The Hidden Trails of Corregidor

The trail route was probably the least mentioned attraction of the Corregidor Marathon 2014 (CM) last January 11 with mostly the ruins and canons as its best seller but for me, the trails should be included as one of the highlights of the run.  The route traverses through a 3-4 km trail stretch that passes through deep forests and crosses on some of the dramatic backbone of Corregidor and its mostly tranquil-inducing wilderness.

I had posted earlier my great experience of the CM. The race was awesome,  the pre-race day was the best i have experienced with Team Soleus  as every team member really enjoyed themselves running and clowning on the hills and beach front!  You can read it all here–>(running-the-marathon-at-the-rock/) as i mentioned just slightly about the trails.

There may be more epic trails that lies within this island (like the mountain ridge trail over-looking the ocean which we did back in 2010 but wasn’t covered in this year’s edition) but this short Midland trail in this year’s event serves up a little bit of everything along the Corregidor marathon route.

Somehow, i was a little at home while venturing into these parts as i managed to stop several times and take pictures, putting at the back of my mind that i was running a race. I was able to dodge those rocks which were camouflaged by dry leaves. Saw some runners tumble when they didn’t see the rocks and the tree roots which blended well with the surface. Good thing nothing serious happened.

I think it’s possible for the CM race directors to organize a pure trail race as a side event to CM and it would be awesome to see more of the untapped trails used during the last world war. Make it into a night event and let the souls who perished in the island pace you on foot! Boooh…

Here’s a glimpse of the trails. Enjoy!

This is at the entrance of the trails where a terminal of the tranvias are located

Trails here vary from wide dirt roads to double tracks and single tracks

Some trails thread near edges of cliffs overlooking the Philippine Sea

A view from a trail’s outer fringes

This trail was the route of the 42k runners

This is one inspiring family doing the marathon together and who i ran with on most parts of the trail

A futile attempt on selfie…almost!

There were different routes on some parts of the trail. We took the main trail.

That’s Rochelle Romero of Team Soleus doing a look back shot

So peaceful here but may be at times eerie when you’re all by yourself

Now entering the double track trails, the most picturesque part of the trails

This is in the inner part of the Middle Barracks forest

Here, runners were shrouded with tall trees and fauna

These trails are rarely used, if ever..

All alone again at the 11th km of the route

A welcome sight, the 12th km marker

And an aid station in the middle of nowhere

We had our water bottles refilled here, drank coco juice and some had some drops of honey too

Behind those trees were probably spirits of WW II veterans ruffled by our running footsteps

An outpost which seem to be relatively untouched

This outpost was just recently built and used to store farm equipments

An extension of the trail where other barrack ruins are located

Trails by the ruins

Approaching the finish line

Breasting the tape (Photo by WRFGH–thanks!)

Running The Marathon at The Rock!

To be able to draw deep and pull something out of yourself is one of the most tremendous things about the marathon.” — Rob De Castella (former Australian Olympic Marathoner)

Drawing deep not once but several times during the last  few kms of the inaugural Corregidor Marathon was what i did and it was truly amazing to have finished this difficult 42.195 km race!

I am thankful to have friends in the running community, like the Soleus Running team of Judith Staples, endless road training with Team 90% and a whole lot more of cross-training that brought me to the starting line of one of the toughest marathons i have ever finished. And this is my 24th!

After Judith informed me that i would be running the full marathon instead of the half, i immediately began focusing on doing uphill runs which was not so easy to do having just finished the C2L 53k Ultramarathon the week before. Having ran two Corregidor Half-Marathons the previous years, i knew this would be one arduous rolling mountain route to tackle so training on hills would be a factor to rely on.

This was like a week-end-vacation for me as i arrived at the Sun Cruises Ferry station at the back of Folks Art Theater last Friday at 12 noon. Me and Team Soleus were soon afloat along the strong currents of Manila Bay that took us an hour and a half to Corregidor Island. Right off the boat to a tranvia-like bus for the 4 minute ride to our hotel, the Corregidor Inn!

L-R: Grace, Tj, Gerard, Judith, moi and Pedz!

We explored the hotel grounds and parts of the island for the rest of the afternoon and it was windy, the cold air brushing our hair and light apparels that we were wearing. We even took a short jog up to the hilly part of the middle barracks but cut short our run as we thought of just reserving our energy for the following day’s marathon.

With Judith and Alfred

That night, we were brought to the grand ballroom of a resort where we had carbo-loading dinner and treated to a movie, the Spirit of the Marathon which was cut short when the organizers sensed that people were starting to leave as it was getting late. So they started the race briefing instead and had raffle prizes drawn out and we left the gathering at about 9:00pm.

Back at the hotel, i was sharing a room with Gerard Pizarras, the barefoot runner and tv/movie actor who was going to run the marathon again… barefoot! We exchanged stories, not about running but about life in general, his stint in show biz, children and stuff.

THE RACE

My alarm went off the following morning at 3:30am, got up, took a shower and prepared for the 6:00am start. We had breakfast of fried rice, tocino, fried eggs and coffee–not exactly your ideal pre-marathon race breakfast but good enough to help sustain you for the 5 hours of pounding the roads and trails of Corregidor.

We were now waiting at the starting line and there were no more than 60 of us doing this inaugural marathon, a very ideal number which means that it won’t get crowded–on the roads, trails, at aid stations and toilets that were situated in establishments along the course.

The view at 300 meters from the start

At about 6:10am, all 60 of us took off, with the scenic sea shore as a great backdrop. I started off conservatively as others who were familiar with the course did, trying to hold back what was to come in the next few hundred meters. I was pacing with Alfred (Running Atom) who usually would zoom out at the very start but restrained himself and ran cautiously too.

At about less than a kilometer from the start, the Achilles heel of the course would finally reveal its ugly foot when the 300 meter juggernaut of a hill, so steep that one would have to stop and walk up to the top came to greet us with pangs showing as in a devilish grin! The marathoners would have to tackle this murderous hill not once but thrice as part of the course! Wtf!

The roads leading to the grassy airstrip at Kinley Field was moderately downhill so i took advantage of this by shifting to a higher gear until we reached the Japanese gardens then to the turn-around point at the beach resort complex where we had our carbo dinner the night before.

One of tho most beautiful parts of the route was a trail of about 3 kilometers long located at the outskirts of the middle side barracks. It was were i took several stops just to take pictures of it. Most of it were dirt roads,  single and double tracks which were camouflaged by big dry leaves and had large embedded rocks that when not threaded carefully might get you to trip on some.

I’m going to write a separate blog about it but here are some pictures i took on the trails:

The support of this race was tremendous and i love the volunteers for being pro-active, giving encouragements, some upbeat, some just smiling but their eagerness to assist really showed! Tinny weeny snacks were served like bananas which i wish were served whole instead of cutting it into pieces that i had to peel several of them to get the full taste of it.

Cranberries, coconut juice and even marshmallows dipped into honey that expanded into your tummy when you start your run again were available for the taking.

The second loop of the course was harder as we had to scale the long uphill to the middle barracks and it was here that runners preferred to walk than run! However, we had our vengeance when we went through the same route from the artillery/barracks up to the Dock which were all downhill and made up for lost times.

The finish line at the Beach Resort Complex was kind of obscured as you don’t really know how far it is right after turning around near the main hall and turning right on that isolated road. I knew i was going to do a sub-six so i just kept pumping to the finish.

Breasting the tape at the finish and getting one of those “platito-like” shinny medals will be one of my best running memories of Corregidor for sure.

Over-all, the race was amazing and one that every runner should strive to join-in. Thanks again to Judith and Team Soleus and congratulations to Race Director Edward Kho for an excellent inaugural Corregidor Marathon!

Oh by the way, i got first place at my age group category and received a Certificate of Achievement for it (if ever you can call it one!) 🙂

You can check the race results here: https://www.facebook.com/CorregidorMarathon

Finishing at 5:51

With Alfred and Lorna, the Female Marathon Champion! (Pic by We Run For Good Health)

Team Soleus

Corregidor Marathon All Set: January 11-12, 2014

Last Saturday, i was able to pick up my race packet for next week’s Corregidor Marathon and this will be my 3rd visit to the island having ran the previous years’ Corregidor International Half-Marathon. For this year, they will be having the full marathon distance for the first time and this will be another daunting task for me having just ran the 53k Kawit to Laguna (K2L) Ultramarathon last week.

Except for a 10k recovery run i did a day after my K2L, i had taken a break completely from running although i did several cross-trainings/recovery work-outs at Fitness First Gym.

At the 100 Miles Cafe for the race packet pick up last Saturday

Running a marathon is more pressure-laden to run than a 50k ultra (at least it is for me), and there’s something particular about Corregidor which makes it really a ‘bitch’ of a run…those long uphills! I still remember the parts that i really had my heart pulsating heavily and walking those uphells was the only way to get you through!

Still, nothing beats running in one of the most spectacular and best-preserved historical monuments of World War II and there’s a good reason why many runners come back to take part in this yearly out-of-town running event: the SCENERY!

This World War II battleground looks like an outdoor museum that takes you to WWII ruins, tunnels, remnants of artillery and boasts ocean views along the edges of mountains.

I’ll be running and donning the eminent black-yellow tech shirt of Team Soleus together with another chance of pacing with Soleus Brand Manager, Ms. Judith Staples, provided she doesn’t leave me again in the dust during the early stages.

Hope to see you there!

Scenes during the claiming of race packets at 100 Miles Cafe (January 4):

Corregidor Marathon Race Director Edward Kho giving a short briefing about the race

Briefing time for the runners

Samples given out by one of the race sponsors

Titus Salazar–Coach turned hair dresser? 🙂

CORREGIDOR Marathon Route:

Trails with ocean views

Routes for both the the full marathon and the half

Towards Malinta Tunnel

Trail over-looking the Pacific Ocean

The killer uphill! Race was last 2010

Long uphill stretch

Part of the scenery

The finish line of the half-Marathon Race.

K2C 50K: My ‘Rathoner’ Experience

The scene in front of the Aguinaldo Shrine in Kawit, Cavite last night, December 29, felt like New Year’s eve, people were on the streets reveling on some kind of festivity that was happening except that there were no deafening noise of fireworks, no church bells ringing, no hooting of horns, no banging and booming of pots and pans.

Minutes before the start

Instead, residents were greeted with the tumultuous presence of runners! And when me and the more than 600 of us took off at the starting line in front of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo’s ancestral home to tackle the Kawit to Calamba 53k Ultramarathon (K2C), it was like a “parada of runners” invading Kawit’s streets with different blinking lights adorning our foreheads, waists and caps to illuminate and guide us for the dark streets ahead that also looked like Christmas decors on our bodies.

When Judith Staples of Soleus, Head of the most popular GPS running watch in the country invited me to join this race, i was a bit hesitant knowing that my training has not been sufficient to tackle the distance. But then, the ribbing  and pressure mounted by friends followed and insisted that they too have not been training well but are joining just the same, so i gave in! Talk about peer pressure!

Goofing off with running friends while preparing our gear for the race

I’ve heard good things about Runmania Events, the organizers of this race that have been staging various ultra races in the south of Manila and attracting hordes of both regular and newbie ultra runners. I’m running their race for the first time and will soon find that out.

I arrived at the race venue 3 hours early with friends Vladz, Carlo and his friend, Michelle with the facade of the late Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo’s home all lit up in glitters and color. It was Christmas atmosphere on the parade grounds as we waited in line at the grandstand to claim our bib nos.  The energy and excitement from the grounds was just awesome.

With Team Soleus

The 11:00pm start was a bit delayed because people were still lining up to get their numbers but as soon as the race started, our huge journey to Rizal’s home town also began and we were all very excited!

The route is a mixed-bag of sorts. From the neighborly street near the shrine up to busy Tirona and Aguinaldo Highways, it was a challenge keeping up pace specially in dark areas where i had to adjust my headlamp many times and watch-out for drunks that come out of bars. I almost bump on one who was oblivious of the runners as he crossed our path.

At the 7th km mark, I had to leave my hydration backpack on our support car as the right strap was sliding off my shoulder so i used my reserved belt bag instead. I never worried about running out of water as the water stations were adequate as it came at every 5-7 kms as expected…and it was ice cold water at that! At around 11k, i made a pit stop at a Shell Gas station as i was experiencing some stomach discomfort and felt relieved after, even if i lost about several minutes of time there.

The best routes were in Daang Hari and Daang Reyna where the roads were quiet and you run in many diverse subdivisions. There were marshals stationed along strategic cross-roads and with them were route markers so you’ll never get lost along the way. The PAR running team was amazing as they offered their water and chocolates to any runner who happens to pass-by their aid stations. Thank you guys!

By KM35, i was already feeling exhausted which was probably my lack of long runs while training. The longest i ever did was a 27k LSD done 2 weeks before this race and i felt my energy dwindling when i reached past 32k. At km42, my thighs and quads were already screaming in pain so my walks became longer and the run part shorter. Thankful that a friend, Ener Galang decided to pace with me at this point and the stories we exchanged sort of distracted us from our discomforts.

The best thing that probably happened along the route was at an aid station when marshals were passing out ice cream in cones! That was really refreshing! While handing them out, they would ask your race number so you probably can’t get more than one piece. I could have probably finished 5 of those as it came at a time when you felt already exhausted, hungry and dehydrated!

I finished the race in about 8 hrs and 3 minutes and recorded in my Soleus Fit GPS a total distance of 52.8 kms. I came in at 379th out of 674 runners. I was surprised to see an ultra race this huge, and the organizers say this is the biggest ultra race staged so far in the country.

Finish Line of the K2C 50k Ultramarathon

When everything was over, the finishing experience was smooth and organized as you would expect.  The finish line tape, medals, nice dri-fit shirt and huge trophy were systematically given to all the finishers with properly rationed food and drinks for everyone.

There’s really very little negative to say about this ultra race although that’s not probably what you’ll be thinking when you reach km45 when your lungs and legs will be screaming in agony! The only negative i can think of is the claiming of the race packets a few hours before race time. With more than 600 runners, they should have distributed it days earlier so as not to delay the actual gun start.

But this is minor compared to the over-all experience which was great, and it’s pretty amazing how much planning, sweat, and security went into organizing this race. And i would highly recommend events of RunMania to anyone who is running their 1st or nth Ultramarathon.

Thanks to Judith Staples of Team Soleus and Pat Maranan and company of RunMania for this opportunity to run this race! To my co-runners Carlo, Bel and Vladz–you guys are great and to our support team Jarry, Edgar, Flor, Michi Ko and Michelle–you all are the best! Last but not the least, my team, Team 90%, my partners in crime!

Leaving you with some of the pictures during the run. (Thanks to my photographer friends).

This medal forms part of another medal, the other being an earlier race staged also by RunMania. I missed the earlier one.

With Flor, Bel and Michi Ko

With Lucky Jackie and Running Jack-PapaDyak

With my running partners

With Zaldy and Gia of Ayala Triads

Paced with this great guy during the last 11 kms, Ener Galang

With multi-awarded runner, long time friend and ultra finisher, Mommy Nora Del Rosario

With Mayette of Ekek Runners

Receiving my medal and the guy on the right seems impressed! 😉