While the slow moving Tropical Cyclone Hagupit or locally known as Ruby had just left the province of Samar for the island of Marinduque and continuing still further westward heading for Mindoro then Batangas in a day or two, its wide reaching storm wall however hadn’t yet made any discernible impact in Tagaytay apart from a forecast of a possible overcast sky in time of the 8th Tagaytay to Nasugbu 50k Ultramarathon on December 7, 2014.
I was, therefore, looking forward to an ideal weather for ultramarathon on an otherwise normally sun-scorching 50k course organized by a notoriously known strict race director, Jovice Narcise popularly referred as Bald Runner or BR for short. T2N was my 5th 50k ultra and my first for the Bald Runner’s franchise. I expected among the difficulty involved in this race was the no aid stations along the race route and a 9 hours cut-off. The expected balmy weather was a sort of let up in spite of BR’s own downplaying of this race’s difficulty due to the course’s mainly downhill rolling feature. I joined this race not only to add this race’s course to my growing Tagaytay series racecourses that I had participated in, but also to prepare to qualify for a possible take on Bataan Death March 102, which to my knowledge, requires a prospecting runner to have already run in at least 3 of BR’s events (although I learned later that one race event will do). I also want to find out how to be totally self-sufficient in a 50k distance.
It did not help my cause that my Deuter 2.0 liter hydration bladder developed a leak the evening before the run that I almost elected to give up running in this event. But there were other more urgent reasons not to run than a busted bladder. I resolved to pack a two liter plastic bottle of water instead on my hydration back pack along with headlamp, Gatorade, light jacket, rain poncho, reflectorized vest, Fit bars and money. On race day, BR’s wife almost took pity on me upon seeing me and trying out for her self to lift my backpack. She offered to have my backpack loaded at her car for safe baggage keeping. But I refused to give it to her saying I was on a self-support and would need the bag’s content along the progress of the race.
The starting point of the race was at Picnic Grove Nature Park about 3 kilometers away from my accommodation, which I walked from at 2:00 am. At the race venue at first there were just few runners keeping themselves warm. Given the impending passage of the typhoon Ruby and the scheduled National Milo Marathon Finals coinciding with T2N, I suspected wrongly that there might be about less than 20 runners that would be braving T2N. But soon runners began arriving. I learned then that National Milo Marathon got postponed and there were runners joining T2N who were supposed to run in Milo Marathon who now opted to register on site. The number of participants grew from 50 to 63. As a result, the number of finisher medals and shirts fell short of the actual number of participants. One of the familiar faces among the participants was Allen Bautista who was taking T2N for the second time. The first time, which happened last June 2014 did not end well for him. 500 meters from the finish line he collapsed and woke up later at the hospital. His story almost mirrored that of Brian a runner Scott Jurek was pacing at Western State 50 Miles Endurance Run who DQ after Brian’s body stopped or refused to go any further with just a few more miles to go before the finish line. Jurek had to assist Brian cross the finish line and into the medical tent. Allen however, redeemed himself at his second take when he won the championship at the end of this race.
From the Picnic Grove Nature Park, we ran along the dimly lit Calamba Road in single file, keeping BR’s instruction. The cold air we earlier complained about became almost indiscernible. We passed by Ligaya Drive the road I emerged from when I joined the 2nd Sungay 60k Challenge Ultramarathon coming from Talisay, Batangas. Soon we crossed the intersection where the right side of the road that led to Sto. Domingo Road or Sta. Rosa Road – the route taken in my second Tagaytay leg under the race Tagaytay to Nuvali to Sta. Rosa or T2N2S. We then passed by where my accommodation, the Golden Room stood forlorn. About a kilometers and a half we crossed the Tagaytay Junction and hit Aguinaldo Highway south bound. BR berated that T2N was the easiest of his 50k run events for its undulating uphill and downhill route. I don’t know whether to be scared now of joining other of BR’s run events for I found the route challenging still especially with the incoming vehicles that threatening to side swipe runners who were required to run at the left side of the road and had to compete with the incoming vehicles for a piece of the narrow highway.
Some members of support group of other runners who where waiting for their runners to arrived at designated distance for their refreshments cheered me on every time I passed along them. Their presence not only provides a sort of encouragement and comfort because at a certain point of the race distance between runners had grown vast, it also meant that there were still indeed other runners behind me.
Without Aid Stations every 10 kilometers along the route like in Run Mania’s franchise, I had no way of determining how much distance I had already logged in. I had 4 salt candies given to me by my former classmate in elementary and every once in a while we chance upon each other in some of the run events. These salt candies were supposedly like those Salt Stick capsules that I take in intervals of at least 10 kilometers. But without any idea of the distance I ended up taking these candies in less intervals than those I originally planned to. My only way of figuring out how far I seemed to have ran already were signboards of a resort village being developed that a teaching colleague of mine was trying to get me interested into investing on and a fast food chain lies a certain distance ahead. Along the way I got to know where entrance to Mt. Talamitam stood which was really near the entrance to Mt. Batulao, a mountain I already had a chance to hike on.
From Palico we took the left side of the road, which was the last stretch of the race that was flat all the way. The finish line was at the Petron Gas Station in Nasugbu that was owned by BR’s 3 star General friend. I clocked a time of 7 hours and 55 seconds and ranked 56 out of 63 runners. So, it seems I can indeed finish sub 8 in a 50k ultramarathon.