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The North Face 100

Posted by on 22. April 2013

TNF 22K Conquered

Distance: 22 Kilometers
Date: April 21, 2013

“The best things in life are not always free but this are the thing you worked hard for. I had a greater appreciation and respect for Baguio’s trails and scenic views in doing 22K of uphell torture for TNF.  I would vividly remember the humbling experience of being at the foot of the mountain looking up on the challenge at hand and the satisfaction being at the peak of the climb looking at the breathtaking scenery and the challenged conquered.”

It’s scenic Uphell.

TNF 100

Camp John Hay, Baguio City – On the last day of registration for The North Face 100 for 22K and 11K Category, I was right there in Glorietta weighing the pros and cons of joining TNF or Duaman which happens on the same day.  Somehow, running in Baguio last month in Baguio 2Wenty 1ne shifted the balance to make me decide to join TNF instead and just like that I was the last registrant for the 22K category.  Baguio would be a welcome retreat after a busy month of March.  Fast forward a few weeks later and I’m here in Camp John Hay anxious at the starting line and just determined to enjoy the run above all.  I really don’t know what to expect as even if Baguio is my hometown, I haven’t really gone through its trails.  I arrived on Friday so it would be a rest and run weekend.  This is gonna be an epic experience.

Race Course and Elevation

The race starts in the old camping grounds in Camp John Hay and proceed to the South Drive Exit and takes you all the way back to the Old Main Gate. This is also the start of Eco trails which is about two kilometers of rolling inclines before heading to the yellow trails where you get around 4 – 5 kilometers of scenic trails and mountain-views.  Halfway into the race you exit the trails via Happy Hallow and have a climb back into the other entrance of the yellow trail.  The trail becomes a bit narrower on the second half of the race for about 2-3 kilometers before entering the DENR Forestry which takes you to lush green forest surroundings for the next three kilometers of rolling descent to the lowest elevation of the race which is 1330 meters of elevation.  While the race takes you mostly to climbs of 50-60 meters elevation climbs, the last four-five kilometers takes you to about 200 meters worth of elevation from DENR Forest Reserve to Scout Barrio and back to Camp John Hay for the finish line.

The Race

Let’s get it ON.

I saw familiar faces at the start area and also some 100K runners crossing the finish who have been running for around 25-26 hours by that time.  I was a bit rusty as I had to deal with a bout of sprains days coming into the race but my goal was just to meet the 4 and a half hour cutoff and have fun and take some photos along the way.  It was festive at the start area and by 5:30 am, bang gun start was on time and off we go.

Bad Start

I was off to a bad start

Speaking of being rusty, I had a bad start with my calves stiffening as early as the first kilometer so I had to slow down. Instead of going between 6-7 minute per kilometer to take advantage of the 4 kilometer road part of the course, I had to settle down into a 7-8 minute pace just to warm the muscle up.  I was running with stiffness and pain for the first part and I also had to stretch along the way just to prevent any injury.

Hello Trails

The Trails was a Welcome Site

Entering the fourth kilometer, it was time to hit the trail.  The softer trail was a welcome pavement for my weary legs.  By this time my legs are a bit warmed up and not too stiff anymore so I was able to move a bit faster on trail.   Of course, fast on trail is not as fast as speed on the road.  This one had climbs and slides and there were some areas where I almost slipped.  It was nice being in several peaks across the trails though it was always challenging reaching some.  By the time the trails shifted to the yellow trail, the road was a bit firmer and the trails were more defined.

As the trail gets deeper, the views get better

The yellow trail was a bit easier more to navigate so I was able to overtake a few runners here though I had to stop since there were several scenic shots to take.  I was getting my rhythm.  I was running on some stretches and walking on steep uphill portions and narrow path.  I was moving forward into the race even if the climbs seem unlimited and the descents are slippery but it was what made the trail exciting.  The yellow trail was a long stretch and it felt endless but it didn’t feel dragging.  I guess that’s the effect of the scenic backdrop.

The trails were steep but the sites were scenic

The race moves back to the road for a brief part of road and guess what, it was an extreme uphill at the peak of the heat of the sun so I have to walk this stretch before heading back to the yellow trail at the top of the road.  The trails get to be narrower and you see the deep ravine so I had to navigate this slow and smart.  At the midpoint of the yellow trail you get a water break and a steep descent which is not easy to navigate because of its angle.  So I tried weaving through it diagonally and also tried walking backwards.  It was a short climb before the trail and road going downward until the DENR Forest Reserve.  It was a series of rolling descent taking you in for a long climb.

The Uphells at its Finest

The climbs was exhausting – Photo by Mark Lester Sotelo

The last four to five kilometers was a non-stop uphill climb.  Navigating 200 meters worth of elevation was not an easy task given the level of fatigue after 15-16 kilometers of going through the race.  A lot of people were huffing and puffing at this point and I was too but somehow it was a character building session.  As the climb went on endless, I walked, crawled and rested at times taking one step at a time.  With a higher altitude the air was a bit thinner so it was easier to get exhausted.  Even just walking was really exhausting at this elevation but quitting was never an option.  I’m also trying to take bigger strides so I can finish faster.   It was tough but after a struggle, I finally saw daylight as I saw the roads leading to the finish line.

TNF 2013

Going out and seeing the finish line was surreal after being in the course for 3 and a half hours.  Finish line here I come.  I went on to the finish line in 3:34 (Unofficial) with about an hour to go before cutoff.  I went on to chat with friends and other finishers and chalk up another race conquered.

The Finish

This was  not an easy one but one thing for sure this was satisfying.  I want to be back with another round at those trails and now, I have a time to beat.  See you TNF 2014!

Post Race with Mars Callo of Pinoyfitness and James and Tezza Orlanda of Airo Media.

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