#SalomonXTrailPilipinas will definitely challenge your endurance, patience up until your sanity as it’s among the toughest course you’ll ever experience. It’s gonna test your climbing skills and leave you practically breathless with the unlimited uphells. It’s gonna test your balance as you get to pass through boulders of stones, waist deep rivers, rock formations and a soft white sand beach. It’s gonna test your endurance especially in the mountain run category as you navigate a highly technical course under the scorching summer heat while managing the different terrains and surfaces. It’s not a walk in the park but more like a crawl in the mountains but with the magnificent view along the course, it becomes one of the most memorable and visually enticing course you’d ever run. #TrailLove
Salomon Xtrail Pilipinas 2015
Last year, I got surprised when I first joined Salomon Xtrail Pilipinas. I was fully exhausted just doing the 12 kilometer distance along Pico De Loro. I guess that’s what makes Xtrail different from a regular trail is that it challenges you to do a lot of climbs and to navigate along different technical surfaces like boulders of stones, rivers, rock formation and soft white sands. When it comes to trail races, it’s a league on its own and a must experience for weekend warriors who love to get lost outdoors. I initially listed up in the 12 kilometers category since I was planning to do back to back races on the weekend but I came to realize that I should just focus on 1 race and go for the longer distance so I switched my kit to the 24 kilometers. This is gonna be a real challenge with a new venue and a different sets of challenge that awaits the runners.
It’s been one of the most anticipated trail running events in the Asia-Pacific Region. Held in Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and the Philippines for more than five year now. It has attracted numerous participants, from newbies to hardcore loyalists of Salomon. The race’ technical trail route combines different terrain surfaces including vertical ascents, long uphill climbs with multi-surfaces of dirt, rocks, sand, and concrete paths. Aside from the challenge, Salomon races are done at Premier locations outside Metro Manila, boasting beautiful sceneries, where mountains & coastlines merge together in the race route, with more than 1,200 participants – making it one of the most well-attended trail run races in the country. This year, the roads, hills, mountains and valleys surrounding the beautiful enclave of Anvaya Cove, one of the country’s premiere developments in Morong, Bataan by Ayala Land Premier. New trail routes were created exclusively for the event such as trail sections overlooking the cove that are steep and technical, with sharp and loose rocks, roots, and thick foliage. To recharge lost energy, runners were blessed with a breathtaking view of the sunrise that made the experience all the more worthwhile and memorable.
Race Route and Elevation Profile
The race starts at Anvaya Cove and exits for a brief descent on the road heading to the trails at the Vietnamese Refugee Camp. The trails then starts to go on a moderate climb until the 8th kilometer mark passing to the Buddha Shrine at Kilometer 5. The trail descends to the river at kilometer 9 before climbing the first mountain worth 70 meters of elevation until the 10th kilometer. After a quick descent comes the longest climb for the next 2 kilometers covering 200 meters of elevation for the highest point of the race at Kilometer 12. The race then starts to descend to the mountains with a drop of 250 meters in the next 7 kilometers. The race the shifts to a flat but technical terrain at the beach for the next 4 kilometers before going to the last ascent heading to the finish line.
Salomon Xtrail is a different experience since like most of the runners, we had to take the midnight trip to Anvaya Cove for the race. This meant that the only sleep we had were the few naps we get on the bus and since I’m a light sleeper, I didn’t get much. I’m also racing a bit more conservative since I have 0 training mileage for the week. I’ll go more with consistency and time and cutoff management. While this is a competitive race, trails can be a bit more relaxing and laid back compared to road race. The 32 kilometers category were sent off at 5:00 am and we had a 5:30 am gun start, which gave us more light as we began our trails.
The race started fast as we wanted to take advantage of the flatter or descending to save time on the overall cutoff. As we excited the trails of Anvaya, we had around a kilometer of pure road before we started to go on the trails. The trail had a feel of Vietnam and Cambodia as these was the area for the Vietnamese Refuge Camp. There were also some areas were we had to cross a creek or cross some tree trunks or jump through a pit heading to the next area.
While the climbs started in the area it were still moderate climbs so we had to insert a few runs in between so we were able to maintain a decent pace on these stretch. On the walk side, we went on a brisk walk. At times, there would be some build up of people especially on the crossing over a river or a creek, which requires more care. Once the pace would go down, it was time to catch up again so as not to bring down the average pace.
The trails shifted to asphalted roads so took this chance to speed up going to Aid Station 1 around kilometer 5 of the race. The aid station was near the Buddha Shrine and Pope John Paul Shrine. Since I had sufficient water supply, I didn’t stop in the aid station though we were reminded that the next aid station would be in the next 5.5 kilometers. It was also at this point that I got separated with Glads. I also noticed that the race route had an extra kilometer as early as this point as I had a higher distance than the kilometer markers. I then recomputed my should be pace assuming that the race was 25 km. After the aid station, the trails shifted to forest trails that had a steeper incline going up until kilometer 8 before it descends to the river.
The river was a bit slippery with some stones covered by moss and I saw a person slip in the waters but except for being wet, she was ok. The next part was a bit challenging as we had to navigate some boulders of stones, which varied in size. It was tough to move from one stone to another.
After navigating the stoney part, we were back in the river. After the river, we went on the climb which started with a really muddy surface. The climb covers about 70-80 meters of elevation over the next kilometer. The first part was a struggle since coming from the river, we all had wet shoes so it was slippery on the muddy part. The climb was steep so it had me huffing and puffing but I still tried to go on at a stable pace and crawling myself towards the top of the steep climb. The climb felt endless.
Finally at the top of the climb was the next aid station and since I still had a lot of hydration, I still didn’t stop at the hydration station. I used the time save to have my photo taken at this view. It was a short run and there was a steep descent that had small cemented passage usually passed on by motors so I went on to run but I was a bit cautious as it can sting on the knee running downhill that steep. After the descent, it led us to another river.
After the river came a short trail that led into another river that was waist deep and we also had to go against the current. It was really tough on this part as you not only keep your balance, you have to fight the river current.
After the river was the longest climb covering 200 meters of elevation over the next 1.5 kilometers. The trail was winding over the mountain and was more on solid ground. Since it was steep, it was really exhausting. I had to stop once in a while to take a sip at my lightwater safely tuck in my bag. 75% of the climb, we shifted to paved grounds and crawled our way to the top with another 100 meter more of steep trails to the top.
The final assault was steep but since you can already see the top, it was more motivating giving it one final push. I hope this would be the last mountain for us to climb. Upon reaching the top at around the 12 kilometer mark, I was amazed at the view. I had to stop and admire the view of the sea and the mountains that just shows nature is a masterpiece on its own.
After this part, it was mostly downhill except for a short climb at kilometer 13. I took this part slow as the view was just awesome. Nature has its way of humbling us with its raw beauty and the physical effort just to be at the peak.
Kilometer 14th to 19th is a descent of about 200 meters and this was the time I started speeding up. I started running on some stretches and brisked walk while I rested. This was a quick stretch with the last kilometer leading us to the ocean front of Anvaya Cove and this was the part that things went crazy.
Last 6 kilometers. We had to navigate over rock formations that came in all forms and sizes and often times required us to just pass by the waters. We then had to go through boulders of stone of different sizes. Both was really difficult since you really have to watch your step. I just kept on moving and good thing I was able to invest a lot of time so I could take the slower pace here. It felt forever navigating 2 kilometers of rocky and stoney surface. We’ve finally hit the beach front in front of Anvaya and next challenge were the soft white sands.
I seriously thought that someone drop some round ice on the shores upon seeing the jelly by the shore. Since I thought it was ice I was tempted to grab it but luckily I didn’t. It was tough walking on the white sand beach as you are sinking with every step. I went to walk by the shoreline since it’s a lot sturdier. I just kept on moving until the white sand became boulders of stone again and the rocky beach. I shifted to the middle part of the beach with some rock as it was more solid than walking on the other parts.
After practically going at crawling pace at the beach we eventually hit the last two kilometers of the race and it was on dirt tracks though it was a climb. At this point, I was fully exhausted and I can’t sustain a long run but I can do some brisk walk so that was what I did. It felt like a long road on the dry dirt tracks that felt like a dessert. It was great that I started to hear the announcers voice nearing the end of the trail. There was a short descent before it goes to the road to the finish so I tried running that part.
I made one final push to the finish line and was able to make the cutoff and that was one hell of a race. Great job Salomon for challenging us with the run. That was FUN!!!
Outfit of the Race
- Race Top: Berghaus #TaleOfTheTrail Design by Breakout Design
- Shorts: Under Armour
- Shoes: Newton Boco AT
- GPS Watch: Suunto Ambit 2S
- Eyewear: Spyder Nomad H
- Visor: Under Armour
- Calf Sleeves: Zensah
- Socks: Under Armour
- Hydration Bag: Suunto
- Camera: GoPro Hero 3+