Daraitan Trail Run With Team Soleus: Trail Recon #1

Way back 3 or 4 years ago, i would occasionally run into an energetic group of runners wearing black dri-fit shirts with a yellow patch of “S” emblazoned on it and would later learn that it was the Soleus Running Team . I wasn’t really into any other running watch except for Garmin which i had acquired for a review on this blog and another one as a gift from a friend. However, i really had my sights on having one of those Soleus shirts they were wearing.

Those first generation Garmin GPS watches didn’t last very long with me as it had issues on quality and durability after only 8 months of use so i switched back to my old reliable chronograph watch . Later on,  i was invited by L-Time Studio (distributors of the Soleus watch) big boss, Judith Staples on the launching of their very first GPS running watch, the durable Soleus 1.0. It was great that they adopted their first GPS running watch which was simple in design and performance yet very affordable at that!

Getting to know Judith was my introduction to their running team. She is a huge motivator, very supportive of her growing team and most importantly, i get to run with a really friendly and equally supportive group of runners! Oh, and did i tell you that i got to have the shirt i was pinning for?

Team Soleus is open to all ages and the levels vary from elite, ultra runners, marathoners, beginners and fun runners who mostly wear a Soleus GPS watch. The runners here are super friendly and have a great bond with one another which i think is cool because you get to challenge yourself more and share that extra motivation from being with a team who share the same interests not only in running but by the watch they wear.

Last week, i had the chance to bring the team at my favorite trail playground, the Sierra Madre trails in Tanay, particularly the route going to Daraitan and the popular Tinipak River and rocks. To describe the group’s reaction of the trail route would be a task but to put it in two words: refreshing but hard-core!

Many struggled over those uphill climbs and slippery river crossings but got over those as time went by. The trails are moderate to very technical, a run-hike route depending on your level of fitness. Everybody though, were able to survive it. Although it is not as steep as other trails, there are lots of stream/river crossings and you tend to get lost if you’re not familiar with the route.

Once we were out of the trails, we all found ourselves back on a primary road and it was a short jaunt to the road leading to Daraitan and to the Tinipak Rocks. After about 6 kms and a short halo-halo stop, we finally reached Daraitan with the rocks and boulders looming everywhere like gem stones sparkling in ice water. I’ve been to this place many times before and it still was mesmerizing seeing it that day like it was the first time i saw it.

We lost no time in getting ourselves cool and dipping into the cool water. Here’s a run-down of our adventure in photos. Enjoy!

Team Soleus with the Rundezvous runners before the start of the run.

Irish and the Sierra Madre mountains as backdrop

At one of the stop overs on a hill top

Judith always rams the downhill parts

With Kerwin and Judith

That’s Abet cooling off her bruised knee

The team doing their balancing act

A very difficult part of the route where you thread on sharp jagged rocks and should maneuver with caution

With Judith (c) Running Atom

Finally at the Tinipak River

Mirjam enjoying the views

Bulalo, Gourmet Tuyo Pasta and Fried Chicken–thanks to Abet and Judith!

Trail Chronicles #14 : A Glimpse Of The NTDR III 50k Trail Route

The Sto. Nino trails descending to the town of Laiban have been previously used many times during Pimco’s Love A Tree race series and it’s easy to see why this route has been a staple for trail runners, specially those running Pimco’s longer distances from 21k to 50k races here in Tanay, Rizal.

Being here with other trail runners in the early morning is forgetting that you’re just an hour away from Manila. The small communities that compasses the area: Baranggays Cuyambay, San Andres, Sto. Nino and Laiban gives you a lot of variety. Here you have wooded areas, single track paths, rough roads, rivers, waterfalls, meadows and wetland areas to keep you interested.

Last Sunday when many of my trail running friends were roughing it out at the TNF 100 trail race in Baguio City, me and several others who opted to stay in Manila went to Tanay to attend PIMCO’s last test run and try out some parts of their 50k route for their May 25 Nature’s Trail Discovery Run III, Leg 1. You can check out my previous blogs on the 10 and 21k routes (here) and (here 2). It was my first trail run since the Salomon X-Trail Run a month ago and it was great getting re-oriented back in rural settings.

We went out for a 20km run and we had our shoes wet for most of the time trekking the various rivers that surrounded Sto. Nino. This course threads on rolling terrain, some elevations but the inclines were minimal. It alternated between access roads, crushed gravel, dirt paths and the ever present rivers–they’re always there.

This is one of my favorite routes!  If you like discovering the undiscovered, running along a river and meandering in the heart of Tanay’s rural community, then the NTDR Trail Run is for you. 

Here’s a glimpse of the NTDR III, Leg 1 50k race route:

 

 

For more details about the race/how to register, check out their website: http://www.pimcosportingevents.net/#!ntdr-ii-3rd-leg/c1py8

(Thanks to Emn Muncal for some of the pics!)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Duhat trees abound the area

That’s not a monkey..that’s Jackie!

Start of our assault of Mt. Batolusong

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

 

Approaching some mountaineers at the Maypatag Plateau

At the Maypatag Plateau

The ‘Susong Dalaga’ Peak is at the background

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

Our turn to scale our way down

It’s back to the trails

Photo by Rhett Del Rosario

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy!

 

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

Arriving at the Kay Ibon Waterfalls

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

 

The guys doing their thing while Jackie waits for her turn

Natures Trail Discovery Run: January 12, 2014 at Daranak Falls

One of the most challenging trail race put up by PIMCO last year was the Daranak Trail Run which was 21 kilometers of scenery, killer uphills and downhills, drop-dead exhaustion but downright awesomeness! The course was grueling, one of the toughest trail route that Pimco organizers has ever come out!

It was one of my most memorable runs last year where all were treated to threading the dark Calinawan Cave, crossing on several arduous rivers where one runner was in the midst of drowning if not for the swift reaction of other runners who rushed to help her out of the gushing water.

But the killer part was the trek to the peak of the Masungi mountain, a single track rocky mountain climb where our calves, quads and knees were screaming in pain!

Now, this race is coming back on January 12, 2014, which is the 3rd leg of the Natures Trail Discovery Run (NTDR) Championship Series and features 5k, 10k, 21k and 50k distances. Aside from the Daranak Falls, it will also feature the Batlag Falls, another showcase of this run. This upcoming race will vary in terrain (trails, dirt roads, rivers, wooden bridges, waterfalls), some really arduous treks but you will not feel disappointed.

Check out my recap of last year’s event here—> dancing-on-the-trails-of-daranak/

The 3rd Leg Race Route will start and finish in Daranak Falls, Tanay, Rizal, Philippines as the official venue.

**This trail race is RECOMMENDED by the JAZZRUNNER!**

​More details of the race from PIMCO’s webpage, here  http://www.pimcosportingevents.net/#!ntdr-ii-3rd-leg/c1py8

PRESS RELEASE:

The race route shows the entire route of all the different categories including the longest route for the 50k Ultra which will reach Sta. Ines, the outermost barangay of the municipality traversing the hills and valleys in the innermost Sierra Madre Mountain ranges.

From the start and finish there are a total of 10 aid stations to cover the entire route along the same route of 5k, 10k, 21k, and 50k Ultra. Aid stations will mostly be for refilling of rehydration bottles and water bags of runners. No cups will be served. U-turns of 10k and 21k will serve bananas while the halfway mark of the 50k will serve runners with bananas, food, and energy drinks.

For the 3rd Leg, no drop bag station along the race route, drop bags will be at the finish line. 50k Ultra Runners must bring in their belt bags and backpack their personal provisions.

Each category must make sure to get the colored string at the u-turn as evidence that they passed the U-Turn or the farthermost route for each of the category. Failure to present the colored string at the finish line will be a caused for disqualification.

Finishers Shirt

REGISTRATION AT MERREL STORES – Sm North Edsa, Trinoma, Market-Market and Festival Mall. Use your Bib to avail of 20% discount when buying trail shoes at Merrel stores.

For Online Registration go to www.pimcosportingevents.net

Fees for the Leg 3:

 Newbies (5k)               – P   550.00         
Advanced (10k)           -P   750.00
Seasoned (21k)            -P   950.00
Masters (50k)              -P 1,750.00

The race route maybe subject to change by Pimco Sporting Events, the organizer and manager of the race event. The change maybe effected upon sole discretion of the organizer for safety purpose or other purposes it may deem appropriate. The decision of the organizer as per the rules and regulations is final.

Runners on the way to the finish will pass beside Daranak Falls.

This is the stairway leading to Daranak Falls on the way to the finish.

Part of the 50k trail along the Sta. Inez road passing through Tinucan

Part of the 50k trail route along the long off road Sta. Inez road

River crossing of the 50k trail route

50k Runners will run at the right side just along this long winding river

Sceneries along the 50k trail race route.

50k trail race route

50k trail race route

21k and 50k trail race route at Barangay Cuyambay

Trail route for the 50k runners

The first 5 kilometers will include this route which is runners can pitch camp overnight to await the early morning gun start

We’ll see you all there!

Race Review: Leg 1-Natures Trail Discovery Run @ Daraitan

The rains were heavy in Q.C. from late Saturday evening up to early Sunday morning, and i was already having second thoughts if travelling for more than an hour to get to Tanay for the Natures Trail Discovery Run was worth the trip.

While waiting for running buddy Jun to fetch me, i even texted Manny Santos, over-all Race Director of the NTDR to ask if the race was pushing through. He was surprised at my message and re-assured me that the race would go on as planned and that only a short drizzle hovered over Tanay the night before.

Truly, the roads and trails in Tanay were almost dry while the rain held-out Sunday morning for the duration of the whole race and we had very good weather over-all.

Jun and i arrived at the venue at about 4:30am and were in for an unusual sight. The start and finish line area was located inside a large multi-purpose gym just in case it rains outside. We then claimed our race packets and in a few minutes we were off, together with the other 21k runners.

Runners start to arrive at the start and finish area

When the starting gun was fired, i was so not feeling it! Felt sluggish, even sleepy that i had to struggle on that first uphill road. Things change a bit when we hit the trails and it was daybreak by then, no need really to use those head-lamps which i forgot to bring anyway.

Having ran this route in a familiarization run organized by Pimco a few weeks ago,  it was nice being up there seeing the Sierra Madre mountain range once again as we crossed small rivers and intruded into small communities where residents were still fast asleep on those early hours.

At one of the river crossings. I wonder why they had to cross this on the right side which was slippery when they could have just easily stepped on that sturdy bamboo pole (lower left portion) which i did.

Passing along a shack

Part of the single track trail

On a hilly terrain

The trail part is short, just about 2.5kms before emerging on the national road on the way to Daraitan. This part is largely uneventful, a mad dash along the highway, vehicles still scarce as you crissed-cross the road to cut corners leading to Gen. Marking Road.

This stretch of road seem to go on forever. It’s a combination of rough and cemented roads, some parts crowded with people while the rest are mostly just  farm fields but with great views of the mountains. Except for a short detour at the Macaira Gardens, it was mostly this road that we had to contend with, an uphill-downhill of rolling slopes.

I was feeling good at this point, met some new friends while re-filling our hydration bottles at one of the aid stations and one thing positive about this race is the availability of ice, lots of it and cold sponges. Some parts of the rough roads were sandy and i had to stop several times to untie my shoe and remove small pebbles which found itself inside that made it uncomfortable to run on.

It was like heaven when we finally reached the wooden bridge at Daraitan after like running forever. The trails were both sandy and rocky but at least, we were in a Nirvana-like scenery, the gushing river running beside us, more mountain views and large, white boulders scattered all over the place.

The Tinipak rocks

At the turn-around point with Rnold Eming

The views at the turn-around point

Nice to take a dip here if there was more time

Another view from atop the trail

Beyond this is the trail to Nakar, Quezon where the 50k runners went further

The way back was a tough one, knowing you’ll be running the same endless road of uphills and downhills. It would now be a test of perseverance, walking ability and still lots of stored patience! Seems that the only way to overcome it is to move slowly during the uphills then get back to the shuffle/run rhythm at the downhills. I was quickly losing steam and all i wanted to do was to get  to the end.

The sponges provided on crucial aid stations were God-sent as i was able to pour ice-cold water on my head may times and that was refreshing! I already knew that the distance we were going to complete was about 28 to 29 kms just based on the distance at the turn-around point which was 14 kms. Nice bonus for us mileage addicts!

An amazing guy, Voltron Visda who, for the whole duration of the race ran barefoot, battling sharp macadam surfaces, rocky terrains, hot cement roads and plenty of strewn broken glasses along the route! My hat’s off to him!

On my way back!

When we finally reached the National Highway, there was another 4 to 5 kms to tackle before the finish line. I got back into a running rhythm, really forcing myself to run the downhills fast and slowing down to a walk during long inclines. Around this time, I went past several runners who were slowing down or were just walking continuously.

At around the 29 km mark, i could now see the side of the roads teeming with people as the area is a highly commercialized one where business establishments abound. The sight of the gas station on the right side signaled that i was nearly there at the finish. And finally, the sight of the Gym where we started about 5 hours ago. Eventually i was inside the gym and crossed the finished line with some announcements of my arrival  (thanks to event hosts, Iris and Nonoy).

The distance was 30.7 kms finishing it in about 4:59 (per my GPS watch). I felt exhilarated, finishing another 30+ km run after running the 32k Run United-2 race, just the week before.

Capping the run was a free 30 minute++ massage and the therapist really worked on both my legs and feet!

Over-all, another great race by Pimco with stunning views to die for!

At the finish line

Thanks to Lito Mallari, Rnold Eming and Voltron Visda for some of the photos!

Test Run: Nature’s Trail Discovery Daraitan Trail Route

The Daraitan trail route is refreshing! And that’s not just a comment on its cool and sparkling river (above). The Tinipak rocks mushrooming on both sides of  the northern side of Daraitan river looks something like large chunks of ice falling down from the sky. Only, it didn’t melt away but gave the river an animating and intoxicating feel, ala scotch-on-the-rocks!

To describe yesterday’s test route run would be quite a task, but Pimco’s forthcoming Nature’s Trail Discovery Run-Daraitan Ultramarathon route this coming June 9 would be another jewel to their crown of showcase trails worth raving about. Pimco’s past trail races like the  Daranak Falls Trail, the Calinawan Cave pass, the Maysawa trails, the Sta. Inez Peak were all worth  every trail runners’ money and time and the Daraitan trail will be no less different.

STARTING LINE VENUE:

I had no clue where the exact location of the test run would start so i texted Manny Santos, big boss of Pimco Sports for directions to the venue. Running buddy Jun and I were set to go and we were taking with us Iris Cortulas who wanted to tag along and try out the route. We bonded together and set off to Masinag where we were meeting other runners so we could do a convoy and leave in tandem for the venue.

Reaching Masinag at 4:15am, we were able to touch base with Ultra runners JJ Layug, Mar Marilag, Bong Alindada together with Milo Fitness Coach Jackie Gutierrez so they followed us in their car with ours, leading. Our destination: The Ynarez Gym at the corner of Sampaloc Road and Marcos Highway in Sampaloc Tanay.

This is also going to be the starting line of the June 9 race.

At the Ynares Sports Gym, Sampaloc Road, Tanay–the venue of the Daraitan Ultramarathon with Pimco boss Manny Santos (in pink shirt) and Race Director, Alvin Valderama, 3rd from left.

THE TRAIL ROUTE:

We arrived at the venue at about 5:45am and were met by Manny and Alvin of Pimco Sports. We couldn’t start as yet as we were waiting for other runners to arrive as some had lost their way and had over-shot the venue. But since it was getting late, our group decided to go ahead and all the others who arrived late will just have to follow so a guide of Pimco was left to wait for them.

The run started at about 6:20am as we were led at the other side of Sampaloc Road, crossing the street. The first kilometer was on a concrete road that took us inside a residential area that led to the start of the trails. The trails measured a distance of about 3-4kms.

This is one of the nicest sections of the route, all trails of mostly single track and offers excellent footing, uphills and downhills, a pleasant scenery including the vast Sierra Madre Mountains, old-growth forests, a river lagoon, farm animals and a variety of trees.

As always, i struggled over those uphill climbs and slippery river crossings but got over those as time went by. Here are some pictures of the trails with short descriptions as we went along:

The trails were mostly single track inside small villages

Uphills will be a continuous fare for this run

There will be wide open spaces but the views are exhillarating

Passing by an old shack

Running along the ridges with nice views of the Sierra Madres

Taking a short break, 2.5kms after our start

Mostly single tracks dominate the trails

Another small shack in the middle of nowhere

Approaching a small river crossing

Runners have to be careful here. These rocks are slippery!

A river lagoon

It’s one crossing runners will pass through

Figuring out how to cross that river and jump over to the other side 🙂

Getting help from Jackie and JJ. 🙂

A smile from everybody. Photo by Jackie

Jackie in her ceremonial dance. Liveliness!

ON THE WAY TO DARAITAN:

Once we were out of the trails, we all found ourselves back on the main highway and it was a short jaunt to the road leading to Daraitan and to the Tinipak Rocks. We couldn’t help but stop on some areas to marvel on some views which you can never find in the city. To hell with smoke and smog, we were now breathing fresh air and savoring the soft breeze coming out of the mountain range.

A quick look on the way to Daraitan:

Coming out of the trails and running the stretch of this highway on our way to Daraitan

Iris leads the way.

Stopping over a bridge over-looking a valley (L-R Me, Mar, Jackie, Bong and JJ)

The road to Daraitan. It’s another 7 kms of rough roads and some concrete portions before we reach the place (I wonder why those bananas were hanging on the signage?)

A pause before we venture the ascents and descents to Daraitan

Start of rough roads going to Daraitan

The Macaira Garden Resort serves as the turn-around point for the 10k runners. However, runners of all distances will pass inside the resort.

STOP-OVER:

Look what we found here! En-route to Daraitan, Alvin led us into an obscure resort called the Macaira Garden Resort which would serve as the turn-around point for the 10k runners. Veering inside astounded us all.

Here is what we saw:

A “blue” pool and an unusual rock formation greets visitors to the resort.

More rocks and a wooded area at the back

The limestones were here for ages

Iris and Jackie atop the rocks

A cluster of limestone rocks and Jackie as its guest model

Owner says there is a cave beyond those trees which we weren’t able to see due to lack of time

A small rest house at the base of the rocks

It was one of the most fascinating views i have ever seen! I cannot even describe to you succinctly how this rock formation came about as even the photos above don’t seem to do it justice. I could here some oohs and ahhs from the group as i could only mutter, wtf!

On to Daraitan!

More of the rough roads going to Daraitan

Emerging from a mountain trail

This is Iris’ turf. The mountain trails

More of the trails. We would reach that mountain farthest on the background later (Thanks for the pic, Jackie)

Endless picture taking

A backdrop of the road ahead. Iris giving the thumbs up

Two “punks” at a convenience store. They listen to Deicide and Slayer Bands

Finally, arriving at Daraitan

Almost dry river bed during this dry month

Trails along the river. It can’t get rockier than this!

The sandy trail leading to the Tinipak Stone river

The group in a hurry

The trails leading to Tinipak

Rocky trail ahead

Nearing the base of the Tinipak stones

Macadam trails

The 21k+ and 50k runners will pass these trails leading to Tinipak

TINIPAK ROCKS:

After about 15 kms, we finally reached our destination! Daraitan with the Tinipak rocks looming everywhere like guards protecting their kingdom. I’ve been to this place once before about 3 years ago and it still was mesmerizing seeing it today like it was the first time i saw it.

The clear river was oozing with its rushing waves, the tall white rocks that everybody wanted to scale as soon as they saw it and the chorus of “WOWs” that emanated from everybody. The sight was absolutely stunning seeing so much of nature even just for a few minutes.

We lost no time in getting ourselves cool and intoxicated with the scene:

Finally here at the start of the Tinipak stones

Eye-catching view of the Tinipak Stones and river

Large rock formation

Jackie, Iris and Alvin

Bong Alindada, below

June Santiago relaxing with the cool waters

Nice views all around us

Climbing atop the rocks. Don’t do this on race day!

“Mt. Tinipak”

“Nagpapa lamig din paminsan, pag may time”

Great way to cool off

Caption this…

A look beyond Tinipak rocks

Group pic

Daraitan’s Ferrari tricycle (take a look at Iris’ expression). Wagas!

With Jackie

Capping our run, lunch of Bulalo, BBQ Chicken, vegetables…burp!

And before i forget, expect the 21k route to have some bonus kilometers added (the orginal 21k route did not include the Tinipak Rock section) and PIMCO has now decided to include this section so my estimate would be a total distance of 25 to 27 kms!

Registration for this June 9 race is still open. You can check out my previous post here: https://jazzrunner.wordpress.com/2013/05/15/natures-trail-discovery-run-daraitan-trail-run-june-9-2013/ or visit PIMCO’s webpage at: http://www.pimcosportsevents.com/