June15, 2014 I ran in Run Mania’s event, Independence Day 50k Ultramarathon that took runners from Kawit, Cavite to Kaybiang Tunnel in Ternate. I failed to finish within the cut off time by 38 minutes. This was my third ultramarathon. My first encounter with the long uphill going to Pico De Loro DENR base camp and the route going to the Marine Corp. Command and then into Kaybiang Tunnel was one of my most challenging run then and it I had left its mark on me. A year after that event I once again crossing road with this route at the race event, 2nd Naic to Nasugbu 50k Ultramarathon which happened November 15, 2015 organized by one of the of the country’s bad ass ultramarathon and trail running events organizer, Bald Runner.
I was still reeling from the previous week’s Mt. Pinatubo 50k Trail Challenge and my battle with cough had gotten worst. I was really seriously thinking of putting this run off but I got a companion accompanying to this event so I couldn’t back out. Besides, this was a road run and I had already experienced a portion of this route. Maybe, I could pull this off much better than Pinatubo, I thought to myself as we hopped in the bus at D. Jose Terminal of Saulog Bus Company.
The starting line for this race was at Naic Town Plaza and it ends at the Petron Station in Nasugbu owned by another retired General and friend of BR. It is the same finish line of Tagaytay to Nasugbu Ultramarathon. Almost replicating the number of participants of Mt. Pinatubo 50k Trail Challenge, there were 32 participants for 2nd N2N. Once again after the gun start was given I immediately occupied my usual place at the tail end of the line of runners. Due to my ailment I was operating half of my capacity that my pace was even much slower than my usual, soon this gave way to creating a wide distance between me and the other runners. I cling to the belief though that I was not the last runner since I kept passing by some parked support vehicles, which probably means that they were still waiting for their runners to pass them by. Being familiar with the route I was not at any least worried of getting lost along the way even if I could not anymore spied any runners ahead of me. Nearing the uphill going to Pico De Loro, I was taken aback when from behind me came BR the race director who was acting as sweeper. I tried to run faster but I soon run out of steam. BR reassured me not to panic. I learn from him there was still another runner behind me. BR over took me and took the uphill as if it were flat surface. He soon disappeared leaving me quite in shame. The uphill at least didn’t bothered me anymore like it did before. In spite of taking the uphill walking, I believed I was making good pace.
Just as I was to hit Pico De Loro Base Camp, I saw another runner having some trouble with his legs. I know it was bad but I felt elated that there might be other runners I might soon be passing by aside from the runner who was cramping. The lure of a rest and probably eating breakfast at the DENR base camp however, was getting the better of me. Just as I was enjoying drinking a cold soda the last runner I was told about came running by urging me to push on. I was at first determined to take it easy but the realization that if the other runner I passed by could muster enough will to run he might overtake me leaving me with the possibility of becoming the last runner. With my condition I might also trail way behind everyone else that might even discourage me to finish the race if I don’t hauled up my ass and move on. So, reluctantly and still exhausted I returned to the road to try to chase after the formerly last runner whom I thought I could still catch up. Noticing that he was a bit stouter than I, I thought he was much slower yet, I couldn’t see him anymore ahead of me. The road turned downhill. It was supposedly easier to negotiate but my stamina was low I could not take advantage.
Happening the same day that we were running 2nd N2N was the event Philippine Marine Corps Marathon organized by Front Runner Magazine under Jonel Mendoza also a friend of BR. There were runners running their last 10 kilometers coming from Kaybiang Tunnel. I was running at the opposite lane they were running at. Mine was mostly downhill though. The last time I ran here the sun was burning us out so bad, I thought I might collapse along the way. It was sheer will and persistence that I withstood the heat and made it to the finish line then although beyond the cut-off time. Now I fear that I might not actually redeem myself after all if my health would not allow me to go on beyond the Kaybiang Tunnel and into Nasugbu, thus failing in my attempt to completely close out the 360 degrees route I have ran spanning from Tagaytay all the way to Kawit and back again to Tagaytay.
Along the way I chanced upon some running acquaintances running the Philippine Marine Corps Marathon including the 72 year old Master Vic. Others were probably looking at me quite amusingly because not only I was all by myself and was coming from Naic, Cavite. They probably know I still have a very long way to go before I set my eyes to the finish line while theirs was just a couple more uphill to go. Soon I was crossing the Kaybiang Tunnel on foot for the second time of my life. The view of the coast from the Nasugbu-Ternate Highway welcomes me but I didn’t have the luxury of time to linger and take in the vista. I stopped by at PMCM Aid Station to ask for refill for my hydration. They were generous enough to provide me and even wish me luck on my run. From here on I stopped by at their Aid Stations whenever there was a need for me to get refill for my hydration. Soon I was heading to uphill portion of the route which I thought would be the last of it. An ambulance stopped by me and asked if I am still doing fine. Actually at that point I wanted to quit. Not because my health had gotten worst but rather I thought that if I am to quit this race I might as well do it while it was still too far from the finish line so that I could enjoy the early exit. Besides, quitting when finish line was nearer would actually be more difficult to explain the reason for quitting which was how it was with me with Tarayem Sasangasot. However, I fought the urge since by my estimate I have already crossed probably the half of the race already. Along the way I was able to speak with one of the last runner from PMCM. He was lamenting the fact that there were quite a lot of uphill in their race route. For my part I encountered rolling hills that seem to go on forever passing by the same route as the PMCM until finally I reached their U-turn. I caught their marshals packing their supplies into a military truck. As I approached, the race marshal offered me a cold Gatorade. It was like manna from heaven and almost gulped it down in one take. By this time I was in a more flatter portion of the road. I could not imagine from what I was staring at ahead of me, which was a series of mountains how I could end up along the national highway to Nasugbu. My fear then was that I would be crossing those mountains ahead of me somehow.
Soon I was passing by Hamilo Coast Resort. According to BR about 3-4 kilometers of flat road separates this portion of the race to the next uphill. The sun was becoming intense by the hour. In one of the uphill I passed by Calayo Road, which leads to beach resorts. The road I took was undulating. At Natipuan the road was a steep downhill. Upon reaching to bottom I saw that another uphill was in the offing. At this point I was so tired I decided to rest at the shoulder of the road. The wife of the runner who I previously saw whose leg was cramping passed by going towards where I came from. I was thinking if she was going to get her husband because he was quitting the race, if they passed me by I might go along with them and quit the race as well. After I emerged from the uphill I was soon negotiating the road passing by Terraza Del Fuego and then later Kawayan Cove. According to my estimate 5 to 6 kilometers separates me from finishing the race but from what I was seeing in front of me the road still runs endlessly without showing me I was any closer to Nasugbu. I was begging the Gods to have me taken by the sweeper already since I could not make it to the finish line within the cut off time, which was down to 20 minutes away. On the other hand, I was thinking that I should endeavor to finish the race even if I make it beyond the 9 hours cut off. Just so, I could complete the route and probably still be given my medal although my name not anymore mentioned in the list of finishers. Finally I was crossing a bridge that was leading to the town of Nasugbu. I was already 15 minutes beyond the cut off time but the timely appearance of a fellow runner on board of a vehicle informed be that there was a mistake in setting 9 hours as the cut of time. It was actually 10 hours. Therefore I was still very much in the contention. Then they were off to tell the other runner behind me about the development. I was down to the last 3 kilometers but this distance proved to me even much longer. I was already running along the town of Nasugbu in search of the Petron Gas Station but the station was nowhere to be found. I was almost running at the end of the town yet I couldn’t see the finish line. I feared maybe I did a wrong turn somewhere or probably the finish line was at the other end of the town. The time was again ticking down against me. The just as when my will was giving up I saw the banner. Soon I was hearing the familiar cowbell being rung. I crossed the finish line with a time of 9 hours and 37 minutes. I am the last runner to officially make it within the cut off time. BR told me to train harder. I was just glad I wouldn’t have this race listed among my DNFs. BR mentioned before the start of this race that this route was more difficult than his Tanay 50 kilometer Ultramarathon, which means maybe I still have one more race with BR aside from the postponed Fort Magsaysay event, before I could finally consider his other more challenging events.