Trail Chronicles #8: The Trails of Macaira

Tucked in the inner borders of Sampaloc, Tanay lies the little barrio of Macaira, a farmland known as a gateway to the resort town of Daraitan. But more than being a gateway to its more popular cousin, Macaira boasts of breath-taking scenery, a quaint little community, plenty of wonderful running trails and its No. 1 visitor attraction, the Macaira Garden Resort.

During our recent test run of the Daraitan Love A Tree 32k race route with Chito, Tin and Rhett, i kind of veered away from the group, unable to re-trace my way back to the main town of Sampaloc, just a few kilometers away from where we started and eventually got lost in a maze of single track trails mostly covered by cogon grass as tall as i was.

After running and walking a few hundred meters more trying to figure out where i was headed, i knew i was in uncharted land and was thinking of back-tracking my way back. But my adventurous side said screw it since i was already far too distant to go back. So i took that as an opportunity just to explore these new trails.

The feeling of running alone in a strange place was not at all very calming at first but the quiet, scenic trails and the friendly strangers more than made up for the solo journey. It has its uniqueness in that every site has a delightful vista of the surrounding mountain ranges.

It took about an hour for me to explore these trails (and find my way out) and it’s only a fraction of many other existing trails that i wish i could go back to and explore.

I would later find out that i was running inside the Sitio of Macaira. Here’s what i found:

Pic taken before veering away from the group

This mango tree looks like it’s decorated by paper ornaments but they’re actually tied up into individual mango fruits to support them from falling down the ground.

The trail on the right side is where i exited only to find out that i was now at the Daraitan Road, about 5 kilometers away from where i should have made my exit point.

Couldn’t resist making a short stop-over to this resort before taking a public motorcycle back to our starting point!

Great Chow in Tanay: Ponkee’s Cafe

Just a little past the commercial area of the Sampaloc-Tanay Road and Marcos Highway in Tanay, Rizal is this dainty little eatery that serves a lot of delicious native dishes at very affordable prices!

It’s a great stop for a hearty breakfast or lunch after a long trail run on the mountain trails of Tanay. The place is rather small, a typical hole-in-the-wall neighborhood “carinderia” but the food is fantastic, like having lunch in a fancy restaurant with prices 3x cheaper! The food? Mucho sabroso!

It’s a bit cramped inside with three, 3-person tables at the most and 2 tables outside that you might find it hard to get a seat during their peak hours of lunch and merienda.

Having skipped lunch while me and running buddy Jun were still at it on the trails, we were invited by Alvin Balderama, Race Director of the PIMCO trail run races and arrived at this eatery at about 3pm, starving like a pack of wolves that we were ready to devour anything that was available.

That afternoon, they were preparing their merienda special for the day–home-made grilled hamburgers which were thick, juicy and sinfully tangy with a kick! It was so delicious that we had 2 orders each!

 

We also tried their baby back ribs which were thick and tender, marinated just right and juicy to the bones! You can just feel the tender pork had been simmering on the grill for a long time as the marinated sauces had soaked into the layers of the pork belly. It’s juiciness created a melt-in-your-mouth tenderness to the pork and showered the meat with rich barbecue flavor.

Baby back ribs

We also had a sample of their marinated chicken barbecue which was rich in sauce and with good amount of black pepper to give your taste buds a kick.

Their prices? Look at their menu below:

Cheap and delicious food

The place is presently being frequented by bikers, motorcycle riders and now runners who are ever-present running along the National Highway and of course, the trails.

If you’re in the area after finishing your trail runs or long road bikes to energize and replenish your bodies with delicious food, i highly recommend dropping by this place. You won’t regret it!

Ponkees is located near the intersection of Sampaloc-Tanay Road and Marcos Road, near the Flying V Gas Station. From the Sierra Madre Resort, drive past the Pranjetto Hills Resort and after 2.5 kms, turn right to Sampaloc-Tanay Road. The eatery is less than a kilometer on your left.

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!

The Trails of San Andres, Tanay: The Nature’s Trail Discovery Route

Every trail has its own unique characteristics… it has its magnet of charms, its allure speaking at you to discover it. It is sometimes gentle, letting you savor its calm terrain and green scenery. But it can also be harsh, forcing you to climb its steepest hills and stumble when you cross its gushing rivers.

Its sternness however reminds us that for every route that we take, there will be gale winds to blow our faces, higher mountains to trek until we are out of breath,  more rivers to slip into its cold waters until we reach the other end and only then would we be rewarded and discover who we truly are.

Yesterday, i was one of those fortunate to be invited to test-run the newly discovered trails inside the inner sanctum of Tanay, Rizal.

It’s in a remote village called San Andres where two Sundays from now on May 27, hundreds or may be a thousand trail runners will be running the Discover Tanay Trail Run to test their mettle in this scenic but harsh route laid out by the organizers of last February’s Love A Tree Trail Run, also in Tanay.

We arrived at the site at about 6:00am with surprisingly cool weather and some morning fog enveloping the area. I was with about 16 other runners and we were greeted by the race organizers themselves led by Sir Manny of PIMCO Sports and the race’s shoe sponsor, Norphyl-Connect, sole Asian distributor of the Viking Trail Shoe represented by its CEO, Mr.  Ceasar Valmadrid.

We did a short 10k run but felt that we finished a 21k because of the arduous mountain climb on its earlier stages.

Highlights of this run will be the 2.3 km long single-track mountain climb (from KM 2.7 to Km 5.0) where i experienced some kind of oxygen debt just trying to put one feet over the other in bagging its peak. Another highlight others would either love or hate are the various river crossings that for sure will get your shoes submerged as you wade in its cold waters. Well, that’s part of trail running.

A surprise was waiting for us in the middle of the run when a small waterfall suddenly appeared  near the trails which provided a cool respite from the sun.

This will be the 1st Leg of several trail runs being hatched by the organizers to culminate in a 50k Ultramarathon Trail run by 2013. The Natures Trail Discovery Run will have a 10k, and 21k distances and promises to be a very exciting trail run as it has everything nature has to offer…cool winds, farm lands, mountain ranges, rivers, wooded forests, waterfalls, a friendly neighborhood and a lot more.

Here are some pictures of the route and trails. Enjoy!

A group picture

Preparing to start for the trail and mountain run

Mountain mists greeted the runners at the start

The front runners that will lead the group on the trails and mountains

It was muddy on most parts of the trails yet tolerable for all to run through

Parts in the open area

One of the views during the run

An outdoor panorama

Entering a small cave resort. The owner was one of the local runners

The small underground cave

One of the many rivers that we had to cross

and another one…

They didn’t want to wet their shoes this early

From single trail tracks…

…to rice paddies

We are the first runners to run these trails

Runner in red is the Running Mhalot

Into a more wooded area

It was still foggy and misty during the late morning

A thin slab of stone was the only way to get thru the ravine. One slip and down you go.

It was all uphill from here

It was a zigzag maze to the top

The view emerges from the top

We were like above the clouds

A few more steps…

Now over the top

The high and mighty!

Our descent…

It took us about 40 minutes to scale up the mountain and just a fraction of that to reach level ground

Back on the rough roads

Another river to cross

Nice place to rest and take a picture

Ed Escueta continues…

Reaching one of several waterfalls

Doing a duathlon?

Breakfast at the end of the run

Great way to end the run!

Thanks to Ed Escueta and Jojo Paulino for some of the pictures used.

Nature’s Trail Discovery Run At Tanay: May 27, 2012

From the organizers that brought us the highly successful Love A Tree-Tanay Trail Half-Marathon last February 26, Pimco Sporting Events is once again taking us back to Tanay, Rizal and enjoy the cool scenery by way of a 100% trail and dirt road paths covering four (4) barangays consisting of  San Andres, Sto. Nino, Cayabo and Tinukan.

The Nature Trail Discover Run will have a 10k, 16k and 21k distances which will include single track technical trails, dirt roads, river crossings, uphill climbs, forest trails and lots of cool breeze! According to the organizers, the first 7 kms for all categories will be a torturous climb up a peak at the western side of a mountain which will pass through forest trails then go long downhills only to prep you up for another long uphill up to the peak of the east side mountain.

There will be no highways, no concrete roads, so it is going to be a purely trail/dirt road race.

For the 21k runners, there will be four (4) river crossings so prepare to get those trail or road shoes wet!

An early bird registration is now ongoing at the Pimco Offices so register early before you run out of slots!

Here are some more details of this race:

Nature’s Trail Discovery Run
May 27, 2012 (1st Leg)
San Andres, Tanay, Rizal

Registration Fee:

Early Bird Rate:
March 15 – April 1, 2012
10K – PHP 650
16K – PHP 750
21K – PHP 850

Regular Rate:
April 2– May 15, 2012
10K (Open to all Filipino) – PHP 750
16K (Open to all Filipino) – PHP 850
21K (Open to all Nationalities) – PHP 950

Official Closing of Registration: May 15, 2012

-Additional PHP 200 for Transportation
-Free Camping (bring your own camping gear and tent, a day before / during the event)

Inclusion: Race Bib, Finisher Shirts and Medal all category

Registration Partners:
Early Bird Registration: Direct with Pimco Office
For Inquiries, Please contact: Pimco Sporting Events
Tel Nos: 532-1645 / 571-0524 or check-out their website at:

www.pimcosportsevents.com

Organized by : Pimco Sporting Events

Love A Tree, Love Tanay!

It’s been two days since the Tanay Love A Tree Half-Marathon Trail Run and my thighs are still sore but i’m still riding high after such a great running event! Although i had been swearing on those torturous hills and the long time it took us to wade on that river crossing, i can’t help but be satisfied and thankful that i survived that ordeal.

This run ranks as one of the most arduous half marathons i have ever done, up there with the Nathan Ridge 21k Run.

We were the first ones to arrive at the race venue, the Sierra Madre Resorts Hotel and since we arrived early, June and i decided to doze off a little as we pulled down the seats of the car. After about half an hour, i could here Betty’s voice talking and laughing who arrived with the rest of my group and were parked just behind us so i knew it was time to get ready.

We got our race packets from the ebullient Arleen Lindo of Chris Sports (thanks, Arleen!) then headed at the back of the Resort where the race would start.

Milling around Arleen Lindo (in green shirt) of Chris Sports before the start

The simple start and finish line area at the foot of the Sierra Madre Resort

My group before the start

A Zip-line platform above the starting line area

The race started in an open field, near the base of a zip line platform and quickly descended on a sunken trail which had all of us rolling down like stray balls. That was like a 200 meter descent which had our knees hurting. But what caught us unprepared was the sudden climb uphill which saw most of us walking up those ridiculously steep hills that included stairways! We had to cling to the railings to propel us up! Sheesh! This early, the organizers had to beat us up real bad before we could even start to get our bearings!:-)

The start of the run

Start of the 200 meter downhill (Tonette is at front right). Photo by Jose Ramizares

After that initial roller-coaster of a run, we finally ascended into the Highway and got my rhythm back but my shoes, an old All-Terrain New Balance was giving me problems on my plantar so i had to scale back. I altered my foot strike a bit and felt the pain subside thus, worked my way through the throng of runners. I pulled over to Leo who was taking a drink  and we paced each other for about a kilometer. About 4 kms into the run, Betty and Tonette would sprint up to join me and we were together for most of the first half.

At about the 6.5km mark, we made a right turn unto new territory and headed into the inner sanctum of villages which we haven’t seen before. The running here was exciting as we were now venturing into rough and dirt roads with intermittent stretches of hills and acacia trees to shade our run. There were plenty of water stations during these stretches and we were even served bananas wrapped in plastic.

The National Highway, the start of a horrendous route

Leo takes a pose before the hills of the Sierra Madre mountains

Tonette and Betty getting a break

We had barely reached the 8th km mark when these leading Kenyans were already on their way back

Our very own Chris Sabal struggling in 4th behind the Kenyans

The rough roads deep inside the Sierra Madres

Tonette doing her own thing

Another stop for a picture pose!

We ran through different villages until we reached the turn-around point located in front of a small elementary school. As we went back, we were wondering where the river crossing would be and just as we were beginning to increase back our pace, an arrow sign that pointed left suddenly appeared and we knew that we were now headed into the waters.

The river, though knee deep at most was about one of the most difficult and time consuming part of the course as it was…part of the course! You had to walk on the middle of the river itself, parallel to it and not just to cross it. During  my first attempt at crossing, i slipped down a rock and in the process, felt my left calf muscle cramp, it was excruciating that i had to go back just to stretch the muscle. The banks of the river had slippery rocks and ankle-deep mud so this was not a good place to walk on. I had probably spent a good 20 to 25 minutes before finally getting off that river!

First part of the river crossing. Here it was ankle to knee deep

Leo removes his shoes before crossing the river while Tonette hands-over her bamboo pole

A runner lends a helping hand to 65-year old Leo

To wade or not to wade, that is Betty and Tonette's dilemma while a boy marshal leisurely walks at the river's bank

There was no choice, actually. All runners got their feet wet!

This shows the level of difficulty in wading through the river. You have to literally crawl to get to its banks. (Photo by Jose Ramizares)

June takes it easy

The faster runners on their way back from the river crossing

The only single track trail after the river crossing

The last 6 kms of the route saw as back the main highway and that was mostly uphill all the way. I had to walk the steepest ones to conserve energy and run again when i was in level terrain. Finally, as i reached back the Sierra Madre Resort under the watchful eye of soldiers manning the entrance, i wondered if i would have to negotiate that roller-coaster uphill-downhill back to the finish again. Turns out that that part was scrapped as we turned left instead unto the bottom of the short hill and turned right straight to the finish.

Over-all it was a great race, very well-organized, lots of hydration stations and the route took you to some breathtaking scenery. It’s not strictly a trail race per-se as the route took us more on dirt and rough village roads and mostly on the national Highway but still, I would thoroughly recommend this race for its very challenging course!

Success with our half-marathon mountain trail run

One more time. L-R: Chito, Leo, me, Tonette, Betty, Sylvia and June

Bowls half empty. These runner-friends might be eating something good inside at Mang Vic's!

Reward to ourselves. Piping hot Bulalo and Liempo at Mang Vic's!