Amihan 50 Trail Ultra is definitely a tough race but it’s also among the more rewarding and memorable ones. It’s racing on unli mode with climbs, descents and scenic attraction that’s both satisfying and fulfilling. #TaleOfTheTrail breaks down the route the 50K route for the race.
Amihan 50 Trail Ultra is a mix of the nostalgic trails of Camp John Hay and the scenic trails of Itogon. It’s a high-altitude race and does require a fair amount of preparation, a lot of will-power and planning. Be sure to be equipped with the right gear and good thing some inclusions are already part of the package. Let’s try to break down to have a better understanding of what’s in store for you on race day.
There are 3 main segments of the race.
- Camp John Hay
- Camp John Hay to Tailings Dam
- Tailings Dam to Ave Maria and Kotkot Saddle
Camp John Hay
Camp John Hay brings in a lot of nostalgia with the historic trails and it’s gonna be your feel good warm up on race day. These are up and down moderate rolling terrains that’s both run-able and scenic. Enjoy the pine-rich surroundings with the cool Baguio weather. It’s about 10 kilometers so might as well make the most of this trails to save on time on race day. It’s the fun part of the race with defined trails and moderate elevation. With the 10 kilometer loop, expect to see new section of the Camp John Hay trails. This is practically my regular playground every time I’m in the city of Pines.
Camp John Hay to Tailings Dam
After a run around, Camp John Hay the trails slowly shifts to Itogon’s trails. From the moderate climbs and descents, the trails shifts to lightning fast descents. These descents can be quick and fast for the daredevils and quite a challenge to less experienced trail runners as some stretches can be steep and some can be technical. It can also drastically change when it rains. When wet, it can be also be slippery. The trail leads you to Happy Hollow and eventually to Itogon.
These are purely descents but once you’ve hit Itogon town proper and enter the premises of Benguet Corp. The trail in Benguet Corp trails is a mix of rocky surfaces and mud paths and eventually shifts to a long climb heading to Tailings Dam. Take note that the long descents from Camp John Hay to Itogon would end up to be the tougher and longer part of the climb on the way back with about 9-10 kilometers of ascent with about 700-800 meters of elevation.
Tailings Dam to Ave Maria and Kotkot Saddle
The 3rd section of the route would start at Tailings Dam. This stretch would be the tougher part of the race. Also, expect to have a lot of sunshine on this stretch. It starts with a full kilometer climb along mountain trails heading to the upper part of the mountain. It traverses over a largely forested area over the next two and a half kilometers including a really steep and technical descent along switchback trails heading to the hanging bridge. The route also gives you a mix of forested views and a lot of overlooking views of Itogon. Take note of these descent as it would be among the more challenging part on your way back. It’s about 250 meters of elevation gain.
After the hanging bridge, the ascent to Ave Maria starts. The ascents are moderate but it’s about 4 kilometers of pure climbs in a mix of dirt, rocky and paved trails with about 400 meters of elevation gain. It helps to go with a shoe with a good grip and strong traction and a reliable gaiters like Amihan to avoid foreign debris on your shoes. It felt like forever when we were on the ascent. There’s also a natural potable water source a few kilometers to Ave Maria. This would be the perfect spot to cool down or refill water since it can get hot once you’re on the ridges. The route were partly covered by trees though there were sections that were open and it was a really hot morning on our trek. The open areas also rewarded us with scenic views. This part was mentally challenging with the ascents seeming like forever.
After forever and a day, we’ve finally reached Ave Maria and the view was worth it. You can see Itogon’s mountain range. This would also be the last aid station before the turning point. From Ave Maria, the route continues over a kilometer heading to the saddle area of Mount Kotkot. This was pure scenic delight as we were moving along long ridges with overlooking views of mountains from all angles.
It was scenic overload though since it was an open trail, it was really hot. There were some winds in between. There are cows also along the route but just be friendly with them so they won’t be aggressive. The long trails finally brings you to the turning point, which is the saddle area of Mount Kotkot. The race is a whole large photography canvass, take lots of photos and memories along the route.
That’s just half the race and the road back is not a walk in the park so here are some areas where you need to keep that mental strength heading back.
- The switchback climb after the hanging bridge after descending Ave Maria
- The long climb back to Camp John Hay from Itogon
Amihan 50 Trail Ultra would definitely be a tough race but it really helps to go over the elevation profile to keep you mentally ready for the tough part. The race route also avoids the calamity-stricken parts of Itogon.
If you want to experience the Amihan 50 challenge, here’s the link: http://www.pinoytrails.com/amihan50/.