There’s something about Nuvali that makes running here always a good experience. It gives you the friendliest trails and the feel good experience along the route. It has a refreshing view, cleaner air and a slight incline for the challenge. Valley Trail Challenge gives that range of feel good trail adventure whether you’re doing a short 15K like I did, going the longer 30K to see the New Zealand view or doing the full 50K loop around Nuvali.
Valley Trail Challenge
Last year, I did 30 kilometers, which was really about 32 kilometers so this year, I wanted a different experience. There are a lot of different trails. There’s the high challenge, high reward ones, which gives you a magnificent view when you reach the summit and there are trails like Nuvali, which is a fast, a fun and a refreshing course. If it were a movie, this would be a feel good one. Sometimes, you have to go back and re-experience the simpler trails and just have fun and this is why I selected the 15 K category. Let’s get this adventure going.
Race Course and Elevation Profile
The race starts at E. Nature Avenue which brings closer to the side trails of Nuvali. The first stretch of trails last until kilometer 2.5 and heads to the Rotunda where you shift to Nuvali Boulevard to enter the next stretch of trains. The trails is about 5 kilometers worth of trail and rough roads heading to the u-turn slot. The trail shifts back to Nuvali Boulevard and back to the first trail for the finish. The first part of the trail are mostly climbs while the second half of the trails are mostly descents.
If I had a super power, I wished it was the power to sleep at will. I barely had sleep for this one but good thing that I always try to wake up late on the day before the race so I would have at least invested some sleep. I went with running blogger Rene Villarta and we left Manila at 2:30 am and arrived a little past 3 am, which gave us a lot of time before gun start at 5. We were able to meet a lot of friends who were joining the same category and also met the events team. We spent the remaining time to warm up and catch up with friends before the race. Since this was only the 15K distance, I went light on this one by doing away with the hydration bag and just bring a simple hydration bottle.
Jonel, the race director gave us a few reminders. One of them was to follow the orange ribbons along the course so we won’t get lost. I think that’s one of the challenges in trails is how to make sure you don’t get lost especially when you are too drawn by the view and you miss out on the markers. I hope I don’t get lost for this one though I probably visualized the course in my mind coming from my previous races here. After the reminders, it was the much awaited gun start.
I was swayed by the fast start of many runners and started fast too. Upon checking my watch, we were going around 5:30 – 6:00 minute per kilometer pace for the first kilometer. That was way to fast for me especially on trails where I usually settle for a run walk mix that would have me finishing a kilometer within 10 minutes. I started to walk as I wanted to pull down from this pace group and when I was away from the speedsters. I then resumed my run walk scheme. I would run 1 to 2 minutes and have a walking rest for 30 seconds. The first stretch of trail was almost 3 kilometers and with the fast starts and the steady pace, it felt like a breeze. It was a short road with a climb to the rotunda and a descent to Nuvali Boulevard for the first aid station. I just took a glass of Gatorade and didn’t refill my bottle since it was still a bit full.
We then entered the trail at the right side of Nuvali Boulevard. This was about 5 kilometers worth of fields, dirt tracks, fire trails,rough roads and a lot of tall grass. It was also a mental challenge as it felt endless especially with the false flat course that had us on the climb for the next 5 kilometers. I remember telling a group of runners at around kilometer 4 that it’s about 3.5 kilometers to the u-turn slot. I did quickly corrected myself, make that probably 4 or more kilometers to go before the u-turn as knowing Jonel, he’ll surely give us an extra surprise on the distance. That’s the other thing I like about trails, it’s not as accurate as road measurements but you love taking the extra kilometers because of the view.
It was nice bumping into friends along the way. I rarely asked who’s racing before an event, I just know that I’ll bump into them along the course. I started seeing familiar faces approaching the u-turn. About 7 kilometers into the race, I entered a rough road area with a view of the mountains and that just means that the u-turn is near and just like I guessed, the course would be more than 15K, which is well and good in my books. I started speeding up towards the u-turn slot. There’s something about u-turn that sends you counting down the kilometers left rather than stressing over the kilometers to go.
After the u-turn, I was contemplating on slowing down but since the next parts were descent, I ended up moving faster. I had to conserve my water reserve though as I have about a fourth of the bottle for the next 5 kilometers to go. I would just have a few sips after a few run-walk sequence. The road back felt faster with the descent and of course, my need to refill water bottle at the water station. It was one effort after the other until I reached the water station at about 13 kilometers into the race.
I had several glass of Gatorade and water to drink plus I had another cup to splash on my head as it was already getting hot. I also ate watermelon and had a few chat with friends manning the aid stations. I went back to the course with the road to the rotunda and the last 2.5 kilometers of trail. It was also getting hot as I slowed down a bit. I still added a few run efforts in this stretch to cut my time heading to the finish line.
After crossing the huge concrete pipe, I knew that it was just over a kilometer over the race. I shifted to brisk walks coupled with a few runs until we reached the concrete portion which is about 300 meters to the finished line. I added more runs here until I reached the final 100 meters where I gave it a last push for a strong finish. That was a really fun course. Great Job Front Runner Team!
Outfit of The Race
- Race top: Berghaus with #TaleOfTheTrail design by Breakout Design
- Shorts, Visor, Compression Calf Sleeves and Socks – Under Armour
- Shoes – Newton Boco AT
- GPS Watch – Suunto Ambit 2S
- Eyewear – Salice
- Gaiters – Ahon.PH
- Camera – Go Pro Hero 3+
- Hydration – Simple Hydration