Coach Roel Birthday Run is now on its 5th Year. This year had a 50K and 100K as the main event and 16K, 8K and 1K as side events. I joined the 16K distance and I really enjoyed the views and also the experience.
Coach Roel Birthday Run
Coach Roel’s Birthday Run has been an annual tradition. It stands out in my memories as just for the fun of it, we joined the 4 x 100 relay with several running blogger friends and ended up third (out of 3 participants =>). As people progressed over the years, so did the race distance. This year, it was Sinai 100, which featured a 100K and 50K category. I joined the 16K distance. This is my first race and first workout after my first 50 kilometers Cordillera Mountain Ultra a few weeks ago. I’m just here to have fun. I even tinkered on the idea of downgrading to 8K distance but upon seeing so many elite athletes in the 8K distance, I think I’d be much safer in the 16K distance. The venue was Camp Sinai, which had a really nice view of the mountain range and the early morning sea of clouds.
Race Map and Elevation
The race starts at Camp Sinai and proceeds to the Sinai trails for the next 2.5 kilometers. The race shifts to the roads before it descends to the river next 4.5 kilometers. After a short River Stretch, the race goes up on the next 3 kilometers to reach the roads of Timberland where you ascend for the next 6 kilometers all the way to Camp Sinai.
We arrived at the race venue at around 5 am to claim are kits. It was nice to catch up with trail running friends at the start of the race. I was extra sleepy at the start of the race so I was quite excited for the run proper to finally start to let the adrenaline-rush awaken my senses. The run for the 16K started at 6:40 am and with that I was expecting a really hot race.
After 2 weeks away from running, I just wanted to run and see if my legs could take the beating. I haven’t really started fast because I’ve been dealing with shin splints issues the past few months but surprisingly after my first 50K, the leg felt stronger. I went to start fast since I’d also want to jump start my system from it’s sleepy state. There were series of descents and then we missed our turn. We saw some runners going back from the river but since I did the Soleus Cross Country Challenge, I was thinking we’d be using the same loop so I said to some runners that there’s away out of the trail. As we got even deeper into the trail, there were runners again who were coming back. I just said let’s just find a way back into the trail and once we hit Pintong Bukawe, we’d find our way back. Only me, Levi and his friend went on. (Yeah, leadpack!!!) though eventually some followed us on the route and we did find our way out. Come to think of it, I did see a sign on probably the 3rd or 4th descent to turn right instead of going down. Most of us probably got the hang of the sweet descent, which resulted to a different route.
There was a steep road heading to the main road. Took it easy at this point to recover on the climb part of the previous stretch before heading to the short Casile stretch. Funny, how the other runners were now asking me for direction after finding the way out of the previous trail route. Well, that was the last familiar stretch for me in the race. We then headed to a short descent to Casile but instead of going down we had to hit a rolling terrain towards the left at around 4 kilometers and it was back to descent. We were starting to speed up when a runner told us not to run as there was a slippery stretch. It turned out one runner already had a bad fall at that part.
Upon checking, it was Mara of Team Soleus. She passed me several hundred meters ago. She’s got bruises on the leg and arms and also had numbness in her shoulder. We all had to stop to make sure she is ok. Levi lent his arms sleeves to protect the wounds in the arms and also went on to tie some cloth to protect her knee. We saw a motorcycle on the way and asked him, if she could take Mara back to Camp Sinai. Once she was ok, we then proceeded with the race and since it was descents, we were all going at a fast pace. I missed running fast on the descents.
The run-able descent lasted for about 2.5 kilometers before shifting to a more technical trail on the 7th kilometer. We went on at a consistent pace but were also cautious on the slippery part. The river part was a bit confusing so I went with the pace of the group just to be sure if I ever get lost, I would be with a pack. Eventually a local guided us to the route and once we saw the ribbons, we knew we were on the right track. I already felt a bit exhausted already at this point. I remember that the plan was go easy on the race so I didn’t even have energy gels with me. Oops, I’ve been going faster than planned. When the climb started, I struggled on the climb. It was an odd situation for me as I’ve been focusing on my climbs lately but I must have overexerted on the descents and ended up tired on the climb. I had a few breathing breaks on the steep parts of the climb before being back to a consistent pact on the 9th and 10th kilometer of the race.
I exited the trails at the 10th kilometer at Timberland and I was happy to see some stores. I immediately bought Mountain Dew for the sugar rush and replenish my energy reserves. It was a long stretch of climbs but it was on the road and we also had a rich view of Pine Trees along the road with several bikes sharing the route with us. At around kilometer 11, I heard Mara’s voice and she told me that she decided to go down the motorcycle and resumed the race. Hats off to her really. I was also starting to run again since I wanted to catch Levi’s group. I caught up with their Group at around kilometer 12 and went at their pace for the Timberland stretch. We went at an easy pace just enjoying the route. It was a moderate climb for most part but we just went on at a brisk walking pace.
There was a steep climb heading to Camp Sinai and once I’m done with the climb, I started sprinting to the finish for a strong finish. I did enjoy the race and I’m glad to finish strong for this one as I’ve always been racing conservatively lately. Trail running is always an adventure. Sometimes, you get lost or get hurt but it always let’s you appreciate the beauty of nature. Happy Birthday Coach Roel!