Trail Chronicles #24: The Other Side of Timberland

There are still so much to look at here at Timberland and explore. If you look past the former garbage dump when you’re on the trails past Shotgun Road, there’s a nice little chunk of woods at the other side of this dumpster that runners try to avoid because it’s either stinky running near it or they just don’t know how to get there.

But not any more. Dumping of trash has been controlled and the stench coming from this landfill has been reduced considerably as there is a landfill-to-energy project here that captures methane and converted into natural gas and energy resource.

There are a few runnable trails that connects the usual trails inside Timberland Heights and past this landfill with several smaller offshoot trails. Perennial trail running partner Jun and i went beyond our comfort zones and explored a few kilometers of random single track paths. You run through both wide open areas and under a lush treeline and can truly get the feeling of floating over a mountain ridge even though you know you’re only a few breaths from a landfill!

It’s been almost 6 months since i came last to this place. There were routes that are now barricaded with steel wires near the back entrance of Timberland as the land owners want to limit bikers and runners who frequent the area so be prepared to venture out for alternate routes.

Here’s a glimpse of our Timberland adventure:

Dave’s “Lost World” Trail Route

Ultra runner David Buban’s home in Marikina Heights has for long been a meeting place for runners wanting to run the Shotgun route and Timberland trails in San Mateo, Rizal. I’ve ran this course sometime last year and coming from his place, he has this well-planned circuitous route that travels on back-door villages in Marikina en route to San Mateo.

Team mate Chito Carreon had invited me to Dave’s and do this route once again. So, i got up early last Saturday, met Chito at McDonalds in Katipunan and made another quick stop at a McDonalds branch in Marikina for some sandwiches and coffee before we headed to Dave’s place.

Our group with David (second from right) L-R: Mar, Rhoda, Marjohn, Aleth, Reylynne, CJ, me, Dave and Shiela. Chito was taking the picture.

Mar and Chito at Silangan, San Mateo, Rizal

We were with 9 other runners, most of them long time friends in our local running circle.  So we start the run and traverse through rolling hills on small communities that passes inside San Mateo on the way to Timberland Heights.

Less than 2 kms before the assault to Shotgun Road, we make a stop-over to Aling Tina’s, a small popular eatery that caters to both cyclists and runners. It’s to fuel us for that one hard long climb. I ate some porridge with egg and stashed some bananas in my hydration pack. The others did too and then we were off.

Morning break at Aling Tinay’s

Shotgun Road

So it’s about a kilometer away from Aling Tina’s and we reach our run’s most notorious challenge, Shotgun Road, rising some 411 meters in several agonizing flights and measures at about 3.8kms. Even the fittest of the fit will surely jog-walk this road or they suffer cardiac arrest completely! So all of us were just too content to do a walkathon and see who reaches the trails of Timberland first.

Part of the 4 km uphill road
Inside the Timberland trails

Perfect weather, dry trails–a go for trail running

Shiela, Dave and Aleth were with me, the last group

With Aleth and Marjohn

The entrance to Dave’s trail

I’ve ventured on many parts of the Timberland Heights trail system and i knew there were still many areas that i have not really checked into and imagine my surprise that there was this trail just on the south eastern side of Maarat that Dave showed us. It runs from one end of Sapinit Road that loops back on the eastern side going westward.

It has several kilometers of trails and dirt roads winding through evergreen forest, lines of pine trees, wild flowers and boasts lush sceneries of mountain tops. Since Dave has tried to describe this as the “Lost World” Trail run, we decided to name this trail as Dave’s Lost World Trail.

Here are some of the pictures of the trail:

From the looks of it, you know you’ll be running in peaceful surroundings

The Y junction. Take the right trail

Bounded by trees that provided shade along the route

A trail perpendicular to the main road

One of the very few houses that were seen along the route

Nice, cool, woodsy–a secluded part of Maarat

Dave forges ahead

Several uneven surfaces brought about by heavy rains recently

The mountain hills of Timberland where we came from, at the background

Long stretch of dirt road

We took a break on this road side stall which would have offered a nice view of the city had it not been for the overcast skies

Lots of trails to discover, wish we had more time to check them out

Above the mountains of San Mateo, Rizal

It’s all downhill from here

Cloudy skies as it was going to rain in a little while

Yes it rained and we were going to be stucked in this seminary for about 20 mins

My favorite view of the trail

We covered a total of 33.7 kms of mostly uphill runs in almost 6 hours including time spent on a seminary while waiting for the heavy downpour to stop.

It was a very thrilling run, not to mention the excitement of running on a new trail and being with friends who share the same passion as i do.

Keep watch on this trail as a 10k and 21k race is being planned for October 2013 to cover this route!

1st Waldorf Trail Run: A Race Recap

My appreciation to trail running started when i joined my first trail race at Timberland Heights, the All Terra King of the Mountain Trail Run way back 2009. Trail running wasn’t that much popular then as now although The North Face Race series was already staging trail races much earlier.

I was so fascinated by the experience of running through wooded forests, river crossings, communing with nature and much more that i made it a point to run as much trails as i can, if time and opportunity permits. Succeeding races and training runs at Timberland ensued.

So last Sunday, i was back here to run the inaugural Waldorf  10k Trail Run. The Manila Waldorf is a school located inside the Timberland Heights, Filinvest Estate, just a stone’s throw away from the trail head. I wasn’t even aware that there was a school located inside this estate as we didn’t give much notice to the ongoing development in the area. After all, we came here for the trails!

Woke up early and arrive at the Centris Mall near Quezon Blvd at about 4:30 am so i could avail of the service vans which will take some of the runners to the race venue. I met with Mike Antigua, one of the race organizers who was overseeing the transportation of the runners and long-time running friend Dennis (the RunningPinoy) who was also running the 10k.

The race started a few minutes late as it was still dark in the area but we were off as soon as brightness lit up around us at about 6:15am. It was nice to be running on familiar terrain, the cool breeze was invigorating as we tackled the single track trails around the hill-tops at the beginning with the views of the Sierra Madre Mountains visible on either your left or right side.

As always, i brought in my camera and record some of the new trails that were part of the course.

There were adequate hydration stations every 2 kms of the route but i didn’t expect that this was going to be a no-cup race so you had to bring your own hydration bottle or container. I just had with me a bottle-full of Gatorade so when i wanted to have water, i used the cap of the blue plastic container that were on the tables, poured water on it and scooped right from it!

Approaching kilometer 8, we were diverted into a unused trail that cuts-off from the main road leading to the finish and the views here were wonderful and serene. I was on a roll during that time but stopped every time i saw a good view and took shots from my camera.

Race marshals were adequate although i wished they had deployed some during the last kilometer when runners were distracted at a road construction site where barricades were blocking the road so we had to stop and ask the workers on which direction to go.

Other than that, the over-all organization, water stations, trail route and volunteers were laudable! There were adequate food stalls selling breakfast meals at the school grounds although you could line-up and get free hot dogs on a stick or in sandwich buns as many times as you like.

However, one concern of mine was on the ruling with regards to the winners. They did not have separate categories for the over-all male and female winners. They just awarded the top 3 placers regardless of sex which i think was unfair to the female 1st placer. I brought this concern to Mike and he said that he would rectify this issue immediately.

Over-all, i think Waldorf did a commendable job in staging its first race and learning from some of the bumps on this fun run, they should be able to stage a better race hopefully next year!

Here are some pictures of the event:

With friends before the start

With Dennis Ravanzo (Running Pinoy)

The start was delayed for a few minutes because it was still dark

Busy taking some pics above these hills

Lucky to have good cool weather this morning

Downhill part slows down the runners

The route was gently rolling, no major shifts on elevations

Yours truly (in blue) keeping up with the pace (Photo credits, Carlo Unson)

Inside the forested area of the Timberland Heights

Many scenes like this inside the forest trails

Trail in one open area frequented by bikers. Luckily, no bikes were allowed inside the trails during race day.

A rotonda, of sorts

Part of the scenery, overlooking the wide Sierra Madre mountains

The last 3kms offered some very nice trails

Last 2.5 kms.

This is a new trail that wasn’t open to races before and i’m glad they let us pass through here for the first time

At approximately the last 1.2 kms.

There’s more of this hillside trails

A downhill dash

Then another short uphill…

The one final push before hitting the dirt road and to the finish

Long lines at the finish to get some free hot dogs

Families and friends were gathered to greet the runners

The Waldorf School “picnic grounds”

Waldorf Trail Run At Timberland Heights: 01-26-13

Manila Waldorf Trail Run

If you want to experience the joys of trail running, here’s an upcoming trail run geared for newbies in trail running and regular trail runners who have not experienced running the beautiful trails of Timberland Heights!

The Waldorf School Trail Run will be held on January 26, 2013 (Saturday) and will feature distances of  3k, 5k and 10kms with registration fees as follows:

Distances: 3k/5k/10k

Regular registration: 8 December 2012 to 18 January 2013
3k – P400
5k – P500
10k – P600
*Go to Runners Runner at R.O.X. to register

Assembly Time: 5:00am
Race Start:
10k – 6:00am
5k – 6:15 am
3k – 6:30 am

I have ran the Timberland Trails many times in the past and based on the trail route map below, here are some of the trail routes that runners are going to pass:

The route Map:

The Timberland Heights trails is rarely congested with other runners but expect some sprinkling of mountain bikers who frequent the place. When coupled with the stunning trees and other green foliage that decorate the trail, this route can easily make you forget that you’re just a few minutes outside of Metro Manila.

Waldorf Trail Run - Waldorf School

Driving directions to Manila Waldorf School/Timberland Heights:

From Quezon Memorial Circle, go northeast via Commonwealth Avenue, past Ever Commonwealth Center. Turn right before Sandiganbayan to Batasan Road, and then turn right again to Batasan-San Mateo Road. Cross the bridge over Marikina River, then turn left to Gen. Luna Avenue. After passing Tropical Hut and Mercury Drug, turn right to De Los Santos Street. When the road begins to slope, turn left to the highway going to Timberland Heights.
Complimentary Race Bus:

We shall provide 2 buses that can bring runners to Timberland Heights on a first come/first serve basis.

Shuttle transport will be provided from:

1. Centris Mall, Edsa corner Quezon Avenue – meeting place: parking area in front of Shakey’s – Departure time: 4:15 am. Max no. of passengers = 10 pax per van. Total of 20.

2. PureGold, San Mateo – Departure time: 4:30am. Max no. of passengers = 20 pax per bus. Total of 50.

*A nominal fee of P50 will be collected. Runners must present their race bibs to the shuttle driver to be allowed on board.

To get a slot, kindly email your name to waldorfrun@runnersrunner.com and everythingwaldorf@gmail.com

Please be on time. Shuttles will not wait for latecomers, even if seats have been reserved.

Press Release:

The event is envisioned to be a nature-themed mountainside run, open to novice and hardcore runners. We have designed a trail route that will showcase the surrounding environment of the school campus in Timberland Heights, San Mateo, Rizal.

The fun trail route will bring runners through our school grounds and around the various nature trails of the property – amid rolling hills, forested valleys, terraced farms and unpolluted fresh air.

After a great race, participants can enjoy the post-race ambiance, a food fair, awards, raffles and refreshments. The trail run is open to all runners at least 18 years old, with distances of 3km, 5km and 10km.All proceeds of the event will be used to support the school’s ongoing improvement of sports facilities and the teachers’ fund.
This event is organized by The Manila Waldorf School, co-presented by Timberland Heights.
Registration partners are Runners Runner and R.O.X.
Media Partner: The Philippine Star

The Shotgun Route: A Mountain and Trail Run Odyssey

Running 38.3 kilometers in scorching heat seems lunatic specially when it’s about 33 to 34 degrees at its peak out there at the Shotgun Run last Saturday. Crazy as it were, we actually did get to enjoy every minute of it and it seemed to be one enormous victory over the elements of running non-stop hills, undulating mountain roads and technical trails on a route that is known as the “Shotgun Route!”

I only heard about this route through friends on Facebook and they keep raving about its difficulty, the vastness of experiencing a road-hills-mountain and trail run, all pictured into one loop of pure exhilaration that it has become a favorite of many runners.

It was now time to discover it as well. Some members of our running team, Team 90% (don’t ask why it was called such) composed of Mel, Chito, Tonet, Betty, Sylvia, myself and an office mate of Sylvia’s set off in 2 cars and arrived at SSS Village in Marikina and parked the cars in front of an old running friend’s house, Dave Buban. Dave wasn’t running with us that morning and was just content in looking-out after the vehicles while we were out on our run.

I was a bit excited but a little concerned as to whether my plantar issues was going to plague and stop me again on my tracks. The good news is that the bum heel seem to heal very nicely after my disastrous Salomon Trail Run three weeks ago and thereafter, i was able to lodge 15-21k LSD runs with no pain at all.

When we arrived at Dave’s place, some runners were already there ahead of us. Ultra-runners Doc Toto Mina, Jael Wenceslao and Keisha Fule were waiting so we could all start together. We warmed-up with a few minutes of walking and when we were on a flat terrain, we were off running.

Our 5:30am start was rather late as the sun had risen just a few kilometers after we had started. We passed by a few private villages in Marikina, crawled under closed village gates and even got lost from the first group who were leading us by a few hundred meters. From Marikina we entered San Mateo, on its backdoor entrance going through continuous uphills and downhills and flourishes of trees that lined-up on most of the route.

SSS Village borders the hilly town of San Mateo

One of the hilly routes that we had to take

We finally arrived at the road leading to Timberland Heights. The welcome sign to Timberland was familiar to me although i was used to seeing this from the MAIN entrance coming from J.P. Rizal Road where many cyclists seem to be more familiar with. Another kilometer and we made a stop-over at Aling Tinay’s small eatery where our group partook Lugao with boiled eggs and boiled bananas that was to be one crucial nourishment break to survive the dreaded Shotgun Road and trails.

The start of the mountain pass (Shotgun) that climbs up to Timberland

Less than 2 kilometers is the 1st entrance to Timberland Heights, a dizzying uphill of a mountain about 3.5 kilometers long although there is another entrance which is the main one along C-6 Road all the way to Timberland Avenue and is a kilometer away on the north. We took the first entrance.

Just looking at the winding zigzag road going up that mountain, i couldn’t envision myself running those steep inclines. No way! All of us decided to walk those uphills except for Mel (our group’s master show-off) who seems to be reminding us who the King of the Mountain is!:-)

It was at this point when Chito told me that this was the notorious Shotgun Road they were raving about! Damn! A mini Kennon Road of sorts! Here are some pictures i took of the route:

An ordeal of a climb

No shame in walking! Even that mountain biker had to stop and rest.

L-R: Mel, Sylvia, Tita Betty, Ninang Tonet and Chito

This is the "shotgun" route!

We still had to scale up that green peak at the background

Ninang Tonet meets Doc-Romy who was on his way down

The top of the mountain was fascinating! There was a slight cool mountain breeze, breath-taking mountainscape and a picturesque view of Metro Manila. The only draw-back to this route is the constant passing of garbage dump trucks which utilizes this road to dump some of the metro’s garbage into the nearby San Mateo Sanitary dump site. It sometimes pollutes the fresh air that breezes along the canyon ridges.

After a few more climbs, we finally reached the start of the Timberland trails. I’m very familiar with these trails, having ran here several times both during training and trail races although this particular entrance is new to me. At an elevation twice that of Antipolo City, this serene and breezy mountain retreat affords a panoramic view from Laguna de Bay to Mount Arayat in the north.

It was a gorgeous day to run these trails as they were damp, dry and gave my feet and legs a respite from all the pounding we did at the earlier miles. It was starting to get hot and the only concern i had was we were running out of water and the next stop was about 4 kms more when we would emerge out of the trails.

The trails wound up through scenic gorges, lush foliage within a virgin forest although the surface began to be more technical as you enter deep into the woods. Knowing the trails by heart, i was able to skid out ahead of the group and after a few more kilometers, found my way out of the jungle passing by the Timberland Country Club and into the main gate where a small eatery often frequented by cyclists was situated. Took gulps of Gatorade, Cobra Energy drink and lots of water! Whew!

After about 10 minutes, the rest of the group arrived and we all enjoyed the break, taking in some bread, rice cakes and stacked-up more water into our hydration packs before we continued our journey back. We had already ran 24kms up to that point and there was another 14kms to complete the loop.

Here are some pictures of the trails:

The start of the trail to Timberland

Heat was staring to flare up at the start of our trail run

Thankful of the trees that kept us in shade for the most part of the trail run

The view at the opposite side of the trails

Mt. bikers shared the trails with us

Small rocks were all over the place

Mel leads the way

A haven for bikers too

A shaded portion

Keeping our steps at bay to avoid the small rocks

Final group pic before our run back to home base with 15 kms to go.

The trip back was one of the most arduous runs we ever had as we were basically being roasted under the sun. It was just 11:00am but the sun was above our heads so we constantly took walking breaks. At some hilly road, we stopped in front of a front yard and asked the house owner if we could pour ourselves water from a faucet that was situated just outside her doorstep. She might have thought that we were doing some sort of a post-Holy Week “penitencya” so she willingly let us in. We all doused our heads with ladle-full of water. And that was so refreshing!

At about 1:10pm, logging-in a total of 37 kms and temperatures hovering at about 34 degrees, we were now back inside SSS Village in Marikina, all dehydrated and here we were, back where we started but we couldn’t find Dave’s home! I was like a zombie moving aimlessly trying to figure out where the house was and then i realized that i lost sight of the group too! After a few minutes, i saw Betty calling me, waiving from a store and that they had found Dave’s home!

Total distance completed, 38.3 kms and run was finished at 1:30pm. I felt good except for the usual pain in the thighs and butt. And no pain on the plantar…Yebahh! The next day, i amazed myself by doing another 7kms recovery run near UP campus while i was playing the events on my head that transpired during our Shotgun run!

Though the Shotgun route was difficult as it was, i would like to believe that if you would have to do this route, you would also have to cover the relentless rolling hills of San Mateo, Rizal which are still untapped by many runners.

We are slated to do another long run of about 43kms on a new route Dave has discovered and dubbed the “Lost World”. I just hope we’ll be able to find our way back, alive and running!

A bird's eye view of the metropolis