Overheard: “Ang hirap pala nito, kaya pala yung deadline ng registration ng DBB Mountain Rockstar kahapon para wala ng atrasan.”
Mount Sembrano is definitely a trap with a really painful technical climb but if you put that aside, you get to play around the scenic ridges of Mount Sembrano for most of the run.
In terms of difficulty, I have high regards for Mount Sembrano. In fact, I spent much of the past few weeks trying to find an excuse to chicken out of the race. The adventurous side of me prevailed and from then on, I was conditioning myself for the long, arduous and painful climb towards Mount Sembrano. I was on this slopes two years ago and the 4 kilometer climb to peak 1 is among the toughest I’ve done. It’s practically a vertical kilometer with a technical twist. It’s not a TRAP for me since I know how tough this race is gonna get but at the same time, I was excited to enjoy running around the scenic of ridges of Mount Sembrano, which is rich in mountain and Laguna de Bay.
I was able to join Ayala Triads in their shuttle since my regular trail mates were not available for the run. The plan was to take the first 4K easy and just be consistent. After that, the tough part would be over and It’s time to enjoy the race. I also want to take the chance of testing my Hoka One One Evo Jawz in technical trail conditions. As the race started, I went with the pack to run the short paved segment before the climbs. The first part of the climb was partly paved so I was able to sustain a good hiking pace for this stretch. I had shin splints on both legs, which took a lot longer to recover from because of the continuous strain on the legs of the climb.
The second kilometer had us going through a rougher trail stretch, which was still tolerable. I still went at a consistent hiking pace but would take a few seconds to catch my breath after 100 or 200 steps. After the second kilometer, IT’S A TRAP. The trails shifted to steep single track technical trails. The race practically slowed down as there were queues on some areas because it required to hang on some branches or get over a huge rock just to get to the next part. Shoe traction came to play and the Evo Jawz didn’t disappoint me. It was a struggle though keeping up my endurance lacking and my legs being stiff from the effort. I just had to bear the pain and keep moving on. It was a mentally challenging stretch as after the third kilometer was another kilometer worth of technical trails and the steep climb to peak 1.
While Peak 1 was already visible, getting there was a different story. After being exhausted on the technical trails, the steep climb felt like forever. I took it a few steps with short rest stop in between and a selfie before finally reaching Peak 1. The view just gets better at this point. At peak one, you can see Mount Sembrano, Laguna de Bay along with long ridges of mountain trails.
The first four kilometers was both physically and mentally exhausting. My legs was stiff and still painful from enduring the shin splints for that long. There’s a rolling trails along the ridges heading to the Aid Station between the 6th and 7th kilometers. I took the first few meters to try to loosen up the leg before switching to faster brisk walks and a few runs. I wanted to keep an even pace from here on. It was nice seeing familiar faces as you meet runners heading back from the aid station. After the long climb of the first four kilometers, the short climbs at the ridges felt like routine. I then headed to the aid station at a consistent pace since it’s a net descent.
The way back to Peak 1 was a lot tougher since it’s a net climb for the next two kilometers. I maintained a steady pace. I speed up on flats and descent then I try to remain consistent on the climbs. It was cool on the first part of the ridges with the strong winds keeping it cool. I’ve finally reached Peak 1 and the next part would be a 1 kilometer descent and climb to Mount Sembrano. The first few hundred meters was easy because it was a descent but the next was another tough and endless stretch. It’s a steep and long climb to Mount Sembrano with about 150 meters of elevation in just 500 meters of distance. I would take a few steps, rest, drink or have candy. With the heat now becoming a factor, I alternated taking sips of Nuun and having candy since after the climbs there would still be 5 kilometers more of trails and I didn’t want to run out of hydration.
One effort after another and I finally hit Mount Sembrano. I just had a few photos and left to continue the race. Mount Sembrano is such a scenic peak with the mountain and sea backdrop. It was a different route this time around since 2 years ago, it was a 5 kilometer straight to Mount Sembrano and this year, the Peak 1 and summit climb came in different parts of the race.
The next 5 kilometers were mostly downhills. I was surprised how steep the drops are and I see people hanging through shrubs just to stop their momentum. This was the part that I was glad I had the Evo Jawz. With its shark teeth like lugs, I felt secure on the steep drops. It’s not as cushioned as other Hoka One One trail shoes but it’s now my go to shoes for technical trails. The long descent felt dragging so I was really pleased after entering the ridge part of the descent. We were walking on long scenic ridges where you got to see Laguna de Bay in a mountain meets the sea backdrop.
I would have wanted to enjoy the scenic view with a few photos but it was a really hot morning already. I just kept on moving since taking rest stops on the open ridges would be too hot. I just enjoyed the view and managed my hydration to counter the hot weather. It was about 4 kilometers of ridges and a lot of descents.
At the end of the ridges, I reached the first store and inquired if they were selling soft drinks. They didn’t but they offered water instead, which I gladly took. I was able to grab a soda a few meters after before going on to finish the race. Between my two races here, this was a tougher but more scenic one.
It was an exhausting and punishing race. I have to work on my endurance and mental toughness by I’m glad to finish this one and get me ready for the next cluster of races. The almost 10 kilometers at the ridges of Mount Sembrano made all those climb worth it. Great job Be Trail Ready Team.
Thanks to Tin Salazar for lending me her headlamp.