If I had a home court, it would be the Yellow Trail of Camp John Hay. This is one of the things I like about Trail Festival 2018. It’s familiar yet it never grows old on me. It has the pine forested feel with a challenging high altitude and rolling terrain.
Trail Festival 2018
The Yellow Trail of Camp John Hay is my playground. It also comes with a lot of nostalgia from previous races up to even childhood memories. Running or just hiking this trail is what completes each of my trip in my hometown. I’ve probably ran every twist and turns of the trail and have variation when I want a hill workout or just want to have a chill time. It’s familiar and it never grows old on me. I still enjoy the cold climate and the pine rich reserve now as I enjoyed each visit of the trails when I was still a kid.
It’s another intimate run for trail fest. I joined the 16 kilometers category. I was planning to just hike this one (especially that it had a 4 hour cut-off) as I’ve always done with each visit here since I have no training nor mileage for the week. At gunstart, people started running and I went with the pace. I went at a fast pace just to go with the crowd since it starts downhill. The race started at the open-field and heads down to the lower part of the Yellow Trail.
The lower part of the Yellow Trail also means that once you’ve descended, it’s a gradual climb to the upper part before hitting the steep climb between the 3rd and 4th kilometer. I continued at the pace until I got my usual warm up pains in my shin splints. I always have shin splints whenever I start too fast or have no mileage so I shifted brisk walk pace.
I also inserted some runs to keep the legs warm. It’s always a scenic race in Camp John Hay with the pines and the hays. It was routine at this point before hitting the fire road mid way the 3rd kilometer. I started to run at the fire road since it’s a bit more even and descending. As I expected to go left downwards to the lower part of the trail, we were asked to do an out-and-back on a steep hill.
At the end of the fire road was an intersection, one leads you to a view deck and two trails going downward. We took the short steep hill heading to the view deck. It’s just about 100-150 meters but it’s probably about 50-60% incline. It was a struggle especially that I came from a running stretch but I’m a trooper. One step or crawl after another until the top and it was time to go down. It was equally hard going down but I trust the traction of my Hoka One One Speed Instinct 2.
The next set of trails were going downwards but I opted to slow down here because I knew what was coming next. It was about 500 meters worth of climbing with about 150-200 meters of elevation gain. I had to keep my heart rate low so I can take the climb with less struggle. After the descent, I walked my way to the climb and started counting steps, I would usually take a few seconds breathing breaks after about a 100 steps. The counting was also there to distract me on the steep climb ahead. It’s always a challenge on this stretch though I always look forward to this whenever I go here.
After huffing and puffing my way to the top of the Yellow Trail, I knew that the hard part was over as the climbs would be tolerable at this point. The top of the Yellow Trail is among my favorite viewpoints as aside from the pines, you get to see the rest of the Cordillera Mountain Range in your line of sight. I started at a walking pace just to stabilize my breathing after the long climb and after that I was back at my running pace.
This was also a run-able stretch with single tracks and moderate ascents heading to the tree-top adventure area. The trail heading to the tree top adventure had a bit of a jungle feel with different type of trees, plants, shrubs and twigs along the way. It’s a bit technical so I slowed down a bit. The next set of trails were mostly downhill heading towards the u-turn slot. I took note of the downhill as after the u-turn I would be climbing this again.
At the u-turn, I took my Gu Energy Gel, had one banana and a cup of water at the aid station. I rarely stop in a race so it’s either I’m running or walking. I was on my way back starting with the climb back to the Tree Top Adventure area. I power hiked my way through the climb and started running again when things went down hill.
I usually divide races in sections so after the hard part, it was time to coast. I coasted to the upper part of the yellow trail as well as the steep descent. I’m just glad I have a downhill running shoes with the Speed Instinct 2 as I felt protected even with the impact of each descending stride.
There was another climb after the steep descent but after the steep climb earlier in the race, this one would be routine. I went at a steady pace until the top of the climb before heading to the fire roads, where I started running again. I was counting down the kilometers in to the race. I just went at a run – walk pace on the lower part of the trails before the climb.
I noticed that the course was short so I was thinking maybe they would include the Eco-Trail on the way back so I was reserving my energy. I went steady on the climb back to the main road and was looking for any sign that says, 16K runners please go to eco-trail. There was none so I ran my way to the finish line for a strong finish. I did enjoy the fast and fun pace of the Trailfest.