Distance: 12 Freaking Kilometers
Date: April 12, 2014
Venue: Pico de Loro, Nasugbu, Batangas
“When you add an X in Trail, you’re bound to have an extraordinary experience. Salomon Xtrail Run left us literally ‘breathless’ with the steep ascents. It had us slipping, sliding and tripping on the descents. It gave us a total workout navigating from one boulder of stone to another. It was more than a trail run. It was a character building session that had you thinking on what brought you to this challenge. It also left you brimming with satisfaction once you’ve crossed the finish line.” #TrailLove
Salomon XTrail Run
It’s trail running season for me and 1st up is the Salomon xTrail Run. I went for a 12K distance. Salomon xTrail Run had the reputation of being the toughest trail run. I know I’m gonna discover it the hard way since I did miss a lot of training time after two weeks of a busy work schedule and being sick. The good part was trails are not as demanding compared to roads when it comes to speed. I was in Pico De Loro a day before the race joining my friends, Mascy, Jeff and my inaanak Lucas so I didn’t have to cram going to the venue. I only went over the elevation profile and the maps only when I reached Pico de Loro and I know that this is going to be a real challenge!!!
Race Course and Elevation Profile
The race start near the beachfront and immediately proceeds to the climb worth 125 meters of elevation for the first two kilometers going to the relay station. The race has a sharp descent back to the Pico main area and proceeds to the Power Line 1 area at Km 3. Power Line 1 consist of a very steep climb of about 100 meters of elevation. The race descends to the bike area going the the 5th kilometer covering 100 meters worth of elevation. The race goes flat in the next 4 kilometer in the bike area. Approaching the 9th kilometer you get to ascend about 150 meters of elevation going to the 10th kilometer. The race descends about 150 meters of elevation proceeding into the river area with boulder of big stones to navigate until the last 500 meters. It now goes back to the road for a run to the finish. It was a relatively hot morning with an average of 31.1 degrees Celsius.
I woke up before 5 am. I had breakfast and prepped for the run. I was still at our unit 20 minutes before the race since expecting a 6:30 am gunstart but apparently, it was move to 6:00 am. I was able to reach the start area 5 minutes before the start as our unit was just a few hundred kilometers to the start area. I was only able to say hi to a few friends as 12K runners were already assembled in the starting line. After a few reminders, it was time to run.
After just a few meters of running, we started to climb. I then shifted to a slower pace as I don’t want to consume all my energy on the climbs that early. It was about 800 meters worth of road before heading to the climb in the relay tower. It was more than a kilometer of climbing in rocks and soils going to the top of the relay station. After reaching the top, it was an abrupt descent. Since the elevation was steep, I had to go slow and hang on to every root, trunk or wire available to prevent me from falling. I lost count at how many times I’ve slipped, or skidded or tripped on the roots. The descents were designed for the fearless.
The bottom of this trail led us back to the main area of Pico de Loro where we took the road going to Power Line 1. It was 3K into the race and once you make a turn to the Power Line area, you’ll be intimidated as you got to see a file of runners bunched up in the climb to the top worth 125 meters of elevation at almost 90 degrees angle. I spent so much time here because the queue was so long as only one person at a time can pass at especially on the parts where you have to hold on to ropesfor support. This literally takes your breathe away as it was exhausting to climb that elevation plus the queue time added to the degree of difficulty. After the queue and the climb, I was finally up on top. I’ve covered the first 3.5 kilometers almost an hour already so I was hoping to recover some time on the descent.
Like the first descent, the next descent was also a sharp drop and it took me even longer conquering this stretch due to the technicality of the descent. If you go to fast, you could really slide or fall hard so it was back to playing it safe on the descent. I had several falls in this part, which reminds me how much of a klutz I am. This stretch was about 1.5 kilometers until we reached the flat grounds. This was the regular bike area at Pico de Loro. While the roads are flat, the surface was uneven. It’s also at this time that we felt the full heat of the sun because this area was open. It was four kilometers of brisk walking and running at this area. I also decided to conserve energy here as I know there is still a bigger climb ahead.
By the 9th kilometer, we started ascending Power Line 2 which was worth 150 meters of elevation spread out over a kilometer. This was an even higher climb than the first Power Line but I used a different strategy for this one. I looked ahead instead of looking up and just went on climbing with a few breathing breaks in between. It felt easier even if the climb was endless but I was just inching myself to the top until I finally was there. It was back on the descents once again and as usual I played it safe here going at a slower pace.
The last challenge was going over boulders of stones. It was my first time to go through boulders of stones in any race. It was really difficult as each stone is different. Sometimes, you have to make big steps. Sometimes, you have to jump. Sometimes, you have to find a way to get past series of stones. If the ascents were ‘breathtaking’ and the descents were risky, the boulders of stone was a full body workout. It was not easy navigating this terrain but this is the final roadblock to the finish line so might as well finish it.
Last 500 meters and I was fully exhausted by overcoming the boulders of stone. I still tried to run some of the part just to finish the race and as I crossed the finished line. It was satisfying to conquer this race. I have much respect for this course and this was a nice character building session for me and the participants. What doesn’t kill you can only make you stronger.
This was different from the other trail runs, I’ve joined. This one has a lot of character in it. It was nice to survive this one and I’m sure this would go a long way in my future runs. It’s not the easiest of runs but it’s one of the more satisfying ones.