June 15, 2012

Inside The RU2 2012 Race Expo

Claiming of my RU2 race packet was a breeze yesterday when I visited the RU2 expo at the Bonifacio Global City. It took me just over a minute. Courteous personnel are ready to assist you  as soon as you set foot at the expo. Although I claimed mine when everyone was busy doing their lunch, I believe the orderliness is just the same at any given time. The expo will be open until June 16, 2012.

For those who are expecting what to see at the Run United 2 expo, here are some;

Well organized distribution of race kits.
Running shoes and apparels are on sale.
NB, 2XU, and Zoot to name a few. Timex, Oakley and Yurbuds too.
Friendly assistants to entertain you and assist to your needs.
My runner's ID from the race packet. See you at the starting line.

June 6, 2012

A (Muddy) Race Review: Merrell Adventure Race 2012

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. 

The Race

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!

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.