Three days after completing my endurance weekend race, my "visa" for the CM42 Marathon Trail Race was approved. I immediately informed the good RD of my intentions to join. Five days after, I was at the starting line with fellow trail runners and enthusiasts.
The weather prior to the race was uncooperative, Manila was hounded by inundating rains that caused flooding all around the metro. Typhoon Odette was wreaking havoc at the northern part of the Philippines and was heading to Hongkong at the morning of the raceday. Being so, I believe that good weather will prevail, but alas, rain poured nonstop throughout the night at the race venue. The race crew had some difficulties of going to and from the race route bringing our drop bags. Moreover, the supposed location of the aid station at the junction was moved. But this compelling factors did not hamper us from pushing through the race. The good RD made sure that everything was in place, and so are the volunteer/ marshals who braved the cold and rainy night going to their assignments on foot. They were the heroes.
At the starting line, runners were briefed by the RD of what lies ahead, the course situation, the prevailing weather condition at the peak, the location of the aid stations, etc. Concern was evident in his face as I listened intently. One of his reminder stayed with me throughout the race, that is to "stay tough". Shortly before sunrise, 115 - 42km runners and 55 - 22km runners left the starting line.
I was at the tail end when the gun was fired and found myself scampering to the front a minute after, false move. Jackrabbiting was not my habit but since my colleagues were at the front, I made it sure that I could catch them. Thankfully the course after the tunnel was downhill, I caught on them just before going up Sapang Uwak. We run together until the third aid station before they left me in the cold, man, they were fast from there.
Left under the pouring rain, I went on my own mostly for the remainder of the course. That was a good 30+ kilometers. I only realized later that the toll from the last weekends 71km run caught on me. I could feel my hamstrings pulling me back as if I was nailed on the ground for every step I make. I could feel my calves getting as stiff as a log whenever I run downhill. And my shoulders as if there were something I was carrying heavily. It was the experience and muscle memories that propelled me to push through. Staying tough is the only option, which I did. Taking my time in the company of the marshals also helped a lot, including picture taking with them. It's always a sigh of relief seeing friends out there making sacrifices and lending time and effort to help. You know who you are, mabuhay kayong lahat.
The course situation was from good to bad when I made my return from the peak. The single-track trail was transformed to ankle-deep mud in many areas. The non-stop rains made the grass at the sides slippery and the rushing water on the trail made it tricky. I had two different falls as I descended from the peak, but pure luck saved me from those disasters. Balance and staying low made the difference, and yes, staying tough it is. One big time fall happened in Miyamit Falls as I was about to leave the place. I was on top of the table rock when my footing slipped sending me to the bottom shoulder first. I heard a thud and was shocked to know my right shoulder and right palm getting numb. Luckily it wasn't the head that came first, knowing it's only inches from my shoulder.
After that incident, I was extra careful all the way back, that I walked the entire falls to view deck segment where the drop bags where located. There goes my time. But after composing myself, I flew back going down Sapang Uwak in order to recover my lost time. Which I did.
I didn't reach my target time, falling seven minutes behind, (view the results here) but I was glad with my outcome. Given the present race situation and to where I came from a week ago, it was still a finish I would be proud of. What pulled me through the race? I stayed tough.
It was a bold testament that in trail running, lessons are learned the hard way.
|All smiles reaching the junction. Photo courtesy of Juvy Pagtalunan.|
|Laid back, so simple and calm. My kind of race.|
|The joy of finishing. Photo courtesy of Justin Josef Gomez.|