Part 3: Trail Chronicles Recap: Highlights of 2014 (Last of a Series)

Trail Chronicles #20 : A Dozen River Crossings (August 24, 2014)

Puray and its trails commands the attention of serious trail runners wanting a challenging route and it won’t be complete unless you reach its main attraction, Puray Falls and climbing up further to its crest to see the magnificence of the various lagoons of streaming waters.

This trail route is probably the most river crossings we had, no less than a dozen of them, one of which we had to maneuver right smack in the middle of deep waters, crawling horizontally, clinging to rocks in order to reach the other side. Against strong currents and slippery boulders, our trail running shoes were no match for it.

The trails going to Puray Falls (Rodriguez, Rizal) are mostly technical, many with rocky terrain and to compound things, some of the rocks covered under the rivers are mossy making them quite slippery. Been to this place on previous occasions although temperatures were swelling during this time post the rainy onslaught of the previous days. Jun and i together with old running friends Darryl, Jeyson, Werner and Chips, all established trail/ultra trail runners were on for this adventure!

Trail Chronicles #21: A Sneak Peek of Mt. Talamitam (September 1, 2014)

It didn’t matter that i would be waking up early at 2:00 in the morning, hie off to Makati and meet up with blogger-friends, Franc and Henri at 4 am or that we would be driving to Nasugbu, Batangas and discover Mt. Talamitam. The trail route to Mt. Talamitam did not dissapoint! Gorgeous and scenic views, not to mention the tremendous uphills that were waiting for us along the trails.

Here on this secluded area, far removed from any modern amenities of civilization (except for the locals use of cell phones too), i felt as though i could run forever with different views switching on every few seconds. We took trail routes which were longer, used exclusively by the locals, far different from those that hikers and trekkers regularly use. Our hosts, the Cavite ESE Team, led by JC Igos and his co-Race Directors were gracious enough to bring us up their training grounds!

Trail Chronicles #22: Salomon City Trail Intramuros Run (September 10, 2014)

It was great to be part of this first ever Salomon CityTrail 12k Run inside and around historic Intramuros in Manila where you get to immerse yourself in the walled city’s vintage atmosphere from start to end!

So what is a CityTrail (or CityTrail running), one might ask? How could it be possible to have trails similar to Tanay, San Mateo or on wooded forests when this one is located in a highly urbanized, old city like Manila?

Well, it’s a venue event label by Salomon, the shoe brand that brought us their famous trail running shoes. The  CITYTRAIL™ Races are part trail and part concrete running events that challenges runners to explore different terrain settings like pathways, bridges, tunnels, grass, stairs, etc. within urban landscapes simulating those in trail running. And what better venue to exemplify this than the historic Spanish and World War 2 settings of Intramuros!

Trail Chronicles #23: Dalandanan Trails (October 4, 2014)

Many trail runners, specially those with an eye for technical or long, mountainous and river paths often flock to the peaceful hinterlands of San Mateo, Rodriguez and Tanay, all in Rizal province. But the trails and peaks of nearby Bulacan, with Licao-Licao, Mt. Balagbag, Mt. Maranat, to mention a few, which is just an hour away from Metro Manila is just as ideal for adventurers–and a lot less known to runners.

Nearer still is Ciudad Real in San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan, one of my favorite  venues for unlimited trail running as many trails here remain untouched from runners, just waiting to be discovered.

We returned to Ciudad Real but instead of going through our usual route, we explored trails that we haven’t ran before, discovering in the process raw natural landscape, where water is clean enough to drink, fresh air blowing from atop trees and flower-filled forest with reds beaming on the side of the trails.

Trail Chronicles #24: The Other Side of Timberland (November 23, 2014)

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.

There are a few runnable trails that connects the usual trails inside Timberland Heights and past this landfill with several smaller offshoot trails. 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!

Trail Chronicles: Indang, Cavite Trails: Dash For The Elderly 21k Race (August 14, 2014)

The Dash For The Elderly Half-Marathon Trail Run in Indang, Cavite, was another unforgettable adventure with trails almost dry and packed, throwing some of its best routes, scenery, humidity, small town hospitality and fresh air for trail runners! And with only about 150 runners, we had all the trails by ourselves!

The trails were mostly double tracks, an obvious reference to the mountain bikers who frequent these routes. The place is basically an agricultural area where different crops are planted including pineapples and other plant varieties. Some parts of the trails were really grassy and wished that they had trimmed it off a bit to reveal those shallow canals located in between the double tracks. Beautiful place!

Part 2: Trail Chronicles Recap: Highlights of 2014

This is the second part of a 3-part series looking back at some of my best trail runs for 2014. The 3rd and last part will appear after 2 days. Enjoy!

Trail Chronicles #14 : A Glimpse Of The Sto. Nino Trails (May 7, 2014)

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 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.

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 these trails are made for you.

 

Trail Chronicles #15: The Trails of Silangan To Wawa (May 21, 2014)

This is one of the roughest but most picturesque trail runs that i have ever done! It’s tough not because of the hills that were constant on the trails of Silangan in San Mateo, Rizal but more of the heat which were hovering in the mid 30s. Running in mid-day for about 6 hours certainly does not make it any easier when you’re exposed in open spaces but the overwhelming feeling of satisfaction is well worth it.

This is one of the more popular trail routes many trail running enthusiasts use on their training runs. What makes the run more worthwhile for me is running this route with my teammates (Team 90%) for the first time, given how some of them really don’t like running on trails. So we all met up one Sunday, at 4:00am at Pure Gold Supermarket and after parking our rides, we started our run towards Barangay Silangan, near Timberland Heights.

 

Trail Chronicles #16: New Converts To Trail Running (June 10, 2014)

There must be something magical about running in trails that this couple, Leo and Sylvia are now drawn to it after testing the waters for the first time on the Casile to Wawa trail run previously. This time, Jun and i brought these two budding trail runners to the trails of San Andres, Tanay– parts of which was the route of the recent Pimco NDTR Trail Run.

Leo and Sylvia are no newbies to road running though, both having completed several marathons and an ultra marathon under their sleeves. Leo, at 68 is still running strong, having a best of 4:30 in the San Francisco Marathon last 2012 while Sylvia who is in her early 50’s clocks  a sub-50 min. 10k and was 1st runner-up (female division) of the Tagaytay to Nasugbu (T2N) 50k  in 5:29 also in 2012.

Both seem to enjoy the adventure, escape and the lure of the wilderness and it’s apparent when both recently shopped for trail shoes, pole sticks, dri-fit apparels, hydration back-packs, whistles and even a walkie-talkie that has a speaking range of 28 miles! Speaking of being gung ho!

Trail Chronicles #17: Puray Falls (June 17, 2014)

This is one of the best kept secrets hidden in the hinterlands of Rodriguez (Montalban) and the trails leading to Puray Falls present one of the most scenic views, getting a close up look to nature and of the local people.

Here, we get to explore Puray Falls, with its gentle river below now accessible leading to the falls. On the paths leading to it, i love how the scenery changed constantly. It’s the changing backdrops of the mountains that constantly grabs your attention then you find yourself approaching a river or stream with towns people doing their daily routine along the banks of these rivers.

Running the trails of course, was the best part of the adventure, moderate to technical specially the very narrow ridge approach to the top of the falls itself with one misstep and you fall into a deep ravine. Most of the run is shaded with the rural, forest backdrop of the small town of Puray dominating the scenery. Lots of trees, running streams, and wild life as we had to maneuver over rocks and boulders on the way to the falls.

Trail Chronicles #18 : The Pimco 2X Test Run Trail Route (July 7, 2014)

Returning to this place, i was pretty much awed by the landscape of lush greenery along this route, the effect of rainfalls it had over the past few days after near drought that enveloped this area a few months ago. Tanay’s vast scope of winding forests trails and it’s endless scenery of mountains and rivers can simply overwhelm as its popularity as a trail running destination has soared through the years.

I thought these photos of the trails and its surroundings may illustrate what i mean and give you a good glimpse of the 2X Solo/Buddy trail race that was forthcoming in a few weeks.

Trail Chronicles #19: Mt. Balagbag Trail Run (July 18, 2014)

Baraggay Licao-Licao in San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan, the gateway to Mt. Balagbag is a mere 25 minute drive from SM Fairview!

Rising above the Sierra Madre mountains, we slowly inched our way up into the hills and i soon realized that this is a trail runner’s paradise! Though we were walking those steep hills, we compensated it by blazing through on the flat and downhill portions which winded through lush greenery, macadam roads, long-winding mountain paths and hosts of wild birds and flowers.

There is a small, scattered community during our climb where people seem to be friendly to us visiting strangers that we had to stop several times and engage them in small banter.

The trails here are classic mountain trails with acres of lush green forest mountains, ridges and several kilometers of random technical trails with small streams trickling on the sides.

There are a few stores located along the route but don’t expect drinks to be ice cold as the place is devoid of any electrical power. Near the top of Mt. Balagbag is a private property where bikers and hikers usually enter to be at the mountain’s highest peak, the so called “Helipad” where you could have a 360 degree view of the mountain area.

 

Trail Chronicles Recap: Highlights of 2014 (Part 1)

I look at this past year 2014 and i can say that it was one of my most active year of running. As 2015 comes in my midst, i am grateful for the opportunity the past year has brought me in terms of health and fitness and being able to gain a lot of friends through our common love of trail running.

I’m still mesmerized at the places that i had been to with fabulous scenery, mountain peaks, gushing rivers, water falls and forest trails that are a staple of most of my trail runs. For 2014, i have done a chronicle of all my trail runs through my “Trail Chronicle” articles which have become one of my blogs’ highlights.

All in all, i have done a total of about 24 trail runs which include races, test runs and training runs with perennial running partner Jun Santiago where we both shared the joy of discovering new trails.

Now, i would like to look back on some of those highlights and share them once again to you. Here is PART 1 of those chronicles:

Trail Chronicles Year Opening: The Lost Gardens of Maysawa (January 24, 2014)

In the mountains of Tanay, one place holds a special allure to those who have ran its trails and crossed its rivers…the rugged scenery of Sitio Maysawa.

The Maysawa trails are beautiful but jagged, rocky on some parts, wooded on the inner portions  following shallow but crystal clear rivers plus a couple of different ridges through the woods. It throws in a couple of relentless uphills and descents. The terrain on the end part, after reaching Brgy Laiban is a mix of woodlands, creeks, open space and the occasional cultivated field.

We managed to run and walk endlessly for about 2 hours and discovered three falls from rushing streams, white rocks and a garden-like deep pond where we had to cling on rocks to get over the other side of the stream.

It was as surreal as it can get, the deep green-colored water was hollow on its surface but you can just see the deepness when you get near its core where the rushing water was like waterfalls pouring into a garden of rocks.

Probably Tanay’s version of the lost Garden of Eden, if ever there was one.

Trail Chronicles #2: Kaybanban Trails (January 31, 2014)

Running buddy Jun Santiago and i have been pinning to discover these inner trails just outside of Tunkung Mangga and it was awesome to discover long, vast, open and wooded trails. And running within its rustic backdrop made me all high, every area has its picturesque settings.

Trail Chronicles #3: A Look At Laiban Trails (February 5, 2014)

Laiban offers amazing views of the Sierra Madre Mountains and its clean, pristine rivers. There are whole branches of trails you can take if you’re feeling adventurous though i suggest to thread on the main trails first if you’re running here for the first time.

Trail Chronicles #4: New Daraitan Route Trail (February 11, 2014)

Jun and i were really excited to try on these new paths going to the Tinipak River and Rocks at Daraitan without going through much of the long rough dirt stretch along Daraitan Road which we did last year. This is a great new running jaunt with lots of magnificent views of the Sierra Madre Mountains.

Trail Chronicles #5: Tinipak River and Rocks (February 16, 2014)

What a find in Tanay’s wilderness! We went back to Tanay for the second consecutive week to complete our unfinished business of test running the whole 32k route of the PIMCO Love A Tree Daraitan Trail Run for next week (February 23). With me this time were veteran ultra runners Tin Ferrera, Chito Carreon, newbie Rhett Del Rosario and our ever sprightly running guide, Emer of Pimco Sports.

Trail Chronicles #6: Paradiso (February 18, 2014)

As we moved eastward from Tungkong Mangga going towards Licao-Licao near Norzagaray, we noticed several trails that were branching out from Baranggay San Roque, San Jose Del Monte (SJDM) in Bulacan. Jun and i weren’t sure about any possible running routes in the area but we were game to discover places.

Apparently you don’t have to wander much around SJDM to discover many trails that can go on for plenty of kilometers on end. So we decided to stray a while and entered a side trail in a small Baranggay called Paradise or Paradiso, as the locals would put it. We started on a trail head just past the Paradise Farms and Community School.

Trail Chronicles #7: The Boondocks of Norzagaray (February 20, 2014)

As with other trails in Bulacan, i don’t see how you’re not going to enjoy this rustic but arresting trail route, loaded with interesting sceneries like wide vegetable plantations, farms and the ever present mountain ranges of the Sierra.

Though the trails are easy to follow during the first few kilometers of the route, it becomes more intricate once you venture inside the wooded areas as there are several smaller trails that branch out. That said, it can be easy to get a bit lost inside these trails.

Trail Chronicles #8: The Trails of Macaira (March 4, 2014)

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.

Trail Chronicles #9: Pintong Bukawe (March 21, 2014)

We first discovered these wooded trails way back in 2009 when  June Santiago and i were first enthused into trail running. Tucked behind the sprawling Timberland Heights in San Mateo, Rizal, it stretches far north-west to Wawa in Rodriguez and Calawis in Antipolo on the east side.

Trail Chronicles #11: Kay Ibon and Duhatan Trails (April 7, 2014)

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 a few pics of our run which are the Kay Ibon and Duhatan trails.

Trail Chronicles #12: Mt. Batolusong and Maypatag Plateau (April 11, 2014)

Like the Kay Ibon Trails/Falls and the Duhatan Trails , 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.

Trail Chronicles #13: The Salomon X-Trail Run (April 16, 2014)

Quite possibly the most technically demanding trail race i have ever joined! The 32k route was relentlessly hilly with the inclines so steep that even the best of the trail runners i know were reduced to staggering zombies, our faces etched like doomsday ahead of Semana Santa!

The last picture you’ll see  is probably what most of us (for that day) felt what “surrender” was, when instead of a pick-up bus transporting those who never made it to the cut-off time, were whisked away in this transport…in style!