Date: August 26, 2013
” A Friend told me that he thought I wouldn’t be running again in Baguio and I answered yes, I won’t running, I would just be walking through the rest of the trail. Well, I was wrong in my reply as Choco-late de Batirol had me crawling through the steep inclines and sliding in the slippery descent with the pine trees and the mountains providing a scenic backdrop.”
In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve been on a mini hiatus from runs as I’m healing from my wrist injury from one of my bike falls and also was a support crew for my mom’s operation. Running in Baguio is always tempting and it happened that there was a run happening the same weekend I am in Baguio. Easy choice? Well, No as the rains has been pouring non-stop the past few days. It was a wait and see until the weekend though I’ve been inviting everybody in the household to join of which there were no takers. Until I got a text from Chips, one of my banker friends asking me to join. Finally, a familiar face to run with so it was a go for an unplanned run and this one was just purely for fun and enjoying the trails. I was up there at the start line on a cold Sunday morning with slippery trails and not to mention an uphill elevation waiting to be conquered.
Course and Elevations
Race Starts in Choco-late de Batirol near gate 2 in Camp John Hay and proceeds uphill towards the log cabins and before heading to the main gate with mostly uphill terrain for the u-turn before entering the yellow trails at the second kilometer. The trails proceeds downwards on a very wet and slippery trail with some streams of waters in the area. The trail goes on a series of ascents and descents before descending to the lowest elevation of the race at 1410 meters and the start of a half a kilometer upHELL climb traversing about 200 meters worth of elevation before the race shifts to the upper part of the trails. The trail goes a lot flatter going to the u-turn slot before climbing back again to the start of the yellow trail and back to the road en route to the finish line.
I was in the area past 5 am. The gun start was delayed a few minutes as they waited for the fog to clear up on some parts of the trail. Finally, it was gun start at Choco-late de Batirol. The race started with a climb on the road and mostly inclines approaching the main gate at the other end of Camp John Hay for the u-turn slot before entering the trail at around the second kilometer.
The trails was slippery, wet and muddy as a few hours before the race, the rain came pouring in. The rain really changes the dynamics of the trail. On dry grounds, you can coast on descents and go slow on the climb but on wet trails, go slow on the inclines and go even slower on the descents as gravity is not on your side. The first part of the trail was mostly descents but given the slippery course, I just went on at a very cautious pace and moving a bit faster on flat grounds and uphill terrain. After a while, you get to traverse faster on the trails as the grounds start to fry up and I became more familiar with the trail. It was nice to see the area pine infested with some streams and a lot of muddy grounds. It was a slow and scenic first 5K and after that was… Agony.
If you go back to the elevation profile above, at around the 5th kilometer, there’s an almost straight line going up. That’s about 200 meters of elevation spread out in less than a kilometer. The road was concrete but it was slippery because of the build up of moss. I took it a few steps a time with one of those steps a slip back because of the road. The pace was crawling and the climb was really draining. The air was thin because of the altitude. After a lot of huff and puff, I was finally able to reach the top with my heart rate at its peak from the effort of the climb and now everything would feel easy after a climb like this.
After reaching the top and about halfway into the race, I felt a sigh of relief as this was already familiar terrain with The North Face Run passing through this part. After recovering a bit, I was now moving fast again as the u-turn slot was near and was already meeting a lot of runners whom I greeted good morning and was greeted by warm smiles and greetings and not to mention seeing the pine and the nearby mountain ranges in this altitude.
The road back was now a bit firmer as the weather also got warmer and even if there were more climbs after, it felt easier. I guess when you go through an extreme uphill like the one at the 5th kilometer, every terrain seem flat. In no time, I was back on the road again and also back to running at a faster pace on mostly flat and descending road except for the climb back to the log cabins area. It was time to speed up and cruise to the finish line.
I did have fun in this run with no time pressure, a scenic backdrop and the cold Baguio Climate and the best thing I appreciate about runs in Baguio is that it feels like a fiesta after the run with a closely knit running group and there was food, drinks and medals for all finishers with almost everybody knowing each other. Until the next run (err crawl) in the Cool City climate at home.
Weapon of Choice