I was prepared to run the Merrell Adventure Race weeks before the event but the heavy downpour at midnight before the race made me think twice. I was on a provincial trip when Xty phoned me regarding the last days of registration and it was her who registered myself for the race. In order not to put everything I prepared for this race into waste, I obliged on the sound of my alarm, prepared my things and made myself to the race. It was still drizzling when I left home as I drove alone towards the venue in Timberland. I arrived an hour before the gun start and dilly-dallied on claiming my race packet. Hundreds of runners were slowly congregating at the venue and more were arriving in droves.
Shortly before daybreak, 21km runners were fired-off, and we were sent scampering to the trails. The first 500 meters of rough road was wide enough to accommodate several runners running side by side but only until the trail head. Inside the trail was just a single track and runners were relegated to running in single file, most of them run slowly so as to avoid falling down. Although the weather on that morning was fine with overcast skies and foggy surroundings, the rain the night before made the track muddy wet and even more slippery.
|Me after hurdling one of the obstacles. |
Photo courtesy of Thumbie Remigio.
The 21km route was a two loop course, sharing it with the 10km and 5km runners. Imagine if 2,000 runners ran the same muddy trail course, the result is a disaster. I was still ecstatic when I ran the first 7 to 8 kilometer because the trail route was somewhat unused since there were just about 20 or more runners ahead of me. There were two man-made obstacle courses along the route. But the river crossings, steep incline and decline was the most arduous task to accomplish. As I entered the trailhead going to my second loop, I came toe to toe with the 5km runners which made it difficult to progress on my pace that resulted to my slowing down. It was so tiring to trail behind some of the people infront of me blocking the way, runners in groups, runners crawling and grasping on whatever is beside the trail so as to avoid falling down. There's even a mother and son tandem who carefully walked hand in hand, a scene I witnessed where the mother protected her precious child. I just contented myself by following them so as to avoid any complications and just overtook them one by one whenever there's a clearing. After a long while I was back on my own going into my second loop.
I did the first stretch of the second loop mostly by myself until the river crossing. Muds were all over my kicks and some entered even my trail socks. My shoes were muddy all over that I can't raise my stride in some portion. In one of the many sharp turns at the switchback I lost my footing and boom, I slid on my right side and came gliding downward into the trail. Luckily my elbow supported my fall and was good enough to continue my run, tough guy eh! It was in the evening when I felt the discomfort in my back that I suspected it to be a bruised rib. At the river, I had another mishap wherein I accidentally slip on one of the slippery rocks and jarred my ring finger in result. Blood oozed down as I washed it into the current, one of the marshals noticed it and directed me to a medic stationed at the river bank. I stayed for a while until the medic successfully controlled the bleeding. The third misfortune happened at the steep decline wherein I slipped after I let go of the rope. My butt sounded a thud but this one is really a toughie.
All of this happened due to my carelessness. I almost involved a running couple during the third accident. The dude whispered to me to be careful because it may result to endangering others; I forgot to say sorry, as I continued on my run. My bad. I felt guilty afterwards and returned a favor by helping those in need along the course. There were several of them.
The trail never ran out of runners as I worked on my second and last loop. I only managed to run my race pace for about three kilometers when it was clear. The hills were back breaking that my only resort was to walk them, I guess I have to train more for those, they were totally different from flyovers. There were runners who finished in over six hours, although water stations were adequate enough, I don't know if they served until the last runners. Merrell should have put aid stations or drop bag stations at one point of the route for the nutrition needs of the runners. My early race preparations was a failure since my two gels were not enough to compensate my nutrition needs and I felt hungry at the last stretch. I dropped by the last medic station to request for food, but there were none, only I came up with a hyrdite solution instead. I resorted to munching "bubot na bayabas" along the route to satisfy my hunger. The life of a boy scout and, man, they were good. I could clearly remember my childhood days wherein we scour the wilderness to find something to eat like fruits of every kind. I finished the race laboriously but with great pride that I overcame the adversities. See results here. A cold shower awaits every finisher to clean one's self, I'm among the many who indulged. Still feeling short of the showers, I drove the whole family to Island Cove in Cavite in the afternoon and I had a dip in the pool where I also did my recovery by swimming and eating.
I was humbled by the experience of doing this race. The race course was highly technical that an average runner will find difficulty in finishing. Physical and mental strategies play a major role when dealing in trail runs like this. Every runner should prepare themselves particularly on a sudden change of situation. Before I was expecting the race to be under the sun but the heavy rain the night before changed everything, from the race course to perhaps at the organizer's end. But nonetheless, the event was a success. With the number of runners that showed during the event (there were still many who didn't, I guess), it is an indication that trail running is slowly becoming the norm. Ciao!