On the day Adam came into being, he was emerging from mud shaped as a human being. On my forty second birthday I was not far from the former. I spent my birthday negotiating the treacherous and highly technical trails of Timberland, San Mateo when I signed up for the Merrell Adventure Run 2012 held June 2, 2012. As a result, I must have hugged the wet earth most part of the run from slipping, crawling and getting my feet sunk in the mud. With my whole body was covered with cakes of mud, I was literally one with the earth.
This year’s Merrell Adventure run, I must admit, justified totally the “adventure” portion of the event’s title. Honestly, nothing prepared me for this race, even though I ran the 10k category of Merrell Adventure Run the previous year. I figured that since the current event was to be held in the same venue as the previous year’s, when I upgraded my run from 10 k to 21k I would just be subjecting myself to twice the experience I had the year before. But as I slowly make my way just a couple of kilometer away from the starting arch, it became apparent to me that I made a wrong projection. The last year’s route was simply tiring but not as difficult as I remember it compared with what I was facing at MAR 2012. This year’s MAR 2012 was made especially difficult by monsoon rain strengthened by tropical storm Ambo which greased up the trail with mud. This was coupled with “improved” route from last year’s with the inclusion of several river crossings and obstacle courses that featured, what else, more mud.
If it weren’t for the event being organized by Event King, which kind of lived up to its not so good reputation, the event would have been perfect for those with death wish and highly competitive trail running aficionados. Not a seasoned trail runner myself, I only have praises for the experience of running the trail. I would have been even more delighted however, if only I was able to finish the whole 21k and not found myself completing only the first loop. My attempt to finally bring home a MAR medal was prevented once more (last year only the first 50 10k finishers were given medals. I was far from those who made the list) when the both soles of my Merrell hiking shoes gave up on me and decided to take no part with my quest just as I was crossing the fifth kilometer of the run. With my losing my shoes’ traction my run became imperiled from slippage from the wet earth and from the rocks use as footpath in crossing the rivers that I would have to traverse again on my second loop. I decided not to risk dying on the very day I was birthed. With one sole in my hand and the other gaping at my other foot as if laughing at the experience, I sadly resolved to being considered DNF (Did Not Finished) upon my crossing the first loop of the race and into the finish lane. Upon reaching the finisher chute I was being handed with a coveted 21 k medal, but I did not take it. I was hoping instead that upon espying that I was holding the other sole of my Merrell shoes while the other one about to tear itself apart from the rest of the shoe, I would either be lent with a new pair of Merrell shoes from the organizer to allow me to continue my run and complete the 21k or that some other perks would be handed to me. But upon my reaching the secretariat booth I was told that maybe it was high time I bought a new pair. While the other one emphasized that my shoes were meant for hiking and not for running. Notwithstanding I used the same shoes at MAR 2011. Besides, the trails were actually not that run-able and the participants would most likely hike rather than risk injury. I still managed to get finisher kit though although I find myself feeling kind of awkward wearing the finisher shirt.
As I made my way to the get my bag from the baggage counter and then to the dressing tent to change clothing, there were of course those who thought I finished the 21 k in 2 hours and some minutes, maybe faster than the Kenyans. It almost felt awesome as they curiously came closer to try to figure out who am I, until I have to tell them that I actually did not finish the run and quickly they dissipate. At the dressing tent when the one of the Kenyan, Samuel Tarus Too came in, I noticed that his bib number 146 was almost similar with mine which was 14. I kind of thought that 6 more run and I would probably be running neck-and-neck with him the next time. I think I kind of had him worried finding me there at the tent a 21 k runner ahead of him. That I might have out run him when he saw that in my bib scrolled a handwritten “2” while in the Kenyan’s bib was a “5”.
When I got out of the dressing tent the mud that stuck in my legs and arms had dried and almost colored the same as my skin. With no water shower to wash the dirt away, I just let it stuck even up to the time I took my lunch at SM North and finally travelled home.
Also at the time I got out of the tent the other 21 k finishers were crossing the finisher chute. By then water shower spewing from the water tank provided by sponsor was finally installed and working. The runners which, were all men, were gathered underneath the spraying water as if they had never known water before in their lives. The women just contented themselves watching the orgy unfold. My earlier stunt of jumping into the waist high river water and made me thought I was going to sink deeper and drown when the soft river bed began sucking my feet in, got the better of me, that I don’t least envied nor desired to try to join the shower foray. My fear of water and taking a bath that haunted my childhood seemingly had returned that moment.
What had befallen my Merrell shoes? Still crusted with mud like some ancient artifact recently unearthed I dared not anymore clean away the mud. I left the shoes like victims of a summary execution just beyond the dressing tent just before the portalets area. I thought there is anything that could be done to salvage the pair. If there were vultures willing to pick on the remains let them have their fill.
Having failed to take home a medal at MAR 2012, the very next day I was running 21k again at Brooks Happy Run 2012 which I registered on site at the day of the run itself. I figured that in life one must simply press on until on finds what will translate to that person as a form of happiness. True enough I found my vindication and had the “Happy” in Brooks Happy Run in the event’s title, when I crossed the finish line in spite of the troubling legs which were still recovering from MAR 2012. My spirit that had plummeted spiraling downwards to Tartarus at MAR 2012 soared again. However, the next day’s sore is of course another matter altogether.