After finishing my 2nd full marathon in 2015, it was mostly trail runs for me. The trail never goes old as each time you step in the mud, it’s bound to be a whole new experience. Here’s a collection of those challenging moments that tested my will on the trail.
The Trail is My Playground
A sequel to my post: 5 Most Memorable Racing Moments in 2015
The Trail has been my playground, my passion, my therapy and my advocacy. From being a runner, a media and even a race organizer, I’ve gone a long way in appreciating and promoting the trails. I’ve gone from short distances to long distances. I was able to surpass a lot of challenging times of digging deep and finding a lot of “It’s a Trap” moments. But, great rewards comes with great challenges. In fact, it’s those challenging moments that still lingers to this day. Here’s a collection of some of the challenging racing moments on the trails.
Salomon XTrail 2015
Read about: Salomon XTrail 2015
I was now on the final leg at the beach front of Anvaya Cove on a scorching hot day with each step sinking in the white sands. I also almost picked up a floating jelly fish by the shore thinking it was Ice. I must have been too exhausted after surpassing the long-climb to Mount Natib. The soft sand was heavy on the feet and a really challenge with clock ticking chasing the tough cut-off that Salomon XTrail has been known for.
Salomon XTrail has always been a race I love to hate but still do it for the love of the trails. That’s what makes Salomon Xtrail special. It’s a character building race that will have you feeling accomplished once you’ve reached the finish line. The 2015 version was in Anvaya Cove and had us climbing to a magnificent Mount Natib viewpoint on a scorching hot day. It was a steady effort throughout managing my time all race. It was good that I had enough time to go over the beachfront stretch and was able to finish the cut-off for the 24K. I also was able to finish the race again within the dreaded cut-off the year after.
Mount Marami Silyang Bato 21K FKT Challenge 2015
Read About: Mount Marami Silyang Bato 21K FKT Challenge
In 2015, Mount Marami was a total mudfest so after the drag that came of the first 8 kilometers on rolling terrains, we were on the ascent. Well, this was not an ordinary ascent as it was raining. Midway during the climb, we had the option to go back as it was raining real hard already but as my adventurous would say, “Laban.” The next was finding twigs, trunks, rocks and leaves to hang on as each step also was a slide down before the rocky ascent to the summit.
Mount Marami was probably the craziest thing I have done especially with the typhoon ongoing. Months before the race, we did the full course recon on a hot day and ended up short on hydration on the descent. The race was a totally different challenge with the mud being a drag on the rain and the climb being a slidefest. We’ve reached the summit and being among the part who were allowed to summit for safety reasons. The descent was even tougher as we were on steep ravines. We had to figure a way of descending without slipping on the ravines. Slowly but surely, we’ve made our descent and hitting the lower end was such a relief. We’ve managed to reach the finish line in 10 hours (Yes, 10 hours, that’s not a typo). It was a total adventure.
Mount Sembrano Mountain Run 2016
Read About: Mount Sembrano Mountain Run 2016
Whenever I’m in a tough spot, I always try to go back to a difficult trail memory I’ve overcame and drain strength from there. Mount Sembrano may have reset that threshold as the first 5K was a combination of a steep, technical and long climb with 750 meters worth of climbing for that stretch. It was a struggle and a new mental test. That’s where we coined the, “It’s a Trap” phrase.
I’ve done Mount Sembrano several times and that first 5K stretch never felt easy especially during the first time. The distance was slowly advancing on the ascent so I switched my watch to the altitude portion. I ended up counting down the climbing altitude left. Slowly but surely I made my way forgetting that this was a 15K race, I just need to get past the first 5K. As I was able to go to the open areas of the trail, I felt that the end of the long climb is near and got refreshed. The view at the top was majestic with a view of Laguna Bay along the ridges. Since the first 5K was so difficult, the next 10K felt really easy and the view was really rewarding.
Miyamit Falls 26K 2016
Read About: Miyamit Falls Trail Marathon
I was running with a sprained ankle and it was fully taped already. I tested if I could run on the flat soft lahar surface at the start of the race and I still felt some pain on the ankle. It was time to switch to a different strategy. I had to be consistent and do a lot of brisk walk while reducing the impact of each stride with the trekking pole. Miyamit Falls is a tough man’s race with over 1,000 meters of elevation gain. I had to admit I wasn’t prepared for this one and I had a heavily taped sprained ankle so I promised myself that I just need to find a way to survive this race and I’ll give my body a rest.
The first 10K was purely ascent so I went on a consistent brisk walking pace on the climb. The trekking pole was a big help and the first few kilometers climbing was on paved roads. On the upper part of the climb was muddy surfaces until the intersection heading to the falls. The falls was a technical descent and I still went on cautious and consistent. I’ve reached the falls and took a sustained effort on climbing the 3 kilometers of technical ascent to the intersection. It was purely downhill from there. It also rained at this time. I started picking up the pace but still made sure to protect the ankle. It was a steady effort until the finish line to finish with a lot to spare within the cutoff.
Cordillera Mountain Ultra 2017
Read About: Cordillera Mountain Ultra 2017
Around Kilometer 14 at 3:30 into the race, I had to decide If I have to go on in the town of Oling. That’s still within 30 minutes within the cutoff for that stretch. Once I go past this point, I have to finish the race or else I would have to be bailed out in another town with no daily means of transportation. Should I go or not?
Cordillera Mountain Ultra was a journey doing 11K in Mount Pulag in 2015, 21K at Itogon in 2016 and this time I’m in the 50K distance for the first time ever. Every year, I would conquer my distance and ending up outside looking in other people’s ultra journey through the whole course. So might as well, try it out. The thing was, of all the 3 race, this was the time I was least prepared. It was also my busy season at work with my longest run just being 17K. Being on km 14, quitting was really an option but I was stubborn and decided to go. Up next was a steady 10 kilometer climb to Mount Ugo. It was a scenic delight all throughout the climb. I still was able to hit the summit within my target time. The thing is my legs felt exhausted already on the descent and with my quads cramping on the last 10K. I went on to finish the race at 14 hours but unfortunately this was the year that the cut-off was reduced to 13 hours. Going back, the goal was always to fully experienced the race and I was glad to complete 50 freakin’ kilometers and live to tell about it on my birthday coming the next 2 days.