Love A Tree Ultra Trail Run: A Trail Showcase!

On my way home last Sunday, resting my aching thigh  muscles after the pounding it went through during the Love a Tree 24k (plus 2.75k) run at Tanay, i was still trying not to over-embellish my exhilaration over this event. But it’s hard not to, Pimco Sports really put on a “trail showcase”.

This is probably the most scenic and varied 26.75k trail course Pimco has ever laid-out in its Tanay Trail running series. I don’t know if they can ever duplicate or surpass the sheer beauty of the trail route of changing vistas to another.

The start. (Pic taken from Pimco FB page)

At about 500 to 600 meters of changing elevation, it’s not an easy course but the top of every ascent rewards you with stunning views of the Sierra Madre mountains. The mountains are peppered with scenic byway trails, a wilderness area of old-growth forest which is incredibly peaceful. I nearly got lost here but one rule of thumb when you’re not sure where you’re headed is…stick to the main trail, the yellow ribbon will appear!

There’s an abundance of rocks that i thought could build a whole barrio of stone houses. This is the May Sawa Trails and i’m just talking about the first half here. I really couldn’t get my momentum going as i can’t help but stop and take pictures whenever i see a beautiful scenery and this is what my entire run mostly consisted of. Run, stop then shoot and repeat!

From navigating the peak of May Sawa, the downward spiral to Laiban was dizzying as i sometimes experienced some “lost” moments. If you don’t have somebody to stick with, you’ll be running by yourself for most of the time. On occasions, i couldn’t figure out where the yellow ribbon marks where but they were there if you really looked hard.

Laiban is a small Baranggay at ground level and it’s an area where the trails are mostly single-track, lush and sometimes open. You see the imposing green mountains on your left but just a few meters on your right, you hear the gently flowing river that is truly mesmerizing on the senses.

Where there are trails, there were also rivers to cross but these are gentle river crossings that added color into the run and thank God there were none of those “buwis buhay” (life-threatening, one-missed-step-and-you-plunge-into-the-river-rocks-below) river crossings we had experienced back during the Daranak Trail Run!

The last section of the run was a surprise of sorts as this was not in the original route. We headed into Baranggay Mamuyao, a quaint picturesque town with trails on the edge of a mountain, a valley curved by scenic river views. The view of the valley with the mountains as backdrop and the gently flowing river below is a stunner! And perhaps the most important thing you’ll also discover is its very accommodating town folks.

The route covered 26 kms+ of a surprising amount of variety that covered Barangays San Andres, May Sawa, Laiban,  Mamuyao,  Sto. Nino, and back to San Andres.

During our test runs that were held weeks prior to this race, we were not shown many of the the trails that we went through during this run, and its not clear whether the organizers, Manny Santos and Alvin Balderama had changed the route in the last minute or wanted to surprise us. But still there were lapses that needs to be addressed that i hope the organizers wouldn’t mind me saying:

Firstly, the utter lack of water that has been an issue for so long. Lucky for the runners who heeded their call to be self-supportive and bring their own hydration but that wouldn’t have been enough for runners who were running the 50k ultra event. I think the organizers should invest in buying these 5- gallon blue water containers with built-in faucets, get these filled up and bring them to strategic areas.

Second, the lack of marshals during the last stages of the race. We had to ask some kids for directions and luckily, they knew where to point us at. Or placing some more markers would have sufficed and lead us to the right route. Many of the runners had to backtrack to find their way. Some, simply got lost.

Lastly, whoever was assigned to man the junction at the corner of Marcos Highway and the entrance to San Andres  should be horsewhipped for not being there to guide arriving runners on their vehicles to the venue. Many of those not familiar with the starting venue over-shot that left-turn mark thus, went straight all the way to Pranjetto Hotel, a good four kilometers off the beat!

🙂 Still, despite these minor mishaps, the race went generally well, the route was well-planned (thanks for the extra 2.7kms), and the vistas all fascinating.

The scenery presented to us was like a great painting and that is exactly what Tanay represents. The landscape were like outdoor masterpieces, some jagged terrain, surreal climbs and others like a file of fascinating sketches. Truly, an Amorsolo on trail running!

The story in pictures:

Start of the May Sawa trail, beginning with gnarly tracks then ending with rocky terrain

Couldn’t resist stopping and taking some pics on this rocky trail

Even this runner couldn’t resist to stop and take a picture of the mountain view

Some trails criss-crossed along the foot of mountains

A lone thatched hut blending with the mountains

An open field replete with fresh air

Small fish ponds offered a refreshing views a midst the harsh landscape

A closer look at the meadows

Wild ornamental plants and shrubbery were abundant on some parts of the route

Part of the old-growth forest where bamboo trees abound

The downhill trails going to Laiban

A small stream that you had to pass over

There were a few streams to cross and bounce-off to get to the next trail

One of the ascents. Finding the yellow ribbon marks here is key to not getting lost

This downhill trail took us in the middle of the forest

The views would appear then dissapear and emerge again all throughout the route

Growing pineapples were seen along the trails

Friendly children smiling at our craziness

Another view above the trails

Trails at the sides of mountains

All those downhills during this part was hurting my quads!

Downwards to Brgy Laiban

The 50k ultra runners laughed at the “fun run” sign! Fresh coconut juice all you can!

Back to the low-lands

This will bring us along the rivers of Tanay

The Sto. Nino river trail

My shadow taking a pic

I almost missed this mark

Another river crossing

Shaded trails towards the river

Now running along side it

Into another wooded area

Finally, an open space

The trails in a mountain on one side and the river on the other side

Views were all blue and green

This trail goes to a river crossing

Poster from Viking Trail Shoe, one of the race’s major sponsors

A break at the end of the trail

My turn to cross

The view from the other end

I remember this from our test run weeks ago

Rivers here are crystal clear as you could see my NB610 trail shoe submerged

Rough road at the side of a mountain

These trails lead to one of the best scenes along the route

View of the shallow river from atop the trail

Runners approaching the river

Then wading through it

Meanwhile, the trails continues

Another view from the top as a runner makes her way back

One of the great scenes on this route

A closer view which leads to the river below

Entering Brgy. Mamuyao

The last river crossing

On my way back

The now familiar hanging bridge

A few meters away

Crossing the finish line. (Credits to Jose Ramizares, thanks!)

Glad to be done! 26.75k in 5:22. Ugh!

Friend June Santiago approaching the finish line minutes after

Jackie offering me a bagful of Alaxan FR! 🙂

With Coach Jackie and Trail Princess Goldy

With ultra running friends, Wilnar, Ronald and Doc Toto

With Nonoy, Manny (Pimco Pres), Daryl, Iris and Nikki

Tanay Love A Tree 50k Ultra Marathon Now Set

This is it! The Tanay trails is gearing up to stage its first Ultra-marathon, a 50k run in one of the most beautiful trail settings in the country, venturing through mountain passes, river crossings, challenging trails, majestic water falls and many more, all in the beautiful Sierra Madre mountains of Tanay, Rizal.

Aside from the 50k Ultra run, other categories include a 24k, 12k and a 6k trail race. Experience the excitement of what the Tanay Trails has to offer. Enjoy the great views, while testing your stamina and fortitude. Mark your calendars for February 10, 2013!

Here are the deatils:

2ND “LOVE A TREE”
INTERNATIONAL TRAIL RUNNING MARATHON

Date: February 10, 2013
Venue San Andres, Tanay, Rizal

Registration : On-line (http://www.pimcosportsevents.com/)

Program:

Feb 09, 2013:  1st Day Tree Planting, Camping, Mountaineering & Trail Running Clinic. Program starts at 4 pm

Feb 10, 2013:  2nd Day Race Day
Assembly starts at 4 am

Race Events:

Open To Filipinos Only (Foreign runners allowed as Guest Runners)

Distance—Entry Fee —Gun Start —Cut-Off Time

6k ——-P 650.00—– 5:30m —-10:30 am

12k ——-P 950.00 —–5:15am —11:00 am

International Open Event to Foreigners

24k ——–P1,250.00 —5:00 am —11:00 am

50k ——–P2,250.00 —4:30 am —–2:30 pm

Prizes & Awards:

Champion —–2nd Place ——3rd Place

6k                     P1,750.00           P1,250.00           P 750.00
………………..Medal                     Medal                     Medal

12k                   P3,500.00           P2,500.00          P1,500.00
………………..Medal                     Medal                      Medal

24k                  P5,000.00           P3,000.00          P2,000.00
……………….Trophy                   Medal                     Medal

50k                  P7,000.00          P5,000.00          P3,000.00
………………..Trophy                  Medal                     Medal

Rule on Awarding:

For the Major Prize and Award, Male and Female winners will get the same prize whatever is the nationality.
Overall Top Three (3) Filipino Runners

Top 1                  Top 2               Top3

24k            P3,500.00    P2,500.00     P1,500.00
……………Medal              Medal               Medal

50k            P3,500.00    P2,500.00    P1,500.00
……………Medal               Medal             Medal

50k Runners are subject to qualification requirements according to the rules.

Rule on Prizes & Award:

Top 3 Filipino Runners overall will be picked from the Filipino runners no division classification of Top 3 which can be a combination (example male, female, male as the Top 3). This is because at long distance, both Filipino male and female runners are no longer relying on speed but on stamina and endurance thus both are equally capable and female runner can beat male runner and vice versa.

The Filipino Championship winners landing in any position whether Champion, 2nd Place, or 3rd placer are already counted in the Overall Top 3 Filipino runners too. Filipino runners are assured of winning and podium finish even if foreign runners win.

Other Prizes:       Singlet, Finishers Medals, and Loot Bags

Accommodation:

Camping Love A Tree Village I :   P50 per head Donation to Barangay
Those without tent may bring sleeping bags.
Fee for camping goes to the Barangay as donation.

Provisions:

Water Stations There will be water stations for refilling only. Since this is a mountain trail race and we are not allowed to serve plastic cups by law runners are advised to fully gear up with hydration using back pack or belt with hydration bottle.

Runners Gears 50k and 24k runners are advised to also use headlamps in the early morning stage of the race. Back pack, hydration belt and bottles, or handheld are important to keep you hydrated.

Banana Station Banana Station will be available to all categories at the 5th kilometer of the race, at 12th kilometer, at the 25th and at the Finish Line.

Breakfast pack Breakfast pack will be served in the early morning to 12k, 24k, and 50k runners only. 6k runners may buy at the Love A Tree Village.

Shuttle Services for Metro-Manila Runners:

Additional fee of P300.00 per runner will be charged for the shuttle bus to the race venue and going back to the same pick up points as follows:

Pick up Details:
Date: February 10, 2013

Pick up points:
Shell Station, Makati Edsa
Mandaluyong, City Hall Circle
Quezon City Circle
Masinag, Marikina in front of Mercury Drug

Time of Pick Up:
2:00 am Shell Station Makati Edsa
2:15 am Mandaluyong City Hall Circle
2:40 am Quezon City Circle
3:10 am (Subject to change)

The Bus will passed-by and will not be standing by please be at the pick-up point at the time to avoid inconvenience and present your Service Stub. The Time of Pick-up are estimated arrivals at the pick up locations given.

If you miss one pick up place, you can still catch up by proceeding immediately at any of the pick up points ahead. The Shuttle Bus will not wait.

Time of Return Trip: All Runners must be at the shuttle bus for the return trip to Metro-Manila from the race venue after the race event not later than 3:00 pm(?).

For more info, please visit their website at: http://www.pimcosportsevents.com/

A Quick View: The Tanay Love A Tree 24K/50K Ultra Trail Route (Part 1)

There’s a new kid on the ultra running block and after several successful trail runs in their sanctuary in Tanay, Rizal, Pimco Sports will now be staging its 1st 50K Love A Tree Trail Ultra-Marathon this coming February 10, 2013. Also, included in their Feb. 10 race is a 24k, 12k and a 6k run.

Like their previous trail runs consisting of the Love A Tree Half-Marathon and the three legs of the Natures Trail Discovery Run, the routes for their Feb. 10 race will take runners to some very scenic but familiar routes of the Discovery Run series and new, uncharted trails the 24k and the 50k ultra runners will surely enjoy.

Yesterday, i was one of the privileged runners who took part in the familiarization run for the Feb. 10 route of the 24k and 50k distances. It was unusually cold and chilly when running buddy June and i arrived at Barangay San Andres at about 5:40am. Within an hour or so, a total of 12 runners were now ready to start the run after we were given a short briefing by Mr. Manny Santos of Pimco Sports and Race Director Alvin Balderama.

Some of the routes were familiar ones, having run them myself during past Pimco trail races but what caught my attention this time was the number of  rivers we had to cross and the variety of terrain we had to  endure like rough roads, dirt trails, muddy trails, rocky paths and soft ground.

We only covered a total of 15 kms. which did not include the forested trails and mountain passes which i believe will be done during the second familiarization run on January 6, 2013.

Only registrants in the Love A Tree 24k/50 Ultra Run can participate in the January 6 Familiarization Run so register now. (Early Birds is available for Online Registration only at www.pimcosportsevents.com).

Here are some of the pictures of the route i took yesterday. Enjoy!

Meet-up was at the corner of Marcos Highway and Sta. Inez Road, the entrance going to Sitio Batangas, San Andres, Tanay

Started going to San Andres proper at about 6:40am with nice, cool weather

First river view which has been part of the trail of the 1st Love a Tree Trail race

One of the many rough roads runners will pass going to Barangay Sto. Nino.

A perpetual view of the Sierra Madre mountains that backdrops most of the route

At a junction where runners waited for the others enroute to the rivers

Testing the Camelbak Rogue hydration backpack. Excellent ride!

Trail leading to the river bridge

This trail should be familiar now to those who ran the Discover Tanay Leg-1 Trail Run. This leads to the bridge.

The wooden bridge that connects 2 baranggays

The view from the middle of the bridge

Local residents were very friendly and greeted us wherever we went

One slight rocky uphill part

A view of the river and the mountain ranges

Surprised to see this muddy stretch where our shoes got soaked in mud debris

Walking on this uphill part

This was at about 7:30am when the air was still cool. Lots of fresh air!

On our way down with a peek of the river below

The rivers of Tanay are generally clear and you can see the rocks below it

The water was nice, cool and calm. No “buwis buhay” here!

Giving the thumbs up is Alvin Balderama, Race Director of all Tanay Trail races. He charts all trail paths here and plots all difficult routes imaginable. He shows us the easy routes  of the race but keeps the hardest ones a secret until he unleashes it on race day! I sometimes refer to him as the “Butcher” of Tanay! Hahah…:)

The river circles around several small mountains and you have to cross the river many times over.

From here, it’s all small rocks all the way!

More river crossings…

Terrain ranges from sandy, rocky, river and more rocks!

Nice feeling of wading through the river surrounded by mountains

There must be billions of rocks here, many of the garden variety. 🙂

The lone plant in the middle of the river

Reminds me of the river trails near Mt. Pinatubo, only here the water is so clear!

Balance is of utmost importance here as rocks tend to roll under

Yes, this is part of the 24k and 50k route

It’s so difficult to run on this terrain

This part was on our 2nd hour of run-walking

Back to the trail, at last!

A run to the finish

It was all uphill to base camp

Don’t forget to register now and be a part of the 2nd familiarization run on January 6, 2013. See you there!