I have so many stories to tell about this trail experience that a single post is not enough to contain it all!
Back to the trail: just as I mentioned before, being able to run with my friends was enough for me, then just passing by MP1 (Marshal Point 1) I was asked nicely by the Marshal what my race number was. I think my face just light up that moment—I was, incredibly, back in the race! Of course I memorized what my race number was: 0-2-0. I even had a picture of it on my phone should it be needed as proof. With all smiles I gladly replied “twenty!” I just had to make sure to inform the succeeding Marshals in the following MPs of my number to be sure I was on the results list.
As you may have noticed on the elevation chart (the one I posted with the race route) the trail was a gradual descent for the first half of the race. The view was just spectacular; add the cool breeze and the rising sun—you can’t have it any better than that.
The trail varied from being wide for those who wishes to really run the race, to being really narrow that only a single person may pass at a time. I know there were some frustrated runners on these parts of the trail because they can’t overtake slowpokes like us who were just enjoying the sights (and taking pictures!). I was carrying a camera all throughout the race, sometimes running sidewards and even backwards to take pictures of the sights, my friends, and of course myself (which was very difficult).
I really didn’t mind the lone water station on the trail since I had my own water supply and you don’t get dehydrated as fast because of the cool weather. We were exerting almost normal effort on the trail, except for the steep climbs of course, so we didn’t really got exhausted like in a normal race. It doesn’t mean that the trail was easy—it’s anything but a walk in the park!
My favorite part of the trail (and for me, the most difficult) was the part you see with the sudden dip and rise in altitude (it was really that steep!). The ground was dry so it was pretty loose and sliding downwards was inevitable. The Organizers placed (thankfully) a rope that we could grab on as guide and if ever we lost traction we wouldn’t slide too fast. At the bottom of this area was a bridge crossing over a small river and then it’s uphill again, a four-wheel drive up (both feet and hands).
I was already missing the trail when we saw the paved road (relatively) leading to Caleruega Church—the feeling of grass and ground below your feet was just irreplaceable. I won’t trade these trails for rubberized tracks, that’s what I thought. This road was the last stretch to the finish, and with the rising elevation the views of the mountains surrounding the area was even better. I just love this area around Caleruega Church—it always reminds me of scenes from Cedie (an old animé I grew up with).
Heading back to the finish there were lots of Marshals that guide us where to go. Even if it was a trail run, I really felt that we’re really taken cared of. It was one of the most organized races that I’ve joined so far—easily one of my current favorites.
I was glad I joined this race. Even if I didn’t have my race bib I was still able to be part of the race, and even got the freebies and certificate. I finished with no injury despite the challenging trails, and didn’t felt any fatigue at all.
The best part about finishing a race was being “licensed” to eat! Because of our accommodation at Evercrest, my roomie and I had a complimentary breakfast. I can’t say anything negative about the food at Evercrest because all that I’ve tried were really good (suddenly I’m a food critique).
The awarding ceremonies were held at El Patio, Evercrest’s in-house restaurant, where everyone had their well deserved breakfast. The prizes were just envious—it’s a big bag full of TNF items! The categories were top 3 finishers, male and female, for 10K and 20K. It was already mentioned that only those wearing TNF products were qualified to win but TNF gave a special well-deserved prize to the fastest female for 10K (even without any TNF item).
I don’t think I’ve ever taken so much good memories from a race. Being away from Manila, running on new surfaces, experiencing the great outdoors—everything was memorable. Of course this race would not have been possible without the initiative of The North Face, the efforts of the Race Director Neville Manaois, Team Principal of Pinoy Ultra Runners, and the sponsors—thank you all very much and congratulations for having a successful great race! I’m definitely looking forward the next event. Keep it up!
To all my fellow trail runners, especially to those having their trail debuts congratulations as well! This was a wonderful start for the New Year!
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TNF Thrill of the Trail Experience: