Race Report: 2015 Clark-Miyamit 50-Mile Ultra Trail Run (CM50)

25 11 2015

There are three (3) important things or information that I would like to report on this challenging ultra trail run here in the Philippines: First, I finished this race with a faster time as compared to my last year’s performance; Second, This is my third consecutive finish and I am on my way of getting the most coveted Baddest Ass Award for this event with two more editions to finish; and Third, I am still the Defending Oldest Finisher for three consecutive years for this Event.

Even if there is no specific award for the Oldest Finisher for this race, I am sure that I will be the First Senior Citizen to have coveted the Baddest Badass Award before the end of 2017. And maybe, it will mark my “retirement” from ultra trail running. Just maybe!

As compared to my last year’s five-month training preparation, I have a shorter training period for this year which are mostly done on the road, oval track, and hiking in the mountains on the first month of my 4-month training period. However, on the last six weeks/peak period, almost all my training long runs were done on the road, specifically on the road races that I have Race Directed since the middle of September. My Mt Batolusong 25K Trail Run participation was a test to validate my new nutrition strategy and narrow down the things that I need in a hot environment. However, I had more time to work on on my core and to rest/sleep as recovery for my running on the pavement.

Last year’s Race Report on my second time finish on this event was very detailed and it was divided into four (4) parts and I believe that this is now considered as the number one resource or reference material for those “newbies”/”first-timers” for the CM50-Mile Event. I will not go through to the detailed description of the course and the usual “section-by-section” narrative of my experience on this Race Report but rather state or tell those significant things that made me faster and more efficient in my finish this time. The following are the things that I’ve considered and applied during the race:

  1. Simplicity and Being Light—One week before the race, I’ve decided to use my two-year old New Balance MT  Minimus 1010v2 Trail Shoes which is very light (240 grams per shoe) and it proved to be the best shoes for this kind of trail running. Believe me, there was no grain of lahar that penetrated its upper mesh and therefore, its lightness did not change throughout the race. I did not use any Hydration Vest but I’ve used three (3) Simple Hydration Bottles with only one bottle filled with my nutrient mix (Carbo Pro) diluted with water; one bottle of Carbo Pro Powder only; and one empty bottle as my previsionary “Water Cup”. It was only from the AS4 to the Peak that the three (3) Simple Hydration Bottles were filled with Carbo Pro Mix and Water. On my way back to the Finish Line from AS3, I have one bottle filled with Carbo Pro mixed with water and one bottle filled with Water Only. Stashed in my UD Waist Belt Pockets are two (2) Clif Meal Bars & Whistle. I was not wearing a pair of Calf Sleeves.
  2. Familiarity of the Route—One month before Race Day, I went up to the “peak” and Miyamit Falls for a training run. It was on this run that I was able to “program” and plan for my hydration and nutrition requirements. I was able to register also my Average Pace on this part of the course in order for me to determine the “timeline” on each part of the course (from Km #24 to Km #56). I found out that I must be able to leave AS3 on my way to the Finish Line not later than 2:00 PM (13 hours elapsed time) so that I have enough “buffer time” before the cut-off time of 18 hours.
  3. Simple/Light Nutrition—-Eating a Full Meal (Rice & Meat “Adobo”/Beef Steak) before the Start of the Race (30 minutes before) with hydration (water + Carbo Pro), proved that I could last for the first 3 hours without any hydration or food intake. I took two (2) packs of Clif Bloks and One Meal Bar for the whole duration of the race. I would place a Coffee Candy in my mouth regularly in order to maintain a little sugar to my saliva. In every Aid Station, I would drink a lot of water and Coke/Sprite and ingest a number of watermelon bites. I never used the two (2) Sports Gels stashed in my gloves during the race. I did not have any Drop Bags, instead, I used a “FlipBelt” where I stashed my CarboPro Powder Mix and Clif Bloks.
  4. Heat Training & Hydration Strategy Training—One month before the Race Day, I’ve conditioned myself to start drinking my water after running 10 miles (16 kilometres) under the heat of the sun. Yes, I would carry a lot of water on my vest and waist during my training runs but I would finish my workout with only one-third being consumed. I suspect that my practice of ingesting Succeed Salt Capsules (it started last August this year) during my training runs had helped conditioned my body to take in a limited amount of water even if I was sweating profusely without having a “bonking” feeling/situation.
  5. Focused On Moving Forward—I did not spend a lot of time staying on the Checkpoints and Aid Stations. I guess, two minutes of stay was my longest and it could be when I asked one of my running friends to take a picture of me at the “Turn-around” Point at Km #40 and another picture taking at the Miyamit Falls’ Checkpoint. The rest of my brief stops in the Aid Stations were purely on refilling my hydration bottles and mixing my nutrition powder. Instead of stopping in sari-sari stores for ice cold sodas along the populated areas, I opted to take a “quick shower” in a place where the locals were washing their clothes and it made my core and body to be more relaxed.

There are also things that made me slow down during the run. First, I’ve experienced “muscle cramps” on the groin area of my legs along the section AS4 to the Peak that I needed to slow down and hiked on this section. I expected this to happen as I knew I lacked the necessary total elevation gain in my training. This experience never happened in my previous two editions. Second, The heat of the sun slowed me down on the section from the Miyamit Falls to AS4 that I spent almost one hour for a section that is ONE MILE long, instead of power hiking it for about 25 minutes during my recon run. And of course, I carried all my gear down to the Falls from AS4 and back. From AS4 to AS3, I “power hiked” alone on the trail and started running downhill when another runner from behind was trying to pass me.

Looking at my Suunto GPS Watch once I arrived at AS3, I began to be in a “panic” mode knowing that I was registering an Average Pace of 3.0 miles per hour. I knew that it will take me five (5) hours to reach the Finish Line from this point. So, I started to run, jog and power hike until I was able to pass runners who were either lost, simply walking, resting on the side of the trail, or those who would stop in each of the Aid Stations or Convenience Stores along the way.

Finally, I finished the race with a time of 16:43:58 hours, faster than the time I had last year (17:50+), with a ranking of #87 among the 132 finishers within the cut-off time of 18 hours. I am still the Oldest Finisher of this race and I have the intention of defending this title for the next two years. Hopefully, I will get the most coveted Baddest Ass Award of this Event.

Crossing The Finish Line

Crossing The Finish Line With RD Jonnifer Lacanlale

Congratulations To All The Finishers and Thanks to RD Jonnifer Lacanlale and his staff/marshals/volunteers for a successful event.

The training for the next year’s edition will start next week. Keep on running!


Things That Went Right During The Zamboanga 50K Run

1 10 2015

Since it is the first PAU-sponsored event in Zamboanga City and being the one who suggested this event to be conducted, I have to join this race as one of the participants. It is also a part of my “evaluation runs” to test if my training program is working and to determine some feedback on the improvements of my speed, endurance, and nutrition. Lastly, it is also a way of sharing my experience to my readers, hoping that one day they will be a part of this race.

The following are the things that went right (nothing went wrong) during my race:

  1. Nutrition & Hydration——It is the most important thing that one have to plan and have a strategy to be strictly followed. Although there are Aid Stations along the route, I was not well-informed on the details and what kind of drinks and food that are available in the race. Although, I have a general idea of what to expect in those Aid Stations. So, I brought my own “mini-nutrition pack” stashed in my Ultimate Direction (UD) Belt. I had 2 Packs of Clif Bloks (one pack in the UD Belt & one pack in my shorts front pocket); one Meal Bar (in my UD Belt); and two (2) GU Gels stashed in my shorts back pockets. I have also a CarboPro mix (with water) in my Simple Hydration Bottle and 2 Packs of it in my other Simple Hydration Bottle and in a tiny 3-oz bottle (without liquid). I brought with me two (2) Simple Hydration Bottles where one of it is filled with CarboPro Mix without water and the other one with water mixed with CarboPro. Both bottles were clipped with my UD Belt and placed on the back of my waist. A reserve CarboPro powder was inside a 3-oz bottle which is stashed in one of the pockets of my UD Belt.

My Nutrition & Hydration Strategy went this way: Eat 3 pieces of Clif Bloks every hour or when I feel hungry; sip my Carbo Pro mix every time my GPS watch makes a “beep” sound which tells me that I just finished one mile which is approximately equivalent to 14-16 minutes; drink at least 16-oz of cold water in each of the Aid Stations; eat something solid and fruits in the Aid Stations; take one Succeed S-Cap Capsule every 1.5 hours; and then mix the remaining CarboPro mix with Gatorade Drinks. The routine was repetitive and boring but it was the key for having successfully finished the race without any issues or problems.

CarboPro Powder Mix

CarboPro Powder Mix

2. Run Light——I did not use a hydration vest in this race and I only used my UD Belt where I stashed my IPhone and my food/mix powder. I was practically running with one Simple Hydration Bottle with liquid in it entire the race. I would have been lighter if I did not bring my Clif Protein Bar and two (2) GU Gel Packs but these food were my “reserves” just in case of any “bonking” during the race. I was using my Hoka One One Huaka which is more of Road Shoe but it is the lightest shoes that I can use for this race. No need for Calf Sleeves; Arm Sleeves; or Gaiters for this run.

3. Metronome——For the past months, whether it is a trail run workout or speed workout on the flat paved roads, I would use the Metronome Application stored/downloaded in my iPhone. This is the very reason why I had my IPhone with me with only one earbud on either on my right or left ear during the race. Metronome Application is now available Free for download and it is very useful in my making sure I was consistent in my running cadence. My Metronome is set at 180 steps per minute and the “tick-tock” sound could be easily followed every time I step each foot on the ground. Since my steps are short, quick and fast, I could easily keep in step with the beat. In the early 70s whenever I join Marathon Races, I’ve been using a metronome which was installed in earlier models of TIMEX/CASIO Running watches where there was no need for earphones. The continuous beat would remind or motivate you to keep up with your cadence during the run. Try it in your training runs and you will be surprised on how fast you can keep up with your pace. Additionally, it will generate constant reminder and at the same time distract the pain and suffering you are experiencing during the run. Whether I am the in the ascending or descending parts of the route, the metronome reminded me to maintain my cadence even if I was power hiking on the ascents.

The Actual Metronome

The Actual Metronome

4. Heart Rate Monitor——As soon as I reached the first peak of the course (Km #7), my HR reached its highest Average Record of 163 beats per minute (bpm) which happens to be my Maximum Heart Rate as shown by my Suunto Ambit 3 Peak GPS Watch. I made a quick stop and rest at AS 1 by drinking some water and eating a suman (rice cake). It was a quick stop just to lower my HR and after about a minute, I continued the race by walking and only started to jog again when my HR was lowered to 150 bpm. Throughout the race, I was monitoring HR every mile and I was satisfied that I was able to maintain an average of 150 beats per minute and would not exceed my Maximum Heart Rate of 163 bpm in the steep ascents. Through my HR Monitor, I did not feel any tiring moments even when I was hiking up the “Gulod de Medyo” area.

5. Electrolytes & Salt Tablets——Aside from the CarboPro mix, I used one tablet of GU Electrolyte Tablet every bottle of mixed drinks and constantly orally had taken Succeed S-Caps Capsule every 1.5 hours throughout the race. While my drink mix maintain the continuous replenishment of electrolyte loss through excessive sweating, the S-Cap Capsules made me pee regularly and try to give some feedback on the color of my urine if I am dehydrated or not. This combination of Electrolyte Tablets and S-Caps had been very effective to me in my training for the past 2 months.

6. Quick & Short Stops In The Aid Station——Except for the “turn-around” points where I refilled my bottles (with the CarboPro & Electrolyte Tablet inside) with Gatorade, ate some foods, and drink at least one bottle of 16-oz mineral water and some Cola drinks, where I would spend at least 3 minutes, the rest of the Aid Stations were short and quick to pick-up some bottled water to drink and then leave to continue the race. I think I spent not more than 2 minutes in these remaining Aid Stations during the race. I ate my Clif Bloks and then drinking my CarboPro mix while I was hiking the ascents.

7. No “Selfies” & Unnecessary Picture Taking——Taking some pictures with ones camera or IPhone is very cumbersome and very irritating sometimes as you have to bring out and bring in your camera to your race belt’s pocket or hydration pocket. If it is wrapped with Ziploc or some plastic pouch, the opening and closing of this protection from being wet and damped would entail some unnecessary movements that result to being not focused to the main task of running efficiently. Even if it takes a few seconds to “point and shout” ones camera, if these seconds are totaled or accumulated, it would add up to more minutes of delay on the course. Since there are members of the Running Photographers in the race, I just let them, as the experts with better cameras, take my pictures and just wait for them to post their pictures on Facebook.

In a nutshell, proper training/preparation where one has to test his apparel, hydration system, nutrition & hydration strategy and positive mental attitude is the key to a successful finish in an ultra running event. Although, running is an experiment of one, I hope my experience will guide you or test the above mentioned factors if you can adopt them or incorporate them in your running style or manner of finishing an ultra running event/race.


Round Trip Ticket (Cebu Pacific)——P 1,200.00 (Promo Fare/Sponsored By ZRC)

Hotel Accommodation & Meal——P 4,000.00 (2 Days)

Gratuitous Expenses (Tips)—-P 500.00

Total Expenses——P 5,700.00

My Running Kit (Picture By Running Photographers @ Km #17)

My Running Kit (Picture By Running Photographers @ Km #17)

Even if I am not an sponsored athlete, I would mention the things that I’ve used during the event:

Running Shorts & Shirt——ASICS

Running Shoes——Hoka One One Huaka

Runner’s Cap & Compression Shorts——Under Armour


Buff/Neck Sleeves——BUFF

GPS Watch——SUUNTO Ambit 3 Peak

Hydration Bottles——Simple Hydration Bottles

Race Belt & Pouch——Ultimate Direction


Nutrition——CarboPro Powder Mix; Succeed S-Caps; GU Electrolyte Tablets; Clif Bloks; Water & Gatorade (@Aid Station); Rice Cake (Suman), Boiled Banana, Ripe Bananas, Watermelon, & Hotdog Sandwich (@Aid Station)

My training continues…Go out and run!

Four Weeks

4 09 2015

I did not realize that I’ve been through with four weeks of my training since I’ve started for the 2015-16 Ultra Trail Running Season. I started my training on August 3, 2015 and the first day was a Rest Day with some stretching exercises.

I am still following a training schedule program which I’ve been using for the past two years with a little adjustment on my weekly training volume which I’ve increased within the range of 5-10 miles per week which are mostly done in my weekend LSDs. Before, I was doing an average of 50-55 miles per week but for the past weeks, I’ve have reached a peak of 66-67 miles per week. I feel okey, healthy, and pain-free from my knees and legs and had no bouts of leg cramps or “bonking”. I guess, there must a lot of good reasons why at my age of 63, my knees are still holding up and I could still hike some steep mountains.

Surprisingly, the bottle of Aleve that I bought lately have not been opened yet and for the past four months, I’ve never taken any pain-killer tablet in my races and trail running workouts.

My past failures to finish a 100-mile mountain trail run were caused by nutritional and hydration problems on my part. It took me two or more years to experiment what is good for my body. I really don’t have any problems with 50Ks, 50-milers, and 100K trail races with regards to nutrition but when I join 100-milers in higher elevations, my nutrition just put me down on the last 30 miles of the race. Following my experiences in the 100Ks that I’ve finished, I would only take in Energy Gels and Water and some solid foods offered at the Aid Stations and I would finish the course without any problem. I bought some nutrition books for endurance athletes and made some researches on the Internet. In addition, I was able to get some suggestions and advise from the Filipino veteran ultra runners residing in the United States. These suggestions from them confirms the studies and researches that I’ve read on books and on the Internet.

On this new training season, I’ve concentrated on my nutrition, not only before during, after my workout, but completely observed my daily nutritional intake to my body. I don’t count the calories of the food that I ingest but I make sure that I have Carbohydrates, Fats, Proteins, and Vegetables/Fruits in my 3 meals a day. Snacks in between meals would be anything, whether it is a fruit juice, milk, fruits, yogurt, or snack bars. I’ve never drink milk when I was in the military up to 2 months ago. Lately, by accident, I found out that Organic Fresh Milk does not give me stomach trouble caused by lactose intolerance. I’ve indulged myself in eating avocado as part of my meal or snacks and ate more foods rich in fats.

On my nutrition before my runs, I would have a breakfast of coffee, oatmeal or cereal with milk, avocado with milk & sugar, yogurt or fruit juice.

During my runs, I would hydrate every time my GPS watch would beep to indicate that I’ve covered a mile and have to strictly do the said “drill” every time I hear a beep. For my runs less than 8-9 miles, I would just drink water and ingest one 1 capsule of S’Cap every hour and after the workout. But for my LSDs on weekends which are more than 9 miles, I would carry with me a Tailwind Mixed with water in two bottles and purely Water in my 1.5-liter hydrapak on my backpack. I would alternately, drink Tailwind and water every other mile. I would also ingest 1 capsule of S’Caps every hour. At the turn-around or after finishing the first half of my run, I would eat any solid food I brought with me like, boiled potatoes, power bars, dried fruits, and some baby foods (fruit/vegetable).

I’ve stopped using Energy Gels in my runs since the start of this training but I still carry at least two packs just in case of emergency. I’ve have observed in my past races that Gels, after ingesting about 10 pieces, I would end up throwing up even if I use different flavors and flavors that I liked that didn’t give nauseated feeling in my past ultra runs.

My post-nutrition intake would be immediately after the workout——lots of water, one can of coke or one bottle of Ensure and a Power Bar. Once I arrive home, I would eat a complete meal. For the rest of the day, I would continuously hydrate myself with water, sometime consuming 1.5 gallons of water, and strictly adhering to my complete meals—carbohydrates, fats, protein, vegetable and fruits.

I have also incorporated “speed” workouts in my weekly program. Wednesday is usually my “speed” day where I do it on a flatter ground and paved road. This is the only time that I don’t go to the trails and mountains. Since there is no oval track near my place, I would go to a Public Park (Echo Lake Park) where the streets that surround it has a total loop distance of exactly one mile. I would do 1 mile X 5-6 repetitions or 2 miles X 3 repetitions with at least 5-6 minutes rest/jog intervals in between repetitions. In the mountains/trails, I usually do some “strides” or fast & quick leg-turn-overs on flatter portions within a distance of 50-100 meters just to give some “wake-up” drill to my tired leg muscles.

Once or twice a week, I would go to a mountain which has an “up and down” route where I have measured on each way (2.5 miles up & 2.5 miles down). I would wear my hydration vest full of 2 water bottles and 1.5-liter of hydra pack on my back with solid foods. I would practice “power-hiking” on the UP portion of the course and never attempt to do any run or jog. I would register the time from the start up to the time I reach the peak of the mountain. I have observed that I had been improving my time to reach the peak every week. The 2.5-mile distance has a vertical distance of 1,280 feet and my best time so far is 43 minutes for the power hiking in the UP direction.

On the ridge of the mountain, I would continue jogging and hiking for about 2 to 3 miles. On my way back, I would start my fast “downhill run” on the measured portion where I had my “power-hiking” workout. My attitude here in the fast downhill run is a “go for broke” one! A fast and continuous downhill hill run for 2.5 miles would “thrash” my legs! I am surprised that my old knees can still withstand the hard pounding of my feet on the ground. Every week, I would improve on my time on this downhill run! My fastest time for the downhill run is 20 minutes!

Power Hiking and Fast Downhill Running made me register a faster pace and speed for my daily runs!

Two years ago when I shifted to trail running, I did not give any attention to the vertical distance (total ascent/descent) in my workouts but it was later last year that I have concentrated more on the vertical distance of the trails I’ve been into. However, since I’ve started this new training season, I made sure that my weekly totals on the vertical distance will not be lower than 6,000 feet.

On Mondays and Fridays, I would do some stretching and calisthenics/core strengthening exercises. I would also do “foam rolling” to my legs for about an hour with more concentration to my calves, hamstrings, quads, and butt muscles. I stopped my lap swimming for the past weeks and by the end of the 7th or 8th week, I would incorporate (stationary) cycling in my weekly workouts.

On my weekend LSDs, I don’t eat a heavy breakfast (ingesting only coffee) as I want to simulate how I would apply my nutrition and hydration strategy when I am about to reach my “bonking” period which is about 1-2 hours after the start of my run. This is where I would observe how my body would react to any food or fluids that I take in, whether it is water, Tailwind, S’Caps, solid foods (power bars/baby foods/power bars/dried fruits), electrolyte mix, or Clif Bloks. So far, my maximum LSD distance was 20 miles in 6 hours, carrying a heavy load of water in my hydration vest (2-20 oz of water bottle & 1.5-liter hydrapak on my backpack + solid foods). However, if I use my 2-16 oz Simple Hydration bottles (tucked in my race belt with power bars) and one hand-held 12 oz handheld water, that same distance of 20 miles is usually done in 5 hours or less!

On the technical aspect and the monitoring of my body’s feedback on my performance every workout, my Suunto Ambit 3 Peak GPS Watch, had been very useful in monitoring my Heart Rate, VO2, Cadence, Calories Consumed/Burned, and Recovery Period. From these data, I would be able to know on what to do for my rest and recovery for the next workout. My daily workouts are properly recorded in a notebook/journal that I would religiously write every time I finish a workout, to include, what I feel before, during , and after the workout.

In summary, I attribute my faster and better performance in my 4 weeks of trail running due to the following: (1) Better nutrition before, during , and after every workout; (2) Constant hydration with water every mile with Tailwind every other mile; (3) Speed workouts on Wednesdays and incorporation of “strides” in my daily runs; (4) Adapting my body to ingest S’Caps/Salt Sticks during the run on hotter days without any negative reaction to my body; (5) More vertical distance and higher altitude hiking/downhill running would acclimatize my respiratory system; and (6) “Foam Rolling” & Stretching with Core Exercises twice a week.

I’ve been using my Hoka One One “Speedgoat” Trail Shoes for my LSDs and most of my daily runs while my Inov-8 Race Ultra 270 Trail Shoes and Hoka One One Challenger ATR would be used in my recovery and tempo runs.

Monthly Mileage (August 2015): 238.65 Miles or 381.84 Kilometers

Monthly Vertical Distance (August 2015): 41,605 feet

"Leave No Trace"

“Leave No Trace”

Conrado Bermudez Jr: The FIRST Filipino Finisher Of A 200-Mile Mountain Ultra Marathon Trail Single Stage Run

17 08 2015

My friends and contemporaries would always tell me that I am CRAZY to be running ultra marathon distances in the mountains in the country as well as in Asia and the United States. I just smile because that is the best description we (as ultra runners) could get to those who have not yet experienced our sports. But now, more ultra runners have extended their body limits and endurance by introducing a 200-mile endurance mountain trail event which has doubled the famous 100-mile distance which is now being accepted as the NEW Marathon Distance in Ultra Running. The runners of this new event could be the CRAZIEST of them all and since it was introduced only last year in the first edition of the Lake Tahoe 200-Mile Endurance Run, three of these events had been scheduled for this year and called the Grand Slam of 200-Milers (it was supposed to be 4 races: Colorado 200; Arizona 200; Lake Tahoe 200; and Bigfoot 200 but the Arizona 200 was cancelled).

Let me introduce to you the CRAZIEST Ultra Runner who just recently finished the 1st edition of the Bigfoot 200-Mile Endurance Run——Conrado Bermudez Jr! Being the FIRST Pinoy to have finished this mountain ultra trail running event, it would be proper and fitting to have his story in running to be published here as one of the main highlights of this blog with the hope of inspiring others and telling to the world that we, Filipinos, are very strong and resilient in nature.

Bigfoot 200-Mile Endurance Race Picture Collage

Bigfoot 200-Mile Endurance Race Picture Collage

Conrado Bermudez Jr, or fondly called as “Jun”, finished the 200-Mile Race in 94 hours, 26 minutes, and 30 seconds, placing himself as #40 among the 59 finishers where 80 runners started in the morning of Friday, August 7, 2015 at the Mt Helens National Monument in Washington State. The race has a cut-off time of 108 hours which is equivalent to 4 1/2 days, forcing the runners to complete 45 miles per day during the race. The following is the general description of the race as taken from its Website:

“The Bigfoot 200 is a trail running event in the Washington State that seeks to give back to the trails by inspiring preservation of the wild lands and donating money to trail building in the Pacific Northwest. The race is a point to point traverse of some of the most stunning, wild, and scenic trails in the Cascade Mountain range of Washington State. The Race ends in Randle, WA after traversing the Cascade Mountains from Mt St Helens to Mt Adams and along ridge lines with views of Mt Rainier, Mt Hood, and more!

The race will bring together people from all over the world to tackle this incredible challenge. With over 50,000 feet of ascent and more than 96,000 feet of elevation change in 2015 miles, this non-stop event is one of a kind in both its enormous challenge and unparalleled scenery. The race is not a stage race nor it is a relay. Athletes will complete the route solo in 108 hours or less, some without sleeping.”

Jun finished the race with barely 6 hours of sleep during the race! He was supported by his wife, Kat, their daughter and running friends who would meet him in Aid Stations where there is vehicular access. For more details of the race, one can visit the following link:


Finish Line Of The Bigfoot 200-Mile Race

Finish Line Of The Bigfoot 200-Mile Race With The Race Director (Photo From Facebook)

Jun is a native of General Santos City, graduate of the Philippine Military Academy belonging to Class 1996, a Special Forces Airborne, and Scout Ranger of the Philippine Army before his family migrated to the United States.

In my interview with him on the later part of last year after he finished the other 3 100-Milers in the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning (except Western States 100); he recollected that he first personally met me when he was the Aide-De-Camp of the Commander of the Southern Command in Zamboanga City and I was then the Commander of the Task Force Zamboanga. The year was 2000 and he was barely 4 years in the military service. He went further to tell me that he got inspired by my blogs and photo running galore through my posts in our PMA Bugo-bugo Facebook Page.

Jun finished the prestigious Boston Marathon Race in 3:11:14 hours.

The following are the some of the data about Jun and the answer to the questions I’ve asked him:

1. Home Province-Gen. Santos City; Age-42 ; Height- 5’9″; Present Body Weight-146 lbs ; Schools Attended (Elementary to Graduate Schools)-Notre Dame of Mlang, Noth Cotabato (Elem), Notre Dame of Dadiangas College-High School Dept; PMA Class-1996 and Special Training in the Military-Scout Ranger, Airborne.

2. Places of Assignments and Positions held in the Military/Philippine Army:

Platoon Leader-  Alpha Coy, 25IB, PA as Ready Deployment Force (striker battalion) of 6ID in Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, Cotabato Province. My platoon was also involved in capturing Camp Rajamuda in Pikit, Cotabato Province in 1997.

Company Commander- Bravo Coy, 25IB, PA , mostly deployed in Maguindanao. My company was also deployed in the front lines of Matanog and Buldon and was very instrumental in capturing Camp Abubakar.

3. Present Job & Working Hours-Security Officer in the United Nations Headquarters in NYC and works on day shift; City of Residence in the US-Jersey City, New Jersey; Wife’s Job- ER Nurse; Gender & Number of Children- one daughter

4. Brief Background of Running (during Childhood up to College and as Cadet of the PMA)

I started running when I was 7 years old. I grew-up in a farm and the only playground we had was an open field and trails where we would run and tag each other. In elementary and high school, I was so engrossed on soccer games than any other ballgames. This is why when I joined the PMA, I discovered that I was a decent runner because I was always in the lead pack when we had our 2-mile run as part of our physical fitness test. I also represented my company (PMA) in various races but most of the time I bonked because I usually go all out at the start and faint halfway through, which resulted to my ER visits. My style of running then was with a “do or die” mentality; no technique, no proper hydration and nutrition. It was just a plain “old-school” way and lots of brute force.

5. Best time in 5K- 19:22; 10K-42:08 ; Half-Marathon-1:26:52 ; and Marathon-3:11:14 All were done in 2013.

6. Brief story on your exposure to ultra distance running events—-first 50K; first 50-miler; first 100K; and first 100-miler.

I started joining races in 2012. That year I only finished 2 marathons. I was following your blogs and postings about the Bataan Death March 102 and 160 and the other races you directed and I got inspired by the spirit of the running community, and it was that I got curious about ultrarunning, especially the 100-mile distance.

To start my ultrarunning quest, I signed-up for a local flat, out-and-back, looped course. Thinking that 50km was just over a marathon, and 50 miles was just 2 marathons, I signed-up for a 100k, which was held in March 2013 in New Jersey. I’m glad that I met some new good friends there, who are now like a family. I was so proud that I finished in that muddy, swampy, and cold course third place. My wife and daughter were there for my first ultra. As a solitary person, running alone for a day was not such a big deal. The feeling of finishing a long distance further boosted my spirit… I got hooked. Then I signed-up for my first 100 miler scheduled three months after. It was in June in the inaugural Trail Animal Running Club (TARC) 100-Mile Endurance Run and the first 100-mile run in Massachusetts. The race started at 7 pm Friday with a cut-off of 30 hours. The course was in a 25-mile flat trails with some creeks spread along the way. I was very enthusiastic to train knowing that some of my friends are also running the race. As part of my preparation, I was reading some blogs and race reports, and I even asked your advice on how to deal with the distance. You discussed to me the proper nutrition and hydration and also incorporating hike into running. The course got indescribably muddy, with most sections in knee-deep mud in every mile, but with my grit and determination, I was able to finish despite a big number of DNF in the race. I felt reborn and my spirit was so high. It took me a week to recover from the pain.

In November, I did my first 50-mile race as  a finale for the year. The JFK 50 Mile is the oldest and the largest ultramarathon in the US. The course is a combination of road and trail. It passes through the Appalachian Trail and C&O Canal Towpath then ends in an 8-mile paved road in Maryland. The course was pretty easy and fast. This is where I met some new hardcore ultrarunners from the Virginia Happy Trails Club.

After running all long distances, I signed-up for my first 50k as part of my back-to-back training for my incoming six 100’s. The Febapple Fifty was held on Saturday of February 2014. Then the next day, I ran the Central Park Marathon. The Febapple race was fun. The course was filled mostly with knee-high ice and snow in a rolling hills of South Mountain Reservation in New Jersey. It was quite a tough race because the ice turned slushy and it was a bit hard to run. I still managed to finish in the top ten.

All of my first attempts of these distances were mostly to get me into groove to venture and discover ultrarunning. I realized the 100-mile distance is my favorite.

7. Training Preparation in your 100-Miler Races and Nutrition Strategy in your Races. How do you balance your training with your work and family? (*I will discuss my training in item # 9).

In short ultra races, I carry a handheld bottle or belt hydration system. They are lighter that I could run faster. I take one salt tablet every hour but if I sweat a lot, I take two every hour and nothing at night when it’s cold. In aid stations, I eat potato, banana, watermelon, and PB & J aside from the Ensure that I carry as my basic load. I make sure I take more nutrition at the early stage of the race. I also drink ginger ale and Coke/Pepsi to refresh my mind from the lows.

I come home from work around 8pm and do my chores and help my daughter do her homework. If all is done, I relax for awhile and train. It usually takes me an hour or two to finish my training. I sleep around midnight and wake-up at 6am. I am fortunate that my wife is also supportive of my passion as she herself is an ultrarunner. And our daughter is also our number one cheerer. So far, everyone is in sync in the family.

Jun Bermudez @ Leadville 100-Mile Race

Jun Bermudez @ Leadville 100-Mile Race (Photo From UltraSignUp)

8. Were you aware of the US Grand Slam of Ultrarunning? Since you missed the Western States 100 this year, do you intend to take a shot on the 2015 US Grand Slam of Ultrarunning?

I did not have my qualifier for Western States  last year. I was already aware of the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning, so to get the feel of it, I tried to sign-up for six 100-mile races. I put my name in Massanutten Mountain Trail 100 and Wasatch Front 100 for lottery and fortunately, I was accepted. Since I have proven that I could finish multiple races in a gap of 3-5 weeks, I have more confidence now to challenge myself in GS in the future. There’s only a slim chance for me to get into Western States with one ticket but I will make sure I will apply every year to increase my chances. If not, I am planning to do more challenging 100-mile mountain races next year. It just sank-in that what I did was insane. Every time I finished, I cursed myself for signing-up and promised myself not to do 100’s anymore. But a couple of days after, I feel that I am ready to go again. Thus, if ever I am accepted in Western States in the future, I won’t hesitate to join the Grand Slam.

9. Knowing that you are a “lowlander”, how did you train for the 100-mile mountain races that you finished? How did you cope up with the possibility of encountering “high altitude” sickness in your latest two 100-milers?

My training was focused in strengthening my legs, ankles, and feet in battling the rigorous technical terrain. But 90% of my training was indoor because of my busy schedule, and  I have a child to watch that I could not leave at home if my wife is working or training for her ultra events. I usually do stairs workout, climbing up and down, up to 250 floors without rest every two weeks, which is a great way to improve my VO2max and giving me more mountain legs. Most of the time, I abuse my incline trainer/treadmill, which goes to 40%. I use it for incline hike/run with 10-15 lbs of rucksack together with my 2.5 pounder ankle weights. Although I hated speed workout, I still do my 5k in treadmill and this keeps my pace honest. Sometimes I do my trail long runs in the weekends with my friends but most of the time, I am stuck on my treadmill. Treadmill running is boring but it gives me more mental conditioning to tackle the distance. Aside from that, it also preserves my feet from the hard pounding of the pavement. I don’t really track my weekly mileage because I don’t have a proper training plan that I follow. I just listen to my body and do whatever I feel I need to work on. And to avoid injury, I do strength and core workout twice a week.

In an attempt to combat altitude sickness, I was taking  iron, B complex, and vitamin C supplements. But these didn’t really help much. I still got more vomitting in Leadville (12,600 ft highest altitude) after mile 60 and had some also after mile 70 in Wasatch.

10. How did you balance recovery and preparation in between those 100-milers for the 6-month duration of your ultra events?

I treat every race as my long run. After the race, I relax, stretch, and foam roll for 3-4 days to get rid of the pain. I also come back to work 2 days after the race. At work, I stand for 6 hours. I think standing at work and walking from home to train station and to work helps my fast recovery. At the end of the week, I start doing easy runs again. Then the next week, I go back to my usual training routine. My taper starts 2 weeks before the next race. I did this routine in my last four 100 milers. In fact, I was feeling fresh every time I start the next race and my spirit gets stronger. I was amazed that I was able to do sub 20 hours in 3 100 milers. Although I did not achieve my goal of finishing Leadville 100 in sub 25 and Wasatch Front 100 in sub 30, I am still ecstatic that I finished those races SOLO (no pacer, no crew) and without getting injured. When I finished Leadville 100, I focused more on recovery by just doing stretching, hiking and easy runs. It was in Leadville that I suffered much because of the altitude and my mistake of not hydrating properly. I had nausea and I threw up every time I ate and drank after mile 60, and I was also suffering from a bad stomach issue. Wasatch is harder than Leadville. But due to my proper hyrdation and nutrition, I felt better and stronger although I still had gastrointestinal issues around mile 70, but later I managed to cope with them by slowing down and taking my time at aid stations to recover.

11. What are your tips and advise to those who would venture to mountain ultra trail running events. What would be the things that you have to improve upon if ever you want to improve your performance in your previous 100-milers?

It takes a lot of discipline. Training involves time away from your family and it is important that no matter what, family comes first. It is helpful if your family is supportive, so that is paramount in your quest for ultrarunning and paramount in the list of things you have to make sure you obtain, foremost.

Never be afraid of the adventure. It is not always about the destination (aka finishing) but the journey. That is my advice to other runners.

Personally, I think I need to improve on certain strategies like hydration and nutrition. Also, not just to eliminate issues like GI problems that come with certain races, but— more importantly— how to perform well regardless of these problems because, lets face it, problems encountered during races MAY NOT ever go away. So it is a matter of pushing past these issues and finishing strong. Thats what I need to work on.

12. Aside from the 2015 US Grand Slam of Ultrarunning plan, what is in store for you in the coming ultra running years?

I want to venture into other Ultra races. The challenging ones, in particular. There are many races out there to explore with challenging course and beautiful sceneries. When they go hand in hand, they become priceless experiences, especially when you finish them. Like I said, mountain 100-milers are my favorite, but that is not to say I will not try to explore on distances beyond that. We’ll wait and see.

Jun could not stop wanting for more and he is now one of the few mountain ultra trail 200-mile single stage finishers entire the world. For the past two years, he has the following 100-miler mountain trail races with their corresponding finish time in his belt :

TARC 100-Miler in Westwood, Massachusetts (June 14, 2013) —-25:19:27 hours

New Jersey Ultra Trail Festival 100-Miler in Augusta, New Jersey (November 23, 2013)—-18:53:31 hours

Massanutten 100-Miler in Front Royal, Virginia (May 17, 2014)—-28:05:55 hours

Great New York City 100-Miler (June 21, 2014)—-19:33:14 hours

Vermont 100-Miler (July 19, 2014)—-19:10:51 hours

Leadville (Colorado) 100-Miler (August 16, 2014)—-29:19:11 hours

Wasatch Front (Utah) 100-Miler (September 5, 2014)—-32:18:26 hours

Massanutten 100-Miler (May 16, 2015)—-25:45:03 hours

San Diego (California) 100-Miler (June 6, 2015)—-22:16:27 hours

After his sub-24 hour finish at the San Diego 100-Mile Endurance Race, I told him that he has to rest and recover in between his races to let his body free from injuries brought about by over racing or over training in ultra distances. I even told him that he has to prepare for the possibility of being selected in the lottery for the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Race if ever he registers to join the race. I emphasized that I am betting on him that he will be the FIRST Pinoy Ultra Runner to be awarded the “One Day-24 Hour” Silver Buckle in the said race and I am sure that it will take another generation of Pinoy Ultra Runners to surpass such accomplishment.

My prediction on his ultra running career brought not a single word from his mouth but instead responded to me with a smile. Jun is a silent type guy and does not openly brag about his ultra running finishes on the Social Media and he does not even have a blog or journal where he can relate and share his stories in his ultra races. However, my interview with him has a lot of tips and advise for those who would like to embark on mountain ultra trail running, most specially to those who are in the lowlands and for those who don’t have access to the mountains or simply lazy to be in the outdoors.

BR & Jun @ Lake Cuyamaca

BR & Jun @ Lake Cuyamaca

Before we parted ways in Lake Cuyamaca in Mt Laguna, San Diego, California, he intimated to me that his ultra running career is not complete if he will not be able to finish the Grand Slam of the Bataan Death March 102/160 Ultra Marathon Race! Hopefully, that will be the day that Jun will be able to meet the whole Pinoy Ultra Running Community in his homeland.

This is what I said to Jun, “Get your Western States 100-Mile Silver Buckle first before coming home, Cavalier!”

(Note: Jun had been using HOKA ONE ONE Shoes in all his trail running races and training)

Race Report: Mt Sembrano 32K Trail Run

18 05 2015

Two weeks before the race, the Race Director and friend of mine, Bong Delos Angeles, sent me a message telling me that I am invited to join the 2nd edition of this race which he is organizing. I told him that I will try my best to join the race if I have the time to return to Manila after my 1st Mt Tapulao Trail Run which is held the day before this race.

One week before the Mt Tapulao Trail Run, I decided to shorten the course from 46K to 36K so that I can have the time to return to Manila, coming from Barangay Barangay Dampay Salaza, Palauig, Zambales and spend the night in Manila before proceeding to the Starting Area which is located in Barangay Malaya, Pililla, Rizal.

The plan was not to race in this race because I had a 20K easy run to the peak of Mt Tapulao the day before the race. I was following a training plan that called for a “back-to-back” Long Runs on the said weekend and it was a good reason to join this race to comply with the training program.

I arrived in Manila on the night of Friday coming from Zambales and I knew that I will have a limited time to sleep as it was my first time to go to Pililla, Rizal and look for the starting area. I found out that the way to Pililla, Rizal is the same way that goes to the starting area of my Tanay 50K Run. I missed the turn that goes to the town of Pililla and I had to go back after finding out that I got lost. It was a bad sign!

As soon as I arrived at the Starting Area in the Multi-Purpose Covered Court of Barangay Malaya, I could see the runners ready for the start of the race. The race has two distance categories: 15K and 30K. The 15K distance category is for those “newbies” in trail running and other local running “celebrities”. I opted to join the longer course and expected to be “fried” under the heat of the sun!

First Mile Of The Race

First Mile Of The Race

The 30K distance started ahead of the 15K runners and I was positioned at the back of the pack as one of the last runners. The route was simply going on easterly direction from the Barangay Hall and it was a paved road going to the trailhead which is a straight assault trail to the peak of the mountain which is ultimately the Mt Sembrano. From the trailhead, it was a single-track trail ascending at a very steep grade. I just simply hiked on this trail, trying to follow the runner in front of me. Just when I was halfway to the first peak of the mountain, the leading runner of the 15K distance category were already on my back trying to pass me along the trail. I was impressed with the 15K runners as they were able to maintain their pace despite the steepness of the trail. I had to give way for them and some of them are my friends and runner-finishers in my previous races.

I decided to use hand-held water bottles on each of my hands instead of using my hydration vest with bottle pockets on both sides of my chest. It was my first time to use my TNF Handheld bottles in a trail running race which I bought sometime in 2009. I had no problem using them as I was using my cycling gloves which provided lightness on the way I was gripping them. I could still use my fingers and palms/hands in holding the rocks on those very steep portions of the trail.

I did not join the race to compete but to have a “back-to-back” long runs for the weekend. My goal was to finish the distance of 30 kilometers within the cut-off time; try & test my apparel/shoes; and find out if I can withstand using two hand-held bottles for the distance.

Going To The Peak

Going To The Peak

Once I reached the first peak, I had to refill my water bottles in an Aid Station and I could see a beautiful scenery all around me. The mountain is covered with cogon grass with the Laguna De Bay on the West; the Windmills of Bugarin on the North; the Mt Sembrano Peak on the East; and more cogon grasses on the South. I could see already runners coming from the peak as well as the runners in front of me going to the peak. It’s time to move and reach the peak.

Looking at the elevation profile of the whole course, the peak is about 700+ meters above sea level with a cumulative distance of 7 kilometers. It looks like my “Brown Mountain” playground but with a shorter distance to the peak of the mountain. From the peak, the course is descending with few hills and runnable ascents. But it is the heat of the sun that will definitely slow down the runners.

It took me a few seconds to stay at the peak of the mountain just to appreciate what is all around the area and I was on my way to the first peak. As I went down, I was surprised to see more runners along the way and I suspect that they could be the 15K runners. I was in the company of newly-promoted Lt Colonel Ron Yllana since the time we ascended the first peak of the mountain. He was always behind me trying to keep his pace with mine. At least, I have somebody to talk to along the course. As we went down to a lower portion of the mountain, we were able to be in touch with the other runners until we reached a junction where a tent and two marshals are located.

Coming Down From The Peak

Coming Down From The Peak

The marshals said that the 30K runners had to take the trail on the right while the 15K runners had to take the trail on the left as they are going back to the starting area. Ron and I took the trail on the right and we started to go down along the trail. After about one kilometer, we started to meet some runners asking us for directions and we answered, “just follow the yellow marker”. More runners were going up the trail while we were going down and we suspect that something was wrong. Not until we saw the Race Director telling us that we missed a turn so that we should be proceeding to Barangay Bugarin which is a cluster oh houses in the middle of some hills and trees with the windmills from a distance of about 7-8 kilometers.

Retracing back to the right trail for more than one kilometer of ascent with the heat of the sun on top of our heads is very frustrating. But the race (or LSD) must go no matter what or whether I will be last in this race. There was no need to complain or “whine” as the Race Director was so apologetic when he showed to us the correct way. It was our first time to see the trunks of trees that were placed across the trail to indicate that we have to veer right to a steep descending trail with yellow ribbons on it. I hope there should be more signs leading to this point and within this sharp turn. Ron & I and the rest of the runners behind us were puzzled why we were led to trail that goes to the Finish Line. At this point, my Garmin Watch registered a distance of 8 miles (12 kilometers) to include our “lost moments” of about 2.5 kilometers!

Elevation Profile On The First Half

Elevation Profile On The First Half

It was time to be back in business. Once we reached the wide dirt road that leads to Bugarin, I took a 10-second rest under a tree, took one of my GU Gels, drank my water, and took some deep breaths while looking at the far distant Bugarin. I said to myself, this will be a mental game! I have to give a “trick” to my brain and finish this race! Think Positive!!!

It’s time to count my steps and strides and power walk on the ascending portions while trying to hydrate myself. It was a boring and repetitive mental game but I would gain distance. I just let my Inov8 Trailroc Trail Shoes and my legs work on their own. Drink water alternately from my water bottles and try to maintain my pace. Ron and I would joined by another runner, Xcel Halog who is also a runner from Subic and who happens to know my playground. The three of us would be together as we got nearer to the next Aid Station.

As soon as we reached the Aid Station, I removed my cap and my buff and placed them inside an ice chest filled with ice water. Ate some ice-cold packed fresh fruits and hydrated myself with water and bottled sweet drinks. A lady volunteer at the Aid Station asked me if I am the Bald Runner and I said, Yes! She told me that almost all the runners that passed on the said Aid Station were asking if I passed already at the said point. The lady could not answer them as she would reply to the runners that she does not know the Bald Runner. I just smiled at her as these runners were on a “panic mode” if I will be passing them or will be on their backs trying to catch them.

One Of The Last Runners After Gun Start (Using Two Hand-held Bottles)

One Of The Last Runners After Gun Start (Using Two Hand-held Bottles)

We left the Aid Station refreshed and we were still in a fighting mode! We finally reached the turn-around point in Bugarin and I ate some food and fruits. After refilling our bottles, we were back on the course and I mentally programmed myself not to stop for a long time in my rest breaks. I just hope my two other running companions will be able to cope up with my pace. We did not mind the hot and humid conditions of the day as the trail was exposed to the heat of the sun. We were focused to finish the race and try to do the best we can!

It was unnecessary to force my body to a faster pace as this race was treated as a long run. My strides are very short but quick which I am accustomed to in my daily training runs in my playground. I have to take care of my body and made sure that I did not have any encounter with any injury along the way. I always think to relax my body while running and let my gluteus muscles do their work in the ascending parts of the route.

At The Finish Area

At The Finish Area

My nutrition played a key role on this part of the route despite the high temperature of the day. I mixed two GU Gel Packs in my water-filled hand-held bottle and filled my other bottle with water. I would drink my hydration from these two bottles, alternately and I was able to maintain my pace all the way to the finish line. The ice-cold fresh fruit packs served at the last Aid Station have also contributed in my nutrition needs to include my Stinger Waffle which I carried in my UD Pocket Belt.

As I got nearer to the Finish Line, along a descending paved road which is named as “Road Less Traveled”, I could sense that I was already running alone. Since I don’t have the habit of looking who is behind me, I kept on focusing on the road ahead and continuously being aware of what is happening to my body ( breathing, swinging of arms, lifting of my feet, correct body posture/running form, and relaxed pacing) making sure that there is no pain on my legs and my body.

The SMART people gave me a cold water to douse my head and a runner ahead of me offered a cold cola drinks from a convenience store along the road which I declined. I stopped when I saw a water coming out from a pipe and I slowed down thereafter to allow the said runner (from the store) to pass me on the last kilometer of the race. The runner even asked me to have a “selfie” with him as I allowed him to do so. From there, I told him to finish the race ahead of me.

I finished the race in 6:54+ hours with a smiling face!

Congratulations to Dabobong Delos Angeles and his MGM Team for organizing this event. Definitely, I will be back next year to improve my time in this event.

Finishing The Race With A Smile

Finishing The Race With A Smile

Race Report: 2015 TransLantau 100K Ultra Trail Run

20 03 2015

Race Report: 2015 TransLantau 100 Ultra Trail Race

Place: Lantau Island, Hongkong

Date & Time: 11:30 PM March 13, 2015 To 7:30 AM March 15, 2015


I could be one of the few Pinoy runners who first registered to this running event which is considered as its fourth edition from the time it was created. One of the reasons why I decided to register in this race is to test my present state/condition in mountain ultra trail running and validate my training program as I embarked for more mountain trail challenges in the future despite my old age of sixty-two and my thoughts of considering my retirement from running.

Official Flyer/Advertisement Poster Of The Event

Official Flyer/Advertisement Poster Of The Event

Looking back from the Trail Book given as gift by my friend US 100-Mile Grand Slammer/200-Miler/Race Director of Hongkong’s 4 Ultra Trail Challenge Andre Blumberg and the regular Facebook posts of running pictures from my friend Lloyd Belcher, who are both residents of Hongkong, I was attracted by the beauty of the island of Lantau, thus, it was a good and appropriate event to actually see the beauty of the island by foot.

The Event’s Website gave me the necessary information and data that I needed for me to come up with a a specific training program and look for a training “playground” for me to prepare this event. I even “googled” in the Internet in order to find out if there are specific “journal” or blog of past runners who finished the 100K category race. Luckily, there is only one runner who is generous enough to share his experience through a blog with a nice drama of something that he accomplished. Although it was not as detailed as what I would expect it to be, it was enough to know that the writer mentioned about the course and mentioned the word “steep mountains” and his personnel fulfillment to have finished the race. Although I have some runs on the limited sections of the McLehose and Wilson Trails, courtesy of Andre Blumberg, I could relate and imagine that the general appearance of these trails are the same with that in Lantau’s Island——there will be lots of rocks lined up as steps or stairs which I fondly call “rock stairs” trails of Hongkong. Here is the link of a blog of a 100K Finisher which I made as a reference:



On the first week of December 2014 (yes, last year), I asked my trail running coach that I have the intention of joining the 2015 edition of the TransLantau 100 and he gave me a training schedule/program starting on December 8, 2014 up to March 12, 2015 where my peak/highest mileage for the week was only 54 miles ( 86.4 kilometers). The training program has a duration of three (3) months only. But my ultra coach advised me to train with more elevation gain and look for higher mountains as my “playground”.

Knowing that the entire course of the Translantau 100 has a total elevation gain of 5,800+ meters or 19,140 feet, I have to look for a specific “playground” where I could “mimic”, at least, the elevation gain in a specific distance that I would like to run in my daily training. With a total elevation gain of 19,140 feet, I should look for a 10K distance that has a total elevation gain of at least, 1,914 feet.

Finally, my original playground which I call the “Brown Mountain” offered what I’ve been looking for! For the first 4 miles or 6.4 kilometers of the course, it would give me a total elevation gain of 2,000 feet already! And with lots of rocks and steep ascents and descents! So, I’ve chosen this particular “playground” and this is where I did my training since December 8, 2014!!!!

At The Peak Of "Brown Mountain" With An Elevation Of 1,975 Feet

At The Peak Of “Brown Mountain” With An Elevation Of 1,975 Feet

Going up to the peak of the mountain, I would register an elevation of 1,975 feet but the total elevation I would get in order to reach its peak would be 3,000 feet! To complete one-way of my daily runs, I would go up to the mountain and go down on the other side of the mountain and I would register a distance of 7 miles or 11.2 kilometers. To make it more challenging during my weekend’s long runs, I would make a “Yo-Yo” run which is described as running back on the same 7-mile route that I went through (one-way) in order to complete the workout. Simply put, it is a LSD “Mountain Repeat”! My longest long runs in the mountains would be 15-16 miles which is exactly a “Yo-Yo” run with additional one or two miles of uphill climbs on a paved road. It would take me 5-6 hours (which are done during nighttime) to complete my “yo-yo” runs. Each “Yo-Yo” run would register a total elevation gain of 4,200+ feet and it gave me full confidence that my training will prepare me to finish the race.

Knowing that the race starts at midnight, almost all my long runs are done during nighttime. My daily running schedule are done in the early morning and in the early evening and tried to observe how my body reacts to the different times of the day.

On hindsight, I realized that I was doing Back2Back2Back2Back2Back (5X) on my “peak training week”, from Thursday up to Monday, where the total mileage would be the whole distance of the race event. These “Back2Back” runs were very easy on my body as my workouts were done in the same “playground” with lots of combination on how to run through the mountains. This is where I studied and observed my Average Speed and improved my hiking strength.

I have to train also with my hydration and nutrition intake. I made sure that I would be able to consume my two bottles of Simple Hydration within a distance of 10 kilometers or 6.2 miles. I had to take in some solid foods in my long runs and test on how my body would react when I don’t take any foods except water within the distance of 10 miles. Entirely within my training period, I did not take any pain-reliever medications, Gatorade, salts, and liquid food supplement. I only take Ensure drinks and Whey Protein mix after my workouts as my recovery drinks.

However, I would have my daily massage, courtesy of my training partner, Dannin before going to bed.

Different brands and flavors of Sports Gels had been tried and I knew what to use depending on what time during the run or what distance I was going to run. It was just a matter where I would stash each brand of Sports Gel in my running shorts’ pockets, on my race belt, and on my hydration vest’s pockets so that I will be efficient in using them along the course during the race.

My running apparel would be the same——Patagonia Shorts; a base layer shirt; PAU Long- Sleeved shirt; Salamon Shoes; UD’s AK Race Vest with two Simple Hydration bottles; Uniqlo Windbreaker; and a light Uniqlo Down Jacket tightly packed inside my Back Pocket of my Hydration Vest.

Race Strategy

With 600+ runners in the 100K category, my Race Strategy was to simply “follow the runner in front” of me, making sure that I was maintaining my training’s Average Speed (2.5 to 3 miles per hour), maintain a “buffer time” from the cut-off time in every Check Point, and Finish the Race (with a Smile!) within the cut-off time of 32 hours!

With the knowledge of what to expect on the trails of Hongkong through a brief “walk-through” on sections of the McLehose and Wilson Trails with Andre Blumberg and by reading the book that Andre gave me (four years ago) which depicts/describes the Four Famous Hongkong Trails, I would expect a lot of rocks prepositioned on the trail to act as stairs in climbing to the peak of the mountains; some portions to be paved; and lots of single-track paved or hardened earth trails. Practically and realistically, I was prepared to run through the “rock-stairs” of the Hongkong Trails!

HK's Trail "Bible" For Serious Hikers & Runners (Gift From Andre Blumberg)

HK’s Trail “Bible” For Serious Hikers & Runners (Gift From Andre Blumberg)

My mantra for the race would be “Easy on the Climbs and Easier on the Descents” in order to preserve my knees and my legs up to the Finish Line! There was no point or intention of using my trekking poles during the race as I trained for this race without them.

Strategically, Translantau 100 was just a “test” on myself for a “bigger” mountain trail adventure in the next few months. It is my way of strictly following my “Three-Two” Rule in running through the rest of my life. Simply put, train and finish “Three Important Races in Every Two Years”. All the other running events that I would join and finish are just considered as part of the training for these important mountain trail events.

Nutrition and Hydration Strategy

Eat a Full Meal Before The Race; Drink My Vespa; Intake of One Sports Gel every hour; consume my water in my two Simple Hydration bottles in-between Check Points; eat solid foods in the Aid Stations; and remember to take Ginger Chews/Candies on those hard climbs!

I have to emphasize to follow strictly my food intake procedure which I adopted and applied during my training—-there is a need to stop in order to eat a full meal and NOT eat while on the move. Except when taking in Sport Gels and drinking my water where I have perfected this one while on the move. In the past, I had a problem in “eating solid foods on the move” and I always end up choking and coughing. I’ve learned from this mistake and I made sure to eat my solid foods while on STOP in the Aid Stations.

Travel and Accommodation Arrangements

These arrangements are also important to consider if you travel abroad to join running events…and they are NOT cheap! But with the advent of the Internet, everything is already arranged through On Line and the transportation system in Hongkong is very efficient.

Depending on your budget, you can choose your accommodation and places where to eat in Hongkong. Buy an “Octopus Card” at the Airport and you can have a lot of options on how to travel from Point A to Point B, just read the map that is FREE and available at the Airport, and if you are in doubt, ask someone for directions. If you are in a hurry, just take a TAXI and show the driver your destination (in Chinese characters/writing) and he will take you there fast and safe!

This kind of “drill” is almost THE SAME if you travel abroad for a running event——everything you need to know about the country is available at the Airport. As compared to Manila, a visitor is prepared to be “duped” by a TAXI Driver once he/she gets out of the Airport. And that is just a start of a series of frustrations. If you are a Pinoy runner reading this blog, you would know what I mean.


Lantau is the largest island in Hongkong and it can be reached by ferry/boat, bus, TAXI, and railway from Hongkong or Kowloon. It has a lot of fishing villages, some beaches, and lots of mountains and vegetation. This is where the famous Disneyworld Hongkong, Tallest/Biggest Buddha, and the New Hongkong Airport are located.

As suggested by the Race Organizer, I would take the Ferry Ride from Pier 6 at the CENTRAL Station to Mui Wo in Lantau, where the Silver Mine Beach Resort/Hotel/Park is located. The ride would take at least 40 minutes and then from the Lantau Pier, one has to simply walk to the Silver Mine Beach where a Hotel is located. There is a Park and a Toilet Facility which is FREE for everybody.

Google Map Of Lantau Island & Race Route

Google Map Of Lantau Island & Race Route

I was 2.5 hours ahead of schedule when I arrived at the Starting Area and I just observed the other runners coming in while seated on one of the concrete benches.

Jeri Chua, a famous ultra trail runner from Singapore, approached me at the Pier 6 waiting area and introduced herself. She would advise me to just take it easy on the race on the first half as the race progresses with lots of steep mountain trails on the ascents and descents until the last 5 kilometers. She emphasized on the words “take it easy”. Her advise would be etched in my mind throughout the race and it was the best advise from an expert.

Prior to the start of the race, one of the Chinese runners called my attention and asked me if I am the Bald Runner. After answering him positively, he asked me to have a “selfie” shot with him using his Samsung Note Cellphone. Wow!!! I am a popular figure here in Hongkong! Ha! Ha! Ha!

Lantau 100 Blogs and References

There are lots of blogs on the Internet of those who finished the race, a limited number of blogs are available in the 100K category but most of the blogs are in the 50K category. There is only one word that is the common denominator among these blogs——“steep” ascent/descents! There are NO dramas of pain; frustrations; fatigue; “bonking”; lost moments; injuries; complaints or “whining”. All these blogs simply described each section from one Checkpoint to another and their blogs were boring to read with the usual attached Google Map, Elevation Profile of the Race Course, and pictures of some of the sections! (Note: At the end of this blog, a Google Map Video was posted by Stanley Ho of Taiwan for the detailed direction of the route from Start to Finish)

Race Proper

Expect A Lion Dance Minutes Before The Gun Start

Expect A Lion Dance Minutes Before The Gun Start

There are no unnecessary announcements from the Race Director or any of the Race Marshals. Runners simply went inside the Starting Area Chute behind the Start Arc and waited for the Race to Start.

I took time to take some pictures of the runners at the front and at the same time took some “selfie” shots.

The Front Runners Before The Start Of The Race

The Front Runners Before The Start Of The Race

Five minutes before the start of the race, I went inside the chute and pre-positioned myself in the middle part of the long queue of runners from the Arc up to the back. Then there was this performance of Dragon Dance with the accompanying Drums and Cymbals in front of the Arc and after the said dance, the Race started on time at exactly 11:30 PM of Friday. And we were off running along the beach.

After about 100 meters, we left the beach by running U-turn along a paved single-track road fronting the Hotel towards the populated area of the Mui Wo Village. After one kilometer of flat paved road, the course started to ascend and up we go to the mountains.

Elevation Profile Of The Course

Elevation Profile Of The Course

Silvermine Beach, Mui Wo To Pak Mong (12 Kilometers)

I started almost behind the pack with I think about 20-30 runners behind me. I maintained a very slow pace with some walking in-between as we approached the populated area Mui Wo. I started to see runners going up in front of me as we started to tackle the first mountain in the race. I could see far from me that the lead runners are already about to approach the peak of the first mountain peak. However, I have to keep calm and tried to monitor the numbers that are registered in my Garmin Forerunner. I really wanted to have an average speed on this course, from Start to Checkpoint #1 to be more or less to 3.5 miles to 4.00 miles per hour, thinking that the trail is not too technical and narrow.

After 2-3 kilometers, the pace started to be slower as the runners would be lined up going up the mountain in a single-track trail. All the runners were already hiking and more are patiently walking just to be able to progress towards the peak of the mountain. I could not believe what my eyes were seeing, long lines of runners snaking through the peak of the mountain as seen by their headlights/hand-held flashlights. The single-track trail and the steepness of the mountain prevented the runners to jog or run through this part of the course. It would be a crazy idea to jog or run on the ascending trails as early as the first hours of the race. After hiking for about an hour, I thought to have reached a peak but to my dismay, there is another higher peak on the horizon. Darkness in the night had made me a fool and after reaching a flat surface, there is another peak that could be seen with runners approaching it.

One Of My "Selfie" Shots In Front Of The Start/Finish Arc

One Of My “Selfie” Shots In Front Of The Start/Finish Arc

At the Km #6+, the single file of runners in front of me just immediately stopped. There seems to be a traffic on a steep descent where it immediately followed with another steep ascent. Some of the runners had lost their footing and they had to land on their butts and I was there next to them and patiently waiting for them to stand up. Finally, I reached the peak of Lo Fu Tau which has an elevation of 465 meters or 1,534.5 feet. It became colder and windy as we go higher in elevation and I was protected by Uniqlo’s Windbreaker. From the peak, there is only one way to go but to go downhill. As they say, what goes up must come down. This is where those Rock Stairs started to come out and the challenge on my legs and old knees were starting to take its beating.

Reflectorized Directional Sign/Arrow & Ribbon (Green & Silver)

Reflectorized Directional Sign/Arrow & Ribbon (Green & Silver) (Photo From Event’s Website)

But before those “rock stairs”, there is a single spot where it is too steep that there are two points where one has to rappel from the rope down to the steep descent. The Marshal has to give you two options——rope on the regular steep descent or to the steeper one. I chose the regular steep descent but when I tried to get over the rope, the rope scraped on my headlight and it completely removed from my head. My headlight dropped to one of steep recesses of the rocks on the side of the mountain and the runner ahead of me had to pick it up and handed to me. I would say thank you to the guy who is I think 2 times younger than me. My hiking continues on those steep descent until I reached the First Check point of the course in Pak Mong. There is no way to squeeze in 600+ runners in a single-track with lots of bushes on the sides and a very steep descent. It was unfortunate that the runner in front of me kept on falling on his buttocks on this descending 6 kilometers.

The first section, from Start to Pak Mong, covers a distance of 12 kilometers——6 kilometers of ascent and another 6 kilometers of descent with lots of “waiting” moments because of the traffic of runners on the descending parts. Before reaching the Aid Station, I had my Racematix Timing Wrist Band checked by one of the Marshals. My split time was 2:34:44 hours and placed #420. I took two slices of banana and some slices of orange and refilled my two bottles of Simple Hydration and then left the Check Point.

Timing Wrist Band & Electronic Gadget/Reader

Timing Wrist Band & Electronic Gadget/Reader (Photo From The Race Website)

Pak Mong To Pak Kung Au (9 Kilometers)

The section distance is 9 kilometers but one has to tackle first to the Sunset Peak which has an elevation of 854 meters or 2,818 feet! One has to reach Checkpoint #2 at 7:30 AM which is 8 hours! From the Start to Checkpoint #2 (Pak Kung Au), a distance of 21 kilometers has a cut-off time of 8 hours? It gave me the impression that the climb to Sunset Peak will be a hard and steep one and this is the time that I have to prove it.

The problem in running the 100K category is that you are not seeing your surroundings as it is still dark on the first 5-6 hours. The only things that you can see are the lights of the runners in front of you; the reflectorized strips of the runners’ apparel/shoes directly in front of you; and the few feet or meters ahead on the trail you are stepping on where your headlight can illuminate it.

"Easy-Peasy" Push To Sunshine Peak

“Easy-Peasy” Push To Sunset Peak

So, climbing the Sunset Peak was too insignificant as I kept lifting my legs and feet on those “rock stairs” and hardened trail. What was significant for me was the fact that I was passing a lot of runners on my way up to the peak of the mountain.

I did a lot of hiking on these ascending steep trails and focused on my nutrition and hydration. I would take at least one Sports Gel every hour and my energy was transmitted to a non-stop action on my legs! Sometimes, I would jog on the flat parts of the route and made progress on the distance I was covering. I arrived at Checkpoint #2 (Km #21) without any problems. I had my time checked and immediately had my water bottles refilled. I started eating PB & J sandwiches and oranges in this Checkpoint’s Aid Station. I think I was ahead of the cut-off time by almost 4.5 hours at this point.

"Rock Stairs"

“Rock Stairs” (Photo By Tommy Tan)

Pak Kung Au To Ngong Ping (12 Kilometers)

Looking at the my notes, I would see that the first half of this section is downhill and the second half will be another uphill climb. I took advantage to run and jog on the first half and I was already alone running on the trail without anybody that I could see in front and behind me. The Lantau Trail markings are seen on my right side and from time to time, in varied places/distances, I would also see the reflectorized ribbon for the race route.

I would be able to catch up with the faster runners on my way up to the mountains as I’ve observed that most of the average Chinese/Hongkong locals could hardly climb steep inclines without using their trekking poles. I have observed also that they are half younger than my age and I could hardly see among them a runner that is the same age as mine!

Another glaring observation among the Hongkong locals is that they don’t mind if there is a faster runner behind them as they continue with their pace without even having the courtesy of asking the runner behind if he/she wants to pass. So, what I did was to shout “On Your Left” or “On Your Right” just to give them a warning that I am going to pass them. I am glad most of them understands English but there are others who would talk to me in their dialect thinking that I am one of the locals.

When the locals are tired, they simply sit on the “rock stairs” facing the incoming runner and just keep quiet in observing as you pass them. How I wish I could wish them with remarks like, “Good Job” or “Looking Good” or “Are you okey?”

Because of the darkness and fogs on the mountains, some of them would be lost and ask for directions. Some ask for directions from me and I have to answer them that it was first time to run through the course. At one point, I was leading a group of 5 runners but I took a wrong turn due to thick fogs and I’ve realized I made a mistake after a few steps. After that, I did no longer had the courage to lead other runners.

I could see that the locals are very competitive in the race and they are fast hikers/walkers whether on flat and downhill runs. They could be weak on the uphill climbs on those “rock steps/stairs” but they are daring and fast runners on those descending ones. I have the conclusion that they are very familiar and used to the trails in the island as most of their past trail running events are done in the island. I got an information that Raidlight had been regularly sponsoring trail running events in Lantau. And there are other shorter trail running events that are done in the said island.

As for me, I was focused to finish one section at a time within the cut-off time and finish the course. Take my Nutrition/Food in every Aid Station and enjoy the scenery of the island.

The Ngong Ping Checkpoint/Aid Station is a crossroad where the 100K runners would pass for two times. As my time was checked through my Wrist Strap, the Marshal did a random check-up on the mandatory items to be carried. She asked me if I have a cellphone and I showed him my iPhone tucked inside one of the zippered pouched of the UD Race Belt. At the Starting Line (before the race started) one of the Lady Marshals approached me and checked on the mandatory equipment. She asked where I pinned my Race Bib as it was covered with my Uniqlo Windbreaker. During the race, these were the instances that I was asked and challenged about the mandatory equipment in my pack. How I wished another Marshal (in another Checkpoint) should have asked me if I have a bandage and a “space blanket” which I have both in my pack.

I ate a lot of food in this Aid Station (hot noodles, cold cuts/salami, PB &J sandwiches and oranges) and after 5-6 minutes, I was off and back to the race!

Over-Acting (OA) On The Ngong Ping To Tai O Section (Where are the woods?)

Over-Acting (OA) On The Ngong Ping To Tai O Section (Where are the woods?)

Ngong Ping To Kau Ling Chung (11 Kilometers)

From the Aid Station of Ngong Ping, the road is paved/cemented that every runner should run on the shoulder/sidewalk. The road is a winding downhill for about 3-4 kilometers and I was in the company of local runners and European/American runners. We had to cross the paved road depending on how we would be able to shave some distance and be able to cut corners to avoid the winding road. We practically followed a straight path on this winding road. I was able run at a faster pace due to its descending nature and in a relaxed manner but I was sure that on the bottom of this road, we will start an uphill climb to the next mountain peak which is the Keung Shan (454 meters in elevation or 1,498 feet). I passed two runners on this section before we started our climb to the next mountain.

The climb to Keung Shan started in a park and the effort to cover this section was insignificant as the same “rock stairs” would be the nature of the trail. While the other runners are busy using their trekking poles, I was consistently and easily forcing mg legs and knees to propel me from one stair to another higher one. As usual, I have to count the number of steps that I would take in climbing such mountain in order to break the monotony.

Once I reached the peak, it was time again to go down and I was running along a concrete canal which is very wide and deep. Such structure on the side of the road would the drainage or water passageway of water rushing from the peak of the mountain during the rainy season. In my estimate, the concrete canal is 12 feet deep and 6 feet wide. There are places along the canal where there is no barrier from the road and I made sure to run on the left side of the road, farther from the canal, for safety purposes. If someone becomes dizzy along this road on the edge of the canal, there is a possibility that one would fall down to the canal. The people in Hongkong call these canals as water “catchways”.

After almost 2.5 hours of running along this section, we reached the Aid Station which was manned by four (4) ladies to include the Timing/Checkpoint Marshal. I was already at Km #44 and I was 4 hours ahead of the cut-off time. It was time to eat some more!

Knowing that the ladies have the facial features of Pinoys, I jokingly cursed in Ilocano dialect and one of the ladies laughed! They then started the conversation by telling me that 3 other Pinoy runners had just passed their location. I told them that I don’t have the intention of catching them because they are fast and younger runners compared with me. The other 3 ladies are from the Visayas and I started to talk to them in Tagalog.

I think stayed in this Aid Station for 4-5 minutes eating my favorite PB &J sandwiches (runner has to make his own) and slices of oranges. I think I repeatedly ate these foods for 3-4 times while talking to the Pinoy ladies. When I checked on my notes, one of the local runners started a conversation in their dialect but I explained that I can’t understand what he was saying. The runner could be in his early 30s and he was using a Vibram Five-Finger Minimalist Shoes. He asked me if I am on my schedule and I said “yes, more than the enough time that I need to reach in each Check Point” and he said “you are good”. I replied him, “I am trying to be good for my age at 62!”. One of the guys who have heard my reply said, “How I wish I could be doing this Lantau 100 when I reach your age”. I just smiled at the two local runners. After refilling my water bottles, I asked these two gentlemen and the four Pinay ladies for me to get ahead and proceed to the next Checkpoint.

First Time To See The Bay After The Start

First Time To See The Bay After The Start

Kau Ling Chung To Tai O (12 Kilometers)

After running for about 1-2 kilometers of paved road along the drainage canal, it was time again to go up to the mountain. I would estimate the next mountain to be a little higher than Keung Shan. Its peak’s assault was very steep but once I reached the peak, I could see a beautiful scenery overlooking the village of Tai O and the sea. Tai O was the traditional capital of the island until it was overtaken by the infrastructural developments of Mui Wo (Starting Area).

Tai O Village...So Near, Yet So Far

Tai O Village…So Near, Yet So Far

The village of Tai O is seen as very near, yet very far on foot! I’ve tried to jog and run the descending portions and flat portions as the trail is made of hardened earth and some are flats rocks but the last half of the descending portion towards the foot of the mountain has “rock stairs” that are constructed very steep. The winding “rock stairs” ended in a paved road of about one meter wide which forms part as the circumferential trail of the island. I turned right and followed the paved trail with a big pipe on the right side which I believe to be a water pipe that connects the water reservoir to the village. After 2 kilometers or so, I turned left towards a pedestrian cemented bridge that leads to the center of the village that crosses a combination of swamp planted with mangroves and the rocky shores of the island.

The village is big and have lots of buildings and wide roads but I could not see much of the people living thereat to include vehicles. The ribbons and directional signs brought me to a school and the Aid Station was set-up inside the school’s gymnasium. Since it was already noon time, I decided to have a full meal and just have some rest and stay in the Aid Station for about 15-20 minutes. I was hoping that I would be able to wait for the other Pinoy runners to arrive or somebody whom I know personally.

But before I entered the school premises, I asked the young Time Checker boy, who I presumed to be one of the students of the school, what was my place/ranking among the runners. He checked on his electronic gadget/reader and told me that I am Runner #362. I was happy to be in this position among the other runners presuming that the total of runners would be 600+.

The Descending Trail To Tai O Village

The Descending Trail To Tai O Village

Tai O is at Km #56 and I was still four hours ahead of the cut-off time. I was feeling strong but I need to eat and stretch my legs. My full meal consisted of chicken noodle soup mixed with thin slices of salami; PB &J sandwiches, French Bread, Crackers, Tea, and Oranges. After my full meal and a drink of Hot Tea, I was ready to leave the Aid Station.

Tai O To Ngong Ping (12 Kilometers)

I left the center of the village through foot bridges on the shore and swamp of the island and had a chance to walk through the village huts which are made of aluminum walls. I was following an American (white) runner in his early 30s who was wearing black tights and compression long-sleeved shirt. He was just walking and I was behind him walking, too! I really enjoyed walking on the circumferential trail of the island that leads to the village of Tai O. There are lots of hikers that I would meet along the way and they are surprised to see us. I tried to run along this paved road which is about one meter wide but I decided to just walk and enjoy the scenery of the sea and the coast. I would enjoy watching the construction being done along the sea which I think would be a bridge that connects the New Hongkong Airport to an island which seems to be a resort or park with white sand.

However, after walking for two kilometers, I said to myself, “Houston, we have a problem!” I need to pee! But the trail is abundant with people who would be coming in front of me as they are going back to the village after their hiking exercises. I could not see any place at the side of the paved trail where I can just pee as there are no covers to speak of. What I did was to run farther in front and looked for a curve where I could see visibly the people who would be approaching such curve before they reach my position. When I was able to locate a place and not seeing any person approaching such curved section of the trail, I just dropped the front part of my running shorts and “let it go”!

I could see in the color of my urine that I was not dehydrated but the volume of fluid coming out is more than what I’ve expected. To my surprise, when I was about to leave my position, there was this local runner who was in all-Salomon black apparel getting nearer to me. I looked at his face and he just smiled. He was a faster walker than me and I followed him along the paved trail. After about 400 meters, the local runner went inside a Portalet that was located on the left side of the road which is near a populated area. I said to myself…Ooppss! I am sorry, man! I can no longer control the pain!!!

I am glad I walked from the village of Tai O for the next 4-5 kilometers. After such distance, ribbon indicators would direct the runners to veer a sudden right turn towards a single track trail which is full of bushes. And once I looked up, I saw a thick vegetated slope of a mountain where the trail is leading to. It is again a “bushwacking” episode for all the runners just like the first 10 kilometers of the course. Ahead of me on the slope were the runners who passed me on the circumferential paved road from Tai O who were partially covered by the bushes on the side of the trail. I could see that they are very slow in their progress to reach the peak of the mountain. I need to take a deep breath and start my mantra again of counting every step I made as I go up to the peak of the mountain. I could no longer recall how much time did I spend on this steep uphill portion of the mountain. Without the aid of the trekking poles, I had to grab every branch of bushes and trunks of small trees along the sides of the trail and made them as my “climbing ropes”. My GIRO Cycling Gloves were very useful in this part of the course as I could easily grab and hold on on such twigs and branches of those small trees and bushes on the sides of the trail. Once I reached a small flat portion, I would rest for a few seconds and then proceed again with my ritual of counting the number of steps as I go up to the slope.

When somebody had to be fast to reach my position, I would make a signal for them to pass me but all of them had to decline and signal their hands for me to proceed. On this part, I was able to pass at least 3 runners and one of them is the American runner who was way ahead of me before reaching the slope. From this place, one could see the New Hongkong Airport full of departing airplanes on queue on the runway before take-off and the sound of their engines’ full thrust could be heard loudly on the mountain slope. While resting, I would entertain myself by watching those airplanes taking-off from the runway.

Bushwacking Time After The Village Of Tai O

Bushwacking Time After The Village Of Tai O (Photo By Tommy Tan)

I found it later that this very steep single-track and full of bushes trail is called the Shek Pik Trail. I will not forget the name of this trail. Most of the local runners whom I spoke during the ascent had only word to say about this trail, it is the word, “Terrible”!

Patience is the key in this part of the course. However, once every runner reaches the peak, the Biggest Buddha beacons and can be seen on the right side of the mountain range with the cable station slightly in front. From one peak to another, runners would reach the Cable tram station through steps/stairs and follow the trail behind it in order to reach Ngong Ping. From The Cable Tram, it still 3 kilometers to the Ngong Ping Checkpoint/Aid Station. I found out later that this place is called “Nei Lek Shan”

We are going on full circle on this one but on the different sides of the island and different scenery and challenges. So far, I have just finished 68 kilometers and the hardest or highest peak is not yet reached——the Lantau Peak, the second highest peak in the Hongkong Area, which 934 meters in elevation or 3,082 feet.

Ngong Ping To Pak Kung Au Via Lantau Peak (5 Kilometers)

I Never Did This Kind Of Style

I Never Did This Kind Of Style (Photo By Lloyd Belcher)

I took time to eat the same stuff at the Aid Station——Hot Noodles with Slices of Salami; Slices of Oranges; Cups of Ice Cold Coke; and Boiled Potatoes. While eating, I had a chance to talk to one of the local runners whom I signaled to pass me on the steep Shek Pik trail and he was telling me that this course is the hardest 100K trail race in Hongkong and he promised that he would not dare to repeat this race in order to improve his time. Another local runner in Salomon apparel seated beside me and repeatedly telling me that the course is “terrible”. After I’ve finished eating, it was time to move on.

"Rock Stairs" To Lantau Peak

“Rock Stairs” To Lantau Peak (Photo By Tommy Tan)

The first few meters of the trail as I left the Ngong Ping is flat and wide but after about 200 meters, the “rock stairs” would appear again and I knew that this is now the start of a very steep and winding trail to the summit/Lantau Peak. I was following a couple of runners but once they reached the “rock stairs”, they simply walked their way up with their trekking poles. I tried to follow their pace but I had to take some brief stop every time I would step on 20 successive steps/stairs. I briefly stopped in one of the benches on the side of the trail to bring out my headlight as the night was coming and the fogs was becoming thicker as I went higher in elevation.

Steel Chains At The Assault To Lantau Peak

Steel Chains At The Assault To Lantau Peak (Photo By Tommy Tan)

I was passed by some runners who were with their trekking poles but I patiently kept following them using my hands and arms as support to my knees. As I was nearing the peak, the wind blow harder and I could hardly see the ground due to thick fogs plus the fact that it was drizzling, making the “rock stairs” very slippery to some of the trail shoes. Finally, I would see the steel chain that is placed on the edge of the trail where one could hold on while going up to the assault part of the peak. More steel chain on the trail up to the peak as I moved higher until a Race Marshal approached me and advised me to start taking the descending trail and proceed to the next Checkpoint. He told me that there is no need for a Time Check.

The Marker At The Lantau Peak

The Marker At The Lantau Peak (Photo By Tommy Tan)

I said to myself that I would be able to finish the race earlier than what I planned for, knowing that every thing will be going down from the highest point of Lantau Peak. However, I was wrong! I was not too confident to move at a faster pace in going down due to the slippery trail/“rock stairs” and thick fogs. I felt that I was not making a progress on my faster pace. I was alone on the trail on my descent but I would be passed by some of the local runners who are very fast in going down even if the trail was slippery.

The Descending Trail From The Lantau Peak

The Descending Trail From The Lantau Peak (Photo By Tommy Tan)

Finally, I was back on the paved road with a deep canal on the side of the road and I knew that I was approaching the Pak Kung Au Checkpoint. I would cross another hill through “rock stairs” again and went inside a thickly forested area. Once I got out from the forest, I saw a Lady Marshall (a Pinay) seated beside a paved road waving a blinking signal lights. She said that I still have 4 kilometers more to go before I reach the Aid Station.

Finally, I reached the Pak Kung Au Aid Station/Checkpoint and had my bottles refilled with water; ate some slices of orange; and asked for a cup of Coke but they have none. I took in one Sports Gel and continued my run towards the next Checkpoint.

Pak Kung Au To Chi Ma Wan (12 Kilometers)

This is the section where I practically ran alone on the course and it seemed that the trail was the same as the flat trails that I ran through on the other side of the island. After running on a flat trail for about 3-4 kilometers, it was the start again of a descending “rock stairs” which I thought would lead me again to the beach or bay. The steps would be dried this time as compared to the descending parts from Lantau Peak. I would see some headlights from a distance in front of me and it gave a boost to run faster but when the terrain changes to uphill climbs, I would continue with my fast walk. After overcoming a short uphill climb, it was all downhill until I reached the Chi Ma Wan Aid Station/Checkpoint. A Timing Marshal got my time of arrival through his electronic gadget and I asked the Marshal what was my place/ranking among the 100K runners. He said that the device could not show my ranking but he gave me some information that more or the runners are still behind.

As I approached the Aid Station, I saw a lot of the runners who were already lying on the backs and sleeping inside the Checkpoint Tents and more of the runners were just on the ground resting by sitting or lying. I would estimate that there are almost twenty of them.

I tried to sit on a concrete base of an electric post while I ate crackers while drinking an ice cold coke. After I finished two pack of crackers and two servings/cups of Coke, I was on my way to the next Checkpoint.

Did I Actually Reach And Pass This Place?

Did I Actually Reach And Pass This Place? (Photo By Lloyd Belcher)

Very Steep & Challenging Route

Very Steep & Challenging Route (Photo By Lloyd Belcher)

Chi Ma Wan To Shap Long (10 Kilometers)

I was so frustrated to find out that I am going up again to a trail with stairs but instead of rocks, it was the ground but with with a “concrete” half-log placed on the outer edge of each step. Sometimes, they are wide-U concrete that is filled with earth where one could step most specially on the descending parts of this route. It was a continuos stairs to a peak of another mountain, Lo Shan Yan, which is 303 meters in elevation or 1,000 feet high.

After running and hiking for 83 kilometers, I could already feel the fatigue on my legs and on my body but because of my intake of Sports Gel I would have an instant energy to push my body to a certain distance.

As soon as I reached the peak of the mountain, I would see some of the runners that would pass me on my ascent to be lying flat on the grassy ground to have their rest. Silently and without any word, I would pass them and continue with my run and hike on the descending portions of the mountain.

Later, I was joined by a group of International Runners (from Malaysia and Singapore) and some of the local runners. They would move so fast by just walking and I would keep up with their pace. Looking at their built and appearance, they are on their early 30s. However, they tend to rest and sleep after walking for some distance and then pursue their fast pace once they resume their hike.

At one point, I was in a group of 8 runners and we maintained a very fast hike for about 4-5 kilometers but 4 of them stopped for a rest/sleep until later, I was already alone left walking for the rest of the way. I just kept my composure and did not panic as I walked alone for about 2 kilometers until I reached a junction. I came into a runner who seemed to be lost and could not find any ribbon on the said intersection. I tried to look also for the said reflectorized ribbon but I could see none. In a few seconds, a lone runner came behind us and pointed the right trail to follow and we let him lead the way. I was behind the said runner while the runner I came upon at the intersection was behind me. I found out later that the guy in front of me was a Cantonese and the runner behind me was a Singaporean and we had been meeting each other in every Aid Station where we stopped to eat and have our bottles refilled with water.

"Rock Stairs" @ Lantau

“Rock Stairs” @ Lantau (Photo By Tommy Tan)

We came down to a concrete steps as part of an approach to a water reservoir. There was a marker towards a downward direction and the steps was towards an elevated pedestrian bridge that crosses the reservoir. As it was too dark, my headlight could not see the bottom or what is seen below the said elevated bridge. I would assume that the bridge was too high or the reservoir is too deep for us to see the water below. After we crossed the bridge, we were at a lost and argued if the blue ribbon tied in one of the branches beside the road is part of the race markers. The Cantonese guy was trying to explain that we have to cross the mountain in front of us in order to reach the next Checkpoint. The Singapore guy is not sure if the blue ribbon tied on the side of the road is part of the race. What I did was to retrace the markers and crossed the elevated bridge back to the downward steps just to be sure that we are on the right track. The other two guys started to bring out their cellphones to call the Race Director and asked for directions. While they are dialing their phones, I was crossing the bridge back and forth! At the downward steps before the bridge, I saw two ribbons tied on a branch of a tree and they are colored white and blue for each of them. From what I’ve seen, I would be back to the other two guys and explained to them that we are on the right track by following the blue colored ribbon. I argued to them that we are on the right track and just follow the descending road and hope to find out another marker at the end of the road.

The three of us walked down the descending road and in about 50 meters, we had a glimpsed of those reflectorized ribbons and directional signs. The Cantonese guy hiked quicker towards the trail while the Singaporean guy sticked to my pace as I was behind them. I guess, this episode of being stalled on the trail delayed us for about 30 minutes.

Finally, we reached the Shap Long Aid Station/Checkpoint and at this point, what remains is the last 5 kilometers to the Finish Line. The Cantonese guy was already a kilometer ahead of us.

Shap Long To The Finish Line (5 Kilometers)

The last 5 kilometers is a paved road with about one meter wide which is rolling and part of the circumferential trail of the island. Ok, there are lots of Buffalo Shits on the road and trail on this portion of the course. The smell of the air is a mixture of the sea air; carabao dung smell; and the smell of victory to have tackled this difficult trail running course!

It appeared that the paved trail road is on the slope of a mountain that is near the shore of the island. On the last kilometer, one has to go down to the street level of Mui Wo and pass the commercial center of the village which consists of a McDonald Fastfood; some Restaurants; Bus Terminal, the Ferry Pier, and the main street of the village. After passing a turnabout, just take a Right turn towards the beach and I was on my way to the Silvermine Bay Beach and towards the Finish Line.

My official time of finish is 28:50:11 hours and placed #323 out of 403 finishers with 24% or 97 runners to have been declared as DNF.

I was smiling when I reached and crossed the Finish Line!

Crossing The Finish Line With A Smile

Crossing The Finish Line With A Smile

Post Critique On My Performance

1. My Proper Training Paid A Lot——The three-month training program for this race has a total of 630 miles or 1,008 kilometers where about 90% was done in my playground which I call the “Brown Mountain” and the rest of the 10% was done on the flat grounds of the Philippine Army Grandstand/Parade Ground Jogging Lane. As I described in the earlier part of this post, I concentrated my training on the trails in running to the peak of the Roosevelt National Park in Hermosa, Bataan with an elevation of 1,975 feet or almost 600 meters. This mileage would not include my participation in the 2015 edition of the Condura Skyway Marathon and other hikes to some mountains. If you try to get the average weekly mileage, it would result to 84 kilometers.

2. More Recovery Days During Training——My Mondays were strictly my Rest Days and did not do anything except to do some calf strengthening exercises; leg stand balances (single leg with eyes closed) and “foam rolling” my legs. No other “cross-training” exercises were done on my rest days. My Back2Back runs were always followed with complete rest on the remaining time of the day. While my Back2Back (5X) workouts were followed with a rest the whole following day.

3. Nutrition Is The Key——I have already perfected the pattern on how to use a Full Meal, Vespa Drinks, Solid Foods Available in the Aid Stations, Water and Sports Gel during the race, most specially in 100K distances. Ginger Candies had became my “thirst suppressant” and at the same my anti-acid reflux weapon. I no longer drink any kind of electrolyte drinks like Gatorade, Propel or 100 Plus in my ultra races. At the TransLantau 100, my full meal before the race (2 hours before Gun Start) was a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder Sandwich with French Fries and it was followed with Stinger Waffles and a Power Bar 30 minutes before the start. I took in one Vespa Pack with one Sports Gel with water 15 minutes before Gun Start. This food intake gave me the energy on the first 3-4 hours. From then on, I would take in some food at the Aid Station and made sure that my two Simple Hydration Bottles are refilled with water. I would also take One Sports Gel every hour except when I have to eat a lot of food in the Aid Stations. I got a reserve of GU Roctane Gels (4 pieces) just in case I need them for my last push on the last 10K of the race.

4. Taper Properly——My taper period started two weeks before the race and took advantage of this period for more rest and sleep, more fuel/food to feed my body, and more time looking at the elevation profile of the course/reading the Hongkong Trail Book given by Andre Blumberg and more time to watch movies and stroll in the malls. It was timely that the conduct of the 7th BDM 102 Ultra Race were done during my taper period and I was calm and relaxed during these weeks. My longest run in these two weeks of taper period was 8 miles or 12.8 kilometers!

5. Take It Easy, Stay Relaxed & Have Fun——There is no need to pressure myself with a certain Finish Time goal in this race. My ONLY Goal in this race is to Finish within the cut-off time of 32 hours without any injury or “issues” and would still be smiling once I would be able to cross the finish line. Although I would be cursing silently on those steep ascent portions of the course, I would console myself with the thought that I was passing a lot of the local runners who are half of my age or younger. The “overall” funny part on the race about my performance is when I saw my splits and took notice on my placing/ranking from Checkpoint #1 up to the Finish Line. At Checkpoint #1, I was ranked #420 runner; at Checkpoint #5, I was ranked #362; and at the Finish Line, I was ranked #323. This simply means that my patience resulted in improving my ranking for 102 positions and I would be improving in my standing as the race progresses (or maybe there are more weak and slow runners behind me)!!!

6. Gathered Some Learning Lessons——As an RD in our local ultra races, I was able to learn and pick-up some lessons through my observation on how these international races are being done. It was worth the money, effort and time to join such race if one can pick one or two things which can improve the overall operation of a certain local event.


Airplane RT Ticket (w/ Travel Tax & Terminal Fees)———P 8,000.00

Hotel Accommodation, Food, Transportation (4 days)—— 15,000.00

Coaching Services & Training Expenses————————20,000.00

Registration Fee —————————————————— 6,000.00

Massage & Spa ——————————————- 1,000.00

T o t a l   E x p e n s e s ——————————————P 50,000.00

My Race Kit & Equipment/Accessories

Runner’s Cap: Salomon
Headlight: Fennix
Neck Buff: Buff
Baselayer: NIKE Compression Shirt
PAU Long-Sleeved Shirt
Windbreaker: Uniqlo
Running Shorts: Patagonia
Ultimate Direction’s AK Signature Race Vest with 2 Simple Hydration Bottles
Ultimate Direction Scott Jurek’s Signature Race Belt
Gloves: Giro Cycling Gloves
Calf Sleeves: Zensha
Socks: DRYMAX Trail Running Socks
Shoes: Salomon S-LAB Sense 3
Watches: GARMIN Forerunner 310XT & Timex
Power Bank By Gavio (Dyna Q)
Nutrition: 24 Sports Gels but only used 13 pieces; 3 VESPA Packs but only used two; Stinger Waffles; Ginger Candies
Medications: 2 pcs of Pharmaton Capsules and 2 Aleve Tablets
Leukoplast Adhesive Bandage/Tape
Salomon’s Space Blanket & Whistle
Iphone with Headphone (But did not use my Music throughout the race)
HK$ 200 & Octopus Card

Pedestrian Bridge Approaching Tai O Village

Pedestrian Bridge Approaching Tai O Village

My Personal Thoughts On This Race

I did not realize that this race has 3 points for UTMB and with another successful finish at the latest Clark-Miyamit 50-Mile Trail Run last November 2014 which has 2 points, and so far, I have earned 5 points already. However, the fact is that I don’t have any intention of going to the UTMB (Chamonix, France) and I have never considered it as part of my ultra’s “bucket list”. But, you may never know! Maybe, I will start saving my money and at the same time look for sponsor-friends who will support me in this endeavor.

If I add up my Anteloop 100K “run through” in order to determine its official cut-off time on the last quarter of last year, I would say that I am becoming a stronger and a hardened mountain trail ultra runner despite my age as a Senior Citizen. I would be proud to have accomplished these running events and proved to myself that there is NO limit to one’s endurance and capabilities to tackle a certain challenge as long as there is a proper preparation and training that support it.

But there is a bigger and better meaning or message of what I’be been doing and accomplishing in mountain trail ultra running. This had been my favorite and most emphasized “Leadership Principle” when I was in the military service as Commander of various units from being a Junior Officer to a Star-Rank Position——“Set The Example”! This is the very reason why I have to “run through” a course and write about it in this blog before I would make such course as a running event. Almost all the running events which I organize and direct were created through this procedure. It could be a single stage or a multi-day stage runs on my part but my story and experience would be etched in the minds of the other runners. And for this reason, I always say in my stories that “If BR can do it, You can do it, too!”

And for those who are crazy enough to accept the challenge to try and experience what I’ve been doing, my stories and articles in this blog would be a good reference as I try my best to give a “blow by blow” account of the things I’ve done. Blogging about my experiences and the description of the places where I run and join these races is as important as setting the example. This is where I would share my tips and techniques on the things one has to prepare in order to finish any challenging running event. I don’t have any “secrets”; “shortcuts”; or “miracle pills” for me to finish these races. They are all in my stories and it is up for the reader to pick-up what is suited for him or her. They are simple products of hard work, discipline, focus, determination, patience, and simplicity of effort. So, if you have plans of joining this particular race and for one to be exposed in international ultra trail races, you have to simply read my stories and your goal/objective to finish is half-done. As a start, you need to do is to save your money. And the rest will follow.

What is next for the Bald Runner? I will be back again to the mountains after two weeks of rest and recovery. My next ultra running adventure is still a secret and it will be coming soon!!!

Approaching Ngo Ping Towards Lantau Peak

Approaching Ngo Ping Towards Lantau Peak

On The Other News About The Race

John Ellis, a Blogger of Gone Running, came up with the following Race Report for the Elite/Podium Finishers in each of the Race Categories:

“Australian Vlad Ixel and Santosh Tamang from Nepal traded blows until the brutal bushwhacking climb up to Nei Lek Shan (2km, 500m D+) at around 62km.

From here, Vlad pulled away and never looked back, finishing with a blistering 11.6kph final stage, to win comfortably in 13:25:11. Santosh held onto second place with a brave 14:16:36, and last year’s Lantau Vertical champion Kawai Wong from the Fire Services Department rounded out the podium with a well paced 14:40:07. Special mention goes to Pig Chan and Allen Ng from Asia Trail, who blitzed the Team of 2 event in 15:20:29.

In the women’s race, Tor des Geants finisher Lijie Qu of China started slowly but eventually held on for the win in a very respectable 17:47:43, less than five minutes ahead of fast-finishing Australian Joanna Kruk in 17:52:11. Nicole Lau of Cosmoboys finished third in 17:59:29.

International runners dominated the 50km edition (2,600m D+), with ChengDu-based American Justin Andrews taking first in a relatively comfortable 5:42:31. Australian Majell Backhausen prevailed in a sprint finish with local 2XU athlete Ying Tsang in 5:50:44. The women’s champion was Irene Montemayor from the Philippines in 7:44:27, ahead of local runners Olivia Chan in 7:52:49 and Ivy Chung in 7:57:20.

The winners of the 25km race were Joel Deschamps from France and Ukrainian Oksana Riabova, while American David Woo and Canadian Joyce Edmondson took out the 15km version.”

Lastly, here is the link of my Garmin Forerunner 310XT at Garmin Connect:


I hope you were able to read this post and have enjoyed my story. See you on the trails!

Race Report: 2015 Condura Skyway Marathon (Run For A Hero)

3 02 2015


I was expecting that the 2014 edition of this race was to be conducted for the benefit of the victims of Typhoon Yolanda but instead, it was cancelled and the Race Organizer opted to donate a part of their budget for the recovery and rehabilitation of the people of Samar and Leyte.

Many of the runners were frustrated to hear this news and I was one of them.

And my ultra running friends were not also happy about the news. For the past editions/years, the Condura Skyway Marathon had been always and became the post-recovery run for all the participants of my Bataan Death March 160K Ultra Marathon Race as both races are one week apart.

Official Logo Of The Marathon Race

Official Logo Of The Marathon Race

But runners would not have to wait any longer for the good news about the next edition of the Marathon Race. In a few weeks after the actual schedule of the event, the Race Organizer had announced that the 2015 event will be for the benefit of the HERO Foundation. Being a part and former soldier, I was happy to know that this event will benefit the families who were left behind by our fallen heroes who died fighting against the enemies of the State and threats to our peaceful way of life.

Exactly one week before Race Day, elements of the Special Action Force (SAF) of the Philippine National Police encountered in a firefight agains the separatist groups in Mindanao, MILF and BIFF, resulting in the death of forty-four (44) and the wounding of others. This incident became a national issue where the public called for an immediate action for the arrest, apprehension or killing of those who are involved in this dastardly act against our troops.

Thus, in the minds of all the runners, this Marathon Race had become an instant “platform” for them to sympathize with the “Fallen SAF 44 Heroes” and for a united call for the government to give justice where it is due.

Training and Preparation

I did not have any specific training program leading to this race except for the my training program which is in preparation for me for the Trans Lantau 100K Trail Run which will be held in the middle of March of this year. Such training program was so specific that my mileages should be done in the mountains. But with my trips to the different provinces since the start of the New Year, in order to coordinate with my Ultra Races for this year where I am the Organizer and Race Director, my training runs were solely on paved and flat dirt roads.

Instead of having more vertical climbs/gains in my training, I opted to improve on my speed by doing tempo runs on the road and flat dirt roads. I had also the chance to have my rest and recovery in-between runs for a more extended period. And trips outside Metro Manila to Aurora and Albay Provinces became my tapering period a few days before Race Day.

I have also prepared my mind on this race and think of it as a Long Steady Distance (LSD) weekend run with a faster speed while my HR monitor will not breach more than 162 beats per minute.

Since all my runs for the past two years were devoted to trails and with a hoard of new trail shoes in my “trail running arsenal”, I have to choose the lightest shoes for this race and had to try them for a couple of times in my tempo runs. The choices were between the INOV-8 Roclite; SALOMON’s LAB Sense 3; or ALTRA’s Superior 2.0. I selected the Salomon LAB Sense 3 as it is the lightest among the three!

Salomon Ultra Trail Running Shoes

Salomon Ultra Trail Running Shoes

In order to arrest my sweat from reaching my feet and shoes, I prepared my Headsweat (for my head), Buff (for my neck), Long-sleeved PAU Shirt for my body), and Compresport Calf Sleeves, and Drymax Socks.

Race and Nutrition Strategy

Being an “old-school” marathon runner, I consider Marathon Running as a Speed Endurance Event where walking is integrated while drinking my two cups of water as I leave in every Water Station. In-between those Water Stations, one has to run and jog as fast as possible!

Knowing what my body is capable of as an “experienced and old” marathon runner, I opted to use the “negative split” way of racing this event. If I had prepared properly for this race, I had opted to use the “even pace” strategy where my race pace at the beginning is maintained throughout the race. My experience in ultra running and consistent advise from my Coach dictate that my pace at the beginning should be slow and progressing to a faster pace towards the last half of the race up to the Finish Line.

On nutrition, I had a full meal rich in fats and carbohydrates one a half hours before the start of the race; snacks of carbohydrates 30 minutes before the race; one Gel every hour; drink water every Aid Station; last Gel to ingest was a GU Roctane; and a reserve of Stinger Waffle as my “reserve solid” food just in case of emergency.

Race Proper

I’ve been away from the road running crowd for the past two years and it was the members ultra running community and my readers in this blog who approached and greeted me as I joined my co-runners in Wave I. It took us 30 minutes to wait from the time the Wave A runners were released from the Starting Line. Those 30 minutes were devoted to talk to some of the ultra runners within my Wave Group and review in my mind my race & nutrition strategy. As we got nearer to the Starting Line, I had my simple prayer to myself and thought of my Officers and Men who died under my Command during my stint and tour as a Military Officer and lastly, to those of the PNP SAF 44 soldiers.

My slow jog on the first 400 meters was the most memorable part of this race as I saluted every time I would approach a SAF member holding a framed picture of the Fallen SAF 44 who was standing in attention on the left side of the road. Yes, it was a slow jog but saluting 44 times is the best that I could do to honor these men who unselfishly offered their lives in the name of peace and safety for the citizenry and our country.

First 400 Meters Of The Course

First 400 Meters Of The Course (Photo By Spin.PH)

Salute To Our Fallen Heroes

Salute To Our Fallen Heroes (Photo By Spin.PH)

I started at the back of the Wave I and waited to make a move on the first uphill climb on the Skyway. I passed a lot of the slow and walking participants on this part. Knowing the whole course’ profile, the first 8-10K is a slightly uphill climb and it worked well with my slow pace as it served as my warm-up. On this first 10K of the course, I would maintain my slow speed of 4.6 miles per hour being aware of my running form; hydrating myself as I would reach the Water Station; and most of all talking to some of the runners and acknowledging their greetings as I passed them.

For about a minute or two, I was able to talk to a couple, Miguel and Cachelle, and kept my pace with theirs. I was happy to see them running together. As with Miguel, I did not see any signs of limping from his gait and strides as he fully recovered from an unfortunate accident while participating in one of my BDM “test runs” two years ago in the Pampanga area. Looking at them together, I knew they would be able to enjoy and finish the race. I will not be surprised to see this couple to be back running in my ultra races soon! I had to beg off from them as I wanted to continue with my own pace as knowing that they are enjoying and having fun with the race.

Smiling On The Early Part Of The Race

Smiling On The Early Part Of The Race

When I reached the 10-Km mark, I was already enjoying the windy and cool atmosphere of the early morning. I have increased my speed to 5 miles per hour and I was surprised that I was too comfortable with such pace. I ingested my first Gel once I reached my first 40 minutes while I was approaching a Water Station. Two cups of water were enough to bring the gel to my stomach and let it provide the much-needed energy to my machine!

At the 13-mile point, my speed had reached at 5.6 miles per hour and I never let that speed to decrease all the way to the Finish Line. At times, I would reach up to 6.0+ miles per hour on the downhill portions of the course. In my tempo run workouts, I could still run a 10K race with a time of 55+ minutes but forcing myself to this kind of speed in a marathon race without the necessary speed training will be courting for an injury that might jeopardize my training for and participation at the Trans Lantau 100K. There is no point to take a risk on this race.

Getting Serious During The Race

Getting Serious During The Race (Photo By Running Photographers)

I kept reminding myself that this race was part of my training for an ultra trail run in the middle of March.

Getting Faster On The Lat Half Of The Course

Getting Faster On The Lat Half Of The Course; From Wave I To Wave F (Photo By Pinoy Fitness.Com)

And my rituals were repeated as I reached nearer to the Finish Line——ingested my Gels every hour after my first Gel at 40-minute mark from the start of the race; reached for two cups of water (only, No Gatorade for the whole race) in every Water Station; would pass other runners at the Water Stations by running up to farthest end of the table and walk quickly & briefly while drinking the water; making sure that my empty cups would land in those garbage bins provided by the Race Organizer; by just waving my hand or simply greeting back to those runners who call my attention or greet me; no unnecessary “chit-chat” to other runners on the last half of the course; by allowing other runners to pace with me or run along with me (without any conversation); and try to pick-up and increase my pace through some quick “surges” on the uphill portions and on the last 10K of the course (all downhill to the Finish Line).

It was still dark when I reached the Finish Line. I finished the race with an Official Time of 4:40:19 hours and ranked #569 out of 5,022 Finishers.

I did not realize that I could still run this fast considering my age of going to 63 years old in 3 months. Maybe with a more focused training in the Marathon distance, I still could run this fast and hopefully, could still have a shot to a Boston Marathon Qualifying Race, the proper and traditional way!

But on second thought, I will remain as a Trail Ultra Runner and consider the Condura Skyway Marathon as my ONLY yearly Road Marathon where I could be in touch with the marathon/road running community in the country.

Breathing Hard Through My Mouth

Breathing Hard Through My Mouth (With The Wave F Runners)

Lesson/s Learned

1. Marathon Running is an Art and a Skill. Racing is about You and the Distance. Every runner needs Endurance and Speed to have a very successful finish. One has to compete with oneself and not with any other runner.

2. Marathon Racing is NOT a time to socialize. “Socializing” is done after the race. As compared to Ultra Running, Ultras are races where one has to “socialize” from the start up to the finish and beyond the race itself. Sometimes, Ultras’ “socializing” starts during training and preparation.

"Socializing" Before The Race

“Socializing” Before The Race With An Ultra Friend

3. Proper Nutrition Strategy is the Key to a successful Marathon Finish coupled with proper Hydration technique. Gels are the best immediate source of nutrition in a Marathon Race. Eating a full meal few hours before the race and later, a light snacks few minutes before the race always worked positively in my races.

4. Racing Strategy is dependent on one’s training and preparation. If you are NOT fully-prepared and trained for the event, be contented to aim for a Finish without any injury, and not for any PR or best time for a Marathon Race.

5. No complaints and “whining” in a Marathon Race. Before Gels and Sports Drinks were invented, Marathon Races have ONLY Water as support for all the runners! Try to strive and train for the simplest and most basic way of running a marathon race.

6. Be LIGHT. Wear the lightest running kit and try also to run light with your body. It is not yet late to learn how to run light by using your forefoot or mid foot as you run by feel.

7. Taper Properly. Since the race is done from Midnight to the early morning, runners are practically sleepless on Friday night, considering that the trip to the event area is outside the Metro Manila. It is advisable to have a complete rest and sleep for at least 7-8 hours every night on the last week prior to Race Day.

8. Marathon Race should be a part of an Ultra Race training and preparation in order to improve one’s speed and endurance. I really did not have a focused and dedicated training for this race. This marathon race was part of my weekly ultra training program where it was to be a “back-to-back” long runs where each day would be a 12-mile run. Instead of two days of 12-mile a day run, I did it for one day/one workout with an excess of 2.2 miles. My average total weekly mileage for the past three weeks leading to this race was from 47-50 miles.

Very Rare Picture With Ultra Runners In A Marathon Race

Very Rare Picture With Ultra Runners In A Marathon Race

Running Kit & Accessories

Running Shoes: Salomon S-LAB Sense 3 Ultra Trail Shoes

Sweat Absorbers: Headsweat and Buff

Shirt: PAU Long-Sleeved Shirt By A Perfect White Shirt

Shorts: Salomon Trail Running Shorts (Bermuda)

Calf Sleeves: Compressport

Socks: Drymax (Trail Running Socks)

Cycling Gloves: Specialized

Headlight: Fenix

Nutrition: 2 pcs of VFuel Gels (Fudge Brownie); one GU Gel (Salted Caramel); one GU Gel (Roctane); and 2 pcs of Stinger Waffle (Reserve)

Race Belt: Ultimate Direction SJ Signature Series

Watches/GPS: Garmin 310XT with HR Monitor and TIMEX Watch

Congratulations to Tonton and Raul Patrick Concepcion (Race Organizers); Rio Dela Cruz (Race Director); and to the rest of the Condura Skyway Marathon Team for this well-organized and international-standard marathon race which honors our “present day” heroes in the military and armed services and supports their dependents through the HERO Foundation.

Last Half Of The Course

Last Half Of The Course

Approaching The Finish Line

Approaching The Finish Line

Congratulations also to all the Finishers!

See you next year!


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