- Distance: 23K
- Date: August 9, 2015
- Venue: Mt. Marami, Maragondon, Cavite
Mt. Marami was my craziest adventure to date. It’s not the toughest of mountains but when it rains, expect to get all kids of mud. The mud didn’t only create a slippery trail, it also sticks on your shoes making each step much heavier. It’s a mental challenge as you have to take some time to plot which would be the safest step while taking advantage of the stones, rocks, grass, shrubs, twigs that can be stop your slide. Aside from the awesome view of the summit, we got a memorable story to tell for ages on how we climb and survived Mt. Marami on a rainy day.
- #TaleOfTheTrail: Mount Marami (Maragondon, Cavite)
- Incoming: 1st Mt. Marami Silyang Bato 21K FKT Challenge
- Get Down and Dirty in the Trails with Ahon.PH
I was part of the first group who made a recon mission for Mt. Marami with people from New Era. The biggest draw of the mountain is the view from Silyang Bato, which captures the view of the nearby mountains. True enough, a lot of people did join the race though credits to the organizers for holding recon missions regularly to other participants even before the race. I don’t usually do mountains twice since there are a lot of mountains to climb but doing it in a race environment would be a whole new experience. From my recon, it’s an 8.5K rolling terrain with mud on the first 3K, a tough and steep 2.5K assault, a suicidal 2.5K descent and another 8.5K of rolling terrain. On race day, Mr. Rain came to play so it’s a whole new ball game. As they say, No battle plan survives first contact. This is gonna be a wet and wild adventure.
Route and Elevation Profile
The route starts at Marami – Maragondon Road and heads to a rolling terrain at the first 8.5K before the 2.5K Assault to the summit that covers about 420 meters worth of elevation. The route descends for another 2.5K with some climbs in between before going back to the rolling terrain for the next 8.5K.
Note: Video above is until 15K only since watch battery was drained.
We arrived at Maragondon, Cavite around 4 am coming from a few hours drive from Manila. We had a lot of time to spare since gunstart would be by 5 am. They designed a wave start to de-congest the trails since there are a lot of participants. I selected Wave B which starts at 5:10 since I don’t plan to go that fast for this one. The initial plan was to cover the first 8 kilometers as fast as I can, go slow on the ascent, cruise on the descent and go fast on the last 8 kilometers. Things would be a whole lot of different from that plan.
At gunstart, I took advantage of the first and ONLY stretch of road to speed up. In less than a kilometer, there it was the first stretch of mud. The mud was soft that it sticks and accumulates on your shoes, which gives you a heavier stride and eliminates all the traction in your shoes. I’m familiar with this muddy stretch so I just have to cover as much distance as I can until I hit a more solid mud surface. I heard a familiar voice. It was Jeff Lo of Pinoyfitness who was with Ria and Karen. That best thing going over the muddy patch is a pace group so I joined their group. We started fast as a pack because Karen was setting the pace though we did have to wait for a while to get the whole pack together in some stretches.
We love the rivers since this was the chance that we got to wash of the mud on our shoes. It was also great that I was wearing Ahon.PH gaiters as I didn’t have to worry about mud entering my shoes. After washing of the mud on our shoes, we got a fresh set of mud. The mud can also be tough on the shoes as it has a pull effect that can take off the sole of your shoes especially if it’s already approaching its retirement stage. You get that pulling feel every step of the way. Since this was the tolerable part so we just went on with our pace and was also able to chat with runners within our pack.
We hiked through mud and several river crossing and we finally reached Nuestra Senora Dela Paz Grotto and Chapel where Rutangina Joma Sison of Ayala Triads was taking photos at his own silyang bato. I sure hope this was the silyang bato but this was the easy part of the race. Good thing was this was the 7 kilometer mark and there was a water station and buko.
We had a buko break at the aid station and then went back to the trail. When we were at this part during the recon, the ground was already solid so I was hoping that it would be better but as the rains fall time and again and the sun was shyly hiding in the clouds, it was still mud. So mud it was. By this time, we already know how to differentiate which is a better type of mud to step on.
We had muds unlimited. We had some rivers. The elevation was also starting to go up though we were more than a kilometer away from the steep parts of the ascent. There also was views at this vantage point where you get to see the foggy summit. We went on with the route until we’ve reached the foot of the climb where the plan was to slow down. It was a different kind of assault this time since it was muddy and slippery and wait, here comes the rain.
The assault was really challenging as we were slipping at some points and you just have to see where the stones, twigs, grass, etc are placed so you can use it to stop your downward momentum. It was also a good thing that I was using a trekking pole for added balance and stability. It was a really tough part and we had to stop at some point because some people in front of us were panicking. Mental toughness is really needed on this muddy trails as you have to keep calm and composed even when you are sliding down. It was a mudfest, slidefest, crawlest and sufferfest all at the same time while it was raining. We’ve finally reached the kubo around km 9 where it was already raining hard. We had to decide if we would continue or not as this is also the path that leads to the downward part of the trail.
With the raining falling hard and trail getting slipper by the minute, it was a wise choice to quit. Somehow, I selected the crazier option yet again to continue. The terrain was more manageable at this point but there were a lot of slippery areas where you you can see people slip often. We were already meeting runners going down and they were really muddy dirty. As Jeff says, this is a color run with a muddy brown theme. We went on for about a kilometer until I saw a familiar spot which was about 500 meters to the summit. That got me excited that we went on faster. There were some tough spots though as there were areas you had to hang on some of the shrubs for added balance. It was also nice to help out some runners slipping in this area. It was finally the road to the summit. We had to wait for our turn to climb and rappel up. Luckily, I’m used to rappelling because of the Kota Kinabalu climb. And we’re finally in the summit.
We stayed at the summit for more than an hour since the queue was long and that it was a great time to bond with other participants. The good part was that despite the tough climb, everyone was in high spirits because of the view and the challenged overcome. It’s always great to be at the summit humbled by the raw beauty of nature and the challenge of the climb. We had alternating foggy and clear view of the mountain. It’s a totally different experience compared to my first climb at Mount Marami. We also ate some of our food here.
As we were queuing on our way down, here comes the rain again and it was really falling harder this time. Oh at least, we don’t have to be worry about the heat this time. After rappelling down, We went at a faster pace to head down. We didn’t mind the mud this time so we can finish the race. We went through the stretch from the summit to the kubo fast. It was a challenge though as we took the other route since it was a long climb again. It was made even tougher by the accumulation of mud in the shoes which made it feel like running in a treadmill with a high ascent and not moving forward. After the long climb, it was mostly descent but the slippery slopes made it suicide drops so we had to trek smarter and see the best and safer options.
The best part of the trail is to enjoy it. Take a look at the video taken by Usherwin Guansing of Frederick Fajardo enjoying the trails. Yes, some portions of the trails is best covered that way. Trails are fun!!! We had to crawl some parts and go slow on some part. We also had to apply some trail techniques like walking or running with a wider stance for more balance. The descent was long, endless and a little bit crazy. It was just crazy seeing how long and how deep some of the descents are and factor in the muddy surface, it was scary but we’re the crazy enough to climb this so we’re crazy enough to go along with the descent.
We had to crawl, slide and try just about anything to survive the drops. We had a mais break in the middle of the descent as it was about lunch time already. This felt forever but we’re finally approaching the end of the steeper part of the trail with another river.
Jeff had to wash off the mud on his shoes and luckily for me, I didn’t as I had gaiters on. Seriously, gaiters really helps in trail conditions like this. After a short climb at the river, it was back to the main road that led to the chapel. We had a short break in the chapel before heading back to the trails again. It was consistent brisk walking from hereon as we wanted to finish the race already. It was a long and winding road but we did finally hit the end of this 7-8 minute stretch to reach the finish line.
Crazy as it is, I really enjoyed this one. It was tough and was a full body work out but it makes you stronger physically, mentally and emotionally. Plans fail and circumstances changes but if you learn to adopt, you’ll learn to survive. This experience is one for the books and I’m sure everybody had a really memorable race.
Outfit of the Race
- Top: Berghaus with #TaleOfTheTrail design by Breakout Design
- Shorts, Calf sleeves and visor: Under Armour
- Shoes: Salomon Wingsflyte
- Eyewear: Oakley
- GPS Watch: Suunto Ambit 3 Sports
- Activity Monitor: Polar A300
- Gaiters: Ahon.PH
- Arms Sleeves: Mens Health
- Trekking Pole: Columbia
- Hydration Bag: Scott