Posts Tagged ‘Trail Running


Comeback Race at the Trails: New Balance Trail Adventure Run

After a very long hiatus I’m finally glad to be back at the races, and fittingly it was at the trails which were always a favorite of mine.  For the first time I was able to run the trails of Nuvali, Sta. Rosa, Laguna and I could probably say we have another “playground” to explore, albeit a little distant from the Metro.

Last weekend the New Balance Trail Adventure Run was held in the trails of Nuvali with the 15K starting at Evoliving while the rest of us started at Solenad (I signed up for the 10K, the other event was the 5K Duo).  It was one of those few races outside Metro Manila with a free round trip shuttle service to and from the venue.

The Starting line (even if it says “Finish”)

Days before the event I received an invite from New Balance courtesy of Planet Sports to join this trail run.  As much as I really wanted to race I was reluctant to join at first because of my long absence from running.  When I finally figured I can still run the distance I was tempted to join the Rock and Run event a day prior to the trail run because my body was no longer used to waking up early during Sundays.  Add to that that it was really early if I were to catch the shuttle service.  Obviously the charm of the trail prevailed, but not until the last day I had to RSVP (how typical Pinoy, confirming on the last day!).

NB Trail Adventure Run 10K Route

Excellent GPS reception

Because of the shuttle service I was able to arrive in Nuvali relatively early.  I didn’t even realize that I was sharing the bus with some familiar faces I’ve not seen in a while (and I was sad when I got my seat because I didn’t see outright anyone I know!).  I was trying to catch some shuteyes during the short trip but wasn’t able to get any (due to some technical difficulties we had on the bus).

Queuing at the baggage counter

There I was in Nuvali, feeling like a stranger, like those early days of running when I didn’t know anyone from the sea of people.  Fortunately it didn’t take long for me to see running friends so I was back in my comfort zone.  After some time the 15K runners were called to their starting line a few kilometers away, and a few minutes later it was our turn.

Entering the trails

What's the hold up?!

Jinoe (of was initially with me and the Logans (Craig and Michelle) during the early part of the race.  As usual it’s quite futile to set any records on trails so I’m not in any hurry, and since I’m still not quite 100% yet enjoying the race was my goal.  Having some good company to share the trail makes it more fun so it was quite pleasant that I wasn’t alone exploring the trails.

Ooohhh... a “tunnel” 🙂

Who said you can't take a panning shot with a point-and-shoot?

That's Craig of Team Logan (see how tall these grasses are!)

The trails of Nuvali was mixed natural and man-made and for a lot of areas wide enough for three runners.  It also features running riverside (or in the river itself if you prefer) with some really interesting features.  It’s a very enjoyable area which is why it’s no surprise that a lot of running and biking events were held here.  I sure was glad that I picked this race for the weekend.

Going down...

Care for a dip?

Running under a bridge

More water

Natural water station 🙂

All legs end in Solenad which is quite an ideal place to do so as it is not only picturesque, there are also shops there for the hungry runner and located nearby a place where runners can take their showers.  After finishing runners were treated to a loot bag and a bottle of a sports drink from the sponsors.  Unfortunately though not all runners were able to receive their finisher’s shirt (including myself) as they quickly ran out of sizes except for the large ones, but New Balance promised to deliver so our contact numbers and shirt sizes were taken as to when we may claim our token.

Photo-op while waiting (thanks Craig for taking this one!)


...more trails...


The New Balance Trail Adventure Run was a very well organized race, particularly for a trail run, as the route was strategically marked so there was little chance of getting lost; there were lots of marshals en route to assist runners; water stations were sufficient; trail route and features were excellent; and the distance was pretty accurate!  Once again New Balance didn’t disappoint in delivering a very good race.

Final bridge crossing

Almost there...

Approaching the finish line

10K comeback race complete!

I would like to thank Planet Sports and New Balance for inviting me to join this event.  I really enjoyed the experience a lot and I hope there’d be more races to come!

Race results courtesy New Balance Philippines:


TNF100 2010 Chronicles: Post Race Hurrah (Part 5)

After a successful TNF100 campaign the next agenda on our list was to eat and freshen up!  Who needs rest after a hundred kilometers of trail? 😛

Goofing around right after finishing: the 100K guys Ronald, Me, and Pat with the 50K gals Ellen, Tracy, and Carly. They woke up early just to see us finish. Thank you ladies! Photo courtesy Jairuz Agang-ang

What I love about Baguio City was that practically everywhere was just a ride away—a taxi ride away!  After freshening up back at our transient home (via taxi of course, we had our daily quota of walking done already) we were once again on our way back to Burnham Park to eat (try the Bulalo and barbecue right behind the park) and then watch the awarding ceremonies.

Club 100K: Nao, Ronald, Me, Pat, and Chris together with our good friend Craig

For the 100K finishers

I would like to congratulate our friends who not only conquered their respective races but also had a podium finish: Nao Checa and Odessa Coral, 7th and 9th Female 100K, respectively; Jairuz Agang-ang, 10th Male 50K; Joyce Pacquing and Carly Dizon, 4th and 9th Female 50K, respectively.

Congratulations as well to all my “kabsat” as well:

100K: Wilnar Iglesia • Chris Cornejo • Ric Cabusao, Jr. • Isko Lapira
• Ronald Declarador • Jonel Mendoza • Pat Alcomendas • George Dolores

50K: Rhoderick Guieb • Rodel Cuaton
• Ellen Encinares • Tracy Carpena • Ellen Castillo

Indeed this year’s TNF100 is one of the most organized races I’ve ever had and certainly one that would be remembered for its epic difficulty.  It was a Very Good race on a perfect location with excellent routes.  My verdict: 4.5/5.

First 30K route via GF405 and Google Earth

Last Supper: Slaughter

Fast forward to dinner.  By its reputation and curious name, we arrived at this place:

Yes you read it right, Sto. Niño Slaughter! This place used to be a site of a slaughter house, thus the name but is now called Balajadia, where a similarly named restaurant is located; another must try on my list.Where it’s located


Monday, April 26, 2010, our last day in beautiful Baguio.  Since we only had time for a few stops we opted to go to the market first to buy some souvenirs (aside from Ube and Strawberry Jam, Peanut Brittles from Pangasinan are excellent!) and then have lunch near our bus terminal, where another pleasant surprise awaited us.

Time to go home, our transient home in the background

My lunch! Rice with Pizza, Chicken, Steak, Vegetables, Spaghetti

Tracy’s ginormous club sandwich

Ronald and Carly’s specialty coffee

The gang: Ronald, Carly, Tracy, Ellen, and Me

Glenn 50’s Diner: Two thumbs up! Excellent food with huge servings, great value for money—our perfect last lunch at Baguio City

Departing for the bus terminal (dark because of the blackout when we were about to leave)

Thank you Baguio City! We’ll surely be back!

Baguio City is definitely one of my favorite destinations in the country so far.  It is probably the most tourist-friendly city I’ve been to in the Philippines and the weather is simply excellent.  I sure hope though that nature will always be a part of this beautiful city.  I’ll be looking forward for my next visit!

TNF100 Philippines 2010 Chronicles Index:


TNF100 2010 Chronicles: Conclusion (Part 4)

Although I didn’t commit to the pact with Jonel and Ronald of staying together that night, I didn’t oppose it as well.  Deep down within me I wanted badly to complete this race.  I may not be in the best shape possible, but I would not give up so easily.  And I don’t want to let anybody down. My right knee came this far already, what’s another 33K?

The Right-Use Bros.

Apparently Jonel and Ronald weren’t spared by the downhill as well and coincidentally both of them managed to have their right knees damaged, thus the “right-use bros.”—brothers bonded by handicap, hehe.  And so with the right knee equalizing factor these three crazies are off for another 33K of torture.  At least I’m assured I won’t be left behind!

The “Right-Use Bros.” on the way back to complete the race

Here, There, and Back Again

Like last year my original plan of having a decent rest and dinner before doing a second loop was foiled but that’s a small price to pay since running alone in the dark wasn’t an option for me.  But as I feared with lack of rest my body was badly demanding a break.  Obviously I do not have much fat in store to burn so I was already burning muscles.  I was walking but intermittently for a split second I was falling asleep.  Jonel and Ronald gave me some break when we rested for a short time for me to take a quick nap, and it was quite helpful.  Unfortunately my body still wasn’t satisfied so we had to take another longer break.  I was on “cruise control” but I was in and out of consciousness and at one time almost hitting a tree.  I was worried I might fall off a ravine and I was thankful that my buddies were generous to my needs.  Thank you Jonel and Ronald! I’m sorry that I had to slow us down.

For most of the time I was just blindly following my buddies like a toy truck being pulled by a child.  My mind was blank and was hardly thinking of anything.  We sporadically were encountering fellow runners along the way and during which I snap out of it.  The thought of gradually reaching that finish line was enough to keep me sane from boredom.  It was a very long night, and we weren’t speaking of how long it was to the finish in kilometers, we were speaking in hours!

Bros. Express

Surprisingly our second loop was much stronger than our first.  I wouldn’t know if the nap had anything to do with it but all I know was that we were keeping the breaks to a minimum, and our pace was excellent considering our handicaps.  Second wind?  In the middle of the night? At least we were able to buy some of the time we lost during our earlier breaks—perhaps even gaining some had we not taken some rest.

My NB811 after more than 90K of trails

You Give Me Fever

At some point during the last loop I really felt ill—I was perspiring profusely but at the same time feeling cold—and I don’t get cold that easily.  I was thinking that if I was cold I wouldn’t be sweating a lot, and if I was sweating a lot I must’ve felt hot, so why was I experiencing both?  I checked if I was having a fever but I wasn’t,  and it felt like having one—and I haven’t had one since my elementary days.  Thankfully I had my windbreaker with me to at least shield me from the cool winds of the mountains—I’d rather be hot and sweaty than sweaty and cold.

Sunlight, Oh Sunlight

The sun was painting the sky red while we were climbing the steep ascent near the US Embassy, and as sunlight gradually brightens the surroundings so do our determination to finish.  We were still progressing slowly but surely to the finish, and by the time we get to the last few kilometers of the race we were witnessing the leaders of the 22K race, followed soon enough by the 11K runners.  Sunday morning already.

Last few kilometers to the finish

It was such a great time to be heading back as we were greeted by not-so-serious runners as we head back, many saying “Congratulations” or “Just a little more” or some other nice words.  Those ahead of us went through this segment alone and in the dark while we who were merely “walkers” were greeted like celebrities.  Very nice timing indeed!

The long homestretch to the finish, courtesy Jonel Mendoza


Coming into that very long homestretch of the finish line in Burnham Park was beyond words.  Finally I can proudly say that I conquered TNF100 not just because of “luck” but honest, hard work.  In fact the only “lucky” aspect of this race that I found was having buddies I can rely on and took care of me.  Despite not being able to train due to my handicap, all my previous experiences add up to prepare me for this race, and that brought me to finish two hours ahead of my previous race record.  New PR for TNF100 on a handicap?  Now that is crazy!

Crossing the finish line with Jonel and Ronald, courtesy Jairuz Agang-ang


Thank you Jonel and Ronald for the company and for pulling me into completion of this race!  It was very easy to give up if you have all the pains but if you’re in the company of crazy injured guys it makes it easier to endure.  Is this what “misery loves company” meant?

My finisher’s token

To all my friends who woke up early to see us cross the line, and to those that gave their support from both near and far, thank you very much!  I really appreciate it, more than you can imagine.

To The North Face, the race and route directors, marshals, and staff, thank you for making this the most organized TNF100 so far!  It was very challenging but we always felt “safe.”  Keep it up guys!

The “Right-Use Bros.” with race director Neville Manaois, courtesy Jairuz Agang-ang

To everyone who finished the race, cutoff or beyond, especially to my “kabsat” Jonel and Ronald who were both “avengers,” Congratulations!  To those who weren’t as successful with their campaign, don’t give up and work hard for it should there be a next time.  Hopefully there will be.  See you next year?

Never stop exploring—The North Face | Test your limits—TNF100 Philippines


TNF100 Philippines 2010 Chronicles Index:


TNF100 2010 Chronicles: First Loop (Part 3)

This year’s TNF100 for me is walking, but is anything but a walk in the park.  This is definitely the most tiring race I’ve ever had.  I was merely walking uphill but it was so long and steep that even that makes me catch my breath (takes the word “breath-taking” to a whole new level).  This was on the way to the second radar station atop Mt. Sto. Tomas, the highest peak of the race.

I had gained some significant distance from my buddies but I knew they’d eventually caught up with me as I was “walk-only.”  Not having anyone upfront to follow, my no-sense-of-direction kicked in, and I got lost, twice, on the way back down.  Thankfully it wasn’t a significant length and I was still able to backtrack my way, and as expected my buddies were able to catch up and I again had someone to follow.  What’s an adventure if everything went as planned, right?

Eventually we were back to “km35.”  With no GPS reference and considering all the distance we covered I can only assume that it was the “real” km45.  It was a breath of fresh air, and it was lunch time!  We arrived just before 12PM, cutoff time reached, almost halfway complete!

First 30K route via GF405 and Google Earth

Down, Down, Down

My buddies were eager to keep up the momentum we had so they went on ahead while I decided to stay behind to eat lunch.  Alone once again. Still I don’t mind, the sun is still up.  Moments later an old friend came, Ronald, a fellow BDM finisher but TNF100 “avenger.”  I had originally wanted to pace with him to “pull” me into finishing the race as I knew he had a score to settle.  I fear that with my knee problem I may give up easily.  Now he’s here I can at least be assured that someone would “pull” me to finishing the first loop—the goal for now.

After a quick lunch Ronald and I were on our way back to complete the first loop.  Eventually we were able to catch up with another fellow BDM finisher, Jonel (Bugobugo85).  It was downhill once again, on the way back to the lowest point of the race—steeply going down! TNF100 didn’t give us any break! The uphills were very tough and tiring, and the downhills were much worse!  My not-so-good right knee was doing quite well all this time but when the dreaded downhills came, so does its condition!  Just about every step on my right foot was dreadfully painful!  And it came at the worst possible time during the toughest, most intimidating sets of steep downhills with crumbling earth.  Eventually I was left behind to handle to course on my own, and I was glad I did because it was my worst frustration during the race.

I hate crossing bridges like these but meeting it often in the mountains you’d just grow to like them

There’s no place for quitting in the middle of the mountain.  No one can help you but yourself, and in case you need help there’s only a few place to get it.  For the mean time that kept me focus, just make it to the next station, bear the pain.  The steep downhill that’s keeping me in pain would end, eventually.  And eventually the downhill eased up and I was finally able to join Ronald and Jonel.  It was quite a relief to be back at the “basin” of the route to rest awhile.  Here we were joined by more runners on the way back to the base camp.  Do I still want to quit?  Easily, yes—but who says I’d take the easy way out?

Stairway to Heaven

After a few minutes of rest the gang was heading back to base camp, but first we have to tackle the stairs—dreaded by my right knee.  On the bright side it was going up which was more bearable, bearable but not painfree.  Eventually the steps went out but the pains remain.


While gradually moving towards the base camp, the sun was also slowly setting.  It was already a very long day and it was just the first loop we were about to complete!

Still enduring…

Ronald, Jonel, and I, being no strangers to TNF100, knew how difficult it was to be alone in the trails particularly at night so Jonel asked us to make a pact to stick together through this ordeal—I think I answered with a smile.  All I can think about then was just to finish the first loop—my right knee was then feeling worse as I feel like crying with each step!  Of course I didn’t want to slow us down so I didn’t show it and just exclaimed a deep sigh.  My mind was already playing the DNF tune and I don’t know how long I can bear the pain.  Fortunately I was able to keep my sanity up until the paved roads leading back to Burnham Park.  We were bumping into the leaders already completing their second loop—the thought of completing the race was sweet until you realize you’re just completing your first loop.  Saying it out loud when we crossed the Finish line (to complete the first loop) wasn’t fun as well.

Now that I’m safely back at the base camp my mind was split between staying and calling it a day, or going back, enduring the pain and completing the remaining 33K—a choice of pain, hunger, and sweat versus rest, food, and comfortNot a very easy choice to make in such arduous state.

TNF100 Philippines 2010 Chronicles Index:


TNF100 2010 Chronicles: Running in the Sky (Part 2)

With TNF’s introduction of a 50K leg (as a replacement to the venerable 100K relay) many runners were encouraged to do their first trail ultramarathon, and surprisingly with my circle of friends many of which were ladies!  Of course there were also a select few first timers (within my network at least) that braved the 100K.  Then there were also the “avengers” seeking revenge for the “tragedies” that the past TNF100 brought onto them.

Let’s Get it Started!

Saturday, April 24, 2010, 3AM, the toughest race of my life thus far has begun.  As if the difficulty that is TNF100 isn’t intimidating enough, coming into a race with one good knee and the other on a “walk-only” mode was really frustrating—the ingredients to an adventure of a lifetime, or a disaster in the making.

Just before the start of the race

Initially I thought that the course didn’t have much runnable routes so I won’t be left behind much with my “walking knee” but as it turned out it had so much more flat courses than last year’s.  As such my short term goal was just not to be left behind alone—I wouldn’t want to go inside the trail in the darkness of early morning alone.  I’ll admit that I have very little sense of direction so getting lost, especially in my condition, wasn’t an option if I were to finish this race within cutoff time of 30 hours.

Originally I was with the company of female friends doing their 50K ultra trail debut but since I don’t have the luxury of time I had to move on ahead, practically alone, while my knees were still feeling good, merely following the trail of lights runners ahead were beaming from their blinkers.  As long as I’m not totally alone I won’t get lost.

Sunrise came early and up until that time the route was generally going down.  From about 1,500masl in Burnham Park (Start) we were heading towards the lowest point of the race at around 840masl (660m descent).  As with TNF100, what goes down will come up.  But before the downward trend bottomed out we were presented with really narrow trails—you get to see and hear the road below which was a bit frightening.  Down below there was a station waiting for us serving water, boiled bananas, and sweet potatoes where many of us took a quick break.  It was about 5:30AM, around 16K (aerial/GPS) into the route.  It’s all uphill from there.

First 30K elevation profile via GF405

Up, Up, Up

Those who scouted the route described the route in one word repeated thrice, “up!”  And they were right.  From 840masl we’d be heading towards the highest point of the race at about 2,250masl (1,410m ascent) oftentimes steeply.  At this time I was again practically alone but since it was daylight, I didn’t mind.  The route was well marked so it was foolproof for me, at least at that time.  Eventually I was able to catch up with some friends along the very tiring ascending route which made the trek more pleasant.  It was very daunting to tell them when they asked that we’re only around 21K into the route, and the short term target was km35 where our supplies were.  Knowing how much further we had to cover was disheartening, particularly at the pace we were going, but there’s nowhere else to go but up!

Looking back at where I came from


Our confidence skyrocketed through the roof at the sight of “km35.”  At first I thought it was weird because my GF405 was telling me it’s only km22-ish so we assumed that the terrain covered was computed and not the obvious aerial/GPS distance.  Nonetheless we were just so happy and surprised that we reached km35 that soon!  Next target, do the “10K” loop and finish 45K before cutoff.  The first cutoff was to be implemented in km45 and was set to expire 3:30PM—and it wasn’t even 8AM yet!  We were even so confident that we actually thought of bringing only our hydration supplies with us for the next 10K, only that we were still required to bring all the “required” items.  So after a quick refill we were off for the next “10K.”

Yes, that’s where we’re headed


The early part of the next “10K” was pleasant—we were running through the clouds, literally!  We were also blessed with cool cloudy weather so walking was nice—there’s hardly any point in running as even walking was very challenging!  This section leads to the highest point of the race, 2,250masl, at Mt. Sto. Tomas.

Going up Mt. Sto. Tomas

Not before long my GF405 left me, shortly before reaching km30 around 9:45AM (or about 8K after “km35”).  Henceforth I had no idea how fast or slow I was going, my elevation, or what time it was (I still had my cellphone for timekeeping but it was impractical to take it out of my backpack just to check the time).  It was all climb and still no “U-turn” in sight!  Uh-oh! I think we were duped into false hopes and now the actual distance was being compensated!  We were walking for so long and it seemed endless.  Asking fellow runners already heading back wasn’t very encouraging.  Asking them how far you have to go they’d say something like, “Around two—two hours more.”  This is what an ultramarathon was all about. Keeping in mind how long I’ve been walking, how long I have to cover before reaching the turn, and how long I needed to return, it definitely wasn’t just “10K.”  And I thought I was safely behind the cutoff time!  Would I make it back to the “real” km45 before 3:30AM?

TNF100 Philippines 2010 Chronicles Index:


TNF100 2010 Chronicles: The Adventure Begins (Part 1)

The North Face 100, the Philippines’ toughest ultramarathon race is back on its third year, this time on possibly its toughest leg, Baguio City.  TNF100 was always on a league on its own and with Baguio City as its stage it surely would be an adventure of a lifetime.

TNF100 2009 in Sacobia, Clark was my first ever ultra, even earlier than my first marathon, thus having a special place in my heart.  Last year I was one of the few “lucky” ones that finished it, and this time around I’m back to prove to myself that it wasn’t just “luck” that allowed me to finish—it was hard work, and I can do it again.

This is it!

Coming into this year’s TNF100 I was anything but ready, physically speaking.  My right leg hasn’t recovered completely yet, and knowing how difficult last year’s leg was being “scared” would be an understatement.  I’m probably the only participant with a DNF (Did Not Finish) already at the back of his mind even before the race started.  With my situation my goal was simple: finish at least the first loop of the hundred kilometers (or 67K)—I’d cross the bridge when I get there.  But of course I will not throw in the towel without a very tough fight.

The Calm before the Storm: Shop & Dine

Friday, April 23, 2010: we arrived in Baguio City around 9:30AM and after settling in our transient home we were able to shop for added supplies and have a quick tour of the city.  I decided to purchase all my hydration needs in Baguio saving me from carrying a bigger and heavier pack—the Baguio advantage.  I was carrying a lone 40L bag for the trip (a single big bag is better than multiple light bags as I’ve learned from last year’s TNF100) containing all my supplies including more bags—lighter is better.

A must try

Must Try: O’ Mai Khan, a Mongolian grill and hotpot which is just around the vicinity of Burnham Park was our pick for lunch.  They offer a buffet, Mongolian grill style, for only P195!  A perfect choice for our “carbo-loading” complemented by fresh veggies.  Of course they also serve ala carte items on their menus and desserts are also great.

After lunch it was off for SM City Baguio for some last minute shopping and afterwards, rest.  The ladies in our group were able to catch some quick nap, whilst we guys spent the afternoon chatting!  Excitement?  Probably.  We were just passing time before we attend the final briefing in Baguio City Hall before the race.

SM City Baguio

Travel Tip: SM City Baguio, like its Metro Manila counterparts, also offer fast and free Wifi

Depositing drop bags for Radar Station

The final briefing was pretty short but concise.  The proud Mayor of beautiful Baguio, Mayor Reinaldo Bautista, Jr. was also there to share with us how proud the city is to host the event, and also give Neville Manaois, TNF100 2010 race director, and Jundel Llagas, TNF Marketing Manager, the key to the city.  We were also shown this year’s finisher’s token—a hand carved woodwork:

Finisher’s token for TNF50

Free dinner was also served to participants after the briefing but since we were in a hurry to return back to our transient home to rest we just opted to take dinner elsewhere.

Baguio City Mayor Reinaldo Bautista, Jr. presenting the key to the city

The Adventure of a Lifetime Begins Anew

This year the 100K (together with the new 50K) leg starts on an earlier time, 3AM, so there’s hardly enough time to snooze after the briefing, should one be able to.  Luckily I was still able to catch some and before we knew it, the time has come, and we’re off to the Starting line.  This is it!

Just before the start of the race

TNF100 Philippines 2010 Chronicles Index:


TNF100 Race Results

Race results for the recently concluded TNF100 Philippines 2010 is now posted via www.thenorthface100.phCongratulations everyone!

The first part of my TNF100 Chronicles is already posted: The Adventure Begins

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