Trail Academy resumed at Timberland Heights for Hoka Trail 201. About 200 participants got to experienced the fusion of a trail talk and trail run in a single event powered by Hoka One One and featuring the scenic up and down trails of Timberland Heights.
Trail Academy has been an ongoing project by Pinoy Trails, Active Pinas and Team Malaya. With two stagings at Camp John Hay, Baguio City, the Manila leg can’t be far behind. Somehow, we found Timberland when Jun Santiago set up a trail visit with Fred Silloga at Timberland Heights. After our visit, we met with Timberland officials and it turned out, they also love the idea. The next part is bringing in Hoka to see the trails and it was set. When we opened the registration, the originally planned 100 slots was out for the first hour so we had to increase to 200 slots, which was gone by early afternoon so eventually had to close it the same day to keep the event intimate. Sourcing pacers was also an easy task with several friends volunteering as pacers. Next up was to introduce the pacers to the concept of trail academy and to get their inputs in the route a week ago.
Event day came fast and a part of me was both excited and anxious. I guess if it doesn’t scare you, you’re not dreaming big enough. I’ve gone the various what could go wrong in my mind and see the potential solutions that came. The race village was really impressive with the display from Hoka One One, Runnr, Lightwater, Vitamin Boost, Emco Musli, Timberland, Timberland Sports and Nature Club, Amihan and Pinoy Trails. It gave the runners a race day feel. Though the event was free, the runners didn’t go home empty handed as they hand drinks and food from Lightwater, Vitamin Boost, Emco Musli and Del Monte, a Hoka Gift box consisting of a 20% discount coupon and Gu Energy Gel. They also got the chance to win some raffle items including one Hoka One One shoes and get some exclusive discounts.
Thanks for the overwhelming support to Hoka One One, Runnr, Drymax and Gu. To Timberland Heights from officers to event staff, you were such a gracious host for the event. To Lightwater, Vitamin Boost and Emco Musli thanks for providing food and hydration during the event. To Samahang Mananakbo ng Smart and Smart Mountaineering Club, thanks for partnering with us for the event logistics and providing volunteers. To Amihan Sports Gear, thanks for providing some prizes. To Del Monte, thanks for providing our runners with some added drinks and freebies. To Active Pinas and Glairold Recella Photography, thanks for covering the event with your wonderful shots. To the Speakers, Otep, Noy and JC, thanks for providing your wonderful insights to the runners. To the pacers, you are the lifeblood of the event as your teaching during huddle stops gave the runner some practical lessons along the trail. Of course to the runners, thanks for the support.
The Trail Talk segment started the day after the registration at 6:00 am. I opened the event with a few remarks on the history of trail academy. This was followed by a short talk from Rons Nebre from Timberland, on the future plans for trail runners at Timberland trails. Leo Libuna from Quorum Group also gave a short talk about the brand. Noy Gentoleo started the talks with trail gear as his key topic. Recent UTMB finisher Otep Sibal gave a talk on race planning. JC Igos then gave a talk on trail etiquette and the environment. After the talks, the runners were grouped into the fast wave, moderate wave and walker’s wave.
I joined the walkers wave, which has been my usual group since the very first trail academy. I love this group as there’s so much room for growth here. Walking in the trail is a good start as you start developing the feel moving around and trying out different surfaces of the trail. The walkers wave had a shorter route from the spine road heading into a Table Top view deck after 3 kilometers and back.
While I was adjusting the lid of my water bottle, I accidentally spilled my water and it was captured above by Glairold Recella. So there, I had to make do with limited hydration for the rest of the route. We went on towards the lower end of the spine road and stopped for our first huddle point before the climb. We emphasized understanding the terrains during an actual race or managing your efforts on the climbs. Joma also shared his insights on the trails. The next set of stretches were muddy stretches and some did struggle at this part.
We waited for the rest at the chapel at around 1.5 kilometer into our route. The next set of trails were wet and rocky but it was easier to navigate than the muddy stretch. We also had a lively time especially because we had Joma with us. The next set of trails were the rolling single track stretch along the ridges. This had a lot of overlooking views of the green mountain ranges. The climbs were tolerable until we reached the river area.
The river was just about 400-500 meters away from the table top area but it was a steep climb on muddy surfaces. This made the route a lot more memorable. I suggested our group to divide their efforts on the climb with several breathers after certain number of steps. It was lung-busting at this part but it was part of the challenge. I was part of the first group of runners and we slowly ascended the Table top area with a few rest stops.
After reaching the top part, we rested at the shaded area at the corner to wait for the rest. The Table Top area has been my favorite areas as it gives you a panoramic view of the mountain ranges.
It’s also the perfect place for our group picture since it’s a wide flat area that’s accessible via different trail entry points. After several minutes, the others slowly came to the top and then we had a group photo for the first half of the route.
The road back was much faster as the road was mostly downhill except for the stretch after the river. The steep descent was also a slow one followed by an ascent of about 500 meters. The last 2 kilometers were mostly rolling terrain. I joined the first wave of walkers back and after a while, we were back to the event area. Upon arriving, we resumed our program and gave away some prizes including one Hoka One One shoes. That wraps up Hoka Trail 201. See you at the future legs of Trail Academy.