01
Aug
13

Extreme Fun at Teva Trail Challenge

We knew that Teva Trail Challenge was going to be “challenging” with the obstacles lined up along its trail routes, but we didn’t know that “challenging” would also be an understatement—but it was fun nonetheless, albeit on a slightly “extreme” level.

It was the morning of July 28, 2013, and we were on a bus bound for San Mateo, Rizal.  There’d already been numerous trail races in the area but I’ve never ran on a race here.  Sure, I’ve been to San Mateo before, but never on a race, and I think Teva Trail Challenge would be the first trail race to be held in this area of San Mateo called Eartheaven.

Because of the early call time, I was sleepless as usual.  I tried getting a quick nap but the area wasn’t that far from the Metro so it was quite futile, and we arrive about an hour after departing from Bonifacio High Street.  But despite its relative proximity to Metro Manila I was quite surprised that there’s absolutely no cellular coverage in the area at all!  I hardly remember a place I’ve been to that still doesn’t have cellular coverage as there’s usually at least some signal even on top of mountains.

Our shoes before the race: squeaky clean 🙂

My first impression of Eartheaven was very pleasant.  The area is surrounded by a lot of tall trees and lots of water flows so I wouldn’t be surprised if river crossings were included in the route.  It was quite dark when we arrived so I didn’t immediately appreciate the structures, but the weather was quite cool.  Shortly after we were all given some quick briefing on our route, and my hunch was right: we’re going to be soaked!  Then the routes and the obstacles were explained before the event started.

The race had two legs: 10K and 5K, both of which starting at the same time (with the 10K runners starting up front).  For some reason I wasn’t feeling like running a 10K so I just signed up for a 5K.  I guess at the back of my mind I just want to run on the trails and be back early.

The starting line as we arrived

I’ve joined countless trail races before but Teva Trail Challenge was the first one I joined that actually incorporated trails with obstacles (as the trails are already obstacles on their own).  The obstacles sure would add some spice to the “usual” trail run, but the real “challenge” didn’t come from the obstacles but from the actual trails!

So early into the race, a long uphill greeted us sending just about everyone walking.  This wasn’t that much of an issue, just tiring, and soon after the first obstacle was unveiled: the climbing net.  I admit that this was quite fun, but it was a bit difficult for those like me who were hand-carrying their water bottles.  This was the end of my “clean hands.”

It was a long, steep way up

After the uphills, the downhills were another story.  It had rained in the area the night before so the trails were really wet and muddy.  And they’re not just sticky mud, they’re also very slippery.  Unless you’re experienced in running downhills on slippery mud, you’d have no choice but to go “three-wheel” or “four-wheel” (using also your hand or crawl on all fours) just to get down those steep downhills.  Sometimes, whether you like it or not, you have no choice but to slide down!  As a consolation there fortunately are bamboos without thorns in the area to grab onto, but they’re not exactly everywhere.  In a few key places though there are ropes to ease going down.

The next obstacle of the race appeared: four contraptions made of rope to cross the river. The swing was the fastest (and seemingly the most fun) way of getting across, but as I was carrying my phone (to track the route via GPS) I opted to use the rope bridge so as not to take the risk of falling into the water.  It’s still a fun way though.

Choose your poison 🙂

Then the route goes into the water.  The race doesn’t just cross the river, it actually uses the river as part of the route.  Since it had rained the night before, the waters weren’t that clear to see the bottom, and we were told that some parts were really deep so we had to take extra caution.  It was a bit concerning though that there were hardly any marshals along the river when we were passing through, and there were places not clearly marked on which way to go so it was a bit confusing.  Eventually as we traverse the river, we reached my favorite part of the route: the waterfalls.

“River crossing”

When I was back in college I had a very harrowing experience going down this certain waterfall in Bulacan.  I was with my friends at the time and while it was difficult it was very memorable for me so I had a sense of nostalgia when I saw that waterfall.  But unlike “our” waterfall which was practically vertical, this waterfall was more “friendly” and there were marshals in the area to help ease our mind.

My favorite part of the route, the waterfalls

What comes up, must come down, and vice versa.  After going up the waterfalls we were back to those dreadful downhills, and afterwards we had to go back up again—a very, very long way up!  If my memory serves me right, this last, very long uphill could be the longest, if not the longest, continuous uphill I’ve ever had on any trail races!  There usually are “breaks” between ascents, but this one was just one long climb.

After reaching that summit, I was welcomed by a hydration station and news that there weren’t any more uphills.  That was true, but there were still some not so nice downhills that followed.

Elevation map of the 5K route: can you see that long continuous uphill just after the 3K mark?

Eventually, the last obstacles greeted us just before the finish line.  The first one I think was intended to be a rope swing to get across a mud pit, but when I reached the area I was just told to walk across.  Next was a slippery inclined plane with a rope to get you to the top, and a net to lead you down: easy breezy.  Then there were the monkey bars: while I have no issues with carrying my weight using only my upper body, it’s a different thing when your hands and the bars are slippery with mud!  I had to go through it twice as I slipped as I was about to finish with my first try.  A series of tires on the ground followed: not much in terms of difficulty, just meant to slow you down (and I was hardly in a hurry).

And just as you think it was over, there was this one last mud pit.  How we all wished this was placed first as all our shoes were “cleaned” already by the river earlier, but I guess that’s not the point.  Afterwards, it’s all the way to the finish line!

Who said I did not go unscathed? (It actually looks worse than it really is: basically just a scratch from a bamboo branch or leaf)

At the finish line finishers were given a kit, a certificate, and some snacks.  The snacks (including the ones inside the kit) included a sandwich, a banana, some crackers, and a bottle of Gatorade.  The rest of the kit included a shampoo and soap so we could rinse ourselves (unfortunately I didn’t notice this until I had finished with my shower!) and some other souvenirs.  There were also some games and raffle for everyone while we all await the rest of the finishers.

Pros:

  • Challenging route
  • Fun obstacles
  • New routes
  • Included shuttle service
  • “Thoughtful” finisher’s kit
  • Very nice singlet
  • Fun activity area with entertaining program

Cons:

  • A bit “extreme” for newbies
  • A bit steep registration fee for 10K
  • Missing marshals and route markers in some key areas

Teva Trail Challenge 5K route

Overall, Teva Trail Challenge was one of the most challenging trail routes I’ve ever had, particularly because the trails were wet and very slippery and involved a lot of steep downhills and very long uphills.  It didn’t matter what shoes we wore as mud covered the soles of our shoes!  And because of these slippery downhills, it was also quite dangerous particularly to those who aren’t really used to running on uneven trails.  But after all those challenges and the obstacles, it was a lot of fun!  Even the way the program was designed to keep everyone entertained as we wait for everyone to finish was fun.  And I thought the shampoo and the soap in the finisher’s kit was pretty thoughtful.  If ever this race comes about again next year, it’s definitely worth another try.  Two wet and muddy thumbs up for me!

To all the finishers, Congratulations!

To Teva and the Primer Group of Companies, thank you very much for a great event!


2 Responses to “Extreme Fun at Teva Trail Challenge”


  1. 2013 August 01 at 10:50 PM

    Grabe nga yung race!

    At ikaw na ang nangunguna sa race review!


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