- Date: August 20, 2016
- Distance: 25K (Actual Distance 28K)
- Venue: Nuvali
Valley Trail Challenge had a different flavor this year. The usual pancake route turned into a mud-fest with a lot of rains in between. Each step was a struggle and it was a mental and physical challenge going over the long slippery muddy route. In other words, we had FUN!
- Incoming: Valley Trail Challenge 2016
- Soleus Valley Trail Challenge 2014
- Valley Trail Challenge 2015
Valley Trail Challenge
Valley Trail Challenge has always been an excellent beginner trail adventure because of the flatter terrain. The 2016 version had a different flavor as the rains came into play. The easy-to-navigate pancake trails became a muddy challenging playground that added drag to each running or walking stride. That’s the beauty of trails, it can really be a totally different experience anytime the race condition changes. Coming from several missed races due to sickness, this is my first race back over a month and I opted for the 25 kilometer category. I’m gonna use this as a training race for my future long-distance races.
Race Route and Elevation
The race starts at Nature Avenue in Nuvali. It heads to a 3 kilometer stretch of trails and another kilometer of road surface heading to Aid Station 1 in Nuvali Boulevard. There’s a moderate climb over the next 4.5 kilometers heading to Camp N covering about 60 meters of elevation. It takes another rolling stretch of 5.5 kilometers up to the u-turn slot in the New Zealand area of the trail with an elevation gain of 50 meters. The race then heads back to Nature Avenue over the next 14 kilometers.
We had an early start coming from Makati at 1 am and we were in Nuvali by 2 am. We we’re able to see the send off for the 50 kilometer runners as we were parking. Our gun start was at 4 am so we were able to have some snacks and coffee. It was announced that our category would have the most bonus kilometers for the race. We would be running 28 kilometers instead of 25 kilometers. After the race briefing, we were then ready to start the race.
We started at 4 am. I started with a slow jog taking advantage of the short road portion of the race. I wanted to try to be as conservative in my energy as I’m not sure if I would have enough lung power to cover the full distance. I always feel that way every time, I am back from a long hiatus from races. I went on to run the first kilometer before going back to my run walk set. The first 3 kilometers was a rolling adventure and it was run-able. It was still dark and there were some slippery stretches along the trail. There was another kilometer from the trail to the rotonda going to the aid station and the next trail entry point in Nuvali Boulevard.
Entering the Second Trail Head
The next set of trails were slight ascents heading to Camp N over the next 4.5 kilometers. It was long. It was looping and it was endless. After eating one banana at the aid station, I entered the next trail head along Nuvali Boulevard. It was also run-able though it had more slippery surfaces. I shifted to a run and brisk walk pace to cover the next few kilometers. I was a bit cold and damp coming from the overcast weather and we had some occasional rain too. This made navigating the trail a bit of a challenge. The tough part was the trails look so similar that it felt like a mental nightmare of going over endless loop.
After 8.5 kilometers in the trail, we went out at Camp N. I just made a mental note on the markers of the area as I remember this was the confusing part last year where people got lost. We then made our way over the next set of trails and it had steeper climb and descents. There were a lot of slippery surfaces because of the wet grounds. I also slipped after a steep descent as I failed to notice that the surface was slanted. I stood up and it was a good thing that nobody saw me slip since it was still dark. It was an up and down adventure from here heading to the u-turn. It didn’t help that it was raining at this stretch. We were running over trails surrounded by tall grasses. The latter part of the trails had a view Ala New Zealand with large track of Greenlands. I went on power hike mode at this stretch until the U-turn slot.
Since I was already feeling hungry several kilometers ago, I took another banana at the u-turn as well as several drinks of water and juices along the aid station. It’s gonna be about 10 kilometers before the next aid station. I was also feeling a bit sleepy on the way back as the cold rain reminded me of how comfortable it is to just be sleeping at home. I had some candies and some nuts to awaken my system. It was one kilometer after another going through the route back. I’m starting to feel my legs hurting from my ITB, quads, shin and calves. The muddy surface has been making each stride heavy. It really added to the stress on the legs. I saw the champ Icar heading to Camp N and she was on the way back from the 50K category.
Last 8.5 Kilometers
Icar passed me at Camp N. I was now on power walk mode as my legs are starting to feel stiff and heavy. It’s about 20 kilometers now of running and walking at this point. I entered the trail head again heading to the next aid station. The next 4.5 kilometers felt like forever. With the surface getting muddier by the minute, each step now was a struggle. I had pains on so many sore parts on my legs. It was a mental challenge just to go on. Even if I was moving the GPS mileage was just trickling in slowly. Somehow, I’m second guessing myself if I still can continue but I just had to win this mental battle and go on. I patiently walked in pain along this stretch even if it felt like forever. I then realized that it was easier to pass on the grassy side along the single track stretch because it was less slippery. With more stable strides, I was able to move faster and finally able to move to the last aid station.
Last 4 kilometers
I had biko, banana and several cups of drinks at the aid station. I felt exhausted over the last 4.5 kilometers of slow trails. I then proceeded to the short stretch of road climbing to the rotonda, heading to the guard house and entering the next trail head. I saw Ian of Team SMS biking along the route and that was 3 kilometers to go. Entering the last trail head, there was a group of students who were tree planting. It was an effort to move past them in the trail. It was a struggle as the distance felt new to the legs once again and I was running on sheer courage alone. I made myself through the rolling stretch of the course and was happy to see the last road stretch heading to the finish line.
Last 200 meters
It was nice to see the last few hundred meters of road heading to the finish line. I went on to brisk walk faster before eventually finishing at around 5:10 in the race. I was targeting a sub 5 for the 25 kilometer distance but I’ll take the 5:10 with an additional 3 kilometers and this trail condition. I am also just glad to be back savoring the satisfaction of a hard earned moment at the finish line.
Despite all the aches, the pains and the struggle, I did enjoy the race. It was fun to fumble your steps on the muddy trail. It was refreshing to get doused by the falling rain along the course. I always say, each race is a different adventure and this one definitely gave me a different look at the Nuvali Trails. Great Job Frontrunner!
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