Three Trail Runs Tales

Since I started running the numbers of trail run events I had joined are as follows. In 2011 I had only one and the distance was 10k. In 2012 I figured in 6 trail run events. Then in 2013 I had 7 with 42 kilometer distance as the farthest distance ran. By 2014 I joined 10 events 3 of which were 42 kilometer distance. In 2015 I had 7 trail runs with 1 a 50 kilometer distance event successfully accomplished. Last year 1 had 6 with 1 50 kilometer distance done. I easily get sprained and slipped along the path without mercy which led me to limit my participations on trail running. However, I am still dreaming of a comeback in the event Pilipinas Akyathlon, which I DNF in 2014 or experience Jonel Mendoza’s Mt. Ugo Trail Run.

 

At the first quarter of 2017 I managed to figure in three trail run events. The first one was the Conquer’s 3rd Tarak Ridge 25 that happened last January 15, 2017 at Mariveles, Bataan. I was not able to join this event last year because at the time this event was held I was at the other side of Mariveles Bay in Corregidor running in the Corregidor International Half Marathon. Although it was my first time to run at Tarak Ridge, it was not my first time to visit it. Way back in 2010 I had climbed Tarak Ridge’s summit with the UST Mountaineering Club. I could not forget my encounter with the strong winds at the campsite that toppled my tent in the evening.

 

“During the night when the wind was roaring mightily it was bending the tent’s pole too close for my comfort, it was threatening to topple my tent, but I stubbornly chose to remain thinking it would withstand the brunt of the attack. Then suddenly the tent’s walls tore and exposed the outside. I saw the stars and was grateful it was not raining as it had the previous year’s climb in Tarak. I persisted to remain. But knowing when to call it quits is likewise important. A companion came to may aid and advised me to transfer to another tent. I would have stayed on if it were not until a pole finally gave in and snapped. As if stating the obvious the flysheet broke free of the top tent and almost flew away. I finally relented. I picked up my things and transfer to a much warmer and sturdier tent and got the sleep I couldn’t have while I hang on to my precious pride.”

 

 

In TR25 our journey started at Alas-Asin Elementary School. After the gun start the 196 participants run around the perimeter of the school before heading off to Roman Highway and crossed it to get to Waling-Waling Street that led to the dirt road. The road took us to Grafane Farm. The first aid station was at about the 3rd kilometer of the race. On the way to this AS runners passed by the house of Aling Cording who monitors hikers. After this AS runners proceed until they get to a junction in which runners were instructed to choose the left path. At about 8th or 9th kilometer of the route located was the Papaya River. The Papaya River was actually the 2nd AS. I failed to refill my hydration bottle with its spring water thinking there would still be hydration along the way. This was a mistake because after I ran out of water I couldn’t get any refill until I am once again around this area, which was after about 7 kilometers.

 

In this race I had my Salomon Wing Pro 2 break in but it was I that actually almost got broken as the shoes seemed not fitting well with my feet. When I purchased this pair I failed to follow the rule in purchasing trail running shoes to choose one size bigger. My toes were pressed hard against the toe box of the shoes and hurts every time my shoes hit on something, which happened all throughout the race. I was also struggling with the shoes’ traction as I find myself in several occasions almost slipping. I had no choice but to move slower and was probably not further away from the sweeper. I reached the river with lots of huge boulders strewn along the stream. I recall all of the sudden the ones I encountered at North Face 100 in Nuvali-Tagaytay-Batangas that had similar feature in the 20th kilometers. I had trekking poles then that help me kept my balance while stepping on the boulders. At TR25, I was falling into the water for stepping on loose rocks or slipping among those that were wet and had gone slippery. I ended up crawling on both my hands from one boulder to the next boulder like a spider. I was sure I wouldn’t be reaching the finish line before the cut off time with the rate I was going. But as soon as I reached the waterfall, which served as the U-turn I felt all of a sudden re-energized. At that time I just missed the all female group of runners of Chie whom I first met at Sagada Marathon and then next seen at Miyamit Falls 42. She was also at Batolusong last year but I didn’t saw her. Instead all attentions were focused on her friend Mariah whom everyone came to call her as Radar Babe after her photo taken at the Radar Station got posted at Facebook. Not long after I was able to catch up with Mariah who had fallen behind her friends. Together we climbed the steepest portion of the race that required the runners to use rope. This was not yet the summit. Tarak Ridge is actually listed as a major climb with a trail class of 3 and a 4/9 difficulty. Its summit lies at 1,130 MASL.

 

It turned out that Mariah had also ran out of water and therefore was asking each marshal we chance upon for some. But none could provide us. After we got our bag tag at the summit I went ahead of Mariah. As I was heading down at the other side of the summit, I noticed that there were even more excursionists than I saw earlier either on their way to the summit or were just coming down from it. Before places like Tarak Ridge were accessible only to Mountaineers now anyone was hitting summit after summit as tour operators began opening hiking tours to anyone interested to scale mountains without the benefit of undergoing Basic Mountaineering Course or joining Mountaineering Clubs. As a result just as in Pico De Loro, in Mt. Ulap and Pulag the trail were becoming worn out and damage. Seeing that I was being watched by some of the excursionists I tried to make an appearance that I am quite good at what I was doing. I tried to run downhill and managed to do it quite fast. It was good thing I did not made any misstep or I would have looked terribly bad. I saw one of the excursionists lugging along a cold bottle of coca cola. I wanted so bad to ask for a drink but pride prevented me I decided instead to just move on hoping at the campsite there would be marshal with hydration. Unfortunately I still encountered marshal that had nothing to give me. Out of desperation I finally asked a father and kids hiker for a couple of swig of their water. I then proceeded to run along passing by groups of hikers along the way. Initially I thought I would not anymore catch upon other runners but just after Papaya River I passed by about 4 runners resting. I was sure I had seen a couple ahead. The route going back soon became lonely as I could not see either excursionists or other runners ahead. In fact even the orange ribbon marking the route became sparse that I thought just as in Pico De Loro I got lost again. I had to double-check the path I had taken trying to see if I missed a marker. I was becoming worried because I was expecting at least some of the excursionists I passed by would have reached my location by now unless they have taken another route. I had forgotten about checking the ground for any sign of intervention. That was when I saw the stacked rocks which act as markers as well. I stacked up additional rocks on the previous path I had taken to make sure the other runners would see the markers as well.

 

I finally reached Aling Cording’s place and was drinking coconut juice when I was told that there were just 3 kilometers ahead I just might make it yet to the finish line before the cut off time. I almost forgot about the cut off. So I dashed away from the Aid Station and tried to run all the way. But I couldn’t of course but still I was making some time. Upon hitting concrete wall I was seeing again a couple of runners that I eventually overtook since they were walking. I finished the 25 kilometer run with a time of 8 hours and 36 minutes and was 3rd to the last who made it within cut off time. The last one was Mariah while 14 other finished beyond cut off time.

 

The next trail run event was the Braveheart DBB Uphill Challenge held February 12, 2017 at Brg. Pinugay, Baras, Rizal. The event which was organized by Rayman De los Angeles was supposedly for trail running newbie. The category I participated was the 11k. The raced started at Check Dam Sitio San Roque, which was already the foot of Susong Dalaga or Mt. Tagapo. Runners negotiated the concrete road that had already inaugurated the uphill. The road forked to a 3.5 kilometers trail. Around the 2.5 kilometers of the race was the first Aid Station that served hopia and bottled apple juice drink. Although I started slow I was abled to overtake lots of runners except for the one legged runner Renson in spite of almost running abreast with him at the uphill. The view of Talim Island was at my right side when I was nearing the U-turn portion. Then after the U-turn I race downhill before hitting the rolling portion which was part of the Mt. Batolusong Rockstar event of DBB I participated last year. This portion of the trail highlighted the view of the mountain locked Sierra Madre. From this point downhill ensued until the previous AS which now acts as the last AS. I did not realized it that I had almost already completed the race and on my way down to the last 3.5 kilometers to the finish line. I had already lost my steam but still managed to pursue the remaining kilometers quite decently. I don’t know the time of my finish and my rank for until the time I published this the result had not been posted.

 

The third trail event I joined was the MGM Mt. Sembrano Mountain Run that was held March 12, 2017 at Barangay Malaya, Pililia, Rizal. I was registered under the 15 km category whose gun start was at 6:00 am. The other category was the 32 km whose gun start was at 5:00 am. I thought that I was destined once again to miss this event due to series of unfortunate events. On the way to Pililia, Rizal the service shuttle whose driver was not familiar with the event venue took a wrong turn and was heading for Mabitac, Laguna. It was quite a while before the driver could be convinced to turn around and double back. We had already wasted a lot of time and the three passengers who were running in the 32 km category were quite worried that they would not make it in time for the gun start. Then the kid that a couple brought along the trip threw up inside the vehicle. The stench of the puke that pervaded inside the vehicle got my stomach almost turning as well. I wanted to forget about the race and just get off the vehicle to do LSD (long slow distance run) or walk to where ever we were suppose to be heading. I was guessing we were currently plying along the route that was used in the event Rizal to Laguna 50k Ultramarathon, which I had not yet tried before. However, I prevented myself from making another rash decision and stayed on the vehicle until we eventually found our way to the event venue with still enough time to prepare.

 

Then I learned that there was a gear check to be conducted which I was not aware of before the race because I did not read the posts from the event FB site. Without these gears runners would not be allowed to proceed. I thought I am done with the event for the day for not having brought along the gears required. For the 32km the gear included: whistle, trail food, headlamp, hydration vest with at least a liter of water and first aid kit. Thankfully for the 15 km runners the only requirements were hydration vest and a whistle. The whistle I managed to produce was courtesy of Mang Ruel the Mangyan Runner whom I met the previous week at the Corregidor Marathon. He happened to have a spare and gave me one. This whistle was eventually also borrowed from me by two other runners.

 

It only took me this year to join this event due to mostly conflict in schedule. I learned from those who ran in this event before that this event was a bit challenging even its lower distance category. The mere fact that there were many elite runners currently signed up in the 32k category of this event show that they were very much challenged to tame this route. I opted for the lower distance just so I can get a taste of summiting Mt. Sembrano, which I have not yet climbed before. Mt. Sembrano, which highest point the South Peak reached 745 meters is considered minor climb with a difficulty of 3/9. Yet according to the story I was told, in the previous event many elite runners like Bald Runner himself got lost along the trail.   Among those running in the 32km were Salomon’s Majo, Magina, the one-legged Renson, Mangyan Runner, Juden and Seannah Swift the two latter mentioned were more often runs on road race. While in the 15 km were Dhicky, Tatay Ceasar, Tatay Crispin, Jake who is gunning for a grand slam. Arel whom I kept on meeting in many of trail run event was not running this time and instead was acting as photographer of the event. Ria who I met at Sagada Marathon with Jake was not also running. There were a lot of newbies in the race who probably first started with the MGM Braveheart event and might not at all quite aware what to expect in this event.

 

The race started from the Barangay Hall of Malaya, Pililia, Rizal with a 5 kilometers uphill starting with a concrete road then transitioned to unpaved road then to a more steeper climb that had runners using all of their limbs to reach higher then as the summit nears the terrain changes into a cogon grass covered path. I brought along a trekking pole, which greatly helped me a lot deal with the uphill. Being a better experienced I managed to overtake a lot of the newbies who were still not used to climbing steep uphill. Upon reaching the end of the climb the view offered a way to forget how exhaustive the climb had been. From this location one could see the Laguna Lake and windmills of Bugarin in the east. I then took the rolling cogon covered ridge heading for the North Peak which was I think the 6th kilometer of the race before getting to the U-turn which I think was at the 8th kilometers. I tried to run faster but I find the cogon-covered path sometime slippery for my Salomon Wing Pro so I had to slow down especially on downhill. After the U-turn runners run back towards the North Peak in order to get to the higher South Peak. Along the way Active Pinas photographer and BDM 102 finisher, E.M. Soquensa made sure I got a better souvenir of this run with plenty of photo of me climbing up. After the summit with was a treacherous downhill along tree line and rocky path. I actually got myself stepping on a loose rock that got my right foot sprained but I still managed to run with it to the finish line. I ended up finishing 123 out of 333 with a time of 3:57:42.

Advertisements

Sharing My Manila To Sierra Story

I thought after the 117 kilometers Andres Bonifacio Day Ultramarathon (ABDUM) there is no more event worth taking notice about. I am thinking instead of filing a sort of yearend report on my running activities.  This is in spite of having still two more run events for me to go to before the year actually ends. However, one event, the Manila to Sierra 65 Kilometers Ultramarathon organized by Coach Roel Amabao-Ano had left quite an impression on those who participated in it including me and therefore deserved some attention.

 

The event happened last December 17, 2016 where it had its gun start in front of the triangular plaza of Manila City Hall at 11:00 pm. The event was participated by 125 solo runners and probably just a couple on the relay category. Among those familiar with me who attended this event were as follow: Robinson, Jaime, Noel and his fellow Team Cabalen; the couple Levi and Girlie who DNF in the event Ibtur under the 160k category where I last saw them; Marielle who ran 65K in ABDUM; Cross dressing Fabulous Running Diva Yssa and Fritz running with headdress on and with Frinze in barefoot; Jham who was co-organizer of the 1st Isla Catanduanes Ultramarathon (ICUM), which kind of made it difficult for me to hide from his invitation to take the 110 kilometer category of the second ICUM; Davao based Nars who recently ran in Penang Malaysia; Nancy who I last saw action in the run event Bohol Marathon; Anton another runner who had not ran in any event for a very long time; RDF, Rona, Peewee who all DNFed at ABDUM. However about a week ago, RDF and Peewee redeemed themselves with their 100+ kilometers finish at the event 24 Hour Crazy Run. I think there were a pair of Japanese participants and representatives of various running clubs such as Ayala Triad, P.I.G.S., Team Arunkada; and bunch of first timers in ultra marathon running.

 

Upon gun start runners took Taft Avenue north bound passing by the Bonifacio Monument designed by Ed Castrillo which I cannot help feel was a nod to ABDUM event done two weeks earlier. The route then took runners towards the direction of the Art Deco style building of Metropolitan Theater and Quezon Bridge. Thankfully Quezon Bridge had been undergoing some repair for quite some time now and thus prevented runners from experiencing the unimaginable stinks this important structure kept at the four covered portion of the bridge’s entrances and exits as these were turned into public latrine by street dwellers. The passing runners also perhaps interrupted the commerce of pack of young snatchers preying upon PUV passengers lulled by the slow moving traffic or cut off from the world with their smart phone’s headsets.  From the bridge one could gazed upon the brackish Pasig River that served as highway during the Spanish Colonial Period flowing below the bridge, while the skyline bannered a tired city cross pollinated with influences from various culture such as Islamic, Catholic and American.  As we reached the other end of the bridge I observed that in spite of the lateness in the evening, The District of Quiapo was still abuzz with people trying to catch a ride home now suddenly disrupted and curiously watching the passing runners. They were probably asking what sort of craziness was going on.  Crisscrossing runners who were trying to avoid bumping bystanders and vehicles headed for Recto Avenue. Upon reaching Isetann’s Department Store runners turned right to the formerly portion of Calle Azcarraga starting from Binondo terminating at Calle Alix now Legarda. Runners would be following the elevated tracks of the slithering LRT Line 2 until it runs out of track at Santolan Station. I read somewhere Recto the present day university belt was once home to various houses of ill-repute. We were running at the right side of the road following the flow of traffic which was against the usual practice of runners to run against the flow of traffic which usually at the left side of the road. We turned left upon reaching Mendiola. The statue of Don Chino Roces never cast a glance at us nor to those who tried to march towards Malacanang to express opinions, to decry or to petition something to whoever sits as President of the country for behind the statue is the street going towards Malacanang Palace. I entertained a thought wishing that particular street passing by Malacanang which exits at J.P. Laurel and into Ramon Magsaysay Boulevard should have been included in the race route.  Instead we followed Legarda heading for Arellano University and then the Flyover Bridge that will take us across to Ramon Magsaysay Boulevard. While running on top of the Flyover I can’t help feel that I am once again in the event, Condura Skyway Marathon. Unfortunately for this coming 2017 the organizers of Condura Skyway Marathon had already announced that there would be no Condura Skyway Marathon as the organizers wanted to assess the event’s success and find out how it could still be improve. The convenient store, 7-11 however, which had been holding run events at Skyway for the past two years after holding it at Cavitex will be the sole organizers that would still provide opportunity for people to experience running on top of the Skyway. Another thought that occurred to me while running on top of the flyover bridge was a dream to run in an event that will feature the busy streets of the city of Manila that would include San Nicolas, Binondo, Escolta, Sta. Cruz, Quiapo, Legarda, Santa Ana, Ermita.

 

Another runner who also ran and DNF at ABDUM was Elena probably already on her mid-fifties who hailed from Cavite. She spoke of her concern of getting lost along the way if she could not keep up with the other runners since she is not familiar with the streets of Manila.  I was initially keeping close watch of her as we ran but she seem to be doing fine and was in fact running a bit stronger that it was I who was having hard time catching up on her. I along with RDF, Rona, Alvin of Team Heroes Philippines and Elena’s husband who was doing a relay were occupying the last place and enjoying the privilege of last runners of being shadowed by a motorcycle riding marshal. Upon arriving at SM Sta. Mesa we took the foot bridge to get to the other side to Aurora Boulevard. I noticed that from Ramon Magsaysay Boulevard the road was actually slightly uphill already. The sidewalks after SM Sta. Mesa were also a bit darker and populated with sleeping homeless denizens of the city.  The first Aid Station was located at the 8th kilometers in front of Robinson Place’s Magnolia. At Cubao we once again climbed up a footbridge and upon getting off it we were heading for Katipunan. Along the way we chance upon Rose, one of the female runners who regularly run 100+ kilometers distance but now busy providing passing runners with water.  It was long pass midnight yet still more people were out on the street. I think this made it seemingly safer for us participants than when the streets were devoid of people which most likely will attract people with malicious intentions. After Katipunan we headed for Marcos Highway. At this point Elena’s husband was suffering from either cramps or some other issue with his legs. He was at the point he wanted to quit but his wife egg him on to keep going however slow it might take him.

 

We were soon running along another bridge with the view of SM Marikina. We were now in Marcos Highway or a portion of Marilaque which is short of Marikina-Rizal-Laguna-Quezon and referring to the 110 kilometers road traversing Marikina Valley, Antipolo, Rizal, Sierra Madre, Sta. Maria, Laguna until Infanta, Quezon.  In July 11, 2015 I joined the event, R2L2Q which utilized a portion of Marilaque in an 85 kilometers ultra marathon event. What was missing in that route was the Marikina portion which I was now passing through. The Cordillera based Team Malaya also attempted to have a 110 kilometers ultramarathon event that would covered the whole span of Marilaque but the event was shelved for either fewer participants or logistics issues. The next Aid Station was at the 16th kilometers near Sta. Lucia Mall. Manning the AS were volunteers from the running club Pinoy Aspiring Runners (PAR) with Elmar another runner who DNF at ABDUM welcoming us and Red Knight shooting photos of us. The AS had pizza among others which was timely because I was already famished. Although I mentioned that we were the last runners, that position was pretty much tenuous as the other runners would suddenly appeared from behind us when we took time to stop by or we were the one over taking those who were stopping by their support vehicles or convenient stores.  The next AS was at the 19th kilometer at Masinag, Antipolo City.  The footbridge we crossed finally had runners running at the left side of the road. At the top of the footbridge was Day Walker who also DNF at ABDUM but did the 24 hours Crazy Run successfully. He took our photographs by the bridge. Last 2015 I attempted to join the event, Sierra Madre Ultra marathon organized by Ariel Cortez.  Its race route started from Masinag and ended at Sierra Madre but after I registered I noticed that there were only about 10 of us running in that event. The previous year it had 15 which included Levi and Girlie. I did not anymore bothered to show up because at that time I was still quite bashful of ending up last with huge time disparity among the participants whom I suspected then were most likely elite runners. I did not know if that event pushed through for there was no race result published in the organizer’s website. At least in this event I would finally experience that route. Upon getting off the footbridge we stopped by at 7-11 Store to rest for awhile, while RDF bought something to eat. A couple of other runners were already resting there and having coffee. I felt the air was becoming colder. Soon talks among the runners resting turned to the topic about running shoes as one of the runners was wearing a Hoka brand shoes whose model was for trail running. He told us might as well wear trail running shoes since the pavements of the country were rough and uneven. RDF related how his Altra’s sole pealed itself off at earlier this year’s event, Mayon 360. While my Saucony ISO Triumph pealed its sole off at the 10th Tagaytay to Nasugbu Ultramarathon. These happened when the pairs being sold in the stores were actually older stocks according to the one wearing Hoka. When we returned to the road we encountered a steep uphill before it gradually leveled off.  From here on until the 35th kilometers the road had about 300 meters gain in elevation. Rona spoke to me about a possible cut off for those who will not make it at the 35th kilometers by 6:00 am which she heard mentioned at the starting area. This got me worried because earlier Rona mentioned that she was currently undertaking therapy for both of her legs which suffered some torn muscles. If I will pace along Rona I might not make it to that cut-off time. So, I began to speed up until only RDF was keeping up with me. The next Aid Station was found at the 25th kilometers along Cogeo public market area.  RDF and I then passed by a fork on the road the one on the left led to Pintong Bukawe, San Mateo, Rizal. The place which featured two huge stone tablets with the 10 commandment inscribed in it, was in the movie, Bike To Love starred by Solenn Heuseff. It was one of the places popular among trail bikers. Last July 2013 I ran in the event, Merrel Adventure Run. This event was the last trail run event Merrel organized. Recently, Soleus held a buddy trail run event there which RDF had participated. Along the way RDF mentioned of a beautiful church around the area of Boso-Boso which we found ourselves passing by. I was only familiar with the St. Joseph or Baras Church which was one of the oldest in Rizal since I had visited it once and Morong Church with its Pagoda style façade that I have not yet visited, but not Nuestra Senora de la Annunciata of Boso-Boso. Another church that I had not yet visited is the Saint Idefonsus de Toledo of Tanay which had been declared National Cultural Treasure my previous office the NCCA.

 

The Manila to Sierra route from start until finish line actually totaled only 60 kilometers that was why upon reaching the 35th kilometers runners were required to double back for another 2 kilometers and then return to the Aid Station at the previous 35th now 39th in order to augment for the missing distance. At about 5:45 am we reached the 35th kilometers. From here we learned that Alvin had quitted the race while Elena’s husband managed to reach the transition area and had his daughter continued with the next part of the relay. Rona also managed to make it at the 35th kilometers although there was no truth about the cut off established in that area. Rona found two new runners Angelo and Edmer to pace along her who were both first time ultra marathon runners.  At the Aid Station in the 42th kilometers we once again had Elmar and Red Knight manning the AS. At this point we noticed that a lot of motorcycles passing along were becoming frequent, larger in numbers and a lot noisier therefore quite annoying. They were seemingly heading the same way we were heading. From the 40th kilometers to the 45th kilometers the road elevation had about 200 meters loss. But from the 45th to the 50th aside from the gain in elevation of 500 meters the route became winding. At the 45th kilometers I left RDF who seemed bent on reaching the finish line uninjured while I favored trying to reach it in faster time. While assaulting the ascents the quieter bicyclists were also quietly enduring pedaling the uphill stretch. Occasionally I received “a thumbs up” from a few of them. RDF was hot on my heel along with another runner and was able to catch up while I was resting somewhere near Palo Alto. We then spotted one of the female PAR volunteer jogging along the uphill. When she passed by us she told us Seannah Swift another elite female ultramarathoner was doing her Long Slow Distance along the same route and the PAR volunteer was trying to catch up to her. Not long after, Elmar on motorbike also passed us by. Upon resuming our run I once again speeded up and left RDF. This time it was Elena and another female runner Rhaymond whom I overtook while they were looking for a spot to take a leak. Up ahead I also caught up with Noel who was thinking of quitting the race because his right foot was a bit swollen and in pain. He was wearing a pair of slippers. He told me he left his running shoes in one of the roadside store a few kilometers back but was not sure if he could still remember which if he tries to retrieve it back.  I gave him a pain reliever then I moved ahead. I reached a portion that had an uncanny resemblance of a place I saw in Batanes which lies beyond the Municipality of Uyugan.  The only thing missing there was the strong wind I encountered along with the view in Batanes. Then I chance upon a spot probably a food house with viewing area that showcase Laguna Bay. As I was admiring the spot I saw in a signage that the place was just the 47th kilometers. I fought hard the urge to swear but I couldn’t help myself.  I seemed to have travelled quite a lot already for the spot to be just the 47th.  At the next Aid Station however I was told that I was already at the 55th kilometers. Feeling relieved I cheerfully went on. At another eatery by the road I chance upon two Team Cabalen runners, Rendell and Charito who were eating. Rendell treated me to a small plate of pancit and soda. I told them that I saw Noel somewhere after the 50th kilometers and was about to quit the race. But ho and behold about a couple of hundred meters behind us assaulting the road was Noel who seem to have found a strength to stay on the race. When he reached us he told us that the swelling had lessened. The pain was more bearable too.  I gave him another pain reliever. Rendell told me I could go ahead for they plan on taking the last remaining 7 kilometer at a more relax pace. So, I left them. From the 55th kilometers to the 60th the elevation gain shot up to 600 meters. Rain began to pour down pretty hard that when I reached the Aid Station at the 65th kilometers there were runners sheltering in one of the store along the road. One of them was Fritz still wearing his headdress just as how I saw him take the ultramarathon in Tacloban City to Basey, Samar. I thought maybe they had already finished with the race and were just manning the Aid Station as volunteers. But Fritz told me they hadn’t reached the finish line yet. I left the AS with a thought that there might still be other runners ahead that I could catch up with. The weather seemed to have given way to a storm which I wasn’t aware of any coming. But with the current weather system occurring in the country this time of the year, it was no surprise if suddenly a strong typhoon could suddenly develop and ravage the country as it happened in the past years. With the last 5 kilometers left I was getting a bit impatient to get this race behind me. I tried to ran but I couldn’t sustain it long I had to resort once again to walking.  Then the rain relented a bit. The sun even took a brief peek before hiding behind the clouds again. By that time I already saw that the finish area was at Pranjetto Hill Resort and not in Tanay Adventure Camp. Entered a gate like it was the Pearly White one we all wanted to enter one day. It was finally over. I logged a finished time of 11 hours and 59 second and ranked 106th finisher. Since it had rain the photographers had all left the venue including Peewee who finished the race quite early on with a time of 9 hours and 41 minutes. RDF came a little bit with a time of 12 hours and 37 minutes while Rona finished the course with a time of 12 hours and 51 minutes.

 

The race course was not like what I encountered in TransCebu 55 in 2015 where almost the entirety of the course was made up of ascents but Manila to Sierra with those uphill at the second half of the course was still a formidable race. Many of those I spoke with after the race says they find M2S quite a challenging because many of them had not ran as many race courses as I did that featured other difficulties aside from ascents. To me the true challenge was more of the mental one. I think I am coming to the point I am beginning to understand that distance could be overcome with the proper training and mileage but when doubt and other mental issues seeped in that when one begins to crumble against distance. Two of my running acquaintances ran close to 100 kilometers prior to running another 100 plus kilometer before taking Manila to Sierra. Both still managed to come through M2S with Peewee even finishing with an impressive time. With this idea I am suddenly embolden to consider I could successfully finish more 100 plus kilometers in the following year, which after my run at ABDUM, I thought I would be shying away from.  Rain once again poured down after the race and almost posed as the more difficult part of running in this event. I thought I would have to spend another day in Tanay for I did not avail a shuttle service for this race.

 

Messing With The Maddening Muddy Mountain Trail of MGM’s DBB Mountain Rockstar Trail Run 2016

As Metro Manila residents was stricken with the Pokemon Go virus I managed to rebound from my tough loss at TCU 105 with a successful 42k finish at the 40th National Milo Marathon Manila Leg a week later July 31, 2016. Finishing with buzzer beater a minute before the 6 hours cut off time was not the PR I was hoping for which was at least 5:45 hours if not faster. But never the less it was a good finish since some of my running acquaintances did not made it within the cut off time. Somehow in spite of the absence of the tormenting heat of sunlight and the race route already a repeat of most of Rio Dela Cruz’s events, the race still turned out pretty much harder for many of the participants.

 

A week after Milo Marathon on August 8, 2016 I thought my luck would tap out on once again when I participated in the 25k category of MGM Production’s DBB Mountain Rockstar Trail Run 2016 held at San Andres, Tanay, Rizal. At several juncture of the race I contemplated of quitting. I blame myself for once again dipping my toes in Tanay, Rizal’s trail when I kind of swore I won’t run trail again in Tanay after my PIMCO’s Nature Trail Discovery Run days had ran its course and experienced enough painful campaigns on its various terrains at different clime. But somehow my want to find out what sort of race Rayman “Dabobong” Delos Angeles organizes got the better of me, luring me to take another plunge in Tanay. After all if trail running newbie like Albert and the barefooted runner Elmar was signing up for this event which promised experiencing “pain that one would comeback for again and again” there must be nothing that I should be worrying about.

 

On the eve of the race event I did not check the weather forecast which would have clued me in on what to expect at the race especially when the race organizer had specifically informed the participants through the event’s page to bring raincoat. Southwest monsoon had brought in torrential rain early in the evening but my mind was still pretty much stuck on the vision of a warm sunny Sunday which had continuously prevailed over the past weeks in spite of a supposedly rainy season. I was also full of myself thinking that since I probably ran before in some portion of the race route, I thought I could finish the race at most within close to 6 hours and be home in time to celebrate my Mom’s birthday with a dinner with the whole family. It only occurred to me that maybe I should think about not going through with the race when upon arriving at the race venue there was drizzle and I thought about mud. All of a sudden snippets of memories of my trail running experience at Timberland, San Mateo, Rizal came rushing back to haunt me. It was my second take of the event, Merrell Adventure Run this time in the 21k category in time for my birthday. Some time during the course of the rainy trail race both soles of my shoes gave way due to the heavy mud. It was my very first DNF in my beginning running career.

 

The current race started at 5:15 am the Ynares Multi-Purpose Covered Court of Barangay San Andres, Tanay which was the same starting area of some of the previous PIMCO’s trail event. I remember my first time there it was cold rainy May I was shivering and wondering then if I made a big mistake in coming. Flash forward to the present. I told myself, “I survive that one that is why I am here now”. Among those whom I knew who were participating the 25k category were Emerson, Elmar, Norma, Jerard, Jorge, Megina, and Joe whom I did not actually saw but posted being there. The latter two were also at Milo Marathon. The one legged Renson was also there to test his mettle and to put to shame those of us who at a certain point wanted to give up. Among the 118 participants of 50k category who had their gun start earlier as we were parking our service shuttles were, DM, Batanguena Runner, Rickyrunner, Jonel and Daryll. The route started out just fine. Since I wasn’t feeling any chest compression I was able to keep up with the group well enough that I was not worried being among the last runners. We were running along the MGM trail where initially grass and rock featured the rolling terrain. The combination of cold temperature brought about by rain and the heat my body was producing my running goggles from the outside began to fog out, which everyone who saw it make it a point to tell me about. I responded by saying that kind of explained the zero visibility I was experiencing which I told them I thought was attributed to the sea of cloud coming down along the path. This seemed to have broken the ice on that cold dreary morning. In reality I was just seeing fine in spite of the moisture outside my glasses. Our real problem came when we began hitting the uphill where the path was so muddy and severely trampled upon it became so slippery. Foothold could not be established one had to create new ones along the edges of the path where there were sparse of shrubs, bamboo shoot or roots available. But sometimes even stepping on these ones doesn’t work. One had to pull one’s weigh with the trunks of some of the trees along the path instead just to move forward. Our progress was severely hampered and slowed down while our stamina began to deplete with the effort. I thought I had already gathered distance but in truth about an hour took me to accomplished just 3 kilometers. I remember the muddy course of 3rd Cavinti Trail Run but the mud there were rather clumpy and sticking on your shoes. Sometimes your foot sinks deep in some portion but still if you could manage to avoid the softer areas you could move forward faster. We reached a portion that was more leveled and open grassland where one could see mountains at the backdrop. By the time I reached the first Aid Station at Mapatag Plateau which has an elevation of 645masl my heart sank that our progress had only brought us to as little as a couple of kilometer what could have already brought us farther if this were paved road. Our destination was Rangyas peak which was nestled around at an elevation of 780 masl. More bouts with mud and slippery path were encountered along the way especially in the area called Bohoan where there were lots of bamboo grooves growing.   Somewhere midway to our destination there was a gridlock of runners. Runners from the 12k had mistakenly followed the route of the 25k and when the mistake became apparent they were instructed to turn around towards their original detour. The runners from the 25k who were returning from Rangyas Peak had to wait for the 12k runners to make their turn about before they could resume with their trek. The slower runners from the 25k to which I was part of watched this commotion resolved itself before we could take our queue towards the direction of Rangyas Peak.

 

The route to Rangyas Peak kind of reminded me of the mossy forest I encountered at the trail event, Purgatory 30. Not that the current one had mossy forest, it was more of the dimly lit, cold wooded terrain that jolted the memories. Upon reaching a brightly lit opening I realized I already made it to the peak just as it was with Mt. Park at the end of the mossy forest. At the peak I saw Emerson who was about to go down already. He complained of cramps. I would soon over take him on my way down which kind of boosted my morale because Emerson with his previous training with trail should have been the much stronger runner than I am. However, he took a long hiatus from running and was just returning. He in fact DNF in the recent Milo Marathon. I actually first met him here at San Andres, Tanay along with another runner who was suffering an issue with his knee when the three of us participated in the first leg of the first Nature Trail Discovery Trail Run. Upon returning to the earlier Aid Station I believed the marshal there informed me that I just finished roughly 8.5 kilometers so far. If it weren’t for the downhill the weight of this news I might have thrown myself to the ground and tumbled all the way down to the next Aid Station located at Kay-ibon Falls.

 

The route to Kay-ibon was mostly downhill with lesser degree of slippery mud encountered. At the Aid Station there were 2 25k runner who already decided to retire from the race one was inquiring whether the leftward detour marked 12k would take him back to the start/finish area. The marshal was trying to convince him to continue still with the race but the runner had seem already made up his mind and told the marshal that even if he decided to continue he would not be able to make it within the cut off time. The other runner who was quitting was having a ball enjoying his fresh coconut while his lunch was being prepared. I suddenly got reminded of the time remaining before the cut off which was just 2 hours and I only covered a little more than 10.5 kilometers. I thought of joining the two runners more out of worry of being left behind by our shuttle service, which had advised us will leaves at 3:00 pm rather than the actual race cut off.

 

I eventually chose to take the route going to Mt. Susong Dalaga thinking I am in this race now more for sight-seeing rather than hopeful of making it to the finish line within the cut-off time. Several of the faster runner of the 25k where already heading back to the Kay-ibon Aid Station. We were not actually going up the Susong Dalaga which has an elevation of 780 masl, but rather was skirting around somewhere I thought to be the radar station that was being mentioned in the race route. Along the route a runner was sprawling along whom I thought was just resting. After the u-turn however, I passed by him once again still sitting. It turned out he got his leg injured and would be taken down later. Aside from some portion having slippery mud, the U-turn I passed by was no contest quite easier. I thought from here it was all downhill going towards the finish line. I could still make it to the finish line before cut-off after all. But then Emerson who emerged like phantom somewhere told me we were not out of the woods yet. The dreaded Radar Station was still ahead of us, I lost him somewhere after passing by another fork on the road when I attempted to urinate along the route. The 400 meter high mountain containing the Radar Station soon loomed like a Ziggurat in front of me and seemed so dauntingly high. I saw tiny colorful specks that turned out to be in runners in various levels of the mountain scaling it like the ancient Summerians. At the foot where an Aid Station was sitting I saw the single legged Renson who had just finished climbing the Radar Station having a drink of water. I soon took my place and started climbing the almost 90 degrees angled path. It was a lot easier actually climbing it than how it appeared first from below. Emerson was already heading down when I was nearing the summit. At the peak, Rutanginamo took photographs of those who made it on top and quickly brushed us off to go down immediately to avoid congesting the area. At this point 30 minutes remain before Cut-off. There were still actually a lot of other runners behind me including the more elderly Norma who told me was just simply enjoying the trail and probably the barefooted Elmar whom I haven’t seen whenever I come across the runners behind me after U-turns. I learn later from Cecile a shuttle service mate from Mindanao that he got injured and had also quitted the race. She herself quitted and was just waiting for pick up at the junction I earlier passed by before heading off to the Radar Station. The marshal at the junction directed me to the detour that led to the river strewn with different sizes of boulders. I caught up with Emerson eating. Before we left he sighed a prayer that the cut-off time be extended. We followed the river until the trail markers led us out of the river and into an area that had obviously been bulldozed. The mud here was thicker and when my foot sunk the mud threatened to suck off my shoes. We then pursued a route that used to be rocky path but now lying under mud. This path though was more forgiving and could be run with much less difficulty. At Duhatan Ridge, which has an elevation of 590 masl we caught up with Jorge and a lady company of his. This was the 19.6th kilometer of the race. Jorge seemed to be a little weak as he was just recovering from flu prior to the run. At this point I had no doubt I will finish this race whether within cut-off time or not. The marshal at the last AS was not telling us whether our effort was futile which was a good indication that cut-off time might indeed had been extended and all that was required of us was to reach the finish line. From there on there were no more surprises that awaited us. a few hundred meters to the finish line I saw my shuttle service still waiting for its occupants. I arrived at the finish line and was awarded with the wooden medal and other loots. I finished 195th out of the 235 participants. 12 did not finished in spite of the cut-off time had been waived. This was my baptism of fire at MGM Production’s event. I have tried to stay away from trail running but if I will be joining again just maybe I would find myself committing same mistake again of signing up with the other DBB offerings.

Jogging The Jagged Peak of Mt. Batulao

 

I will never look a Mt. Batulao the same way again every time I look at it on our annual college students’ retreat at Caleruega, Nasugbu, Batangas after running on it in the event, 2nd Conquer Jagged Peak: Mt. Batulao Nasugbu-Caleruega Reverse held June 19, 2016 although it wasn’t my first time to climb Mt. Batulao. I once accompanied the UST Mountaineering Club in one of its new batch members’ first climb. We hiked from the Tagaytay –Nasugbu highway after our alighting from the bus. Much of the details of our trek were already lost to me but I suspect we used the old trail leading to the campsite where we pitched our tents and from there we launched for a quick peek of the peak. Like all first timers in Mt. Batulao I got a surprised of my life then when I found at the summit vendors selling Mountain Dew cola. Participating in the 21k category of the 2nd Conquer Jagged Peak jogged only a few memories of my previous experience with Mt. Batulao and did not spoiled a bit the excitement of reacquainting myself with Mt. Batulao via new and longer path steep with breath taking view.

 

The event 2nd Conquer Jagged Peak organized by Conquer Absolute Mountaineer Club headed by Race Director Benedict Meneses attracted 176 participants in the 21k category while 63 participants in the 10k. Among those who were acquainted with me were RDF, Daryll and Jorge who were also present at TNF100; Tatay Caesar whose strength always put my running in shame, Joni of Team Heroes who usually tackles road; Norma whom I ran along with in Jonel Mendoza’s Sagada Circuit Marathon; Emerson whom I ran along with in some of the Run Mania’s ultra but now had decided to run only half marathon distances after incurring an injury; my Sagada Marathon buddies Ria, Sandy, Jake, Beverly; Marielle one of my shuttle van mate at the 10th T2N; Rod who had been running mostly road ultramarathons of BR and Rodelio Mendoza; and Leo an FB friend but only now did I got meet in person.

 

Our journey to jog the Jagged Peak began at 5:30 am upon given the gun start. We immediately forgotten the cold early morning breeze we initially cringed against as we depart the Kaylaway Elementary School and headed off to the trail. I was pacing with Ria and Sandy which was somewhere at the last 1/3 portion of the line of runners. My pacing was slow and guarded in order to warm my body up for the exertion and to avoid slipping or tripping which happens to me frequently every trail run events I participate on. I am also keeping watch for that tightness feeling in my chest that I lately noticed occurring on my runs since after National Geographic Run where I DNF. As we hit a downhill off road portion there was a built up of runners resulting from the congestion of runners. Soon the 10k category runners whose gun start was given 10 to 15 minutes after the 21k runners’ began to make their appearance overtaking those of us stuck on the queue. The trails of Sitio Batang led runners to Caleruega, which lies a little less than 4 kilometers. We emerged at the parking area of Caleruega and were soon tackling the uphill concrete road going out of Caleruega leading to the Aid Station 1. After a short refreshment of banana, water and rice cake we were directed to the trail leading to Sitio Aralisay. There was a moment where some of the runners ahead of us took a different path from the one we took and when they saw us they double back. Among those who took the different path was RDF. I waited for him to catch up. We reached the trail leading to Sitio Balabag. The 10 km runners bade the 21k adieu as they took the route to Sitio Patliw. RDF found himself complaining of stomach trouble and dizziness. While I felt little of that tightness in my chest area whose cause was probably my lack of warming up exercises before the run. I thought since this ailment seems just a recent occurrence to me maybe my age is finally catching up with me. But every time I see Tatay Caesar running strong something tells me my presumption about age is wrong. RDF and I finally reached the junction at Sitio Balabag where the Aid Station 2 at the 8th kilometers of the race was situated. RDF took this as a cue to relieve himself of his stomach trouble. Sandy and Ria passed us by followed by others. After some time without seeing other runners passing us while RDF still taking his sweet time relieving himself, it became apparent that we were the last couple of runners left. I try to thinks that since there were already a couple of runners returning from the U-turn and were passing by the Aid Station 2, the summit was probably close by and even with us lagging behind we could still finish the race way before lunchtime. I calculated that the remaining distance to the summit was roughly 3.5 to 4 kilometers. As soon as RDF was back on the race we were again hitting the road. This time I tried to move a bit faster until a gap began to form between RDF and I. I was thinking that he might have already recovered enough to catch up. I caught up with Sandy on the uphill leading to the campsites and number of peaks of Mt. Batulao. Along the way there were excursionists plying the trail. Many of them were pretty much obvious not a regular mountaineers. Proof that Mt. Batulao in spite of its being nestled at 811 MASL and had previous reports of climbers having died on the trail, Mt. Batulao is really climbable by any novice mountaineers.

 

One moment I was just looking up at the other runners that had reached other peaks feeling somehow disheartened of the imagined distance still had to take but after a couple of moment I’m already there now looking down at the ones behind me below while those ahead of me once again occupy another peak. I soon reached the Peak 12 where the event’s U-turn was located. I was given a bag tag but unlike in Pico De Loro 42 run event by Conquer there was no one from the organizers to take the participants’ photograph. I stayed at the summit only for a couple of minutes just to eat my provisions but as soon as Sandy was ready to leave we climbed down the peak quite eager to catch up the little stragglers ahead of us. I lost Sandy when she fell back after stopping by in one of the huts selling drinks while I surged ahead on the downhill trying to impress the excursionists who let me pass by. I reached the 15 km where Aid Station 2 was located. After the refreshments I headed to Sitio Patliw. Along the way I saw a straggler that turned out to be Emerson. After the Aid Station 4 kilometers after Balabag I finally caught up Emerson and then a little later Leo the financial analyst joined us. At around less than 2 kilometers left of the race while we were resting at a bridge another runner made an appearance. A marshal then told that two more uphill left to tackle before we could finally say we conquered this race. On the last uphill, which was a concrete one Leo and Emerson decided to take another rest. After the uphill I pulled ahead to finished the race with a time of 5 hours and 57 minutes 153rd out of 173 runners.

 

Mindanao Shoe-journ

Several years ago around 2001 I think, I came to Cagayan De Oro on an assignment from my previous employment whose detail I could not anymore recall. All I know I went to Bukidnon coming from Cagayan De Oro to witness Kaamulan Festival. The other time I was in Cagayan De Oro I made a side trip to Camiguin.  Anyway, as a result of some bad experience in Manila, I was always a bit apprehensive of taking a ride with unscrupulous taxi drivers  not sparing those operating at the airport terminal, that is why I always make it a point to walk from the airport terminal to anywhere outside the terminal where I can either take other public utility vehicles, or walk all the way to the city if manageable or flag a taxi cab that would not anymore be able to charge fare that seem to include purchasing a share of stocks of the airport terminal. My first time in CDO, I tried to walk from Lumbia Airport Terminal which lies on top of a hill along Masterson Avenue but after about more than half an hour of  walking and seeing only lines of trees and occasionally the overview of the lower portion of the hill, I finally relented and flagged a taxi. I saw then that I was still too far from the city proper which still lies below after crossing Cagayan River.

 

When I recently came back to Cagayan De Oro to participate at the run event, Pryce Gas International Marathon which happened December 13, 2015, I didn’t know that Cagayan De Oro has a new airport terminal located at Laguindingan, Misamis Oriental about 40 kilometers away from CDO’s city proper. When I took a cab from the terminal to my hotel at Pryce Plaza Hotel located along the old airport road or Masterson Avenue, my fare totaled P467.00. Imagine if I attempted to walk once again from the airport. I might have gone crazy turning up in the middle of nowhere in Misamis Oriental without an easy access to public transportation around to bail me out of my fetish.

 

With about 15 years apart from my early visit to Cagayan De Oro, the Pryce Gas International Marathon would have reoriented me with CDO’s city proper and perhaps reveal more of the place that I was not able to see before if the race route went full out and back starting from Pryce Memorial Garden near the former airport terminal in Lumbia. Instead, the race made used of two loops to complete the 42 kilometer distance for the marathon. In the previous year the route had taken runner as far as Opol a town nearer the new airport which showcased the view of the sea and beaches along the route. But with the current road repairs going on it was understandable that request for the use of that older race route was not permitted and thus the 2 loops.

 

From the starting line a 7 kilometer downhill along Masterson Avenue provided runners with enough momentum to propel them into a much faster running pace which will make up for the ones that might be taken by the uphill on the return trip to the finish line area. Aside from me, the 72 year old Master Vic Ting were the only runners from Manila in the 42k category while Lyndon Datu and Victor Urgel were the only two runners I know from Manila running in the 21k category. Of course there were the Kenyan runners about 8 of them all gunning for the 42k podium slots. Upon reaching the foot of the downhill, runners crossed the Carmen Bridge or Golden Mile Bridge and headed towards Rodelsa Circle turning left along Don Apolinar Velez Street. This portion was the introduction to the City. Among that could be espied along this route was the Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan which lies at the right side of the street near Bonifacio and Magsaysay Park. Rows of establishments like banks, fast food chain and hotels line this route. The previous day I went to Ayala Mall from the hotel. Although the distance was not that far the fare for taxi had me churning out a hundred bucks. I told myself I cannot spend this much on transportation fare every time I go out. So, on my way back I tried walking from Ayala Mall to my hotel. I did not break so much sweat in doing so even with the 500 meters uphill.  So, with taxi meter seemingly on a sprint pace my next concern was how to get to the airport without spewing P467.00.  I was even told that no taxi will ferry passenger on a meter basis other than on an automatic P800.00 fare? The answer lies at SM City Cagayan De Oro near my hotel. They have a van service at the transportation depot that take passengers to Laguindingan Airport for a fare of P199.00 per head otherwise I was told that at Limketkai Center there are “Magnum” maybe van also that ferries passengers the same as those at SM City.

 

On the downhill stretch I really packed some speed and was able to pass by some runners ahead of me but as soon as I hit the flatter road some of my steam got tapered. Pretty soon a lot of those runners I had overtaken were again gaining their lead from me until I was pretty much sure I was lagging behind most of everyone. This made me think that in the provinces there were fewer people joining run events as compare to Manila. But those who do join run events in the provinces were pretty much prepared for the races. They were stronger, faster and determine to establish respectable PRs than those many people who join run events in Manila and run in a leisurely pace and maybe out of joining a fad.

 

The next turn the runners took was a left turn near the Flyover which is part of the Iligan-Cagayan De Oro-Butuan Road and into Marcos Bridge. This portion of the route until the first 42k U-turn near the Renaissance Motel was very much similar to the Talisay portion of the route in Cebu City Marathon.  On my way back since it was still dark I did not paid much attention to the route and the only remarkable aspect of the route that registered to me was the uphill portion going to the 2nd U-turn for the 42k.  Remarkable in a sense that you can feel the uphill while the flatter portion came and went like a breeze.   On my way to the 2nd U-turn while crossing the Carmen Bridge, I came across my two other acquaintances running in the 21k category by this time the huge cluster of 42K Kenyan runners had already passed me by and so with the Filipino lead runners in the 21k. After crossing the 2nd U-turn for the 42k about less than 5 kilometers downhill awaits. Unlike the first time I was not able to pack some speed at the downhill. I noticed also that there were probably just 3 more other runners behind me on the way up to the U-turn. It was already bright with the sun was shining hot and brilliantly at the time I was again crossing Carmen Bridge. I thought I was really doing terribly for I could not see runners ahead of me. But as soon as I reached the city proper I gained sight of few stragglers. I hurried my pace and was soon slowly passing them by. I was full of delight.  By the time I hit beyond Marcos Bridge I was again gaining on some more runners. This kind of restored some confidence in me and even my strength seemed to get a second wind. After crossing the 3rd 42k U-turn, I saw that behind me were other runners just making for the U-turn. They were still quite a handful. As I was passing by near Don Gregorio Pelaez Sports Complex a religious song was being played in the background. Somehow I was touched by it and felt I was being fed with renewed spirit. So, I raised my right arm and slowly waved it in the air in the act of praising the Lord above.  My biggest coup of the day however, was when on my way to the final 7 kilometers uphill along Masterson Avenue I caught up with Master Vic who was pacing a lady and another runner. From thereon I ran close by Master Vic who was trying to establish a finish that is less than 5 hours and 45 minutes. Quite impressed by his feat, people taking the opposite lane of the road took photographs of Master Vic with their cellphone camera.  Running close by Master Vic might have provided me with an opportunity to have my photograph with Master Vic landing in some of the local newspaper or in someone else’s Facebook account. I ran close by Master Vic until were about a kilometer and a half away from the Finish Line when I started to pile up my pace and left Master Vic speaking with the race organizer who was then moving some race cone closer to the service side of the road to give way to the opening of the left side of the road to regular traffic. I finished 91st out of 122 participants with a time of 5:50:31.

 

The following week I was again flying to Mindanao. This time to Davao City to participate in the event, Punisher 50 a trail run event organized by Doi Calbes held in Sargeant Barracks Resort, Babak, Island Garden City of Samal, Davao Del Norte. I was registered at the 25k category. This time I was the lone participant from Manila. This was by far my farthest run event venue I had participated in. As in Cagayan De Oro, Davao City also has a new airport terminal. But at least this was nearer the destination I was heading for which was the Samal Ferry Terminal at Sasa. I took a barge that ferried across the bay not just people but also vehicles to the terminal at Kinawitnon, Samal Island. I was originally apprehensive about going to Davao City because at the moment I was flying to Davao a Tropical Depression named “Onyok” was passing by the Caraga Region. The race organizer posted at Facebook that rains were expected to fall during the event. I imagine the scene we had just before the suppose gun start time in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija at the height of the typhoon Lando. It did not help ease my apprehension my bringing along the book, Finding Lost: Season Six by Nikki Stafford, which is about the TV Series featuring the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 which crashed on a mysterious island.

 

Like in Cagayan De Oro, I first came to Davao before via some assignments from my former employment. Among them were my trips beginning in October 28, 2001 to Sibulan, Davao about 50 kilometers from the city where about 15 kilometers of which was done going up into the mountains and into one of the original settlement area of Tagabawa Bagobo. I was there to document the opening of a Bagobo School of Living Tradition. Then in 2002 I went to Kaimunan, Mati, Davao Oriental about 3 hours away from Davao City and in Sangab, Caraga, Davao Oriental an hour away from Mati, Davao Oriental right smack into a settlement caught in between NPA rebel and military conflict to witness the Kalindugan ng Sangab for Mandaya. In almost 13 years a lot of things had change in Davao City and my memory of the place seemed to have been washed away by the currents of years.

 

When I came out of the plane it was far from the stormy weather that I imagined Davao City would welcome me with. In fact it was more like summer there.  So, after depositing my things at Sgt. Barracks Resort at Babak, Garden Island City of Samal, I took off to see the city that I used to walk along at. However, I instead spent most of the time caught up in a slow paced traffic going around the city without me ever recognizing what I was seeing. Only on my way back to the Ferry Terminal did I saw some of the features that were familiar to me, like the Central Bank Building, Ayala Mall and Gaisano Mall. By the time I got back to Samal Island I was stressed out and was instead looking forward to the next day’s event which started with this evening’s race briefing done in Visayan language of course.

 

On the race day the weather turned a bit gloomy with light rain pelting since the evening.  The gun start for the 25k runners was reset to 5:40 am.  The previous day I initially feared that I might have made the mistake again of joining an event participated predominantly by seasoned trail runners and imagined myself eating most of their dust just as what happened in Akyathlon in Mt. Ugo. But upon arrival of my bunkmate Louie who originally hailed from Silay City but currently working for 5 years now in Davao City, I learned that this race was his second trail run event with his R.O.X. Mapawa Trail Run held in General Santos as his first. In that event he got DNF after running about 18 kilometers in the 22k category. I took this with a grain of salt for he might just be doing a reverse of bragging. Even I resort sometime to sandbagging my capabilities so that I do not reveal so much of what I am capable. According to what I could make out of the briefing. For the 25k we have 7 hours to complete the route before being considered DNF. The route was paved with orange ribbons indicating the route to take while the yellow caution tape signifies, “do not go this way”. However, upon gun start at the onset of the race finding the ribbon had already presented itself as a problem especially at the time of our release the surrounding was still not very much well lighted.  Runners smartly were trying to keep up closely with each other so that they would not get lost along the way while allowing the lead runners to figure out the path to take. By this time the rain had already halted. But the rain had already made our path both muddied and pocked with pooled brown water. After I got acclimated I soon picked up my pace and began overtaking some runners. Before I knew it upon hitting an uphill overlooking the sea, I saw I was 9th overall and was even about to overtake four more runners. But soon the other four lead runners found themselves getting lost.  Shortly, I joined them in trying to figure out where the next route. Soon most of the runners behind us caught up with us. So, when finally someone figured out the right route and everyone else resumed running, I ended up at the tail end of the queue for having to leave the area last. After the Aids Station at the 6th kilometer of the race the gaps among the runners gape wide open. I soon was running along a group who found ourselves again getting lost. It turned out we exited at a wrong side of the trail and into the concrete road. A timely passing of motorcycle riding marshal pointed out to us the right track which we soon got back on and negotiated. I then lagged further behind the couple Theo and Melanie which I was following due to almost twisting my ankle at one point. By the time I tried to catch up I could no longer determine the path they took. I was alone by myself figuring out where the orange ribbons where located. I soon found myself again getting lost. I ended up exiting in one of the concrete road near a building that resembles a local government hall. I asked around if runners had passed by this way but I could not understand Visayan. However, I was pointed at a stationary ambulance where Doi and another marshal was standing by and waving at me. I ran towards them and was directed to the path the other runners had taken.

 

The whole route even the occasional uphill was actually manageable in terms of technicality. This made me wonder if the 50k category of this race was achievable for me without getting caught by the cut off time if ever I return along with my other running acquaintances next year.  By the time I was about a kilometer away from the 25k U-turn at Hagimit Falls the other runners were already returning from it. But I noticed there were fewer of them I came across with. At the U-turn I caught up with Theo and Melanie who were getting ready to leave the Aid Station another runner who was nursing his legs had decided to quit the race. While another one just arrived who seem also was contemplating on quitting the race. Just as I was about to leave three more runners appeared. They were from the Panabo Runners Club and one of the original lead runners was their companion. I knew they were originally ahead of the group I was running along with. In fact the two ladies from this Panabo Runners Club were the leading female runners of the 25k category. However, they told me they got lost and ended up running near the shoreline. Now the new leading female runners were the two women in the group I was originally running along with before I fell far behind them and couldn’t catch up until the Hagimit Fall U-turn. But they’ve been gone long when the Panabo Running Club arrived.  To avoid getting lost again I decided on the way back I will run along with Panabo Running Club. The other runner, Prince who almost quit was also encouraged to join our pack. On our way back after about 2 kilometers from the U-turn we encountered another group of runners just trying to make it to the U-turn. Louie was among them including the American but now Davao based David Cooper whose running club membership he listed was with the Team Titan Davao. They also got lost along the way.  The trip back was not really much of a big event. We walk the most part and running only around the last 3-4 kilometers of the race. Along the way I was able to overtake about three more runners. I finished the race 18th out of the 28 who participated with a time of 5:02:13 much longer than my last Salomon X-trail finish of 4:50 at 24k category. I could have gone much faster if I hadn’t gotten myself lost and probably if I pushed myself further to run.  When I left Samal Island after I had gotten my free lunch meal I wondered if Davao would be my farthest in Mindanao. 2016 held a lot of promises. There are still run events I wanted to conquer that entails longer distance. Will this get in the way over my desire to try to run in places that require me to fly long distance? I feel I am just stretching my muscles. I am just beginning to warm up. Maybe it is not far-fetch that the following year will usher for me international venue for my next runs.

 

 

 

 

Pushing Pass Pinatubo

 

Since my failure to conquer Tarayem Sasangasot 100 last September some of my earlier laid out plans didn’t fell through as expected. When typhoon Lando made a landfall in Aurora Province on the day we were suppose to run in the event, 5th Fort Magsaysay to Dingalan 65k Ultramarathon last October 18, 2015, typhoon signal number 4 was raised all over Nueva Ecija and Aurora provinces the very venue of our ultramarathon event. Wind was howling while rain on the time of the gun start was raging as if hell itself had broken out. Rarely done, Bald Runner, the Race Director had to cancel the event an hour after the supposedly gun start. The delay was due to the hope that by some miracle the typhoon would abate and make it possible for the event to push through. While I was eager to test my mettle with the new race route deep inside I fear we were facing the risked of being chased and eventually restrained by the very military personnel occupying the Fort itself we were to be launched to prevent us from becoming typhoon casualties which the province was trying to avoid. My other fear was being caught by media covering the typhoon and be seen by TV audience as bunch of running wackos and would only earn the ire of the people and authorities seeing us braving the typhoon instead of the admiration for the dedication to the sport. When I got home news of floods hitting the province of Nueva Ecija and other devastations in the nearby province of Aurora flashes the television screen. It sent shivers all over me similar with how I felt when I escaped falling over a ravine in one of my trail run after tripping over an exposed rock.

 

Following the aftermath of the typhoon, another race event in Nueva Ecija, the 1st Cabanatuan 360 Ultramarathon organized by Prince Multi Sport Event happening on November 22, 2015 faced uncertainty. When I inquired whether this event would still push through for I noticed the absence of promotion recently by the organizer, which to me was a sign that the event was facing a possible postponement. The organizer’s response was not reassuring when I finally received answer to my query. So, I opted to quickly register in another event happening in November 21, which was the Subic International Legacy Marathon. Thus ensuring that for this year I would not be seeing Nueva Ecija being added to my list of provinces I had ran in north of Luzon.

 

Another event I thought I would miss was the 6th Mt. Pinatubo 50k Trail Ultramarathon happening on November 8, 2015. The reason was that I had a nasty cough bugging me for about a week and I had not been doing practice runs on weekdays. However, I had no plan of sitting this one out and wondering if I could run again in Mt. Pinatubo without hitch later. This was in spite of the fact that this Mt. Pinatubo 50k Trail Ultramarathon was organized by Bald Runner, a sure guaranty that this event was no push over kind of event.

 

Returning to commuting in getting to the race event after having opted several times for paid shuttle services, I felt I was returning to my earlier running tradition of going to run events all by myself without any idea who I will meet and how I will fare in the event. Taking the Genesis Bus bound for Tarlac whose terminal in Recto Avenue is just a 10 minutes walk from my residence I arrived in Capas around 1:30 am. I breakfasted at Mc Donald’s and afterwards took one of the tricycle bound for Sta. Juliana about 24 kilometers away with a fare of P350.00. At around 2:00 am I was the first runner among the 34 participants (of which 2 had arrived later after we had left the starting arch) to get my race bib. After fixing my running gears I had a short shuteye. Later I heard the voice of a running acquaintance and saw another whom I recently met in the postponed run event 5th Fort Magsaysay to Dingalan 65k Ultramarathon. I had an arrangement with the latter to share gas fare for a ride back to Manila along with two other runners. At promptly 5:00 am the gun start was given. Darkness still cloaked most of our surrounding and with no map of the trail we were taking nor markers to be expected along the route, the runners tried to run closer to one another to avoid getting lost along the way. Bald Runner instructed the runners with the enigmatic, “keep heading south and stay on the left side”, and in case of doubt follow the river whose water originated from the crater of Mt. Pinatubo itself. Most of the runners ahead of me (and I think, those who sanely join BR’s run events) were seasoned runners with some having ran at least the Bataan Death March 102k and 160k series. A few had recently conquered West Coast 200K Ultramarathon. There were 3 foreign runners that I assumed was not in this event to simply sightsee the Mt. Pinatubo crater but to conquer the brutal challenge and compare it to what they have came across with in their respective origins. The runners ahead of me soon packed speed and distance until I could no longer see the flicker of their headlamps. Thankfully there was still someone in front of me close by to keep me on track. I was quite sure there were just a couple of us runners lagging behind everyone else.

 

Daylight finally trickled in and ushered a vista that was quite bleak yet breath taking at the same time. The huge expanse of land we were running at was mainly covered with Lahar sand, which originated from the bowels of Mt. Pinatubo, which it spewed in 1991. There were shallow tributaries of the river flowing from the Mt. Pinatubo crater heading towards the direction where we came from. Some portions of my footpath were either too sandy that my feet sank while there were portions where the ground was soft because it was wet. Our bearing was always to head straight where the tiny dot of a runner way ahead was last seen. Other than that just keep heading where soon the 4×4 vehicles taking tourists were making a v-line.

 

The first Aid Station was at the 9th kilometer. I re-hydrate and took in some solid food. A couple running behind me took this chance to take the lead from me. They were occasionally looking behind them and beyond me. They were probably looking for their other companions. Other than that I expected that I was the last runner. I was struggling to run faster. From this AS the path to Mt. Pinatubo seemed to open up even wider. Soon I was crossing path with some of the 4×4 vehicles and saw the tourists boarding them were eyeing me like I was Bear Gryll, Cod Landin or Ed Stafford from the Discovery Channel Survival series. There were occasions the best path to take were those farther away from the tracks of the 4×4 vehicles were taking since they sometime took a more roundabout route than the route I chose which was simply to tread straight ahead. There was this occasion I thought I was nearing the area were the farthest the transportations can bring tourists was located. But it turned out their vehicle stopped because some of the passengers were simply taking photographs of the environment and was soon wheeling off again disappeared among the many snaking bends. I tried to keep up this time walking against a much bigger flowing river.

 

Way back in 1998 I went on a Mt. Pinatubo trek trip organized by the Department of Tourism. Back then the 4×4 vehicles park much farther away than it does now. We had to trek for about 2 hours going to the crater and another 2 back. Now it only takes about 30 to 45 minutes for tourists to reach the crater from the area the 4×4 vehicles were parked to wait for the tourist.

 

Since I had no idea of the track taken by the other runners ahead of me I sometime took the ones where it was much more precarious. I ended up traipsing along areas with a lot of huge boulders, sometimes soft and crevices pocked grounds near a river and elevated portions of the ground that completely hid the 4×4 vehicle passing by the opposite side of the path I was taking. The situation were much different on the way back were I could follow the shoe tracks of the runners ahead of me which led me to the other path they did passed by earlier. One of my apprehensions about Mt. Pinatubo was the temperature. Thankfully, in spite of the sun shining high the taller ridges cast shadows that kept me in shade in most of my travel.

 

The next Aid Station was at the 19th kilometers. As I was leaving this station the first runner returning from the U-turn came to view. I noticed he was not wearing anything that could contain hydration and other stuff that would hamper his run. The time was just little over 9:30 am – a lot of time still before the 11:30 am cut-off at the crater. But I felt I need to run faster because the 5 to 6 kilometers to the U-turn might take me even longer time since this was supposedly the uphill portion of the race. At this junction, I was already trekking along with other tourists who had arrived earlier with their 4×4 vehicles and were now hiking along with their hired guides. I still had no idea if the trail that I was taking were the correct ones I just make up my path as I go along the way whenever there were no tourists trekkers to show the way. More of the runners ahead me were now coming back from the U-turn. The path to the crater proved to be easier than what I had experience in Batad and Sagada trail runs. I soon reached the tourist view deck overlooking the crater below but this was not yet the U-turn. I was directed to go down the crater via series of staircases reminiscence of the ones in Batad and Sagada. Upon reaching the lake I had my photo taken with the lake and the inside portion of the rim of the crater at the background. One of the runners was having a good bath at the water of Mt. Pinatubo, which I had hoped I would indulge myself in also just as I did in the cold spring in Hungduan. But aware that I was slow to run the course I decided not to linger longer along the lake and hit the long staircase leading up again.   I thank again my stars for not making the staircase as challenging as those of Batad and Sagada’s. I reached the camp along the rim of the crater and rested for a moment to gather myself.

 

The return trip was supposedly much easier because by this time I could follow the path taken by other runners and also I felt much more energized than when I was still at the earlier stage of the race. But this time the sun was much higher and I could no longer hide behind the shadows of the ridges. I quickly consumed much of my hydration and that the AS became important stops for me. The AS 5 kilometers from the crater provided me with the much needed refilled of hydration and solid food. For me the most difficult moment I encountered in this race was the last 20 kilometers. Left on my own I resumed my trek by getting in the middle of the wide expanse of land always heading straight following the river. Wading along the shallow water, my shoes kept on filling up with sands so I had to remove the sand several times. Walking along the water was kind of soothing to my feet though that was why I kept it up for a while. The wind had also picked up and there were areas where whirlwind forming. I arrived in an area I thought was already the 40th kilometer. Two soldiers were manning the area. There were no hydration refill and instead I was asked if I still wanted to go on with the race. I said I wanted to for I have already pass way ahead of time the cut off time at 11:30 am at the crater. I thought I only had 10 more kilometers to go on with still 3 hours to spare. After passing this area I kind of got disoriented. Maybe the sun was getting on me. Perhaps probably my disappointment of not having a cold drink of matter or electrolyte drink, what simply occur was that I could not anymore recognized where I was, where I am heading. Nothing seems familiar. The temperature was pretty much high and then all of a sudden I heard loud explosions behind me. Somebody was bombing something. I was far from where the explosion was coming from therefore I did not worry that I might be hit with something. But it was surreal that I was in the middle of nowhere and there were explosions going on. I was hoping that the path I was taking would led up towards the finish line by this time if my assumption was correct that the last manned station I came from was the 40th kilometer. Instead I ended up nowhere near getting close to possible exit from the wasteland. Then I saw two tricycles speeding from the opposite direction. I tried to flag one but it just passed me by. The second one slowed down. I ask if I were still heading towards Sta. Juliana. I was told affirmatively. Soon I saw a vehicle parked along the bend. To my further disappointment this was just the 39th kilometer. I refilled my hydration bottle. A 4×4 vehicle stopped by carrying some of the race marshals. I learned that there were still three more runners behind me. I checked my watch and it says time was already winding down. I moved on this time I saw familiar portion of the race. But I felt I was already spent. This last 10 kilometers of the race was equally hard because after I came out of the familiar track I was again lost. I couldn’t see any tracks of the other runners. I don’t know where to head to without it. I was just relying on the tracks of the 4×4 vehicles but I was not sure if it was the same path that would take me to the finish area. I could not see where I will get off the Lahar dune. I remember that BR mentioned about new building of the military and tower, which I was seeing in front of me but I can’t see where to get off the Lahar area and into the solid land were people and normal vehicle ply. I followed the 4×4 vehicle track it led me to the national road but I was told this was not the right way so I went back to the trail. I walked until I saw another bend that led back to the town. With almost nearing the cut off time, upon reaching the first sari-sari store along the road I tried to buy me a soda but no one was manning the store. I went back to the road. Farther ahead I saw the school where our vehicle was parked and the finish arch above the road. I ran towards it even if I had so little to give. I ran until I was hearing the clanging of bell announcing or maybe welcoming my arrival. Before I knew it I was already standing under the finish arch being congratulated by BR himself. I finished with a time of 11 hours and 19 minutes ranking 31st from 34 runners. One more runner made it to the finish line before the cut off time. I could not properly thank the people who welcomed and waited for me at the finish arch. I was so overwhelmed with the experience. But I know that this was not yet my last bout of BR’s race for the week after I was again in one of his event which was equally challenging.

 

 

 

Epic Peeking of Pico De Loro Via Bonifacio Trail

For the running community and running enthusiasts March 15, 2015 was a rather busy Sunday. There were running events happening in a lot of places. Most of my running acquaintances were in one of these events. There was the run event held on top of the skyway ala Condura Run with 7-11 1500 Run, a marathon and half marathon in the historic island fortress of Corregidor with the Corregidor International Marathon and Corregidor International Half Marathon, a fun run in Pagsanjan with Run for Sagwan, trail running events in Nueva Ecija via Amokan Trail Run Leg 2 and the PDL 42 in Maragondon, Cavite to which I participated at.

I picked to peek the peak of Pico De Loro because I haven’t climbed it yet although the Salomon X-trail Run mentioned Pico de Loro. Conquer Outdoor Equipment backed PDL 42 was all about the one (Peak 1) near the monolith (Peak 2) in Mt. Palay-Palay under the Mataas na Gulod National Park. PDL 42 or Pico De Loro 42 was my first run event under the Race Director, Benedict Meneses franchise, who brought earlier another mountain trail run in Tarak, Mariveles, Bataan. Another lure that this event offered was the historic component, which featured the National Cultural Treasure declared Maragondon Church, Bonifacio Trial House and Bonifacio’s execution site, which now stand as a shrine.

The race was participated by 83 runners in the 42k and around 50 others in the 10k category. There were runners who just recently ran in the 102K Bataan Death March Ultra who chose this race as their recovery run like Arianne. During the race bib distribution there was a checking of mandatory gears composing of head lamp, cellular phone with the number of the race director in it, trail food, first aid kit, whistle and a hydration pack that could contain at least up to 1.5 liters. I totally missed reading this part of the instruction in the event detail sent online and had to hastily source some of the mandatory gears for presentation. At 4:00 am we were given our gun start. All the while I was thinking that the gun start was at 6:00 am and I only brought my headlamp so that I could light up my things while preparing for the race. Although the road heading to Maragondon Church then to the Bonifacio Trial House had lampposts along the road, individual headlamp was indeed needed so that runners could see the road and avoid tripping over the uneven portion of the road. At Barangay Poblacion 3 Caingin, runners crossed a hanging bridge that led them to the Bonifacio Trail, which was part rice field but under the din of the evening this could not be discern. The trail was dark that had many runners were getting lost figuring out where the blinking race markers were located. At this point I caught up with runners Mang Pong Narciso, Bibot Quillan and Edgar Vassayllaje who chose to tread the trail slowly and carefully to avoid stumbling down and getting injured. Mang Pong was one of the most senior of the participants who is a common friend to both Master Vic and Joseph Prince.

At the 6th kilometer exiting the forested area was concrete road and Aid Station 1. From there we found the road going to Barangay Pinagsanhan then to Cavite Provincial Quarry passing along the road heading to Ternate, Cavite. The former dark sky had given way to the light of day. The road was dusty and pebbly. I soon found myself straggling behind the group of Mang Pong who had picked up speed running the uphill and all. At about the 14th kilometers Aid Station 2 awaits the runners. I drank cola and swallowed my Saltstick capsule. Some sweets were also offered. After this point, some downhill on the road offered me a chance to race ahead, passing and leaving behind the BDM finisher Arianne but I could not anymore catch up with Mang Pong’s company. At the 18th kilometers was a fork on the road with a marshal directing runners to take the right portion of the fork going towards the first u-turn and checkpoint of the race. It only took runners about a kilometer to get to the marshal who was distributing rubber tags. On my return trip I caught up with Ricky Francisco. Together we returned to the earlier fork on the road and took the left side of the fork. After about 3 kilometers we hit Aid Station 3, which was also the former base camp going to the summit of Mt. Palay-Palay. Natural spring water was the main source of hydration. Since this was inhabited there were stores selling sodas. From here the trail led to series of streams currently dry. There was actually a detour that would take one to the falls but this was not part of the race route. Mt. Palay-Palay base camp is just about 3 kilometers away but the path contains the most difficult elevated portions of the race. However, having run in other trail run events before such as TNF, Salomon and NDTR, the uphill climb to Mt. Palay-Palay was much easier for me. There were other climbers also heading the summit, which were not at all regular mountaineers, which to me says that the trail was not that totally difficult. Upon reaching Pico De Loro camping area, which was filled with campers, our task was not yet finish. Our U-turn actually was at the summit of Peak 1 overlooking the monolith Peak 2 where a bag tag was to be handed to runners. But in order to get there we had to climb a much steeper inclined and powdery slope of the mountain made more difficult because there were excursionists climbing on it. But once you managed to reach the summit the view was simply breathtaking.

Mt. Pico De Loro (Parrot’s Peak) is actually a dormant volcano that stood at 664 MASL. It was much lower than the ones I climbed in Benguet and could easily be hiked from Ternate by anyone. That was why the summit was filled with people when I reached it and upon looking at the lower portion further away from the crowded base camp there a lot of tents strewn as if the whole people of Manila had decided to camp at Pico De Loro to escape the humdrum of the city. After the photo ops, being handed my bag tag and a brief rest, I scaled down the slope and forego my chance to have halo halo at Mang Rey’s Place. I left behind Ricky who waited for Arianne to have photo ops with her. On the way down the trail I was initially doing fine retracing the path in spite of the absence of race markers. However, upon reaching one of the dried streams I made a wrong turn towards the stream instead of crossing it to the other side. By the time I realized I made the wrong turn I must have covered quite a distance already. This was when my not bringing along a whistle came to haunt me. So, I relied on the built in whistle of my hydration pack, which was actually a strap with a hole that one could blew with. But the sound it emitted was not loud enough to be heard across the forest. I took out my cellular phone to send text message to the race director about my situation but there was no signal. I went on to blow my whistle hoping against hope somehow its pitch could be audible enough to be discerned. But no one was responding back. I could not retrace my steps because I lost count how far I was walking along the stream’s bed. I decided to climb out of the bank and wade across the line of trees. Then further ahead behind the regular pattern lines of still young and thin barks of trees, bathe against the light, I saw movement that had a regular gait in it. I knew it was one of the runners passing along. I shouted at it, I told the unidentified silhouette who was partially covered by trees that I was lost. He stopped and responded back. I ran towards the figure, running through the tangling vines and vanguards of trees until I could see the trail beyond the canopy. I broke out of the clutches of trees caging me and saw that it was Ricky who was standing at the path. He told me he was actually trying to catch up with me. Relieved of my rescue, we went on with the race homeward as if we just simply took a rest.

At last we were back at Aid Station 3. I retracted by earlier text message about my getting lost but it seems that there was no signal there too and therefore the marshals there were not yet told of my text message to the Race Director. In fact, my message might not yet even sent yet probably. After getting my hydration bottle refilled and eaten some nourishments, we went on with the race. At about a couple more kilometers we were again at the formerly fork road we came across with on the way up to Aid Station 3. We made another trip to the other marshal one kilometer away for a U-turn after being handed down with another tag. After this path the descent to the quarry begins. At this point my feet were hurting and I was really beginning to feel exhausted. When we arrived at the 2nd Aid Station we were told that hydration had been depleted already. I reckoned that there were just about 12 kilometers left before completing this race therefore I can hold on just a little bit more. When we reached the quarry, it was like we were transported to a desert. The sun was streaking hot, there was wind blowing dust sand sands particles in the air. The ground was covered in the surface with fine grain of sand. I don’t exactly know how I came to have my hydration pack close to depletion so quickly, when on my way up to the summit earlier, I hardly touched my hydration. So, I went to the shelter I saw along the way that I thought to be a public eatery. I wanted to purchase soda. But upon arriving there I was told they were not selling any soda. I could have a drink of water though from their container. After the drink, I rejoined Ricky. We ran until finally the trail gave way to concrete road. Then the marshal waiting there directed us to enter another trail that ran across a field and into a tunnel like path that led to the river. The river gave me a chance to moist my cap and doused myself with it. Then we crossed a bridge until we reached the path to the Bonifacio Shrine Aid Station 1 awaits us. My exhaustion was actually slowing me down. I wanted to rest more but we could not for we were wary that we might not make it to the 12 hours cut off time. In the Cordillera Series of Team Malaya, my 42k finish averaged about 12 hours. At the Bonifacio Shrine, I thought it was just a simply circuit run but it turn out there was still one more uphill climb to top of the mountain where again a marshal waited for us. After this u-turn we completed the run around the shrine and back to the Aid Station 1. We asked how much longer before the finish line. But there was a mixed reply ranging from 6 kilometers to as little as a couple more kilometers. So, we pushed on putting aside any thought of the remaining distance. We retraced our path back to the river then to the field. Then finally we were coming into a more populated area. We were already seeing in the distance the tower of the church. Soon we were again crossing a hanging bridge and spilling out a street that carries a directional marker leading to the town’s municipal hall. Finally we were circling the plaza and into the entrance of the covered basketball court that served as the race event venue. I arrived with a time of 10 hours and 46 minutes. Ranking 78 out of 83 runners. Another mountain conquered another milestone carved. I was hoping this would somehow help my performance when I make my revenge run at Salomon Xtrail Run, which had continuously denied me of my finisher medal for two years in a row.