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Rizal Mountain Run 2017

Posted by on 31. January 2017
15K Mission Accomplished

15K Mission Accomplished – Photo by Aquiz Minlay

Rizal Mountain Run 2017 is a really challenging course.  It gives you a variety of terrains and elevations to play with from suicide drops, long climbs and rolling terrains.  It’s not the easiest of runs but it’s really scenic exploring it and even more satisfying finishing it.

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Rizal Mountain Run 2017

Thanks to Suunto for providing the kits and letting me use the Suunto Spartan Sport.

Thanks to Suunto for providing the kits and letting me use the Suunto Spartan Sport. – Photo by Aquiz Minlay

I got a chance to join the Rizal Mountain Run 2017 thanks to Suunto, who also had me try out the Suunto Spartan Sport for the race. My mind kept flip-flopping on whether I should do 1 15K or a 30K distance but ended up with 15K since I like to experiment on several aspects of my run (including new shoes).  I did a recon and also joined several races along the route last year so this would be a familiar territory for me.  Of course, since this is my first trail run for the year, I’m definitely going to enjoy it.

Race Route and Elevation

Maps and Elevation is powered by Suunto Spartan Sport

Maps and Elevation is powered by Suunto Spartan Sport

Race starts at Base Kamp at Pintong Bukawe and it has a 2 kilometer road stretch heading to the trail head. It then goes on a two kilometer steep descent of 330 meters heading to Bajo River and another 1.5 kilometer short climb heading to Casile.  Casile is a lung-busting 3 kilometer climb with an elevation gain of about 300 meters.  It then goes on rolling terrain on the next 6.5 kilometers before going back to the road on the final 1.5 kilometers to the finish.

The Race

Ready to Race

Ready to Race – Photo by Aquiz Minlay

I left Makati at 3:30 am to fetch Aquiz, who would be covering the event for Pinoy Trails at Quezon City.  It was weird that waze had us go through to San Mateo but eventually sent us back to Marcos Highway for the longer route. Anyway, we’ve reached the race venue at around 5:20 am, enough time to get my kit and warm up for the gun start at 6:30 am. It was nice seeing a lot of familiar faces on the trails and if there’s one thing I appreciate in the trails, it has a more laid-back pre and post race environment.

Check out that sandbagger on the left side wearing neon yellow.

There’s a sandbagger on the left side wearing neon yellow.

The plan was to start slow since I’m having problem breaking in my legs because of shin splints. I headed to the back of the starting line so I won’t be pushed by the usual fast start of most people. I’ll make my move when my legs warm up. At gun start, everybody was off to a fast running start well for me, I had to run walk my way on the first 2 kilometers and I could count the persons on my back.

Photo by Jose Ramizarez

Photo by Jose Ramizarez

After 2 kilometers, we entered the trail head.  It was a steep descent which can both be fast and scary. I started to make my move when my legs warmed up.  I started to speed up with the gravity and trusting the traction of my shoes.  There were some bottlenecks on the descent but I was slowly passing through the runners. There were some technical part where I slowed down. The game plan was simple, keep moving.  I was trying to make up for lost times. After 2 kilometers, we hit the river.

River Crossing 101

River Crossing 101

There were several river crossing at Bajo River.  The first one, I used the advise of the locals who were pointing to a shallower stretch in the river. I made my way there and I overtook several runners who were in the more technical stretch of the river.  There was a short land before another stream of water. I slipped as I was too fast on that stretch but quickly stood up to resume the race.  Up next, was another river crossing with bigger stones and deeper river.

River Crossing - Photo by Jose Ramizarez

River Crossing – Photo by Jose Ramizarez

I tried balancing in the stones and walked in the river on some stretches.  I’ve been in this river before so it helps that I’m familiar with the river.  I slowly made my way over the river and I was ready to go.

Running on waters. - Photo by Jose Ramizares

Running on waters. – Photo by Jose Ramizares

As I crossed the river, I knew that I was heading to the next part of the race which is the climb part, I saw Aldean, who’s part of the organization team of the race and told him that the race was great.

Great Job Aldean! - Photo by Jose Ramizares

Great Job Aldean! – Photo by Jose Ramizares

I took out my trekking poles as it’s now on climbing mode.  There was a short climb before heading to Casile Road towards the 6th kilometer.  I took a drink at the aid station as well as refilled my simple hydration bottle.  The plan was not to stop during the climb.  It’s a 3 kilometers climb and I was training my mind not to quit, my legs to be strong, my lungs to endure and my whole system to learn to recover.  No whining just pure climbing.

With Majo of RMR Team

With Majo of RMR Team – Photo by Aquiz Minlay

Knowing the Casile climb, the steepest part was the first kilometer so I went on to brisk walk the first kilometer watching my heart rate and the altitude with my Suunto Watch.  If my heart rate was high, I would slow down to allow myself to recover.  If it went low, it was attack mode once again.  One kilometer after another until we reached the top of the climb. It helps that I’m familiar with the route and was determined not to stop.   I also slowly passed some runners who stopped along the climb.

Great to See you back in the trail Maui

Great to See you back in the trail Maui

We took a right turn towards the 9th kilometer and this was a new territory for me.  It was a rolling course with sharp climbs and some descent. I’d run some of the descent but whenever I see a climb approaching, I would slow down 200-300 meters before the climb to keep my heart rate low during the start of the climb.  Honestly, the rolling terrain felt more exhausting than the climb since it’s also a lot hotter already.  It was more than 6 kilometers with these terrain but I enjoyed the shifts in surface from fire tracks to single tracks and also enjoyed the view.  I also loved that I am able to pace myself well.

Back in the road - Photo by Aquiz Minlay

Back in the road – Photo by Aquiz Minlay

We’ve finally hit the road at the 15th kilometer mark. Obviously, the race is longer than the race distance but who cares. Cheers to bonus kilometers!!! Whenever I shift from trail to road, I always feel the change in surface. I can feel the much harder surface as compared to the trail but it’s also less drag.  I tried to run-walk my way to the finish line even on a slightly elevated roads.  As I made my final turn to the road, there it was the Finish Line and an end to an Epic Race. Great Job Baboy Ramo Gang and Race Yaya!

Shut up Legs!!! - Photo by Aquiz Minlay.

Shut up Legs!!! – Photo by Aquiz Minlay

I really enjoyed the race. I was nowhere near fast but I’m glad that I was consistent.  I was able to use the race to train myself to be stronger.  I was able to enjoy the company of trail running friends after the race. That’s one of the things I like about trail races is that people stay just to tell about the epic race experience and chat about future races. All’s well that ends well… or wait, I did have a flat tire on my way out of the area. I’m just glad there were some locals who helped me replace my flat tire.

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