3 Years

28 10 2010

Three years ago, on October 25, 2007, I started my 2nd blog in the Internet which was purely about running. My first blog, which was all about my activities as the Division Commander of the Philippine Army covering the Western Visayas area, was created on April 2007. As I started to post my running workouts in the said blog, I received a lot comments from my readers and such interest made me to find out runner-bloggers in the Internet. It appeared that there was only one runner-blogger in the Philippines at that time whose posts were concentrated about running/training for 5K & 10K distances and maintains a schedule of road races, of course, in the Philippines. It was The Bull Runner.

From my first post that was published as the Bald Runner, I started to recall my past training, road races, find out some pictures in my computer, and look for personalities/Icons of running in the past. And this blog evolved as what it is now.

1st Year

Basically, my posts were about my runs in the place where I was assigned as a Division Commander of the Philippine Army. There was a time that I was religiously posted my daily, weekly, and monthly running mileages and activities. The blog became my runner’s diary, so to speak. My preparation for the 2008 Pasig River Heritage Marathon and my comeback to marathon training was the gist of my running workouts. From a runner’s diary and a source of information about running, it evolved as a “critic” of the Road Races being conducted in Metro Manila and running events where I participated. This blog ultimately became a “feedback” mechanism of Road Races.

“Project Donate- A-Shoe” was born. A simple observation of runners at the Pasig River Heritage Marathon gave me the idea to make something happen to help those who are “less-fortunate” runners to change their dilapidated, worn-out/tattered, and old running shoes which they are still using in road races. This project became a success as runners from abroad are still actively contributing to this project and everything was history.

“Project Donate-A-Shirt was also born in tandem with the need to change the old shoes of runners. The families of Gawad Kalinga communities in Laoag City are still continuously receiving donated singlets and finisher’s shirts from runners. Some of the donated jackets & shirts from abroad (courtesy of Rick Gaston & Ben Gaetos) were given to my elite athletes and to other runners with potentials to become elite ones.

Elite Team Bald Runner was created and organized. After 3 years, the team is still intact and strong. Many joined but others got separated after one year. However, this elite team is still intact and train as a group.

BDM 102 as an idea/dream came into being. An experience finishing an ultramarathon trail race in August 2008 and witnessing the start of the 2008 Badwater Ultramarathon Race in Death Valley, California gave me the idea to conduct an ultramarathon race using the historic & world-wide known Bataan Death March route.  

“1,000-Km Club” was born. It is a tool to motivate each runner to accumulate his/her mileage with a goal in mind. BR’s “1,000-Km Club” black shirt is becoming a well-deserved “trophy” for each runner!

2nd Year

BR “Speed” Training at the Philsports ULTRA Oval Track started to attract recreational runners to become competitive ones. Most of the fast runners around had gone through this training. Due to its demand, we started to accept “newbies” ; transformed them to recreational runners; and later, as competitive runners. This “speed” training is still on-going on Tuesdays & Fridays (5:30 PM to 8:00 PM) at the Headquarters Philippine Army Grandstand/Parade Ground and on Wednesdays (same time on Tuesdays & Fridays) at the ULTRA Oval Track.

Designation as Chairman for Road Races of PATAFA. I accepted this designation in order to improve the quality of road races being held in the country but my position, in reality, became as an advisory position to the President of PATAFA.

BR’s Lectures and Clinics started as a pilot project to the Officers, Staff and Employees of Reinier Pacific with the cooperation of its President, Mr Amado Castro, Jr., who is a good friend and supporter of Elite Team Bald Runner. I could no longer count the number of corporate offices, government offices, and running groups where I was invited to conduct such lectures and clinic with the support of the members of the Elite Team Bald Runner.

BDM 102 Ultramarathon Race was a reality with the attendance of 82 “brave warriors” at the Starting Line on the evening of March 6, 2009 with 63 runners crossing the Finish Line within a cut-off time of 18 hours. It was a success and my first test as a Race Director in Ultra Races.

Creation of PAU (Philippine Association of Ultrarunners) as the National Sports Federation on Ultramarathon Races/Events in the country. In a few months, PAU was accepted as the 39th member-federation among the present 50 members of the International Association of Ultrarunners (IAU) and the 6th member in the ASIA Region.

3rd Year

5-Day Multi-Stage Run from Manila to Baguio City. I was able to do this. It was a 240-Km distance but I was able to prove that a runner in this kind of running adventure can “journalize” or inform and update his/her readers through the Internet on a near “real-time” situation.

Invitation to the 1st IAU ASIAN 100K Championship at the Jeju International Ultramarathon Race.  Alquin Bolivar and Frank Indapan of the Elite Team Bald Runner represented PAU and the country in this event. Bolivar was able to place 6th among the 500 participants and was able to set a national record of 9:06:15 hours for the said distance race.

2nd BDM 102 was again a success with more runners participating and finishing the race. More foreign runners participated as compared during its first edition. It is a proof that this ultramarathon event is already an international ultramarathon road race. For the local runners, it is considered as the “Holy Grail” of Running in the country.

PAU Road Races. After my trip and observation in the conduct of ultra road races in South Korea, I aggressively pushed for the conduct of monthly ultra races which started last May of this year. So far, 4 ultra races had been conducted (all the races were done outside Metro Manila) to include one ultra trail race where each race promoted “sports tourism”. More ultra runners had attended these races.

BR’s FREE Fun Runs. This is a new “alternative” way to entice “newbies” and recreational runners to enjoy a free road race, instead of paying high cost of registration fees.

BDM Lectures/Clinic is a pre-emptive tool to prevent casualties in running and at the same time, inform and train interested runners to participate in ultra road races and prepare them to the “gruelling” experiences of finishing the BDM 102.

More Mountain Trail Runs Abroad. I scheduled at least 2 ultra trail runs for me to participate for this year in the United States but I was only able to participate in the PCT’s Headlands 50-Mile Trail Run in Marin Headlands last July 17. The Dick Collin’s Firetrails 50-Mile Run last October 9 would have been my 2nd trail run for the year. Attending these mountain trail runs in the US was a way to learn how the Race Organizers conduct their trail races and find out their difficulty ratings.

4th Year; Future Plans and Beyond

Expand the BDM 102 and implement BDM 151. This will be the ultimate and the “only historic” ultramarathon race that will place the country in the world map of ultra running events.

1st PAU 50K Road Race National Championships and the 1st PAU 50K Mountain Trail Run National Championships.

1st PAU 24-Hour Endurance Run

PAU Road Races in Other Parts of the Country & Promote “Sports Tourism”

Conduct of More Multi-Day Adventure Runs Within the Country

More Running Lectures & Clinics

More Ultra Races Outside The Country

Develop More Elite Ultra Runners for Exposure to IAU-sanctioned Championship Races

Finally, I would like to extend my thanks to those who supported my advocacies in running for the past three years. I hope more of our citizens will be able to appreciate the benefits of running and other related sports. I still firmly believe that, it is through Sports that our Nation will become United and hope that “A Healthy Population is a Strong Nation”

See you on the roads and trails!





3rd Mayon Trail Run Race Report

26 10 2010

2010/3rd Mt Mayon Trail Run/October 24, 2010

For the past three years, my Elite Team and I had developed a very good relationship with the Team Jaycees of Legazpi City through Yves Yu, the Race Director of the Mt Mayon Trail Run (MTR). Yves is also a runner-blogger who is called the “Be Cool Runner” and one of the avid followers of this blog. It is always a “must” for the Elite Team Bald Runner to join this running event in Legazpi as a part of their City Fiesta and Ibalon Festival.

Mayon Trail Run Ads

The Elite Team Bald Runner and I joined the 1st edition of this event in 2008 and I had already a feeling that this trail running event will have its potentials to be a famous one in the Bicol Region. The 1st edition was very challenging despite the fact that it lacked the distance for a half-marathon distance as the race was short by 4-5 kilometers. However, the second edition came out with a vengeance, so to speak, as the Race Organizers had added more challenging route to make the race as a half-marathon distance. I did not run the 2nd edition but my elite athletes had nice stories about the race and description of the added places where the runners would pass through. But the Race Organizer is not yet contented for this year’s edition as they added more “surprises” for the runners. I will explain this matter later.

The Elite Team Bald Runner had been consistently dubbed as the “King of MTR” for the past two editions of the race and it is for this reason that the team has to defend its title by joining in this year’s edition. It is also for the same reason that we believe in the advocacy of Yves Yu to promote running and tourism for the Mt Mayon Volcano and its city of Legazpi. MTR is our way of supporting running events being held outside Metro Manila.

Toughest 21K Run In The Philippines

1. The 3rd MTR had attained its highest record of runners for the 21K to 240+ runners from about 80+ runners in 2008 and another 160+ in 2009. The registration fee is very cheap, P 500, and the Cash Prizes are very enticing to every elite runner. For this year, the Race Organizers had to split the past $2,000 Overall Winner’s Top Prize into $1,000 for the Top Male and another $1,000 for the Top Female. And as usual, the top 50 overall finishers receive some cash prizes. It was not “tough” to register in this race as a short call to Yves gave us reserved slots for the team.

2. Travelling and going out to Legazpi City with my staff and my elite team entail a lot of logistics and expenses. But with the help and support of friends and my former subordinate officers when I was still in the active service, we were able to minimize our expenses. This is one of the reasons why this race is a “tough” one to attend to—you have to save some money or program this activity so that you can anticipate and plan for the expenses to be incurred. During the first edition, we spent a lot of our resources as we stayed in one of the hotels for 2-3 days without any support from from any sponsor. On the second edition, a big help from one of our running friends, Mesh Villanueva, who is from Daraga, Albay provided us the much-needed accommodation for the team during its stay in the place.

3. For this year’s edition, the team stayed inside Camp Simeon Ola where the 5th RCDG of the Philippine Army is located. The Commander, Colonel Nestor Porlucas, had been one of my Battallion Commanders when I was the Division Commander in the Visayas and he offered his place/office as our “transient facility”. The place is nice and conducive for us to cook our own food and at the same time enjoy a secured and free from noise pollution place.

4. The hospitality of the people and the Race Organizers was overwhelming. All the runners were treated with a FREE Carboloading Party with lots of “Bicol Express” during the Race Briefing which was held at the famous Embarcadero, the latest mall/commercial establishment along the Legazpi Port. Yves Yu was able to present a detailed briefing about the race and the description of the route. The pictures presented were “scary” for runners who are “newbies” to this trail race as muddy and slippery trails, caves, rocks to climb, stairs, lahar (sand), lava rocks, river, wet trails, and almost 90 degrees trail, and freshly-made single track trails inside a forest were presented. Hydration/Aid Stations were evenly distributed along the route. In summary, there are four (4) peaks/summits to reach in order to finish the race.

Briefing & CLP @ Padi's Point, Embarcadero, Legazpi City

Excited Crowd During The Briefing & CLP

Details of the Race

I have to describe the details of this race (as seen with my own eyes and through my personal experience) for the benefit of those runners who would like to experience what is like to finish the “toughest half-marathon race in the country” in its future editions. Let this be a “guide” and “journal” for everybody. This will be a very detailed account of my run last Sunday.

Penaranda Park

Penaranda Park had been always the Starting Area of the MTR. It is bounded by the City Hall of Legazpi City; Provincial Capitol of Albay; and the Cathedral of Albay. The place has a Grandstand/Elevated Stage; some concrete bleachers; comfort rooms; and an ample space for joggers and walkers.

My elite team and I arrived at the Penaranda Park at 5:15 AM and I was able to observe that there are already runners doing their stretching and warm-up exercises around the park. The weather was fine and there were no clouds in the sky. Mt Mayon Volcano was very clear from any clouds and its form and shape was majestic. The weather was cooperative for another nice staging of the yearly Mt Mayon Trail Run. In a few minutes, more runners arrived at the place and I saw familiar faces among the crowd. As I did my warm-up jogs, I was able to see more elite local runners coming from Manila, my loyal friends and runners of my PAU races, the top “Lady Warriors” of BDM 102 and BDM veterans, FB friends, avid readers & visitors of this blog, Kenyan runners, and some runners from other Western countries. I was impressed with the crowd as the number of runners to this yearly event is growing in numbers. I am not surprised if the 240+ runners who joined this year’s edition will be doubled by next year.

The start of the race was reset to 6:00 AM from the stated 5:30 AM start on the event’s ads and it was a good decision on the part of the Race Organizers as some parts of the route were not fully visible with an earlier start. I could feel the excitement of every runner as the starting time got nearer. While waiting for the race to start, I had the time to talk to some of the runners and have photo-ops with them. Talking/Chatting with the runners is one way to relax oneself before the start of the race. Basically, I thought of being conservative in this race and just play along or take my time to have fun and enjoy the race. I did not have any targets or goals for this race. I just wanted to evaluate my performance and need to know if my training for my future races is on track. However, the bigger picture is for me to see the performance of my elite team and at the same time be seen by them along the route.

It is common that the main reason why the start of every event is delayed is due to the fact that the arrival of the Guest of Honor is always late, most especially if he/she is a politician. The Guest of Honor is the one who will fire the Starting Gun! It is customary that the local executive, City Mayor, is the one who should be firing the gun. However, it was already 6:00 AM when the word arrived at the Starting Line that the City Mayor will be no longer coming. Instead of standing along with the other runners at the corral, I decided to sit down on the concrete bleacher at the side of the corral while waiting for the race to start. A simple program started with a prayer, and it was followed with a welcome remarks from the Chairman of the MTR, Councilor Celoy Chan. Brief additional instructions were delivered by Yves Yu, Race Director and the race was ready to go. After a countdown from 10 to 0, the race started and we were off. It was my first time to experience starting a race from a sitting position, instead of the usual standing position with the rest of the runners. It was the most relaxing experience to start a race.

At The Penaranda Park Before The Start Of The Race

Km 0 to Km 1

The front runners darted to the National Road and turned right towards the Cathedral. As they approached the Cathedral, the runners were led to a paved road as they turned left from the National Highway. This paved road will lead all the runners to the peak of Mt Bariw at Barangay Estanza. I started at the middle of the pack with a very slow pace as I saw most of the runners speeding up in front as if they are going to race a 5K run. I was smiling as I saw most of the runners did a sprint from the starting line. I maintained my slow pace as I was trying to warm-up for the race and stayed on the left edge of the road with much space around me. Suddenly, a lady runner stopped in front of me and tied her shoelaces! WTF! It was good I was quick to evade her. It was a near accident which could hurt her or hurt me if I collided with her. I just kept my cool and maintained my stride. It made me think that this lady runner made a mistake of choosing the 21K as her race. This is a sign of a “newbie” runner. In one of the Rules of Running, it states that “a runner should remember to “double knot” his/her shoelaces before the start of the race”.

The first kilometer is paved and very flat. This enticed most of the runners to be fast as we were released from the starting line. After a few turns, the route started to be more interesting and the first kilometer was history.

Km 1 to Km 3

This is where the signature of the race as the “toughest 21K Run” started. This part of the route started to go uphill gradually. The next two kilometers up to the peak of Mt Bariw made most of the front runners to slow down as most of them were already slowly jogging or walking. I maintained my slow pace while “shuffling” but I consistently run up to the peak of the mountain as the road was winding and there are small parts which are flat. This part of the route was the place where I was able to overtake most of the runners who darted fast from the Starting Line. I think a hundred of them were overtaken on the first uphill climb. This part of the course separated the competitive ones from the recreational runners. At Km 2, I was able to see the back of Cesar Abarientos and slowly kept in pace with him up to the peak of the mountain. As Cesar and I reached the peak of the mountain, we were able to reach an elevation of 220 meters. This is the turn-around point where each runner would receive his/her 1st straw necklace.

Km 3 to Km 5

 After receiving the 1st straw necklace which is color-coded, the runner was led to a single track trail on the side of the mountain which was all downhill. At first, you could see grasses and then follow a single track trail that appears to be made by the flow of rainfall or flow of water from the peak of the mountain. The trail was slippery but my Adidas Adizero Adios (with much caution!) was able to pass the test of running along a slippery and muddy single track trail. The trail track was more direct/straight towards the foot of the mountain than the winding & uphill paved road towards the peak. There were lots of foot brakes as I managed to run a steeper downhill terrain without falling on my knees or butt. The trail led us to the backyards of some houses on the side of the mountain and finally reached the foot of the mountain where it led us to a paved road that connects to more houses. This is where people made “high fives” and cheer us as we passed them. Cesar was nowhere to be seen as he overtook me once we went downhill from the turn-around point. I think 3-4 runners overtook me on the downhill portion of this mountain. However, I was able to catch up with them and tailed them once we reached the populated area. As we reached the flatter section, the street led us back to the Penaranda Park. As I passed the Capitol Building of the province, the first 5 kilometers of the race is done. From the start up to this point, I was carrying a small bottle filled with water as my hydration system.

Km 5 to Km 7

This part of the route is a paved road and very flat. I placed my small bottle of water on my back tighly tucked with my Racing Ready Running Shorts. The pockets of my shorts were filled with one sports bar and one sports gels ( I took one sports gel before the start of the race!). With my hands free from the bottle, I started to swing my arms with faster frequency and I was able to run at a faster pace. On this flat part of the route, I was able to overtake another three runners but after a kilometer, I was overtaken by a smaller and younger runner. Before I reached the vicinity of Legazpi Airport, I was able to overtake Cesar as he started to slow down. From the Airport, I could see more of the slower 5K runners approaching another hill which is the dreaded Lingnon Hill but I was already running alone with the rest of the 21K runners. After a few turns, I passed by the 5th FSU Compound of the Philippine Army and with another left turn, I was on my way to the foot of Lingnon Hill. This is where the RACE and fun starts as this hill is another signature that this race is the “toughest” to finish.

Approaching Legazpi Airport On Cruise Mode

Km 7 to Km 10

From afar, you may think that Lingnon Hill is just a hill to be easily reached at its peak, you have to think twice as the body starts to be exhausted after finishing the first 7 kilometers of the race. I could say that this is the hardest and trickiest part of the race. After a slightly uphill paved road as you enter the foot of the hill, the 21K runners were led to a trail that consists of ascending steps/stairs. What makes these steps unique and different is that these ascending steps have a height as high as above your knees in between steps. You have to plant your leading foot firmly to the higher step and propel your body upwards with the help of your foot behind you. This is repeated as you manage to go to the highest step of the trail. Once you overcome the first trail on this hill, you are being led to an uphill climb along the paved road towards the peak of the hill. But this is not the easy way to the peak. As soon as you overcome the first uphill part of the road, you are being led to another trail that goes to a cave! The cave is called the Japanese Cave and you have to bend down as you enter the cave/tunnel. Actually, I crouched and nearly crawled just to be sure I will not scratch my head on the sharp rocks that surround the cave. It was a short 20-30 meters of bending and crouching but I admit I was practically crawling as I went out from the exit of the cave. It was a great relief to be out and crawling from the cave.

Another trail led us to the paved road and after a short jog, each runner was led to an improvised ladder. This part of the route will test how strong your upper body and arms are. In order to propel yourself upward towards this ladder, you have to hold the next step and pull yourself up while you push your leading foot. This is done repeatedly after a height of 20 meters. It is better for you to look straight forward and be focused where the steps of the ladder would lead you. Never look behind you! Always be focused to what is in front of you. After this ladder, another type of ladder will test your balance as you up to the ladder. At this point, the race is becoming an obstacle course but this is the part of the course where you could take a brief rest/pause from running.

Now, for the last obstacle, the Kapit Tuko Rock. There are no steps or crevices or cracks of the rock where you could plant your leading foot which you could use as the one which will propel you on top of the rock. When I first joined this race, there was a rope which you could hold and do a short rappelling technique but for this time, we were depending on a vine that hangs on the side of the rock. By slowly holding the vine firmly and propelling the body upward towards the top of the rock is the safest thing to do. There is no point to be fast on these obstacles, more caution and slower tempo is needed to overcome these obstacles. If you are on top of the Kapit Tuko Rock, the peak of Lingnon Hill is a few meters ahead. As I got nearer to the next Water Station, I slowly jogged and had a brief walk. I got some water cups to clean my hands from mud and soil that got stuck and at this point, I was at the peak of the hill and I’ve covered a distance of 10 kilometers. You must have to receive your 2nd string necklace before leaving this place.

Km 10 to Km 15.5

At this point, you will think that “what comes up, must come down” as you need to go down at the northern side of Lingnon Hill to reach the Lava Wall of Mt Mayon which is the next turn-around point. I took out my sports bar and put it in my mouth and chewed it as I approached the steep descending part of the trail. This descending part of the hill is not a “walk in the park” thing! The elevation of the hill is 160 meters but going down is another signature that this race is the toughest. The descending part is too steep that I have to slow down as I stepped from one level to another level of the steps of the trail in going down. It is a short 100 meters long but an extra care in going down was needed. I had to go down on side wards just to be able to apply brake with my leading foot. This was done on the most part of the descending part of this trail. I was already imagining how to climb this trail on my way back to the finish line at this will be part of the last kilometer of the route!

After almost 100 meters of the steep descending trail, the trail became more gradual as I was led to the bank of the Yawa River. It was time to drink some water from my bottled water in order to swallow the sports bar that I was chewing. As I got nearer to the bank of the river, I increased my momentum and crossed the river while I was brisk walking. The river was knee-deep and the current was moderate. The river was about 25 meters wide and as soon I crossed the river, it was the start of a gradual climb towards the Lava Wall near Mt Mayon Volcano.

It was a relief to the tired feet when I crossed the river and along the way, more trails covered with flowing water gave some cooling effect to the tired feet. I maintained my “shuffling” towards the turn-around point making sure that I would not take any “walking breaks” before I reach the Lava Wall. I said to myself to take some rest while slowly walking on top of the Lava Wall as nobody would dare to run on those sharp rocks.

After running for about one kilometer, I met the two Kenyans who were leading the race and after another 100 meters, I met the 3rd runner who is another Kenyan. The first Filipino runner whom I saw trailing at the back of the last Kenyan was Cris Sabal. I cheered him to catch the Kenyans. After a few seconds, Gerald Sabal was approaching followed by Alquin Bolivar, Alley Quisay, and later Frank Indapan. My Elite Team Bald Runner were trying to catch up with the leading Kenyan runners. I was hoping that they could make some “surprises” on the last kilometer of the course as they are more familiar with the course than the foreigners.

Alley Quisay In Action (Photo Courtesy of Tom c/o WOW Legazpi Website)

At this point, I was able to overtake some runners as I’ve seen them tired and slowing down due to the heat of the lahar and the sun. At this stretch of the route, I was able to overtake at least 12-14 runners by consistently “shuffling” and never stopping to cross those stream of water along the way. I knew the terrain of this place and a consistent “shuffling” will push me towards the turn-around point. I had to take advantage of the water stations along this part of the route as I used the water placed in ice candy plastics to douse my head. This repeated dousing of water to my head in every Water Station made me more relaxed and focused while going uphill towards the turn-around point.

As I met the other runners that have reached the turn-around point and are on their way to the finish line, they would tell me how far the turn-around point is. I just smiled and thanked them for their information. From afar, I saw the Water Station at the foot of the Lava Wall and I started to increase my pace. I took a bottle of water and drank the whole of it before I climbed the Lava Wall. The climbing towards the helipad at the turn-around point was my rest period plus the walking on top of those lava rocks. I had a brief pause just to see the whole Mt Mayon before going back to the trail where I came from. As I came down from the Lava Wall and started my run back to Lingnon Hill, 15.5 kilometers was done and the last 6 kilometers was ahead of me.

That was a good gradual uphill climb with an elevation of 275 meters from the Yawa River to the Helipad on top of the Lava Flow. Phew! That was hard and tough! Two hours had elapsed already when I was about leave at this point. You make sure you receive your 3rd and last straw necklace at this point.

Priceless!! At The Mt Mayon Volcano's Lava Wall (Photo Courtesy of JCI Legazpi)

 Km 15.5 to Km 20.5

This part of the route was the start of going back to the Finish Line—on top of Lignon Hill again! I took advantage of the downhill terrain and the gravity of my body in order to increase my pace. I was trying to do a tempo run on those lahar sand but ultimately had to slow down when I started to hit those rocks and flowing streams along the route. I commend the Race Organizers for deploying more Race Marshals on this part of the route and the red-colored arrow signs painted on the black rocks along the route made me focused to follow the direct route towards the Yawa River. At this point, I was already alone and could hardly see anyone in front and at the back of me. It is just a matter of time that I would be able to reach the river.

As you run downhill from the Lava Wall, you meet most of the middle pack runners and there were so many greetings that I received from them. I have to cheer them when I see them walking and encourage them that the turn-around point is already near. However, I could see on their faces the hardship, pain and suffering they are experiencing. This is the challenge that the Mt Mayon Trail Run has to offer which is too different from other half-marathon trail runs in the country. However, the Mt Pinatubo 50K Trail Challenge is, I think, so far, the toughest ultra trail run in the country.

After a lot of skips, jumps, water crossing, shuffling, and downhill running, I could see that Yawa River is getting nearer. Before I reached the bank of the river, two of my elites approached me and offered me water and sports drinks. I was still strong at this point that I was able to do a “brisk walking” while crossing the river. After I crossed the river, I knew that the last “toughest” part of the race was in front of me! It’s the last kilometer of the race!

Another "Priceless" Picture Courtesy of Estan Cabigas!

Km 20.5 to Km 21.5/Finish Line

This is where you curse the Race Organizers! The uphill climb consists of ascending trail steps that has an inclination of almost 80 degrees! The stair/steps on the last ascent to Lignon Hill are the dreaded “killer” of this race. I have to place my hands just above my knees and hold them firmly to push my body in going to the steps. The steps are also too high for the tired legs to overcome. I have to take a brief rest every time I finished scaling at least 10 steps! I was already tired and exhausted that I forgot my plan to count the number of steps on this part of the trail. I thought I could finish this race in sub-3 hours as I still have 4 minutes to overcome the last 50-60 meters up to the peak of the hill. I was wrong!

As I pushed my arms & hands on my upper legs and drive them upwards to those steps, I felt my legs are getting weaker. How I wished that the height of the steps would be lowered and an improvised railing on the side would be available to make this part of the route with lesser difficulty and safer to the runners. It is just a recommendation though. This short distance made me tired, the same way that I experienced on the 1st edition of this race.

As I reached the peak, I was directed by a Race Marshal to follow a downhill route which was a newly-made trail that goes towards the forested part of the hill. I was again “cursing” everybody to the point that I was not focused to my footing placements. Then, my legs just became weaker until my feet could no longer hold on those descending steps. Then the worse happened, I fell down with my butt sliding down a few steps of the trail!!! It was my first time to fall (on my butt!) in a trail run! I was glad it was not the other way around as I could be landing on those cliffs of the hill.

On my last ascent, about 10 meters, to the peak (again) of the hill, I was already laughing and cursing telling to my elite runners who were on my back that this race is no longer a trail run but a “mountaineering” event! I allowed one runner to pass me along this point as he is much very young compared to me. As I reached the peak, I could see already the Finish Line & Banner but Councilor Celoy Chan, the Chairman of MTR, met me and jogged with me for the last 50-meter run around the peak of the hill, passing through its paved walks. Finally, I crossed the Finish Line with an unofficial time of 3:01:40 hours based from my GF 305. I was awarded with the “heaviest and biggest” Finisher’s Medal in a running event and my Finisher’s Certificate. (Note: I will be back to improve my finish time to sub-3 hours!)

Approaching The Finish Line!

3rd Mt Mayon Trail Run...Done!

Lahar On My Feet But No Blisters. Dry Max Works All The Time!

Post-Race Activities

It was time to socialize and talk to the Race Organizers, JCI Legazpi members, other Finishers and runners after I finished changing my wet running kit with dry clothes. I was able to meet old and new friends. I was able to congratulate Yves Yu for the successful conduct of the said race and I also told him about my recommendations on how to improve the conduct of the race. I hope Yves would be able to accept my suggestions in a positive manner. To the JCI Legazpi, Councilor Celoy Chan, Yves Yu, and to the Volunteers, you have done a splendid job in this race. Congratulations to everybody!

Well, the Kenyans were able to dethrone my elite team as the “King of MTR” for this year but we will be back with a vengeance! What is good is that the record time of Finish in last year’s edition made by Alquin Bolivar with a time of 1:28+ hours was not erased. All the members of my elite team who ran the 21K race placed on the top 10 ranking of the race and won some cash as consolation prizes. On the 5K Race, Rey De Los Reyes of my elite team placed 3rd Overall, winning a Cash Prize, too!  

What is good in this race is that the Race Organizers give a consolation cash prize for the top 50 runners! I was surprised to be called by the Emcee as I placed # 49 finisher out of the 240+ runners that started the race! I received an envelope with a cash prize of P 250! Not bad, it was good for a Jollibee meal after the race!

Maybe in the next editions to come, I would be able to grab the “Oldest Runner Award” with a Cash Prize of P 5,000!

Once again, MTR has proven that it is the toughest 21K run in the country today. I am highly recommending this race for the PAU loyal fans & members; BDM 102 veterans; and “hardcore/warrior” runners. The experience is good for your “running record” and be able to see the beauty of our own Mt Mayon Volcano.

Councilor Celoy Chan, Chairman of MTR & Administrator of Lignon Hill Park

Team Kenya as the 2010 "King of MTR"

Yves Yu, MTR Race Director & BR

See you at the Mt Mayon’s Lava Wall and Lignon Hill next year!

Note: For more “pictures in action” on the MTR, please visit Estan Cabigas website at www.estancabigas.com.





How Many Kilometers?

25 10 2010

How much is enough? How many kilometers are recommended for me to run in every week in order for me to perform better from my last race? If you are not logging on the distance you have ran for the past week and instead prefer the number of hours, you could ask yourself, what is the number of hours I should run in a week in order to perform better in my road races?

You could only answer this question if you are methodical and thorough in maintaining your runner’s dairy. It should be a Runner’s Diary with Integrity (I hope you know what I mean). Based from your weekly total number of kilometers or hours that you ran, you could analyze if the past mileage for the week had given you more strength, power, and stamina for the next week’s running workout. It means that you could compare between your body feelings from finishing an 80 km per week from 90 km per week or 100 km per week. You should be able to know how it feels to finish an 80, 90, 100, or 110 km per week run.

Am I talking from Mars? In my preparation for a 100K Mountain Trail Run in May next year, as early as now, I am trying to find out if I can still improve my running performance with my prevailing age of 58 years old by “steadily” increasing my weekly mileage with a minimum of 100 kilometers per week. And try to find out how much more can my body endure and sustain by adding more kilometers to my baseline of 100 kilometers.

Two weeks ago, I was able to run 100 kilometers and I felt good. With all the raining since last Monday, I was able to run a total of 26 kilometers and decided to make Wednesday as my rest day. We will see if I can still maintain or sustain to finish a total mileage of 100 kilometers for this week. However, with the continuous rains brought about the tail-end of Super Typhoon “Juan”, I was able to run a total of 70 kilometers to include my run in yesterday’s Mt Mayon 21K Trail Run.

By the way, my average pace for the past weeks was 5:40 minutes per kilometer in my Easy Runs; 5:05 minutes per kilometer in my Tempo Runs and my average Interval training time for my 400-meter lap runs is 1:36 minutes. This is what I call “Intensity Training with Higher Mileage”!

So far, my body is adapting to the stress and I could recover well while adopting the Easy-Hard Principle of training with at least one hour of sleep during daytime and another 7-8 hours during night time. I have at least 2 massage sessions every week.  Nutrition is well-maintained making sure that I eat my replenishment food at least 30 minutes after every workout. I maintain a 40-40-20 diet and drink lots of water.

I will keep you posted with regards as to how much will I be able to maximize my weekly mileage and what is the feeling what is like to be running such mileage.

You can visit my http://www.dailymile.com account for the details.





Maximalist vs. Minimalist

22 10 2010

These are the two general philosophies of training volume in running.  By the words alone, they connote opposing description to one another. Minimalist is best described by doing the minimum amount of training in order to achieve one’s objective or goal. While the maximalist would be best described by doing as much volume or amount of training as the body could absorb and sustain in order to improve or attain your goal.

In the late 70s and early 80s, I was greatly influenced by the teachings of Arthur Lydiard which was the proponent for maximalist training philosophy. In my preparation for my 1st marathon race, I exposed myself to endurance runs with a daily menu of 10 kilometers and sometimes “double” the same distance for the day. In my weekend runs, my minimum distance then was 20 kilometers and a maximum run of 30 kilometers.  Seldom did I do interval runs at the Oval Track but I improvised some running “burst” or fartlek sessions in my daily runs. Being young at the age of 30s gave me the strength to recover very fast in my running workouts. With this observation, the maximalist philosophy is more adept to the younger runners and this approach to training has a lot of potentials for the runner to improve greatly in his/her performance.

In the mid and late 90s, articles and personal experiences of older runners (40 years old and above) made way to the different runner’s magazines advocating that there is no need for too many kilometers/miles of running preparation in order to perform well in a road race. Experiments and studies had been made to elite runners as well as to the masters runners. Such studies resulted to almost the same results of performance for the athletes who are exposed to maximalist training philosophy. The minimalist practitioners had made their training more race-specific and with higher intensity of training as they have strictly followed some parameters or time/pace guidelines for a certain kind of running workout. This is where speed training and faster pace of workouts had been incorporated in their weekly training schedules. This kind of approach in training brought the importance of recovery to every runner. In my personal observation, this kind of training approach is highly recommended to runners or athletes who had been exposed to road races and intense training for a minimum of two years as running experience.

At my age of 58+ years old, I could hardly follow the teachings of the maximalist approach to training due to obvious reasons even though I have the time to run almost everyday. But I am still trying my best to find out the maximum of mileage I could do every week most especially now that I am preparing for another ultra mountain trail run next year. On the other hand, minimalist approach with higher intensity of training had given me positive results in my past marathon & ultramarathon races but I still have the feeling that I could still improve from my best PR times that I registered for the past 3 years. I know I could still improve in my future races using this training philosophy. 

Considering “running as an experiment of one”, I could not recommend which one is fitted to your attitude/personality and personal lifestyle if you want to develop your potentials in running. However, you must possess the following qualities in order to improve in your running—discipline, patience, focus, and “warrior” attitude. Your training plans and programs are useless if you do not have these basic qualities.

Minimalist or Maximalist? It’s your choice!





1st FREE Fun Run Report

21 10 2010

1. I thought of this idea to conduct FREE Fun Runs for the benefit of the new runners who have the patience to learn the “basics” of running. And at the same time remove from them the burden of paying any registration fee in order to enjoy the benefits of running. It was through this blog that this running event was known as I decided not to request from my good friend, Jinoe & Quennie of takbo.ph, to post this in the List of Races. However, on the day before the event, a certain “boy kuripot” at www.boykuripot.blogspot.com reposted my blog about the FREE Fun Run. Thanks, Boy!

2. Despite having 5-6 scheduled road races in Metro Manila and another Milo Qualifying Race in Batangas City, I decided not to postpone the activity as it was my way of trying to find out the response of my readers to this event. Even with the impending approach of the super-typhoon “Juan”, I made it a point not to be deterred with such development about the weather as I knew the course of the typhoon will not greatly affect Metro Manila on Sunday. I’ve been consistent with my events—it was always been RAIN or SHINE and no posponement/cancellation of event

3. At 5:00 AM of Sunday, a group of cyclists from the AFP, led by the Chief of Staff, AFP, were having their warm-up exercises for their regular “Bike For Peace” activity. This is a physical activity of the Officers and Men of the AFP based in Camp Aguinaldo which is composed of cyclists and they conduct their workout around Metro Manila with the slogan, “Bike For Peace”. After these cyclists left the GHQ Grandstand at 5:40 AM, it was our time to conduct the activities for the FREE Fun Run.

Group of 32 Runners Attended The 1st FREE Fun Run

4. A group of 32 runners joined the 1st FREE Fun Run. It was a combination of runners coming from the ST Microelectronics Running Club from Los Banos, Laguna; AFP Officers and their dependents; some takbo.ph members; new runners; ex-PMA cadets; and “first timers” in Camp Aguinaldo whom I had a chance to talk to. After a short welcome remarks, I led the stretching exercises and we were off on the road for our 8K Fun Run.

5. For the faster runners, it was a tempo run for them. For the “first timers” in Camp Aguinaldo, it was a tour experience for them as they were able to see the different structures and buildings inside the camp. The hilly portion at the back of the camp was a challenge to the new runners. In less than one hour, all the runners were back at the Grandstand and they were given bottled water and their copy of their Certificate of Finish for the run. Everyone had their own post-stretching exercises after they crossed the finish line. A digital clock was displayed at the Grandstand for the runners to see as soon as they cross the Finish Line.

6. I conducted a post-briefing for everybody as I accounted for all the runners. I announced that all FREE Fun Runs will be conducted at Camp Aguinaldo as my request for the use of the Philippine Army’s Grandstand & Parade Ground was disapproved due to activities being held in the said place on Sundays. Well, the “decision makers” at the Philippine Army did not see my “vision” for conducting FREE Fun Runs in their “turf” as I wanted more of their dependents and the involvement of the civilian sector in exposing the youths in 3K or shorter distance runs. I really wanted these runs at Fort Bonifacio to be short, quick, and fast as the whole activity should be finished within an hour. If the runs start at 6:00 AM, the activity should be finished before 7:00 AM.

Jeff Tamayo of POC Delivering A Short Lecture

7. The runners were fortunate to have my friend, Mr Jeff Tamayo, the ASIAN President of the Soft Tennis Sports Federation and member-officer of the Philippine Olympic Committee, who was a part of the Disaster Readiness Display activity in preparation for the incoming Super Typhoon “Juan” being held at the GHQ Parade Ground. He conducted a short lecture to all the runners on Sports Nutrition. The brief and concise lecture of Mr Tamayo was very constructive and helpful to all the runners. Thanks, Jeff for that “on the spot” lecture!  

8. Before 8:00 AM, the activity was terminated after some photo-ops with the runners. To all the runners and supporters, thank you very much and I hope more of our new runners will join these FREE Fun Runs.

Group Picture After The Event





BDM 102 Lecture #2

19 10 2010

“Experience is the best teacher”

The second session of the 2011 BDM 102K Ultramarathon Race Lecture will be held this coming Friday, October 22, 2010 in one of the Function Rooms of the Philippine Army Officers’ Clubhouse, Headquarters Philippine Army, Fort Bonifacio. The lecture will start at 6:00 PM and ends at 7:00 PM.

I have invited two distinguished guest lecturers whom I consider as well-experienced in the field of ultramarathon events since the start of the BDM 102 and other PAU Races for the past two years. The first lecturer is Gene Olvis who had been consistently joining the BDM 102 and PAU races. He will impart to the audience about his training and preparation for the BDM 102 races as well as his experiences during the race. On the other hand, I have invited Bea Hernandez, the wife of ultramarathoner Mark, who will discuss her tips and experiences on being a Support Crew to his husband to the recent BDM 102 and PAU Races.

All “first-timers” for the BDM 102 and those who are still waiting for their invitation are highly encouraged to listen and be a part of this lecture. BDM 102 “veterans” who are qualified for the 1st BDM 151 are also encouraged to join this lecture.

(Note: The Secretariat of the 2011 BDM 102 event will be present during the lecture and applicants for the BDM 102 who have not yet received their “invitation” can coordinate with them. The Secretariat will also be there to receive and process registration for the 4th PAU 50K Run/”T2N”)





New “Toy”: New Balance MT 101

17 10 2010

Two years ago, I donated my New Balance 902 thinking that it was the cause of my Achilles tendon pains not knowing that I was already attacked with gout. Since then, I never bought New Balance as my running shoes. Instead, I used ASICS for my training and competitive road races. 

In almost two years, I’ve started reading the blogs of famous trail ultra runners and I shifted slowly to trail running. I started to buy trail shoes and apparel from The North Face/Patagonia and I was satisfied with their performance. I have two Arnuvas; one Hedgehog; one Single Track; and one new Sentinel (courtesy of July Oconer). However, in almost all my trail runs to the “Brown Mountain”, I’ve been using the lightweight Adidas Osweego and Adizeros (Mana & Adios) and I did not have any problems with them on their traction and thin soles. Using these lightweight Adidas Adizeros for the past months gave me the confidence to try more “minimalist” trail shoes.

Top View

I had the chance to buy the popular New Balance MT 100 from Zombie Runner when I ran the Headlands 50 last July 2010 but I hesitated due to the fact that I suspected that a newer version is coming out soon. Reading from the blog of Anton Krupicka, he mentioned that he was invited and made a trip to the Corporate Office of New Balance for a meeting with their Research & Development Division and I suspected that there must be a significant importance to such meeting. 

Side View With The "N" (Narcise) Letter

 I personally guess that this new version or improvement of the New Balance MT 100 (trail shoes used by Anton Krupicka in his Miwok 100 and WS 100 this year) is the product of such meeting or for a more “minimalist” shoes to be released soon.

Well, I could not compare between the NB MT 100 from the latest NB MT 101 as I have not seen intently and used the MT 100. But I am sure that this is the improved version of the “minimalist” trail shoes that is available from New Balance. This could also be the answer of New Balance to the popularity of shoes that mimics barefoot running which is becoming popular for the past two years.

Another Side View Showing The Thin Sole

 Anyway, I am still trying to find a place where I could “break-in” this new toy. Definitely, it will be a choice between the Bataan/Mariveles or the Sierra Madre Mountain Ranges. We will see how these shoes will perform in our mountain trails.

Another Side View With The Sole Traction

For those who are interested to purchase this trail shoes, you can visit the website of Zombie Runner or wait for early next year for its availability in our local New Balance Stores. At www.zombierunner.com, all the things you need to “play” and run in mountain trails are called “toys”.








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