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Salomon XTrail Pilipinas 2016

Posted by on 11. April 2016

Hard Earned!!!

If it’s not difficult, it’s not Xtrail!!! Last April 9, 2016, Salomon Xtrail Pilipinas 2016 has again lived up to being a tough man’s race.  The climbs were forever, the trails were technical and the heat of the sun was at its full summer blast.  The best race stories are those that test your character and finding the strength of will in you to conquer the path of most resistance.  #SalomonXtrailPilipinas2016 #TrailLove

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Salomon XTrail Pilipinas 2016

2014 Salomon XTrail (Left) and 2105 Salomon Xtrail (Right) – Photo by Jose Ramizares

I have a very high regard for Salomon XTrail Pilipinas races because it’s among the toughest you can join.  The past two years had me finishing on an empty tank.  It’s something you had to prepare for both physically and mentally.  For me, a race does not start at the starting line but it begins from the previous weeks build up entering race day.  I was practically on panic mode the whole week since I missed some key training and a lot of sleep owing to a busy work schedule.  I was scheduled for 24K (which later on became 25.3K) with 5 hours cutoff.  I contemplated to downgrade distance but eventually decided to go with the 24K distance and just run by feel.  I hope that I have invested enough trail mileage to cover the distance and the elevation gain.

It was also a welcome relief that there are over thousand runners and outdoor enthusiasts who would also be braving the different distances for the Salomon XTrail Pilipinas 2016.  It’s one of the most anticipated trail running event in the Asia Pacific region for the past five years. With competitions held in unique and exotic locations in countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Hongkong and the Philippines, it is reputed for mounting the most challenging and scenic trail running races that feature a mixture of different terrain surfaces, including vertical ascents, long uphill climbs, with multi-surfaces of dirt, rocks, sand, and concrete paths.  In the Philippines, the races had been held in exclusive venues – ensuring that the race venues not only demonstrate the majestic beauty of nature but also, offer participants a stimulating and unique trail running experience. This year, Salomon decided to hold its 5th installment at the Subic Freeport Zone in Zambales, where new trail routes were created exclusively for this year’s race.

Race Photos are available at Salomon Philippines Facebook Page.

Race Maps and Elevation Profile

Race Map is powered by Suunto Ambit 3 Sports

Elevation Profile is powered by Suunto Ambit 3 Sports.

The race starts at Binictican Drive and goes on 4.5 kilometers of paved roads with a total ascent of 70 meters with a rolling terrain. The route shifts to the trails of El Kabayo for another 50 meters ascent over the next 1.5 kilometers. It goes on a steep descent over the next 1 kilometer covering a descent of 110 meters.  The race goes back on a steep ascent of 150 meters over single track trails for the next 1.5 kilometers. The race goes on another 4 kilometers of fire and dirt roads with an elevation gain of 220 meters to the u-turn slot at Hill 394.  The route goes back on the same course from the u-turn slot.

The Race

The Calm Before The Storm

We took our bus ride from R.O.X. at Bonifacio Global City at 1 am and arriving at Subic around 4:15 am, which was enough time to claim our kit and warm up in the venue.  It was also good that I was able to catch a short nap at the bus since I needed every rest I can take before the race.  The 32 Kilometer runners had their gun start at 4:45 am while we had ours at 5:10 am.  It’s always an anxious time when you are up against a vertical race with an added challenge of a cutoff.  We had a 5 hour cutoff and that’s not an easy cutoff for a 25K trail run with about 800++ meters worth of elevation gain.

Here we go!!! Photo by James Orlanda,

There’s a 4.5 kilometer worth of roads before entering the trail at El Kabayo.  This was a chance to invest some time before things get slower at the trails.  It was a hot and humid morning so even at 5 am, you can already feel the heat.  At gun start, I took advantage of the flat terrain to start fast on the first 1.5 kilometer.  The elevation shifts to a rolling terrain over the next 3 kilometers so I pulled my pace a bit since I wanted to be fresh when I entered the trail.

With James and Jham

The plan was to be conservative at the first half of the race since it’s mostly climbing anyway and assess if it’s worth chasing the cutoff at the u-turn slot halfway into the race.  It was good that it was a bit bright already once we entered the trails.  The trails were mostly single track route that had roots, twigs, branches, leaves, bamboo shoots and rocks on the trail.  It was run-able but at the same time, caution is also important as you can easily trip on the roots, twigs and other debris.  The first 1.5 kilometers were uphill climbs so I just went on an easy walking pace making sure that I won’t over exhaust myself on the climb.

Let’s get this on!!!

After the climb comes a steep descent.  I went on at a brisk walk pace being mindful of the uneven trail so I won’t trip.  Every time I tried to speed up, I always ended up slipping, sliding or tripping. It’s run-able but the steepness made it a bit technical so I had to opt for which sections to run and which to walk.  The downward trail led to the Boton River and El Kabayo Falls.

Taking a fast start on the road stretch.

Whenever there’s a river, expect a climb to follow.  It’s actually a 5.5 kilometer climb covering about 370 meters worth of elevation gain but I had to divide this into two section. The next 1.5 kilometers were on technical and steep trails that really challenge your lung power as you really have to huff and puff your way towards this stretch.  Funny thing that it was at this point that I thought I lost my bib.  Even during the time that I thought I lost my bib, I still went on with the torturous climb hoping that I’ll find it on my way back.

Entering the trails

I was always amazed at the beauty of the forest in Subic. It always had the thick forest reserve that’s so refreshing to look at and really scenic.  During the Salomon Xtrail, we were deep in the Subic forest reserve. Even if it’s a challenge, the backdrop was beautiful.  It lacked the overlooking views that some mountain trails offer but the thick forest view was what set this trail apart.   The thick forest was also our protection from the sun as you can count the spots during the trail, where the trail was open.

I managed to crawl my self through the steep part of the trail and finally hit the fire trails and dirt roads at kilometer 8.5.  It was at the water station that I came to realize that maybe my bib wasn’t lost at all so I checked my race belt again only to find out that the bib shifted to my back.  I guess I was just to caught with the difficulty of the trail that I failed to check my bib at my back.

Half way point

The next four kilometers were mostly climbs with short descents or flat areas.  My strategy was just to walk it as fast as I can.  I wanted to run the short descents and the flat areas but I decided against it.  I wanted to be fresh whenever I would start the climb. So I lost some time on the descent but was able to be more consistent on the climbs.  The next 4 kilometers felt like forever. The fire roads shifted to single track dirt roads and became a lot steeper.  The toughest part was braving the last kilometer heading to the u-turn slot.  It was practically a crawlfest.  It was nice though that I met a lot of friends along the route.

Chillin’ like a villain at hill 394

The halfway point was at the top of Hill 394. It had a nice overlooking view of Subic.  I was able to reach the half way point sub 2:30, which meant I had a shot at meeting the cutoff.  I was assessing the course as the large part was downhill except kilometer 18 and 19, which were steep ascents.  I made my way down the hill doing run walk sets to speed up without straining my knees. I had to stop shortly at Kilometer 14 to assist a 32K runner who had cramps.  I tried to help him loosen up the tightness. He told me, he wanted to rest it off a bit.  After I left, I told one of the Marshall who I saw after a few meters to assist the runner.  I went on to continue on the trail and stopped and rest at each hydration station.

I was able to speed up going to the water station at kilometer 16.5.  The trails then shifted back to single track and technical trails, which had me shifting to brisk walk pace and had me running some parts.  I was also reserving my energy for the climb at kilometer 18 and 19.

River crossings.

After crossing the river, it was the toughest part of the race. Kilometer 18 and 19 had long stretches of steep climbs.  This was also my slowest part of the race as I had to stop once in a while to catch my breath.  The climb felt endless. You just have to endure those lung-busting moments until you’ve reached the top of the climb.  After being several hours in the trails, fatigue sets in and the ascents challenges your endurance and climbing threshold.  After the end of the climb, it was a straight descent heading to the road part of the race at kilometer 20.5.

Last stretch.

The road part started on uphill stretches that gave us the feel of the hot Summer Weather in Subic.  I had about 40-50 minutes to cover this stretch to meet the cutoff.  Coming from running on soft trails, it does feel so heavy on the knees when you shift to paved roads.  It started with the uphill stretches. I was brisk walking on the climbs so I was able to cover the next two kilometers at a faster pace.  With about 2.5 kilometers to go, I felt that it would be a bit risky just walking the remaining part so went on a run walk stretch until I reached the finished line and I was able to finish within the cutoff at 4:54.  It was a hard earned medal indeed.

It’s not easy but it’s worth it.

Outfit of The Race

  • Top: Adidas Climachill with #TaleOfTheTrail Designe by Breakout Design
  • Bottom, Cap, Hydration Bag, Calf Sleeves, Arm Sleeves : Under Armour
  • GPS Watch: Suunto Ambit 3 Sports
  • Eyewear: Oakley Racing Jacket
  • Shoes: Salomon Wingsflight
  • Gaters: Ahon.PH
  • Socks: Features

60 Responses to Salomon XTrail Pilipinas 2016

  1. Amy @ Marvelous Mommy

    Wow, that sounds like a fun event! I am doing a 5K course called the Warrior Dash this weekend!

  2. Ahuose

    This seems so hard! It is so impressive that it is possible to run through demanding tracks while having something beautiful to look at!!!

  3. Amanda Love

    I just know that you can do whatever you put your mind to and even though the trail is tough, I know that YOU can do it!

  4. Stargazer

    Cool! It really looks like a job for someone tough. I was wondering if it is also open for women?

  5. Shub

    Congrats for that medal, tough man! The race seemed to be quite difficult and running in a smouldering heat is not at all easy.

  6. Sunshine Kelly

    I just completed 21km and thinking of trying the Trail Race , maybe started with a easier or shorter route.

  7. Saminu Abass

    Hahahahah. This is astonish, I always like people who ride to that level seriously.

  8. roch

    More than the medal though, I think this story of success in a difficult race is something you can really be proud of. Glad you made it!

  9. Peachy @The Peach Kitchen

    What a tough looking trail but I know you can do it. Ikaw pa!

  10. adriana

    What a long but rewarding run! Looks awesome, thanks for sharing!

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