Timberland Trails Revisited

timberlandIt has been a while since me and my training buddy, June set foot on a trail and that was way back 2 months ago. After that last run, it had been a grueling two months of getting my mileage up to 70+ kms a week as i plan (hope) to run the QCIM in 6 weeks and frankly, all this pounding in hard surfaces was getting my feet, legs and thighs all aching and sore. So running on the trails like dirt, sand and grass offered a welcome respite.

We took advantage of the long week-end, so last Saturday, we traveled down to San Mateo, Rizal, particularly to the Timberland Heights trails. This isn’t the first time we were running these trail as we previously had ran the same trails during the inaugural All Terra King of the Mountain 10k Trail Race last June of this year.

However, for this run last Saturday, we purposely did not re-trace the same race route we did at that race but took alternate paths that criss-crossed wooded trails over rolling terrain on dirt and macadam roads, a river and a maze of ravines. Low lying fruit-bearing trees were abundant along the route that we were able to bend the branches a bit to reach for guava and santol fruits and these would sustain us for the duration of our run.

The weather was moderately cool, cloudy, maybe over 70 degrees but it had slightly rained the day before so the trails were a bit slippery. After parking near the clubhouse, we started our run.

A view of Metro Manila

A view of Metro Manila

Start of the trail

Entrance of the trail

Of mists and mountains

Of mists and mountains

Trail was muddy as it rained the night before

Trail was muddy as it rained the night before

June follows my lead

June follows my lead

Inside the western portion of the trail

Inside the western portion of the trail

Following the macadam trail

Following the macadam trail

Slush and mud portions

Slush and mud portions

Past the isolated church

Past the isolated church

Little barrier

Little barrier

Up to the wilderness

Up to the wilderness

Threading through wild grass

Threading through wild grass and bamboo

More of hiking the single track trail

More of hiking the single track trail

Towards its inner sanctum

Towards its inner sanctum

Climbing up the slippery trail

Climbing up the slippery trail

View of the trail upwards

View of the trail upwards

June maneuvers on his way down

June maneuvers on his way down

Enjoying the stream

Enjoying the stream

Wish we had more time to dip our feet in the water

Wish we had more time to dip our feet in the water

June takes a closer view of the stream

June takes a closer view of the stream

Strong currents

Strong currents

We had pickings of ripe guavas along the trails.

We had pickings of ripe guavas along the trails.

Small creatures like this one form part of the trails

Small creatures like this one form part of the trails

Finding my way down

Finding my way down

On our way back

On our way back

Sign of our times

Sign of our times

The softer part of the trails

The softer part of the trails

Out of the woods

Out of the woods

Exiting the Maraat side of Timberland Heights

Exiting the Maarat side of Timberland Heights

The climb back

The climb back

The craters of Maarat

The craters of Maarat

To the top

To the top

The red wall

The red wall

Up to the top

Up to the top

Back to the Timberland Heights Clubhouse

Back to the Timberland Heights Clubhouse

The 11k run took about 2 and a half hours which included a lot of walking, eating and just stopping on our tracks to savor nature. It was nice to be back on the trails!

The Christmas Trees And Trails Of Pintong Bocaue, San Mateo, Rizal

View from Pintong Bocaue

View from Pintong Bocaue

Pintong Bocaue in Sitio Maraat, San Mateo Rizal lies near the boundary of San Juan, Antipolo with views of the vast Sierra Madre mountain range. What makes Pintong Bocaue so distinctive is the presence of Pine trees lined up on both sides of the street from Sitio Maraat all the way to the western entrance of Timberland Heights.

The pine trees are reminiscent with those of Baguio City only that the trees here in Maraat are short, dwarf-like and much younger than their counterparts in the original city of pines. Running partner June and I started our run from the El Dorado Commissary, an over-priced food store cum restaurant where many mountain bikers hang-out during their treks on the numerous trails situated in the area.

The El Dorado Commissary Store

The El Dorado Commissary Store

We ran through the short pine tree-lined main road and from there worked our way into the different trails, passing several stands of flowering bouganvillas and calachuchis, acacia trees and mountain vines. The air was a bit foggy with low clouds covering the tips of the mountains. The trails were wet and soggy so we had to abandon some of them in favor of the drier footing of the main road. With the recent typhoon that hit most of Luzon, this is probably not a great time to be running on trails.

Starting the run on the wet road

Starting the run on the wet road

Running past dwarf pine trees

Running past dwarf pine trees

June, on the foggy street ahead

June, on the foggy street ahead

"Christmas trees" on the sides

"Christmas trees" on the sides

Entering a trail

Entering a trail

Threading thru soggy ground

Threading thru soggy ground

Going inside the trail

Going inside the trail

30 minutes into the run

30 minutes into the run

Into a wooded area

Into a wooded area

Slowing down while passing a wet area

Slowing down while passing a wet area

June is way out front

June is way out front

Paved trail going to Timberland west

Paved trail going to Timberland west

5k into the run

5k into the run

Wet and windy

Wet and windy

The road was all to ourselves

The road was all to ourselves

Nice greenery

Nice greenery

The view on our right

The view on our right

June with school children who had to walk for 4kms to reach school. We would meet them again on our way back as their classes have been suspended due to the storm

June with school children who had to walk for 4kms to reach school. We would meet them again on our way back as their classes have been suspended due to the storm

Our turn-around point. This trail head was the entrance to Timberland but because of the muddy terrain, we cancelled our run here for next time

Our turn-around point. This trail head is the entrance to Timberland but because of the muddy terrain, we canceled our run here for next time

Heading back

Heading back

The long and winding road

The long and winding road

Wind and drizzle

Wind and drizzle

Taking in the view

Taking in the view

Another scene

Another scene

Running past the scenery

Running past the scenery

Looking at a trail on my right

Looking at a trail on my right

The trail i was looking at

The trail i was looking at

Entering the trail

Entering the trail

Running on soft ground

Running on soft ground

Emerging from the forest

Emerging from the forest

This farm-resort offers not "bed and breakfast" but "trails and breakfast!"

This farm-resort offers not "bed and breakfast" but "trails and breakfast!"

So we check-out the resort

So we check-out the resort

Welcome sign of the Pestano's Ecological Sanctuary

Welcome sign of the Pestano's Ecological Sanctuary

Entrance to the Pestano sanctuary

Entrance to the Pestano sanctuary

Enough of the trails. It was time for us to eat!

Enough of the trails. It was time for us to eat!

An enjoyable run inspite of the wet terrain, capped off with a hefty breakfast of eggs with onions, spam, fried rice and piping hot coffee. Thanks to June!

Savoring The Killer Trails of Timberland, All-Terra KOM

trail posterI came, I Saw, I Savored! Savored may be a cheezy term in relation to Julius Caesar’s conquest over Pharnaces II in the battle of Zila but it may be true too to all runners who both conquered and savored yesterday’s All Terra – King of the Mountain 10k Trail race at Timberland Heights in San Mateo, Rizal. Missing out the TNF 21k trail race 3 weeks ago because of another race i attended on the same day, i didn’t miss this opportunity this time as Timberland heights just lies less than an hour from Quezon City.

While most runners came to race the trails, my purpose was more on discovering and appreciating the trail itself, as i aimed in experiencing the roughness and challenge as i was going to run here for the first time. However, the toughness and physical demands of the route, as i would later learn, was more than i had hoped for as they, for the most part, left me gasping for breath.

The 10k Trail Route

The 10k Trail Route

This mostly forest-enclosed trail will challenge even hardened trail runners. The steep inclines, wet and muddy terrain kept many to walk and exert great effort just to remain in balance while moving forward. However, along the route, we were rewarded with many scenic views of mountain vistas, fauna, a natural running stream and even an old chapel in the middle of the forest.

June, posing before the start of the race

June, posing before the start of the race

Posing near the start

Posing near the start

Warm up before the start

Warm up before the start

Final briefing by a race organizer

Final briefing by a race organizer

Seconds before the start. Seconwind's Hec Yuzon at left.

Seconds before the start. Seconwind's Hec Yuzon at left.

The race started about 50 meters past the guarded entrance gate as we quickly ascended into a moderate but long incline on a cemented road. Many runners had to walk past the 800 meter mark and i had to work my way through the field to keep up with running partner June Santiago but he was strong and kept pushing forward. Past the resort complex on our left, we started to enter the trail. The trail was soft and patches of stagnant water were present brought about by the rains that poured the morning before. I stopped to take photos of significant portions of the route while runners were careful to avoid the flooded part of the trail. Everyone was in good spirits, runners cajoling and teasing one another like kids until we reached the first water station two kilometers after the start.

Taking their time on the uphill near clubhouse

Taking their time on the uphill near the clubhouse

The trail starts here

The trail starts here

The trails were single to double tracks, passing through open fields with small mountains and valleys as backdrop. The route were very well-marked by sign directions although i wished they would have also placed kilometer marks along the trails. By the 4th kilometer, the hills became unrelenting and the ground unstable under our feet as we walked-up inclines.

The marshals were very nice and friendly, some giving encouragement, the others forewarning us about the type of surface we were going to thread on. The water stations were adequately stocked and well-placed and i was even wondering how they were able to set up tables atop a ridge. If you had expected a Gatorade station, the organizers would have been able to set one up but that would be asking for too much. I and with many of the other runners were equipped with energy drinks in our hydration belts.

I'm just at the back of the pack at this point

I'm just at the back of the pack at this point

Runners ahead

Runners ahead

Past an isolated warehouse

Past an isolated warehouse

Approaching a minor hurdle

Approaching a minor hurdle

Approaching an open space

Approaching an open space


Marshall on motorbike

Marshall on motorbike


Nette of Happy Feet/Takbo.ph. I hope i got your name right (?)

Let (http://itsmysocalledlife.wordpress.com/) of Happy Feet/Takbo.ph.

I was with a group of runners that i occasionally pass or get passed by when i stopped to take pictures.  Surprisingly, when i ran in step beside them and converse, they all knew who i was and they tell me enthusiastically that they keep tab with my blog, my trail runs and so on. Wow, that sure was music to my ears, better than hearing jazz on anyone’s I-Pod! I forget to ask the names of some while i was also able to ask others but later forgot them–probably because of the constant jarring and pounding of the brain while running! 🙂

One of more than ten hilly sections of the course

One of more than ten hilly sections of the course


Walking the incline in muddy conditions

Walking the incline in muddy conditions

Trail leading to forested area

Trail leading to forested area

The narrow pathways approaching the 6th kilometer were mostly uphills with overgrown grass shrubs scrapping our legs. We ran/walked most of the hills until we reached a gravel road at the edge of a cliff which was flat. We took a stab at running once again and i was fine, being able to catch some rhythm again. I overtook some runners until we reached the last uphill as we scrambled up to the crest. Here, i took my last photo of the runners and decided to run seriously the last 2 kilometers.

Chance to pose while catching her breath

Chance to pose while catching her breath

Nearing the crest

Nearing the crest

Good view of the wide vista

Good view of the wide vista

Markers for directions were all over the route

Markers for directions were all over the route

Going downhill

Going downhill

Long stretch in the open

Long stretch in the open

Muddy trail before us

Muddy trail before us

Enjoying the run

Enjoying the run


Skirting to the sides

Skirting to the sides

Crossing a stream. A sight to behold!

Crossing a stream. A sight to behold!

Just one at a time

Just one at a time

Dressed to run...in the forest

Dressed to run...in the forest


You go girl! Thumbs up before climbing the top of the hill

You go girl! Thumbs up before climbing the top of the hill

Now running on gravel

Now running on gravel

Last uphill, 2.5kms before the finish

Last uphill, 2.5kms before the finish

Posing for a member of Team baldrunner. The name "Salazar" emblazoned on his shirt. Must be the famed coach?

Posing for a member of Team baldrunner with the name "Salazar" emblazoned on his shirt. Must be the famed coach?

The Skywalker, Rainier 6666 taking it easy

A light moment for some of the runners

The last 2k was mostly flat and i was back at the cement road leading to the resort hotel as i sprinted back to the finish line. Yes! June, who said he came in about 10 minutes earlier lead me to the tent for some nice cold drinks.

Running in trails is peaceful, you only hear the breathing of the runners beside you or that of your own. There are no crowds that sometimes mock at you, there are no motorists that angrily blare their horns when caught in traffic and there are no jostling between runners while taking their cups of water. There is only decency in trail running. Maybe the forest gods have cast a spell on whoever runs through it. Here, we are given a doze of tranquility, fresh air and whatever else nature presents itself.

Over-all, this race was one of the best organized races i have even been to. The route was challenging with some very nice scenery and i would recommend it to anyone who would want to enter this same route again.

I’m still savoring the experience as i write this.

Posing after the race. With Jonel (Bugo-bugo), Jonel's friend and Neville of Secondwind

Posing after the race. With Jonel (Bugo-bugo), Jonel's friend and Neville of Secondwind

With Vince Mendoza (r) of Finishline

With Vince Mendoza (r) of Finishline

Charmimg ladies who also conquered the trails, Josie & Carmen, friends of the Jazzrunner blog

Charming ladies who also conquered the trails, Josie & Carmen, friends of the Jazzrunner blog

June and speedster Totoy

June and speedster Totoy

Mud soaked shoes

Our mud soaked shoes


Kiss mark on the leg (?)

June with kiss mark on his leg (?)

The bike race after the 10k run

The bike race after the 10k run