“It’s always humbling seeing nature at it’s finest. Brooks Run Happy 3 gave us different views of the Sierra Madre Mountain range. We saw the mountains on our swift descent. We saw them again as we crossed one river after another at the bottom of the trail. We were awed by its beauty while catching our breathes in the killer climb and obstacles. We had a full view of the mountain range as we felt triumphant crossing that finish line. That spells #RunHappy to Me.”
Brooks Run Happy 3
I’ve been excited to cap my TRAILogy after Salomon X-Trail and TNF in the past few weeks with Brooks Run Happy 3. I’ve always been a fan of Brooks Run series and shifting it to the trails made it even better. I’ve grown to love the trails especially at summer time because it’s just the perfect time to go outdoors and get kissed by the sun. The friendlier pace of trail feels a welcome shift from the frenetic race pace we often encounter in the City. This would be a tough one because of the inclines of Tanay, Rizal plus add that I’ve had so little sleep since we had to leave early for Tanay from Makati. I initially got a 16 Kilometers race kit but just for the fun of it, I switched it to a 24 Kilometers and I hope I won’t regret the decision of moving up the distance. The Goal for this one is RUN HAPPY!!!
Race Course and Elevation Profile
Race Starts at Sierra Madre Hotel in Tanay and descends to Barangay Laiban for the next 5 kilometers covering 450 meters worth of elevation. The race then goes through flat terrains covering several kilometers going to the water falls at kilometer 8. The race then goes on another 3 kilometers going to the u-turn slot before going back to the course and passing through the rivers of water. The 5 kilometer climb resumes again at kilometer 17 until km 21 worth 450 meters of climbing. The race shifts to Sierra Madre Hotel grounds descending another 100 meters going to the obstacles and jungle trails before climbing up again to the finish line.
I met up with James, Tezza and Jham at Shell in Ayala at 3:30 am for the drive going to the Venue. The place was a bit far and took us about an hour touching down Sierra Madre Hotel where the race would be happening. First things I did was to have my 16 kilometers kit replaced to a 24 kilometers kit. Since we brought a car, we (Me, Jham, Tezza and James) agreed to go a run happy pace since we don’t have a bus to catch anyway.
We positioned ourselves towards the tail end so we can go at a comfortable pace. The road is downhill so we could get this part done at a faster pace though we did walk the steep descents for safety purposes. Even just 500 meters into the race, we already got to see the early morning majestic view of the Sierra Madre Mountain Range.
Even despite the downhill path, I waited a few kilometers for my legs to warm up before going at a fast pace as I didn’t want to have stiffness in my leg which would drag me the whole race. So run – walk and picture taking mode.
The roads was shifting from cemented to dirt roads. I started adding speed in the run segments while gravity was on my side. It was fun moving at this pace and I am definitely enjoying this one.
At the end of the descent starts the series of rivers to cross. At the first two river crossing, I took the stones on the side to avoid being wet. On the third river crossing, I saw the leading runner of the 16K distance coming back from the shorter distance and the splash effect looks good. So the kid in me took over and went on to run in the rivers.Running happy is running on waters, Photo by James Orlanda
There were about 9 rivers to cross before approaching the residential area. Since this was about running happy, here I am again running on waters. It was really good that my Brooks Pure Grit was perfect for any terrain.
I’m obviously having fun. One thing I love about trails is the crisp good mornings from fellow runners and onlookers. I’d respond with an enthusiastic good morning to everybody I see. It was nice to interact with the locals as well as aside from good mornings, you also get high fives from kids and also some enthusiastic runners. After the town was the trek towards the waterfalls at the 8th kilometer mark.
The waterfalls was a bit dry owing to the warm weather so just imagine the amount of heat we were also absorbing. Upon reaching the water falls we had to go back and make a turn going to the midpoint of the race.
It was about a kilometer before we separated from the 16 km runners who were on their way back and the first thing as we made way to the u-turn slot was another river so here we go again.
The surfaces varied from this point, there were some rocks, sands, soil and grass. Since this was less congested and flat we run this portion of the course until we reached the u-turn slot. We were also running beside a river going to this area.
Half way into the race and it’s time to head back and this just means that the descent we once took would be the hardcore climb we would be doing. It was time to preserve our energy so we decided to take it slow so a combination of brisk walks, runs and more importantly, appreciation of the scenery.
On our way back we had the chance to revisit the warm and friendly neighborhood and of course, getting past the rivers. We also bought some cookies on our way back and ate it on our way. Since I really had a nice time running on the rivers, I would sprint on the road leading to the waters and then walk again after the river crossing. I’m taking advantage of the flat time to enjoy the race as I know when the river runs out, it’s gonna be the time to climb again.
Since this is a cross country challenge, it also have it’s tough element. At kilometer 17, we started our way back up and that’s 5 kilometers worth of climbing equivalent to 450 meters of elevation. From walk, it’s now gonna be a long crawl to the top. The inclines are a bit steep and increase in altitude also means the air would be thinner. The sun was already at its peak which makes the climb even more challenging.
I was pacing would Jham during this part of the course and we took it a step at a time. The problem was my heart rate was spiking already because of the effort so I took a few minutes once in a while to rest. I also had to hydrate and douse myself with water every once in a while to cool down the system. I followed that routine and we were slowly inching our way to the top. We also started seeing other runners ahead struggling on the tough climbs. And yes, even cars and motorcycles were struggling on this inclines.
The toughest part was toward kilometer 19 and 20 and it was a struggle getting past this part. It was also a good excuse to stop a while and appreciate the views from this vantage point. The goal was to walk as much until I reach max heart rate and rest to bring it down. Little by little, we were crawling our way to the top. By kilometer 21, the climb was more tolerable and my heart rate was steadier until we reached the top and back in Sierra Madre Hotel grounds.
Once we’ve reached Sierra Madre Hotel grounds, we were escorted to the obstacle area which was another descent of 100 meters. Funny how you climb 450 meters only to descend 100 meters downward again and climb again. Yes, that’s how challenging this race is. We started doing the obstacle from a Military Wall, a Net Climb and a tire walk. After that we had to go to a stair going down. The stairs felt like torture after the beating the quads had on the climbs.
After going down the stairs, we proceeded to the pool area where the harder obstacles were in place. There was a queue in the rappel area and it was difficult to do this one because we did it 4 at a time which meant that the rope keep going to different directions. We then headed off to a Jungle trail were we had to hang on to ropes to get past this part. We then went on the second rappel area which I did faster this time. After being brought to the bottom, it was time for another lung-busting climb again. I was given a choice to rappel down which would be faster or take the longer way. I took the longer way as I would want to relax my senses before the final push to the finish line.
The finish was another climb so I kept on with the climb until I saw Coach Ben Alacar of Without Limits who told me that the finish line was just 50 meters away and he already congratulated me. I said, “let me catch my breath for a few seconds first.” Then I went on to reach the finish line for a really challenging Brooks Run Happy 3. I was really happy to survive and enjoy this one. I’m glad I did 24K for this one. It stings but it’s worth the effort. Great job Without Limits and Brooks for a great race. With that, ends my TRAILogy on a Run Happy mode.