* * *Freedom Climb Chronicles:
It was another one of those long weekends in the country with this year’s Philippine Independence Day, June 12, falling exactly on a Friday. For the first time Filipino mountaineers stand united to create the first Freedom Climb—a flag-raising ceremony to be held atop 40 summits nationwide to commemorate the occasion. 6AM Baclaran, Parañaque City: the first meeting of the RunHikers—an offshoot group from the takbo.ph family composed of amateur and veteran hikers alike, as an official mountaineering group. This group was unofficially formed during our first assault on Mt. Maculot summit last May 08, 2009. The bonds that were formed by the team persisted long after the climb and inevitably lead to the group’s conception. Coming up with a group name that incorporates both our passion for running and hiking was not an easy task, but since it was urgently needed for registration purposes for this event, Mar (The Forefoot Runner)—the mastermind of the group, had to pick one and RunHikers was derived. Although the original cast of the group wasn’t all present for this climb, we were glad to have new members and another hardcore mountaineering group with us. I was surprised to find out that we have our own ride for this event—it was an old baby bus that we could probably call our RunHiker Mobile. There’s nothing fancy about it and we all fit so it was perfect. I even thought that traveling like this is charming because we often travel so protected inside our vehicles that we don’t notice and feel the outside world. Isn’t it nice to feel the wind blowing in your face? By 7AM we were finally off for Cavite—Pico de Loro here we come! At about 9AM we arrived near the starting point of the trails of Pico de Loro, but first we must first register with DENR and pay P20 to help fund in keeping the place as it is. The mountains are free but of course when people start traversing it we need to have funds to help preserve its state so expect such measly fees when trekking. The starting point of the trails, also called a jump off point, was about 750 meters away from the DENR office. Pat (The Running Safety Pin), a fellow TNF100 finisher, offered me to run all the way to the jump off point. Missing running badly I brashly (and expectedly) took the offer and right after getting a satellite lock on my GF405 we were off—746 meters in 3 minutes and 12 seconds (4:18 pace). That’s the runner side of me talking. After a few minutes our RunHiker Mobile arrived with the rest of the gang and this was where our Freedom Climb adventure began.