The race earned its “Bravehearts” title as I was descending on the ropes on a really steep terrain. Good times come when you brave those tough parts. True enough, we were rewarded with a whole ridge view of the sea of clouds as we made our way into the race.
I love running on ridges with the views of the mountains and the sea of clouds. I got that after 2 kilometers of the Bravehearts race. Nothing like the early morning view of the Sierra Mountain range filled with the fluffy sea of clouds as you inhale fresh air and get to feel the mountain breeze. That scene made all the effort worth it but getting to this point is a totally different story.
After the gunstart of the race, we proceeded into an uphill course with stair pegs and dirt tracks. The first kilometer is a steep climb of 250 meters overlooking the mountain range. It’s a struggle and made me a believer of “forever.” I can feel my heart beat get faster from the effort. My cough and colds made me tire a bit faster than normal but I’m a trooper so I’d take it one effort at a time rest for a few seconds and appreciate the scenery.
After the first kilometer, the climbs shift to more moderate ones along ridges. It was a visual delight getting to move around with the mountain ranges surrounded by the sea of clouds. The few short ridges led us to another surprise. It’s always a TRAP with DBB races. We then saw the terrain get a lot steeper became such a challenge. What have I gotten myself into?
It was a few hundred meters of almost 90 degrees. It was a bottleneck here as most of the runners were tentative on the descent. I just went with the pace of the group after all I am not really rushing in this race as I don’t have much lung power to go fast this time. It was really scary that I heard some say that this would be the last time they do trails. I’m quite sure they’d want to do it again the next time after they finish the race. The long steep descent led us to another climb again.
It was another steep climb of about 150 meters heading to the peak. It was another round of forever once again. I tried to take it one climb at a time before hitting an open area where you get to see the top of the mountain and the remaining steep climb to conquer. I met Jun at the open area.
We took a break since there was a store there and we ate biko before proceeding to the next climb. We did the next sets of climb with several efforts before hitting the highest point of the race at 527 meters. The first 2 kilometer stretch of the race felt really exhausting and it took us a lot of time plus you have to factor in the biko break and the pictorials. At the top of the climb is the “Magasawang Bato.”
There was a cave inside and Jun asked me if we’d want to explore it. I said next time as I’m already out of energy. It was a good thing that we were done with the tough part of the first part of the race. It makes me think how to survive the next 9-10 kilometers. The next part was the scenic part as the sky is our playground and we had the amazing sea of clouds to keep us awed.
We couldn’t help ourselves but to take photos with the sea of clouds. I guess this is not just a race but a photo shoot as well. It was great going over long ridges with a landscape as magnificent as the Sierra Madre Mountain Range. It was downhill after that. With a much defined trail and a descent, it was time to speed up a bit. I went into brisk walk and a few runs since I was reserving my energy for the next long climb at the second half of the race.
We hit the start area again and proceeded to the other side of the trail when the race marshal made us go right, I remembered this route. This was the same route leading to the Batolusong Route. Seriously, after going through the first 2K, will they make us go through the steep and technical Batolusong route? Well, I was overthinking as when we hit the trail head, we were asked to go straight instead of the Batolusong route. It was a long and moderate ascent but thinking that there would be some technical part made us conserve our effort a bit.
The u-turn came after a series of steep climb but knowing we were near gave us the energy to hit the turn-around. At the turn-around, Jun told me to go ahead as he would take his energy gel. I was a bit more comfortable on the way back since I had good traction on downhill with the Hoka One One Speed Instinct 2. I was moving a bit faster though I hit another glitch. I ran out of water on my Amihan Vest. Since I needed to wet my throat regularly because of my cough and cold, I consumed a lot more water than usual. It was also a hot morning. My life saver was the pack of Valda pastilles I brought for my cough as it gave me something to keep my throat wet on the way back.
Some locals also gave me a few cup of water along the way. Thanks! I started to move faster without over exhausting my self since I had no more water reserve and when I hit the last few hundred meters of the race, I went on to run so I can finish strong. It’s a long way for me before I get back in my old form but I got a good beating to remind me to train better and be mentally stronger. I’ll need that on their second leg since Mount Sembrano is also a mentally and physically challenging course.