Km 4-ever and that’s sums up Bravehearts as we crawled our way to a steep vertical ascent that seemed like forever. It’s a trap but the effort led us to scenic ridges and forested bamboo trails headed to Mount Mapalad.
It’s a trap! It’s not an if when it comes to BTR races, it’s when. The Trap came in kilometer 4 after the first 3 kilometers of moderate climbing. I call this part Kilometer 4-ever with seemingly endless climb on steep vertical terrains. It’s not called Bravehearts if it’s an easy course. Each race is a different story as I always say. Well, let’s dial back to the start of the race for the full race recap.
I am coming to the race with weeks of wear and tear that my legs badly need in preparation for a bigger race in March so the plan was just to go at an easy pace as I need the mileage more than a good time. We came early to claim our kits and even had a few minutes of sleep before gun start. I positioned myself at the back to start the race and as they sped off, I started my brisk walk, which was still good enough to keep in pace with the rest of the pack.
Hello Shin Splints!
500 meters into the race, I’ve felt that usual pain on my shin when I don’t warm up enough. I tried to shake it off. I went on hoping that the pain would stop once it gets warmed up. My legs are not as used to the faster pace as it used to be. That’s how things are and I adjust my game plan as it happens. So I tried to slow down a bit even though I knew I was pulling my time on easier terrains. I did that for the next few kilometers until the aid station in Km 3 where I tried to massage the shin to relax it.
And then I resumed after nibbling one hopia at the aid station and a few sips in my hydration. The road then parted with one leading to the shorter 8K route and the longer 12K route which we would be taking.
As I looked up at the trails ahead, it was a long climb and some with bamboo railings to hang on the steep trails. It was one stretch of long steep climb after the other and the distance was barely moving on my watch. This is where the trooper in me took over. It’s a mental battle now so I had to set mini-goals like dividing each climb before catching my breath or taking several steps before each break. I was trying to ensure that I won’t bonk until I reach the top of the climb. It seems like forever as I was crawling myself of this stretch.
The top of the climb was a ridge of scenic mountain ranges and compared to the previous ascent this were moderate ones. I started speeding up at this point and took advantage of the descents and after that agonizing stretch, running freely on the descents was a welcome delight. So it turned out we climbed a higher peak and headed to the lower Mount Mapalad Peak.
Mount Mapalad was a tourist haven and there was a long queue to have a photo on the wooden platform. It was a nice natural backdrop too. I had my bib marked and went straight to the uphill trail heading back before the final descent.
So the hard part is done? Well, not so fast. The road down was a wet rocky path which was a bit slippery and had a long-queue. I’m just glad that I have a good grip on my Hoka Torrent and that there were also bamboo railings at some points. Funny how DBB would remind us that we were just in the 2nd hour of a 5 hour cut-off. The queue also meant that we had to take it real slow at this stretch. It was a long descent and hitting dirt grounds once again after felt like a relief and it was 3K back to the finish line.
I choose to speed up a bit at this stretch as it was mostly descents on more single track dirt grounds. I was counting down the kilometers to the finish line. The last kilometer was on rocky surface before hitting the paved road en route to the finish line.
It felt not only finishing a 12 kilometer run but also surviving a vertical kilometer race within a race. It’s definitely a trap but as usual I’m loving every part of it.