At times injured, at support mode or on the events side, I’m just glad to be back on the trails at race mode. Amihan 50 10K route felt very familiar and new at the same time. It had a mix of my usual home trail and a surprise in the newly re-established white trails.
Hoka Shakeout Session
In an effort to create a better racing experience, Amihan 50 Trail Ultra didn’t just focus on the main event but added some side events for the runners powered by Hoka One One. The race weekend started with the Hoka Shakeout Session by by Trail Academy last December 1, 2018 Hoka Shakeout Session follows the format of their previous Hoka Trail 101, Brooks Trails 102 and Hoka Trail 201 with a short talk and an intimate run with trail pit stops in between to highlight key learning.
I opened the Hoka Shakeout Sessions, in behalf of Pinoy Trails with a brief history of Trail Academy, which is a partnership of Pinoy Trails, Active Pinas and Team Malaya. The main speaker of the event was consistent podium finisher and Hoka Ambassador Noy Gentoleo who discussed on race planning, racing mistakes and road to ultra. Champion Runners Cherryl Navarro and Zha Malana of Team Amihan also gave their inputs on their race preparation while Avhic Gado shared her insights on her common racing mistakes.
After the short talk, the runners went on to the forest bathing trails of Camp John Hay with Noy and Cheryl leading the fast pace, Stephen and Mariel leading the moderate pace while I handled the walkers wave with Avhic and Reyn. It was a short and sweet out and back run heading to the embassy area and back to the venue for the raffle.
Up next was the Hoka Downhill Challenge, which was a winner take all 6-7K pure adrenaline-pumping downhill run won by Elmer Retolado. Both events were offered free to the runners by Hoka One One, Amihan and Trail Academy.
Amihan 50 Trail Run
The main event, at least for me, was the 10K distance. The rest had a more awesome adventure with the 50K and 25K distance for the day. Having been part of previous recon, I can say that this is a really challenging high-altitude race that gets really hot especially in the Itogon section of the race. I’ve been mostly injured for most of October and November and been handling events the past few months so running 10K this time felt like being a newbie once again.
The race started at 6 am at the Bell Ampitheater, which is among Baguio’s Historic attractions. We used to play here as kids since it was just adjacent to Scout Hill, where most of the attractions back then when Camp John Hay was still a US military base. The route was simple using the forest bathing trail entrance near scout hill heading to embassy, tree top area before heading to the lower part of the yellow trails before crossing to the eco trail and white trail on the way back.
I started at a relaxed pace as I felt rusty. I just wanted to properly break in my legs to avoid the usual shin splints. The yellow trail is a familiar playground so I knew when to push and pull. The trails are mostly rolling with not much long ascent. I would run on the descent and flats and walk on the short climbs. I would limit my runs to one minute stretches as I was slowly accustoming my legs to the usual pounding of a run.
The first 3 kilometers felt routine except for the 1 kilometer stretch of jungle trails heading to the turning point heading into the 5th kilometer. I just went on a consistent pace heading to the u-turn and added some runs on the way back before heading for the steep descent to the lower part of the yellow trails on the 6th kilometer. The lower part was rolling terrain of about 3-4 kilomters except for the climb back to the main road before crossing to the eco-trail side of the trail.
The game plan changed upon reaching the White Trail, which was a newly restored trail. It was a jungle trail with single tracks, technical terrains and forever climbs that had me huffing and puffing along the way. It was more than 2K stretch of unfamiliar trails that was passable but was not as established as the other trails. It was survival mode at this point with just me moving on pure instinct and just wishing to finally hit paved roads again. I was about ready to cramp upon reaching the Gazebo and thank God, there was a water supply. It was then routine road and stairs heading to the finish line for the finish. The Bell Ampitheater is definitely among the more scenic and historic finish lines. It was more than 12K for a 10K race but no complains here, these legs should start getting used to the grounding and pounding of a trail race.