the peak

More of the trails going to the view deck

With Ms. Pen, one of the race RD

With runners from the media

An ascend to the view-deck

150 meters away before the view deck and turn-around point

Turn-around point


The south Philippine Sea

More views from the deck

On the way back (photo by Rodel/Blas)

Return up to the trails

Some scenes on the way back

Met CJ and Laira on my way down

Taken at about 11:30am, the sun was right above us

Running back to the beach club

Our group at the Pico De Loro Beach club

Finally, a sumptuous lunch of the middle eastern cuisine


Salomon X-Trail Run 2013 Now Set at Hamilo Coast, Batangas

After my debacle in March of last year to finish the Salomon 24k Trail Run at the Tagaytay Highlands due to severe pain in my Plantar, i am now looking forward to joining this race again in a few weeks, this time at Hamilo Coast in Nasugbu, Batangas. The pain of my heel was pretty bad that it didn’t allow me to make another step without wincing in pain at about the half-way mark. Tough luck!

It was a little upsetting of not being able to finish but i always embrace this set- back as something you work on to get stronger and better so this is something to look forward to, kind of a score to settle.

But this will not be an easy one. Any run which starts from the Hamilo Coast and dubs itself a mountain run will surely scale the mountain trails of Mt. Palay-palay enroute to the famous Pico De Loro. I’m not sure though if this will be part of the route. We shall know the exact path after we do a test run this coming Saturday.

The annual Salomon X-trail Run will be held on March 23, 2013. This year’s race will be held in the beautiful Hamilo Coast with the back drop of the Pico De Loro mountains in Nasugbu, Batangas City. New trail routes will be created exclusively for the event, with the Salomon team projecting to attract more trail running enthusiasts and trail runners hailing from different levels.

Moreover, runners will surely enjoy the breath-taking view around Hamilo Coast. The trail sections overlooking the cove are steep and technical, with sharp and loose rocks, as well as roots and thick foliage. The view also boasts of hills, mountains, valleys, and lush greeneries – an overall perfect setting for a one-of-a-kind adventure.


Salomon X-Trail Pilipinas 2013

  • Hamilo Coast, Nasugbu, Batangas
  • March 23, 2013
  • 6k / 12k / 24k

– Race Day Schedule

Gun Start

24 km : 5:00am

12 km : 6:00am

6km : 7:00am

Registration Fees:

6km –  P850.00 :  with race bib, timing chip, Salomon Xtrail technical jersey. All finishers of this distance receive a Salomon Finishers’ bag which includes freebies).  Post race meal will also be served.

12km – P1,100 :  with race bib, timing chip, Salomon Xtrail technical jersey. All finishers of this distance receive a Salomon Finishers’ bag which includes a Salomon arm pouch, and other freebies.  Post race meal will also be served.

24km – P1,300 :  with race bib, timing chip, Salomon Xtrail technical jersey. All finishers of this distance receive finisher’s medal & a Salomon Finishers’ bag which includes a Salomon arm pouch, and other freebies.  Post race meal will also be served.


  • Add Php 500 – get a Nathan handheld bottle (worth P990), till supplies last.

Cut-off times

24km –  5 hours

12km –  2.5 hours

  6km –   1.5 hours



Registration starts on Feb 1, 2013 until March 20, 2013. You may register via the ff:

1)      Online registration via credit card –

2)      Online registration via bank deposit – Fill up the online form & deposit payment to (Runner’s Runner Bank details at above link).

3)      Registration Centers :

1)       R.O.X. Bonifacio High Street , Fort Bonifacio Taguig, 3/F, Runner’s Runner Booth

2)      Salomon Store – Glorietta 3, 2/F Glorietta 3, Ayala Center, Makati City

Wishing the route takes us here

The trails above the mountains of Hamilo Coast

Hamilo Coast trails towards Pico De Loro (Photo credits to Jackie Gutierrez and her friends from her FB photos)


  • Add Php 450.00 –Bus slots from R.O.X. to Hamilo Coast & back will be available to the first 300 participants, for an additional Php450. To avail, please click on the tickbox in the registration form & include payment with the race registration fee.
  • Each registrant may avail of ONLY 1 additional seat in the bus (maximum of 2 seats per race participant). Please save the Bus Stub in your registration form/waiver. This will be surrendered upon boarding the bus on race day.


Special Rates at Pico Sands Hotel at Hamilo Coast, exclusively for Xtrail Participants range from  P6,500 to P7,000.

For accommodations inquiries & reservations, please email Leave your contact number  & We will call you the soonest.



Salomon Philippines holds X-Trail Run 2013 at Hamilo Coast, Nasugbu, Batangas City.

It is once again time to push the boundaries as the world’s number one trail running brand, Salomon, holds this year’s X-Trail Run. Held annually since 2008, the gut-wrenching event has been held in different countries around the globe including Southeast-Asian countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

On March 23, 2013, the Salomon X-Trail Run is slated to present its annual event in a yet another premiere location. Participants can expect the trail to have a combination of different terrain surfaces including dirt, rocks, sands, and concrete paths. The 2013 race aims to set a new record as one of the most-attended trail run races in the country.

This year’s race will be held in the beautiful Hamilo Coast in Nasugbu, Batangas City. New trail routes will be created exclusively for the event, with the Salomon team projecting to attract more trail running enthusiasts and trail runners hailing from different levels.

Moreover, runners will surely enjoy the breath-taking view around Hamilo Coast. The trail sections overlooking the cove are steep and technical, with sharp and loose rocks, as well as roots and thick foliage. The view also boasts of hills, mountains, valleys, and lush greeneries – an overall perfect setting for a one-of-a-kind adventure.

The Salomon Xtrail Event has 3 categories: 6km, 12km, and 24km—all with a “Road-to-Trail” nature. The 6km category welcomes beginners to explore the world of trail running. The 12km category invites runners with basic trail running experience to level-up their game with the inclusion of technical terrain.

Finishers of these 2 categories will receive a finisher’s bag with freebies. For experienced runners who are bent on exceeding their boundaries, the 24km Mountain Run will present technical ascents and varying terrains. The category will simulate ascents of Skyrunning races – an arena wherein Salomon dominates. Finishers will receive a medal, a Salomon Finishers’ bag with freebies.

The registration fee for 6km is P850, 12km for P1, 100, and 24km at P1, 300. All the runners will be given an event jersey, race bib, timing chip, and post-race meal. 12km and 24km participants get a limited Salomon Arm Band. For an additional P450, first 300 registrants get a bus slot from R.O.X. to Hamilo Coast and back.

For another P500, registrants will receive a Nathan handheld bottle until supplies last. Accommodations with special rates are also available for participants in Pico Sands Hotel at Hamilo Coast exclusive for X-Trail participants.

Salomon X-Trail Race: A Dead-End At The Halfway Mark

There were many eye-openers, sometimes quite painful lessons to learn from my first Trail race at the Tagaytay Higlands last Saturday during the Salomon 24K Mountain/Trail Run. Each trail run experience is different for anyone, but some harsh realities are applicable to everyone if, for no other reason, a fair share of caution.

The trails and mountains of the Tagaytay Higlands were daunting and arduous. We ran through muds, ran inside forests, up steep hills, we walked along fenced edges of ravines, we descended with the help of a rope down a steep embankment and the most bewildering part for me was we ran past a huge, agitated and rampaging cow which charged us head-on and once we dodged its bulldozing head, it came back at our backs as we scampered anew saving our arses in the process!

I and the other runners could barely walk on the sideways, laughing out loud recalling this very unusual experience!

Unlike other trail races I joined in the past, this course was well-marked with ribbons and banderitas guiding us into those mazes, the race wasn’t the least bit crowded, it had a friendly vibe, marshals were stationed on very unlikely sections of the forest and they had enough sports drinks and water stations to fill up our hydration bottles without having to worry when the next station will be. Indeed, it was a very well-organized race.

The start

Group Pic before the run

Single tracks at the beginning

The first trail section of the run felt really good as i and other runners had already ran this 6.7 km trail section on a test run a few weeks before. I was picking up tempo quite good although my breathing has always been labored which happens always when running uphill trails. Most of it were single track, rocky, steep and quite technical—you really had to watch your step and go easy on those slippery short down hills.

I ditched my regular trail shoe in favor of my Mizuno Prophecy road shoe that had nice clinging outsoles and performed very well during our test run on these same trails. I thought that it would perform just as well during the actual race on both roads and trails and that I could just coast along with it. Boy, was i wrong! I had forgotten that it had rained several days prior to this race that part of the course had become wet and muddy. I had to stop several times to remove the mud off the shoes and if you didn’t, it felt like you were dragging a pair of military boots.

Well placed signs

A view on what lies ahead

At the 10km mark going towards the main asphalted highway, I was still going on nicely until I felt a sharp twitch of pain on my left heel. I scaled back into a run-walk mode. I then stopped into a road side, sat down to remove some pebbles that were inside my right shoe. When I rose-up to start again, that pain was very sharp and lingering this time, not just on the left foot but it was also creeping into my right heel! My old nemesis, plantar fasciitis had returned!

I was in survival mode for the next 2 kms as I could barely move. The pain, especially on my left heel was excruciating every time I make a step. The pain became unbearable that at the last hydration table on the 12th km mark just before climbing the highest peak of the course, I threw in the towel and informed the marshals that I was going to abandon the race. I had fought the thought of quitting a dozen times during those 2 kms before the half-way mark even if it would take me to walk all the way to the finish but the odds seemed not to be in my favor. This was my first DNF.

With my head bowed, I was driven back on a motorcycle of a security escort to the finish line area where an ambulance was already waiting and I was immediately attended to by the medics.

In summary, even though my run didn’t end the way I wanted it to be, I’m glad I ran it, just the same. Just to be able to feel and experience the struggle of running a difficult course even when injured, is rewarding in itself.

The race was a humbling and learning experience. I had trained on hilly terrain for this race so I thought I was ready to face up the challenge. I had 25k LSD runs on my own. I thought I had adequate shoes that would stand the rigors of the terrain. Apparently, not so. The hills and those shoes eventually got to me and what these two didn’t do, my plantar sure did!

I hope to be back soon and looking forward to the next challenge.

Here are some more pictures of the race:

I was tailing this group

All uphills from here

Long winding trails

At about the 4km mark

At the 2nd half of the trails

Val blends well with his surroundings

Trail Running 101

There is a certain romanticism attached when i try to describe or read the pleasures of trail running. I always get to absorb the high and tranquility of the trails for fresh air leaving behind the chaos and pollution of urban running behind.

To quietly reflect on the beauty of the natural world is a given to those who take their time exploring the trails but for others, it serves as another challenge as we keep our hearts pumping when we join a trail race, no different from the usual grind of a road race.

I’ve been running trails for the past 3 years and the joys of experiencing the change of scenery and the excitement of racing on these parts add to the over-all enjoyment of running. If you’re new to the sport and would like to experience the exhilaration of running in this new environs, there are certainly many ways to enjoy it and it’s best to be prepared to know the ins and outs of trail running.

Last Wednesday, i attended Salomon’s Trail Running 101 lecture at ROX at Bonifacio High Street, conducted by Coach and multi-sport athlete, Miguel “Ige” Lopez and the Philippine Sky Runners. This was a great refresher course for me and whatever romanticism trail running stamped on my consciousness was replaced by wit and humor as Ige Lopez  discussed his travails, victorious conquests and funny anecdotes from his trail running experiences.

This refresher is in conjunction with the upcoming Salomon Trail race happening on the 31st which he endorses as he gave pointers on the basics: what gears to wear, running form, hydration, techniques, trail etiquette and stories of his racing experiences, locally and abroad.

Ms. Janice Tanada, Salomon Brand Manager and Ige Lopez at the lecture

Ige Lopez talks on uphill running

Trails come in different shapes and sizes, that’s the beauty of trail running — every trail is different so its important to learn some basics like trail running form and how to work trails into your normal running regiment.

Here are some tips on the basics of trail running:

What to ExpectWhen You Hit the Trail for an Off-Road Race

By: Martin Dugard

As you might think, a trail race can be quite different from a road race, both tactically and physically. Some words of wisdom regarding race day:

First of all, wear those trail shoes. They’re light enough for racing, but offer the lateral support you need to keep your feet and ankles more stable. Also, a trail shoe has a heavier tread pattern than a road shoe, and offers a toe “bumper” to protect you from bruising.

Start slowly. In essence, a trail race is a whole bunch of people trying to squeeze onto a skinny trail. Which may make you want to start out fast to beat the crowds. Don’t. This will only send you into oxygen debt and sap the energy you’ll need later in the race when everyone else is tiring.

Stay loose. As the race progresses, you’ll find a rhythm. Imagine yourself as nimble and light-footed as Fred Astaire. In this relaxed state, you’ll be less likely to fall and more apt to maintain speed.

Above all, have fun. Trail racing is the most natural form of racing. Indeed, we feel like children as we run through the forest. It’s playtime, and we’re called to it.

Sprint towards the end!

Trail Techniques and Tactics

Whether you are training or racing on trails, think about staying light on your feet. Run as if on eggshells. Also, resist the tendency to favor one leg over the other. A lot of runners start using one leg as the “plant” leg to land heavily on and the other as the “drive” or “push-off” leg. Each leg should do these actions interchangeably. Some other tactics to remember:

Downhills: Run on the balls of your feet, not on your heels. This means less pounding, more speed and greater control.

Uphills: Shorten your stride, and keep your head up and chest forward. Run relaxed and try to find a rhythm that will take you up and over each hill with relative ease.

Corners: To a greater extent than on the roads, trails offer the chance to round a corner and “hide.” Practice bursts of speed when turning corners. Competitors won’t see you accelerate, and will experience a mental letdown when they see you’ve “gapped” them. Include this maneuver as a regular part of your fartlek workout.

Streams: It’s possible to cross a stream while barely wetting your feet. All you have to do is high-step across as quickly as possible, allowing your feet to touch down only for a fraction of a second. Try it. And don’t be afraid to run right through a stream. Too many competitors lose time by halting at the edge of a stream midrace.

Entering the trail

7 Steps to Your First Trail Run

By: Matthew Frazier

1. Find a trail. By far the best way to start trail running is to find a local group of trail junkies and run with them. They’ll know the best trails in your area and help you get started.  Be sure to distinguish between non-technical and technical trails. Non-technical trails are paved, gravel, or dirt roads that are generally easy to negotiate. Technical trails are narrow, dirt or rocky paths offering every variety of challenge that most people associate with trail running.

2. Slow down and take short, quick strides. You can expect to run about 20 percent slower on trails for a given level of exertion than you would on roads. You’ll find steeper hills, more side-to-side movement, and lots of obstacles to deal with. Trail running is most fun when you forget about pace and do what feels good. Shorten your stride so that your weight is over your feet most of the time; this allows you to react quickly and maintain balance. You’ll find that trail running works your core and stabilizer muscles more than road running, so it may help to focus on keeping your core engaged.

3. Don’t be afraid to walk the hills. The surest way to identify a road runner on the trails is to look for the guy who runs past everybody on the uphills, only to be passed again on the downhills. Trail runners know that it’s usually more efficient to walk up the steep hills and conserve energy to make up time on the way down.

4. Scan the ground five to ten feet in front of you as you run. When you’re running trails, you need to pay extra attention to where you step. But you certainly don’t want to be staring straight down at your feet the whole time. Continuously scan the ground a few yards ahead of you while you’re running. As you notice an approaching obstacle, shift your attention to your feet to do whatever is necessary to clear the obstacle. And don’t be lazy—pick up your feet just a little higher than you think is necessary to avoid a root or rock. Too many falls happen due to simple complacency.

5. Keep a distance of ten feet from other runners. If you’re going to pay attention the ground in front of you, it helps if you can actually see it. If that’s not enough reason to keep your distance, trail runners are required to change speeds all the time, rarely with warning. Nobody likes getting rear-ended.

6. Watch out for slippery roots and rocks. If you can step over a fallen tree, root, or large rock, rather than on it, do it. Lots of them are more slippery than they look. And when crossing streams, it’s often safer to walk directly through the water than to try to tiptoe across wet rocks. (You’ll avoid being called names, too.) It’s trail running; you’re supposed to get muddy and wet!

7. Be safe. It’s not called “the wild” for nothing. You know, the common-sense stuff. Whenever possible, run with a friend. Bring a map if you’re running a new trail for the first time. Have a first aid kit in the car, and carry extra food with you for emergencies. Bring along a cell phone if you’re running alone. And know the area you’re running—how to deal with the wildlife, when and where hunting takes place, when the sun goes down, and anything else that might pose a danger.

A Sneak Peek: The Trails Of The Salomon Run 2012

Tagaytay Highlands Resort in Tagaytay City seems like the sort of runners’ paradise that you just put-on a running shoe, venture outside and run anywhere your eyes (and feet) will take you. I most specially love its peaceful ambiance with its slightly cool weather and soft breeze. The roads are wide and open and its hard to get lost even when you venture on long distances.

My experience running on these roads are still vivid, if not spectacular and last November’s Nathan Ridge Run was one of the best road races of 2011! Read my experiences here–>  part-1, part-2 and race.

Yesterday was my first time to set on their trails and they offer a different story as they’re mostly un-tapped, isolated and far removed from any activity, except perhaps as an exit route for the isolated dwellers who venture out for their needs in the city.

I was fortunate enough to be invited by the Primer Group led by Janice Tanada (Brand Manager), Mariel Flores and Laira Legazpi, the same group that staged the Nathan Ridge Run last November to test run the new trails they have mapped for the forthcoming Salomon Trail Run this coming March 31, 2012. The test run was done yesterday, March 17.

I was with about 12 other running bloggers together with some members of the Philippine Skyrunning Association and we were led into some of the roughest terrain, mainly dirt and gravel trails with 
some overgrown bushes and grassy sections. The route was mostly technical, with a lot of challenging rocky, single-track trails, and 
rolling asphalt paths for a change of pace.

The conditions on the trails can be a little more harsh if it would rain and get muddy as some of the sections were at the time but otherwise, the trails are just lovely. We were only made to run the first 6kms of the route which were mostly on trails but if you’re running the 24k race, trails will comprise about 80% of the route.

The actual race is will start and end at the amphitheater of Tagaytay Highlands and according to Janice, the 24 km race course is the toughest race course ever set up in Tagaytay Highlands.

The magnet for this particular trail run on March 31 must have been so overwhelming that all 1,000 slots for the 6k, 12k and 24k have been sold out, as revealed to us by Janice! So if you’re one of those fortunate runners to register early and are running on these trails on the 31st, here’s a sneak peak for what’s in store for you. I’ll see you there!

On the way to the trails

Passing by one of the last rest houses before our descent began

The trail starts here

Voyage unto the wilderness

Run! That's what we did in the beginning and CJ shows how

The Running Atom (Pedz) moving in his short-shorts

Bob and Banjo watching their steps on a series of downhills

Nice to have those shades when runners most need it. It was blazing hot outside

Most of the trails were single-tracks, from soft ground to the very technical surfaces

On one of the open spaces somewhere along the mountain ridges

Nice way to commune with nature

Janice (r) of Salomon Philippines with teammate enjoying a break

Philippine Skyrunners Assoc.

A narrow path just covered with leaves. Don't run if you're not sure where your threading

Taking some pics just before tackling those uphills

Taking a break with a view of the village below

Another view over-looking another residential village

Past coconut husks

The Salomon recon team

No end to those rolling trails

Banjo leading the charge

Another rough road to pass

Among the mostly single-track trails

You won't miss this view at KM3.5

A break before heading home

The Running Atom wears his Salomon shirt proudly. Team Diadora, take note!:-)

Lunch waiting for us at the Club House

With our charming tour guide at Tagaytay Midlands

24k Race Route