October 23, 2012

The Trails Of The Mount Pinatubo 50K Ultra Challenge

There were 102 runners who answered the gun start during the 3rd Mount Pinatubo 50Km Ultra Trail Run last October 21, 2012. An annual event by the Bald Runner Events, it starts and finish at Sta. Juliana, Capas, Tarlac tracing an out-and-back route over the lahar-filled river basin. The turn around point being the crater of Mount Pinatubo, some 900 feet above sea level.

Mount Pinatubo (wikipedia) is an active stratovolcano located on the island of Luzon. It is located in the Cabusilan Mountains separating the west coast of Luzon from the central plains. Before the volcanic activities of 1991, its eruptive history was unknown to most people. It was heavily eroded, inconspicuous and obscured from view. It was covered with dense forest which supported a population of several thousand indigenous people, the Aetas, who fled to the mountains during the Spanish conquest of the Philippines.

The volcano's eruption on June 15, 1991 produced the second largest terrestrial eruption of the 20th century. Complicating the eruption was the arrival of Typhoon Yunya bringing a lethal mix of ash and rain. Successful predictions at the onset of the climactic eruption led to the evacuation of tens of thousands of people from the surrounding areas, saving many lives, but the surrounding areas were severely damaged by pyroclastic flows, ash deposits, and subsequently, by the lahars caused by rainwaters re-mobilizing earlier volcanic deposits destroying thousands of infrastructures and altering the river systems months to years after the eruption.

Here, let me take you towards the crater and back with the series of photos that I took during my run. I usually document my run in a narrative way (will be on my other post) but the photos will best describe how I witnessed the beauty of the surrounding that I am into. Let's go.

Ultra runners at the starting line, as we listen to the RD's race briefing. 
At day break, I started to shoot, as we set foot on the lahar-filled route. 
Just one of the many river crossings that we are about to traverse.
The first aid station, 4x4 vehicles that carried our fuel.
Green-clad lahar facade. One of the many along the course.
Heading deeper and into the gorge. 
Lahar-filled route seemed so endless. The river reflects the color of the sky.
A 4x4 tour vehicle showing her might in crossing the river.
Can you see the 4x4 vehicle? Imagine how tall are these walls.
Ever changing surrounding. From green to clay to snow-like wall appearance.
We shared the route with those tourists where 4x4s can't go beyond.
From lahar bed to pebbles and boulders. From soft cushion to jagged edges.
The sign tells it all. Where do you belong?
After the ascending trail, we reached our destination. 
We scampered towards the crater upon seeing the magnificent lake.
Here it is, the magnificent crater lake. Cheers!
God's wonder. Can you spot the emitting smoke, it's scary but it's not.
A closer look. Can't resist to touch the water so we dipped our weary self.
A father and son, resting on a makeshift shed. Lead runners are upfront.
Pebbles roll down along with the current. A refreshing view as we cross  the streams. 
The last aid station, where I took refuge. Sweet potatoes were my lunch.
The last stretch of the lahar route. No water this time around. 
Not far ahead is Sta. Juliana, the finish line of the race.
Civilization greeted us upon crossing this last river.
As we head into the warm welcome of friends at the finish line.
Please click on the photos for a bigger review.


  1. Nice! I wanna do that run next year :)

    1. Thanks Tin. You must try it. It was tough but fulfilling. See you.

  2. Woww.. magnificent shots and captured photos Sir Vener! Nainggit ako bigla :)

    1. Inggit ba, Pedz? The views along the route were deceiving, but amazing overall. You should put this on your bucket list.