The Path of Most Resistance is “Putik.” Salomon Xtrail Run Pilipinas 2017 had a muddy twist this year with a wet and slippery course along Subic’s vast forest reserve. It’s gonna make you question your will, your sanity and your physical capabilities but once you’ve surpassed the difficulties, you know you had one hell of a memorable race.
Salomon Xtrail Pilipinas 2017
Salomon Xtrail Pilipinas is not your usual feel-good race. It belongs to the category of a feel-tough race and is a league fn its own when it comes to degree of difficulty. Among my medals earning my two 24K Salomon Xtrail Runs in 2015 and 2016 would be among the most hard-earned ones as those were against tough terrains at rigid cutoffs. Even my first 12K Xtrail in 2014 had me at my limits at that time. Crossing a finish line in a Salomon Xtrail course is always a test of will power, physical limits, endurance and yes, sanity. This year, I decided to downgrade distance to 12K owing to a much busier schedule and even the drop of distance, I expect to go through a tough time especially since it is muddy season times and it was raining the whole day before the race.
Race Route and Elevation
Race starts at Maritan Highway and takes 2 kilometers of concrete along El Kabayo Road before entering the trail head. The route goes on a climb to the third kilometer before it goes on a rolling descent on the next two kilometers. The race then goes on a steep climb for a kilometer heading to the 6 kilometer u-turn mark before heading back along the same rolling terrain.
Since Salomon had a late gun start this year with 12K having a gun start of 1:30 pm, the media shuttle left for Subic at 7:30 am. I guess, this is one thing I like about this year’s race. I didn’t have to wake up early. Honestly, I’m under trained for this event but I’ll just try to be as consistent as I can get to finish the race. I’ll just run by feel and enjoy the course and yeah, just find a way to survive the muddy trails. The rain can really change the dynamics of the trails since the mud can be an added drag plus the slippery descents can be a lot tougher to hurdle.
We had our gun start a few minutes before 1:30 pm to leave some separation between the 6K gun start. It was nice seeing so many familiar faces like people from Nuun dirt school, Dans and fellow runners and bloggers. It’s among the most anticipated trail events of the year and you would practically see so many familiar faces on this race joining the different distance. As the race started, it was a two kilometer road run, which would probably be the easiest part of the trail. I joined the regular run pace at the start but had to slow down by the second kilometer since my heart rate was high and my shin splints is back. I shifted to a run walk set heading to the trail head. This would also help me ensure that I would have a more relaxed heart rate entering the trails.
The trail starts with a climb and a really muddy climb at that. Each step was a drag and each stride became heavier with the accumulation of mud in the shoes. Talk about the path of most resistance. Mud + Uphill Climb = Path of the Most Resistance. I tried to stick to my strategy of just being consistent on the climbs. One step after the other though it was really exerting a lot of effort on my part, which caused me to tire faster than the usual. I’m also having pains in my lower back on the climb. On the day I didn’t bring my trekking poles, I get such a challenging climb.
The climb was mentally challenging and physically draining so when I hit the top of the hill, it was such a relief. Well, until I saw that people were converging on the steep and slippery descents hanging on the bamboo shoots and bushes. Ok, so much of the plan for blitzing the descent. I also got several cuts from hanging on the bamboo shoots. I went with the pace of the group on the descent and when the grounds were a bit firmer, I shifted to brisk walk to catch up on my time.
When the path was separated for the 6K and the 12K, the first thought in my mind was, why didn’t I join the 6K distance. Well, I joined the 12K so I must strive on. After 3 kilometers the grounds were a bit firmer with a mix of descents and flat portions. I took the chance to recover a bit here and speed up a little. The next two kilometers was smooth sailing but I was reserving energy since I know it was an uphill climb heading to the u-turn slot.
The last kilometer to the u-turn slot was the toughest part with the climbs seemingly endless and the trails shifting back to being slippery. It felt really exhausting but the trail must go on. I took breaks when needed to and it is this part that I am starting to meet most runners coming from the u-turn slot. Funny how one runner would say, it’s just 500 meters away and after doing several hundred meters, another runner would way it was 500 meters away and so on.
It felt like the longest 500 meters ever. I guess when you don’t train much just be ready to suffer. No excuses there. I just tried to held on, one effort after another. After I while, I reached a long stretch of stairs and that was the real sign that the u-turn is nearby. I took a few steps and rested a bit before taking another set of steps until I reached the top of the stairs and from there it was 100 meters to the u-turn slot and water station.
I took my energy gel on the u-turn and after drinking water, I headed back to the trails. The next kilometer was much smoother since it was a descent. I tried to recover here and also try to speed up. It was back to rolling terrains, for moderate climbs, I tried to speed up and for steeper ones, I had to mix it with a climb and a rest. Then there’s the really long steep climb back to the last 3 kilometers, which I did slowly just willing myself that this was the last of the tough part portion.
It was down to the last 3 kilometers and it was also back to the muddy trails. This time I just went fast on the descent just relying on the traction of my Salomon Slab Sense 6 (I should have done this on the earlier descent). It felt like skating on mud and it was fun in some way plus I know the tough part was over. After hitting the road on the last 2 kilometers, I made another push heading to the finish line to finish the race.
It’s another unique and memorable Salomon Xtrail Run for me. It was such a sufferfest, which is my way of saying, I had fun! Great job Salomon for giving us another one-of-a-kind trail experience. Definitely, the path of most resistance is “Putik.”