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!

 

 

Trail Chronicles #10: Salomon Xtrail Run 2014 All Set

The yearly Salomon XTrail series are always a challenging lot! And their trail venues are awesome with the most recent at Tagaytay Highlands and Hamilo Coast topped with the longest distance last year at 24kms of heart-pumping uphills!

This year, the Salomon X-Trail Run will be back for the 2nd time at Hamilo Coast, which has some of the most scenic trails i have ever ran and with its vertical ascents and steep descents, it has added a 32k distance category which the organizers have dubbed as “hardcore”! It’s for the experienced trail runner who want the real “Salomon Experience”.

Yesterday, the organizers conducted a short race briefing for the members of the press showing us some videos of their previous races, the description of this year’s race course and what to expect along the race route.

NO WATER STATIONS ON TOP OF MOUNTAINS

The organizers have reiterated that no water stations will be positioned on top of mountain trails as they will only be situated at the base of these uphill climbs. However, there will be adequate hydration in these stations offering both water and sports drinks.

Suffice it to say, that runners should be self-sufficient always–sees to it that their hydration bottles and other containers are always in “full tank”, filling them up always at every water station available.

The race course will cover most, if not all the race route that was used last year and you can see why many trail runners are looking forward and coming back to run this race:

With Ms. Pen Nepomuceno, the Race Coordinator/Director and a top trail runner herself

During last year’s race

REMINDERS: Mandatory Gears, Bus Sched, Entry at Hamilo Coast

MANDATORY GEARS

Mountain Run (32k/24k)

  • Head lamp
  • Whistle
  • Hydration bag/ belt

Road to Trail (6k/12k)

  • Hydration bag/ belt

*Mandatory inspection will be conducted before the race. No mandatory gears, no race.

*Salomon XTrail 2014 is a green event. Bring your own hydration packs as no plastic cups will be distributed in the event.

 

RACE KIT CLAIMING

  •  Claiming is at R.O.X. Bonifacio High Street from 12nn to 9PM everyday until April 6, 2014 only. No race kits will be distributed after April 6.
  •  For store registrants, claiming of race kits at R.O.X. Bonifacio High Street is after 3-days upon registration date.
  • Registrants who cannot personally claim the race kit within the specified date & time, please prepare authorization letter.

BUS SCHEDULEPick-up Point: R.O.X. Bonifacio High Street

Meeting Time: 12:30AM

ETD: 1st batch- 1:00AM; 2nd batch- 1:30AM

Requirement: Online & Store Registrants must present valid ID

DIRECTIONS TO HAMILO

The shortest and fastest route to Hamilo is via Cavitex- Naic – Puerto Azul Route 

ACCESS

Gates open at 3AM. If the guest is not checked-in, they cannot enter

Hamilo before the said opening time.

CAR PASS

  • The Carpass attached should be surrendered to Hamilo GuardHouse Entrance, with all the participants’ names riding the car.
  •  NO CAR PASS, NO ENTRY.
  •  If you are riding the bus service, please disregard the carpass.

HAMILO WRIST BANDS

  • Each registered runner is issued a Grey Hamilo Wristband, included in the race kit.
  • Please do not lose the wristband. NO WRISTBAND, NO ENTRY to the event staging area.
  • If misplaced, Hamilo will charge P600 for guest daytrip fee.

HAMILO COAST BEACH & CLUB ACCESS

  1. Strictly no brining in of food & drinks inside the club.
  2. Hotel Guests: Registered Runners & Guests of Salomon X Trail who are checked-in Pico Sands Hotel have automatic access to Pico Beach & Country Club.
  3. Registered Runners have automatic access to Pico Beach and Pico Country Club.

 Day Trip Fees for Salomon X-Trail Event

  • Use of Pico Beach (swimming) – P 600 / head
  • Use of Pico Beach & Country Club – P 1,000/head
  • Companions who just watch and eat in Pico Beach  – No Charge
  • Cash Card – All purchases in the club for food and other services are done via cash card. Therewill be a cash card loading station in the event area where guests can load cash.
  • Credit Card – Credit Card (Visa and Mastercard) is also accepted as mode of payment.

For fruther queries:
Registration, Race Kits & Bus Reservation: lolarr@runnersrunner.com or feedback@salomonxtrailpilipinas.com
Pico Sands Hotel Reservation: salomonphils@gmail.com

The cutoff time for the 32 km Mountain Run is 7 hours. It is 5 hours for the 24 km Mountain Run. Mandatory gear for both of these categories are a headlamp, a whistle, and a hydration bag or belt.

RACE ROUTE OVERVIEW

A tour of the roads, hills, mountains and valleys around Hamilo Coast. The trail sections overlooking the cove are steep and technical, with sharp and loose rocks, roots and thick foilage, but the view if you need to stop and rest is worthwhile.

32km mountain run – P1,600; 5:00 AM Gunstart; cutoff time: 7 hours (with race bib, timing chip, Salomon Xtrail technical jersey, and Salomon Racing Belt. All finishers (official finish within cut-off time) of this distance to receive finisher’s medal & other Freebies).  Post race meal will also be served.  Mandatory gear: headlamp, whistle, hydration bag/belt. These will be inspected by race officials prior to run.

24km mountain run – P1,400; 5:30 AM Gunstart; cutoff time: 5 hours (with race bib, timing chip, Salomon Xtrail technical jersey, and Salomon Racing Belt. All finishers (official finish within cut-off time) of this distance to receive finisher’s medal & other Freebies).  Post race meal will also be served.  Mandatory gear: headlamp, whistle, hydration bag/belt. These will be inspected by race officials prior to run.

 

12km road to trail – P1,100; 6:30 AM Gunstart; cutoff time: to be announced (with race bib, timing chip, Salomon Xtrail technical jersey) Post race meal will also be served. Mandatory gear: hydration bag/belt. These will be inspected by race officials prior to run.

6km road to trail – P850; 7:00 AM Gunstart; cutoff time: to be announced (with race bib, timing chip, Salomon Xtrail technical jersey) Post race meal will also be served.  Mandatory gear: hydration bag/belt. These will be inspected by race officials prior to run.

Briefing being given by Ms. Janice Tanada, Product Head of Salomon Philippines

WATER STATIONS

The Salomon Xtrail Pilipinas 2013 Race is a GREEN RUN. No disposables will be provided at the hydration  stations. All participants MUST bring their own provisions.

NOTE: NO WATER STATIONS WILL BE PROVIDED ALONG THE MOUNTAIN ROUTE! WATER AND SPORTS DRINKS WILL ONLY BE PROVIDED AT THE BASE OF THESE MOUNTAINS OR BEFORE THE ASCENTS!

AID STATIONS

There will be 2 Ambulances on standby and roving medics around the trail exit areas. Search & Rescue Mountaineers will also be on standby around the mountain trails. Medic Station will be at the Start/Finish Line.

Ms. Pen Nepomuceno, Over-all Race Coordinator explaining the details of the route

MANDATORY GEAR

Mountain Run (32 & 24km) headlamp, whistle, hydration bag/belt.

Road to Trail Run (12km & 6km) – Hydration bag/belt.

Race Officials will check the gear prior to gun start.

(Special thanks to Ms. Janice Tanada of Salomon Philippines and to Ms. Aileen Frugal of Primer Group for inviting us to the press briefing)