June 1, 2012

The Nature's Trail Discovery Run, Leg 1

Brgy. San Andres in Tanay, Rizal was the venue of the recently concluded Nature's Trail Discovery Run. The place boasts of it's vast array of flora and fauna and seemingly unexplored trail routes. Tanay rests below the Sierra Madre Mountain Region and is popularly becoming the choice of trail runs mainly because of its close proximity to Metro Manila.

From Quezon City, it took us a little over an hour to travel to the venue via Marcos Highway. We were among the first batch to arrive at the venue, just in time to witness the preparations made by the event hosts and our group has had ample time to prepare before the race. It was the coldest of the summer because of the fog that enveloped the whole venue.

There were about 300 runners who were flagged-off at 5:30am. The 21km runners were released first and followed by the 10km runners. I started at the back of the pack which made me difficult to position myself in the lead. Bad move since most stretches of the route in the first half were in a single track. I just comfortably ran and accepted my fate, just getting ahead when there's a clearing. Moreover the trail was becoming muddy after faster runners in the lead had traversed on it. 

The assault on the first summit was relatively steep as many of us had made frequent stops just to catch some breath. But the view in between those stops was panoramic. As I made my rest, I was treated to an awesome display of the grandeur of nature. The view at the top of the mountain was exhilarating. It's amazing. Runners were treated to witness the sea of clouds in between the Sierra Madre Mountains that stretches from top to bottom. If only I'm not running, I will tag along Ryan (my dslr) with me and document the beauty into photos. Oh well, maybe next time.

The aid station at the summit was a relief to all runners because of the abundance of water and banana. But the descent was a tough one; unexperienced runners will have to slide on their butts, crawl on all fours and/or balance themselves by grasping on the "cogons" in between the trail route. The dew made the course slippery as well. Just below this section there was another steep descent where runners used the tree branches and shrubs as monkey bars while negotiating the downhill. The route further lead to the clearing onto the second river crossing before entering again the trail heading to the next summit. A waterfall displayed its beauty and is visible from the fourth water station. After this section, runners entered a single track uphill trail towards the second summit. From here there is a clear view of the first summit. After this summit is the return route towards the same clearing before heading to the next section. 

Five more river crossings and a hanging bridge traverse composed the next section of the route with a long stretch of rough road. Residents cheered on every runners with smiles and grins on their face. The ridges of the Sierra Madre Mountains continuously lined on the other side of the route. The cracking rays of the sun peeping on the ridges was magnificent. A typical rural experience is in the offing. Fresh buko juice was awaiting the runners at the turn-around portion. I was able to drink about 20 ounces before I left off. I continued my run towards the finish line when I caught-up on a taho vendor. I quickly gulped one before starvation hit me. With just one bend ahead of me, I reached the finish line.

Trail running is arguably one of the hottest sports spectacle nowadays. Runners are getting hooked on it  despite the difficulties in training. One must go outside the Metro to find a better site for training. This is a totally different sport from road running, wherein you'll just have to step-out of your door and off you go. The experience of communing with nature is one of the many priorities leading to it. But, how prepared must one be to be able to do a trail run? During the Tanay Race, I witnessed how trail runners, veterans and newbies, did their stuff. For sure, there were many lessons learned by the newbies from the veterans. 

I'll leave you with some of the photos from the race. See you again next at the Merrell Race.

The sea of cloud viewed from the summit.
One of the many river crossings. 
The crystal clear water is tempting.
Finishing in its simplest form. Could you ask for more?
Pre-race hang out with Jun and Darryl. 
Post race photo with Pedz, one tough guy. 
Here's the assault on the first summit. Runners descended on the left section.
Moi at the stretch of the rough road.
Sadly my adizero had retired, after several training runs, marathons and trail runs  including Mt. Ugo.
The finish line sitting lowly beneath the mountain.
A view of the first summit from the finish line.
Thanks to Rene Villarta, Noel Castillo and Team USB for the photos.

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