Cut-Off Times (Part 2)

14 10 2014

I made a post about the cut-off times of running events in my post in this blog on May 17, 2011. Until this time, I don’t see any reason why Race Organizers/Directors had to impose cut-off times in their events. For the Marathon Races where most of the city roads are closed from vehicular traffic, six (6) hours is a decent time as a cut-off time in order to relieve the riding public of the inconvenience it would bring if the race is extended up to nine or ten or twelve hours. But on second thought, the cut-off time being imposed is not for the safety of the runners of the event but for the convenience of everybody.

In my post, I made mention of some of the popular ultra races in the world with their prescribed cut-off times.  It is obvious that Road Ultras have a shorter cut-off times than those mountain trail races, except for the Badwater Ultra Marathon Race. UTMB’s 166K has a cut-off time of 46 hours; Hardrock 100 which is dubbed as the hardest mountain trail ultra in the USA has a cut-off time of 48 hours; Barkley Marathon has a cut-off time of 60 hours where each loop of 20 miles has a cut-off time of 12 hours; and the most prestigious Western States 100-Mile Endurance Race has a cut-off time of 30 hours.

Each of these ultra races has their reason why the Race Organizer/RD have to impose cut-off times. Moreover, there are intermediate cut-off time in every checkpoint along the route which forces the runner to meet such times, or else, he/she would be disqualified. Such intermediate cut-off times are being strictly enforced as race marshals would strip each runner of their race bib or tag and advised not to be allowed to continue the race.

I would surmise also that such cut-off times are being imposed by the Bureau of Parks and Wildlife which manages or administers safety in these wilderness parks as one of the conditions for the issuance of event permits.

Without any reference on these cut-off times, I would conclude that the Race Directors, who are former ultra runners during their prime age, would be able to “test run” the course by themselves and come up with an arbitrary cut-off time based from their personal capability or finish time results. Or maybe, they invited some of their ultra friends to “test run” the course and get the “mean/average” time of the finishers.

When I thought of organizing the Bataan Death March 102 Ultra Marathon Race, it was a challenge for me to come up with a decent cut-off time for the whole race. After conducting some “50K test runs” with my ultra running friends, I was able to come up with the 18-hour cut-off time, where an average well-trained marathon runner would be able to finish a distance of 50K in 9 hours, which way beyond the 6-hour cut-off time for a marathon (42K) race. This is the reason why one of the qualifications of a BDM 102 participant is a Marathon Finisher.

As for the BDM 160, I just added another 9 hours and another 3 hours for the remaining distance of 58 kilometers where I considered the heat and humidity in the country as the main challenge to finish this event.

When I thought of coming with the first trail ultra marathon race in the country, I would conduct by myself a “test run” on the course by dividing the whole distance of 162 kilometers into two parts. Thus, I came up with 32 hours as the cut-off time for the 1st Taklang Damulag 100-Mile Endurance Race which was maintained for the past 3 years/editions.

As I ran through roads and trails in the country, I made sure that I would “test run” any course/route that I would like to be transformed into an ultra running event for the runners.

I never changed on how I would come up with the “cut-off” time for my races. I would “test run” the course and whatever time I would register as my finish time, such time will be considered as the official cut-off time for the ultra event. Considering my present age to run through the course, I think it would be fair that my finish time will be the target time for the younger runners.

It should be noted that Intermediate Cut-Off Time is the time that a runner would leave the Checkpoint.

So, what is my message in this post? It simply means that a well-trained ultra runner could easily finish my ultra races within the prescribed cut-off times. These cut-off times (intermediate and whole course) will be one’s measurement or gauge if proper training and preparation had been made prior to the event. If one could not meet such cut-off times, it simply means that one lacks the proper training for the event.

At The Finish Line: "Test Run" For The 1st ANTELOOP 100K Trail Run

At The Finish Line: “Test Run” For The 1st ANTELOOP 100K Trail Run

Let us stop bragging ourselves to have finished a race even if you have finished way beyond the cut-off time. Let us stop giving any “finisher’s loot” for these kind of finishers. A TRUE & OFFICIAL FINISHER is one who finishes the race within the prescribed cut-off time for the event.

Good luck and see you in my future ultra races.

 





EDSA, Traffic, Solutions, Incentives, Etc.

29 09 2014

Few weeks ago, I was able to read the Opinion Editorial in one of the daily newspapers. I don’t usually read the newspapers but with a brief stop to eat my breakfast in one of the Fastfood Restos along the NLEX, I got a free issue of the newspaper. What caught my attention in the newspapers is the Editorial about EDSA and the problem of traffic in the metropolis.

Few days ago, there is another “news” whose video became viral in the Internet which showed a fat guy in lavander-colored shirt slapping a MMDA traffic enforcer. I am not sure what made the guy got out from his car and showed outrage towards the traffic enforcer. I have the impression that it was a result of the traffic situation in the metropolis.

The bottomline and the BIGGER Picture in the Opinion Editorial and the “slapping” incident is the fact that for the past years and administrations, there is NO SOLUTION that is good in easing up the daily traffic in EDSA in particular and in Metro Manila in general. Not even the MMDA or the Office of the President could think of an idea and/or implement a measure that would sove the problem of traffic in Metro Manila.

(Note: I hope most of the people would have understood the SONA if the President should have included in his speech on how he woud solve the problem of traffic at EDSA, not about DREAMS and HOPES for the future!)

The volume of traffic had been growing in an unprecedented manner while the number of roads and mobility access have not increased and improved. Not even with the introduction of the Light Railway Transport (LRT/MRT) and increase in the number of traffic enforcers had improved the traffic condition of the city.

What could be the problem? What could be the solution?

If you observe, there are lots of transport buses and jeeps plying within EDSA and other main streets in the city. This is to include the Provincial Buses going and coming from the Northern & Southern Provinces. Maybe, reducing the number of buses and jeeps in the city would ease up the traffic in the city.

Do you still remember those “LOVE BUS” before? Why don’t we bring back those LOVE BUS and adhere to its time-tested system of having only ONE transport system for the BUSES in the city, not what we see as a “free for all” transport franchises for any corporate that has the capability to acquire a fleet of buses here and abroad. I would not deal on the details as I want to suggest an overall concept with regards of reducing the number of buses in the city. Simply put, stick to ONE transport company, private or government-controlled, with the best and excellent transport service to the public. (Note: It is worthy to note what the TransMilenio in Bogota, Colombia had solved the traffic congestion of in the said city since December 2000.)

TransMilenio Bus (Photo From Colombia Travel Blog By Marcela)

You might be wondering why I am trying to analyze the traffic situation in Metro Manila and trying to suggest some solutions to this perpetual problem of ours. It’s because there are solutions to be considered from the point of view from a runner/hiker/athlete and from me who gathered ideas from other sources.

Of course, as an athlete/runner/hiker, I would suggest that people would go back to what we would naturally do during the Early Ages—walk, jog, or run to reach from Point A to Point B. Let us not argue about the pros and cons about this suggestions. In the end, this suggestion has more advantages than disadvantages.

If you can’t walk, jog, or run and would like to have a faster time to reach Point B from Point A, you can ride on a bicycle. Of course, riding on a bicycle has also pros and cons but I am sure it has more advantages. (Note: It is worthy to note also what Mayor Enrique Penalosa of Bogota, Colombia had introduced like the Ciclovia and the First “Car-Free” Day to the world in 2001)

Ciclovia In Bogota On Sundays (Photo Taken From The Oil Drum: Local)

Have you heard about the carpool system that other countries use to ease up the volume of traffic in their streets? This system is applicable to corporate offices as well as government offices. One person in one office can share a ride for another 3-4 persons employed in the same office, provided they come from same origin or the person who drives can pick-up the remaining passengers where the route passes towards their destination.

Another option is for anybody or for you to try riding the bus/jeepney/UV Express in going to your office and going back to your home, at least, 1-2 times a week and leaving your car in your house.

These abovementioned suggestions are only effective if coupled with discipline, positive attitude, and commitment. But they are far more effective if we have some rewards or incentives if we commit ourselves to such suggestions. This is where leadership and management level would enter and be part of the soultion to our traffic problems.

Yes, incentives or rewards are the “carrot” that we need. The government could easily enact laws, ordinances, decrees, and rules and regulation but such “stick” woud not be effective if it is not implimented or enforced strictly.

A person who goes to his office by walking/jogging or running should receive some incentives from the management. It could be some cash enough to motivate him to maintain his running. Maybe, the cost of a brand-new running shoes can be collected by him every 3 months; a weekly registration fee for 10K to half-marathon race of his choice; or additional support for nutrition and hydration which is given on a monthly basis; or a new running kit (apparel) every 3 months!

For the cyclists, the same incentive as the runner is appropriate. It could be cash incentive or anything that he could use for his safety while riding his bicycle.

For the carpooler, he could be given some incentive in terms of additional allowance for the gasoline; repairs; and maintenance servicing of his personal vehicle. Better yet if the management could provide an all-expense trip for a family weekend vacation in any part of the country.

If you take the bus or public transport instead of your personal car, the management should double your daily fare and receive the incentive at the end of every two weeks. If you spend P50 a day for your fare, the management should be able to give you P100 as your daily incentive or maybe more.

You might ask me where will management get the money for the incentives. Well, I would assume that personnel would be healthier if they are more active by adhering to my suggestions. The management will be saving money for the medical and hospitalization of their employees, to include payments for medical and dental insurances. So, in effect, the management will be “front-loading” their savings for the medical expenses for their personnel in the form of incentives. It is easier to say than done but it is possible.

Now, it is for the government and private developers to come up with the needed infrastructure in order to impliment safety in running, walking, and cycling from Point A to Point B.

What could be more revealing is the fact that Colombia won 8 Olympic Medals in the latest London Olympics with Gold and Bronze Medals in BMX Cycling; Silver Medals in Road Cycling and Women’s Triple Jump and other individual sports. I wonder if there is a direct connection with how Bogota, Colombia solved its traffic problems and the encouragement for the people to have access to paved roads which are transformed into parks during the week.

Just maybe, this is a good model for us to emulate if we want to encourage more of our citizen to engage in endurance sports.

As they say, “you may never know”. What is needed is for us to TRY.





“The Hay Is In The Barn”

1 05 2014

This is the statement that my Coach would send me after putting all the miles in my training program in preparation for the 2014 The North Face 100-Kilometer Trail Run which will be held this weekend. Since it was a new statement to me and have some varied personal interpretations about it, I would “google” it in order to find out what my Coach would like to tell me. And I was satisfied of the things that I would read on the Internet explaining what the statement is all about.

Basically, farmers (in countries with winter season) would put and store bundles of hay inside their barn in preparation for the winter to come so that their livestocks (cattles/horses) would have enough food when snow covers their farm. In the Philippines, our farmers don’t have barns or livestock covered structures where they could store rice straws/hay as food for their horses, cows and carabaos (water buffalos). Our farmers would simply bundle them and stack them on top of the other to form a pointed cone in the middle of their farm. But the intention is the same, for the livestock to have a reserve food during the dry season which sometimes result to drought.

"Hay In The Barn" Philippine Style

“Hay In The Barn” Philippines’ Style (Photo By Google)

In running. which is the same with the other endurance sports, the statement would mean that one has to appreciate the past months that one had prepared for the event and it is time to reduce the volume and intensity of training before Race Day. It simply means that one has to taper in final preparation for the Big Event, the end-goal of ones months of training. Putting more miles and more intensity to ones training at this point would no longer have an effect for a better performance during the event. If one is hard-headed not to observe the taper period, he/she is likely to be overtrained or not fully recovered and fresh a few days before Race Day.

My failure to finish in last year’s TNF Phil 100 was the reason why I would concentrate on mountain trail running. For the past 10 months, I’ve been almost running on the trails in my playground 5-6 days a week! Following a structured training program for trail running which is tailored to my age and history of my  running-related injuries, I would log in at least 240-260 miles (380-420 kilometers) every month with some speed training/tempo running on the trail once a week and a rest day on Mondays. This is where I would test my nutrition, apparel, shoes and running techniques.

My training program paid off as a result of my satisfactory finishes at the Clark-Miyamit 42K Trail Run and Clark-Miyamit 50-Mile Trail Run last year. Last December, I finished only 110 Kilometers in the Taklang Damulag 100-Mile Endurance Run due to nutrition problems and in February of this year, I was able to reach Kilometer #60 in the H1 100-Mile Trail Run after being lost along the route and spent a lot of my energy trying to catch-up with the rest of the runners. These DNFs had also contributed in my mileage in preparation for the next events to come.

For the past two months, March and April, I was consistent with my training which involved more hiking and running to higher elevations except for at least two weeks where I would reduce my mileage and do more some stationary cycling inside the house. It was also in these two weeks that I had to see my orthopedic doctor for some tests and rehabilitation for my injured knee in the past. These two weeks gave me the much-needed rest and recovery to be stronger in my runs and hikes to higher elevations and peaks within the vicinity of my playground for the rest of my training period.

Two weeks before this weekend’s TNF 100, I have tapered my training and I am ready for the challenge stored for me to this yearly event. I don’t have any specific goal for this event but as I usually predict in my CM Trail Races, I would target again to be among the upper 50% of the Finishers. If there will be 200 Finishers in this year’s TNF 100, I wish that I would land among the top 100 runners.

Wish me luck!

 





Why I Love Trail Running

28 04 2014

Tell me a place within Metro Manila where you have a dirt path/road where you can do some trail running. I guess, there is none. That is the problem when our urban planners do not value the need of a place within the city where we can enjoy the environment of the outdoors. I know of some golf courses in the city but you can rarely see trails inside these golf courses and most of them are restricted from pedestrians.

There are places within reach in Metro Manila for about 30-minute drive from the main populated areas but you can not still escape the dirty surroundings of garbage and poor quality of air due to industrial plants’ and vehicles’ fumes. One has to travel at least 1-2 hours away from Metro Manila in order to reach the mountains of Tanay, Tagaytay, Laguna and Cavite. If you have determined a specific trail/s on these places, you can enjoy the outdoors and have a pure experience on trail running away from the populace and the traffic of vehicles.

For the past 10 months, I have permanently shifted to trail running and I had been in the mountains of Fort Magsaysay, Subic, Bataan and Pampanga. These are the following reasons why I love trail running:

1. The Best Air Quality For The Body-–One has to breath a lot of air/oxygen when you are in the trail, whether you are hiking or running. But there is no need to worry as the air you are breathing are pure and unadulterated. The plants and trees all around you will be happy to have your carbon dioxide that you breath out from your lungs! Sometimes, cold winds from the mountains and the sea would hit your body and the feeling is something that is invigorating! Our lungs would be happy to have fresh air to our body. Being away from the populated areas and busy highways/streets, you have a bigger chances of breathing better quality of air. The more you run in the mountains, you have better air to breath. And once you reach the forest, the air is cooler and you have the best air quality in the area. Sometimes, there are places where it is hot and humid but simply hydrating oneself regularly would solve the problem. There are also creeks and streams where you one can douse cold water to your hot body.

2. Strengthens Joints Up To The Smallest Muscles, Cartilages, and Tendons—Due to the varied condition of the ground, our feet would land to the ground in different and varied positions and this condition would have a “domino effect” on how our muscles, joints, tendons and cartilages would react on how we run. Instead of being “on the zone” when you are in a road running event, your body is always on alert on the varied conditions of the terrain where you are running. I have observed that my feet and the muscles of my legs had become stronger and I no longer experience any cramps on my calves. Surprisingly, my problem with my right achilles tendonitis just disappeared. As for my knees, I would be able to manage the pain better if I run on the trails because of the softer feeling as my feet would strike the ground.

3. Exercise For The Brain For Quick Decisions—Trail Running makes you aware on what to expect on the 3-10 meters in front of you. Due to the variation of elevation and contour of the trail, whether it is ascending or descending, your thinking process is very active. You have to make quick decisions on how you manage the uphills and downhills depending on your capability. If there are rocks or debris (branches; twigs; and leaves on the ground), one should be quick to decide if you have to jump over or just simply step on them. In crossing rivers, creeks, and streams, one has to quickly see and determine the exposed rocks where one could land ones feet in order to keep ones shoes from being wet. I’ve seen a lot of runners who slipped on muddy trails or tripped on dry trails due to poor or lack of decision.

4. Commune With Nature—If you are running the whole trail course, this reason is a flimsy one as you don’t have the time to appreciate your environment. You don’t have time to look around as your concentration and focus will be the trail in front of you. However, it is suggested that you should rest and sit for awhile on a vantage position where one can observe the surroundings. A camera from ones phone would be appropriate to record and journalize the things that you want to capture as a remembrance on the trail that you have been. Appreciate the surrounding mountains, hills, trees, grasses, and the birds in the area. Take time to breath the air as one would rest within the trail route. One should avoid picking edible fruits along the way; picking some flowers; or bringing home some orchids or ornamental plants from the mountains. It’s enough that one should clean the trails from grasses; thorny vines; and branches of plants. At all costs, we have to preserve the environment if we really dedicated to commune with nature.

5. Gain More Information—With the aid of my Garmin Watch, I would be able to pinpoint and establish prominent features in order to establish kilometer markers along the way. By talking to persons I meet along the trail, I would be able to know the name of the place; what direction the trail would lead me or find out where I can get water resupply from the creeks and streams within the area. It is automatic for me to greet the persons I meet along the trail and tell them what I am doing in the area and where I came from. Don’t let the people within the area come up with some suspicion about your intention in the area, it is much better if you talk to them and hear your purpose in the area. If you drop by a hut/house in the area for your water resupply, find time to talk to the owner or anybody staying in the place. There is a big chance that you will be dropping by that place again in the future.

6. Immersion With The Mountain People-–For many instances, I have requested the mountain people/Aetas to act as guide/s in my trail running adventures. I have known how they live in the mountains and how they earn a living. These Aetas were resettled in the area as a result of the eruption of Mt Pinatubo and most of them  came from Zambales. Through my immersion with them for those long hours that I would hike on the mountain trails, I was able to find out how they clean some patches of forested areas in the mountains where they can plant bananas, root crops and vegetables. They cut trees and make them as charcoal in the deep forested areas and carry them in sacks for them to be delivered in their respective resettlement areas where merchants would buy and bring these sacks of charcoal on trucks or vehicles. They would also hunt for wild pigs, monkeys, big lizards (bayawak), wild chicken, and bats for their meat. And during summer, they would look for beehives and gather raw honey from them. And worse, they are free to cut any trees in the forest (without any permit from the local DENR) in the guise that the said lumber will be used to construct or repair of their huts/house in the resettlement areas. How I wish the local government would have the time to immerse themselves with these mountain people for them to know what is happening to the environment and our natural resources. I doubt if these mountain people have any activity to reforest or bring back the vegetation in the mountains. (Note: It had been my habit to bring packs of cigarettes and/or cans of sardines to be given to my friends in the mountains during my regular training runs)

7. Explore The Unknown-–Since I don’t carry any compass, GPS, or map, I just try to look at the horizon and ask my training partner to reach a certain feature on the ground or follow a trailhead and see for ourselves where the trail would lead us. If we are running in our usual trail loop/route and if we see an intersection, we had to explore where the new trail would lead us. This is where we would be surprised to see a more unique and better environment and sights to be seen as offered by the natural resources in the mountains. This is how we discovered our water resupply points and places where we could spend some rest and take our lunch. What surprised me most is the presence of gates and fences in the mountains. It means that somebody has already acquired such area bounded by the fences as a personal property. I wonder how could that be when these mountains are considered as Natural/National Parks.

8. Share One’s Experience To Others—Definitely, the end purpose of these trail running is to come up with a trail running course/route for a trail running event for everybody to experience. It would be best that my trail running events will not be sponsored by corporate brands and I want my events to be exclusively for those who trained and prepared for the event. I really don’t care if I have only four or three runner-participants in these events. The lesser number of participants, the better for the trails and the mountains. I would envision also that the populace within the route would also earn a living out of these events as they provide fresh produce from their orchard to the runners or act as guides/marshals in key intersections in the trail route. If I am training for a particular ultra trail event, I usually share my experiences and the sights I’ve been into in this blog or through Facebook through pictures and stories.

9. Faster Recovery-–This is the most kept secret among trail runners! Whether it is a 2-hour trail run or 12-hour trail hike, I could recover easily after a day or 24 hours! All I need is to stretch properly after the run; hydrate and replenish the fluids that I lost during the workout; take a shower; eat my dinner, and then sleep at least 8 hours. Sometimes, a massage before going to bed contributes to a faster recover but I seldom have that for the past two months of my training. With my age, if I do a 2-hour run on the road, it would take me another 48 hours to recover before I could run again.

10. Specificity Of Training—Obviously, if one is preparing for a trail running event, he/she  has to spend more time running in the trails. If you are preparing for a trail ultra, you have to do your training on the trail that has almost the same elevation profile with the race you are going to participate (and have registered). Since I’ve shifted my running races to ultra trail running, I had chosen to spend most of my training in the mountain trails.

My Snappy Salute To All Mountain Trail Runners!

My Snappy Salute To All Mountain Trail Runners!

Pictures: https://www.facebook.com/baldrunner/media_set?set=a.10203168797314451.1073741953.1043179758&type=1





Downhill Running

24 04 2014

For an old runner like me and had a history of running-related injury on my knees, I need to be extra careful and very deliberate on my steps when I am faced with a steep downhill part of the course. This contributed much in my ability to run slower in my races. How I wish I would turn back the clock when I did not have any fear and took advantage of those downhill parts of the course to gain more speed and regain the time that I have lost in the ascending parts of the route.

Easy Pace In Downhill Running

Easy Pace In Downhill Running

I could see my elite trail runners and training partners to be “flying” on the air and spreading their gait to the maximum in order to gain more distance in every step they make on the downhill. I could see that they just simply “float”; bend their upper body forward; swing their hands farther and stretch their legs with a wider stance as their feet barely touch the ground.  Only young and fast runners could do this kind of running downhill.

Easy On The Old Knees

Easy On The Old Knees

Downhill running was my “weakness” and one of the main reasons why I did not finish in last year’s TNF 100-Kilometer Trail Run. Aside from the knee injury I had which was not yet fully healed prior to the race, I was surprised to be running within the part of the course which I was not able to recon or practice on it. The  11-12 kilometer distance of the Barangay Alang part of the course is a steep road consisting of paved/cemented road and hard dirt road. The steepness of the road gave some pain on my knees that I was forced to simply hike/walk throughout the distance. Coupled with the heat of the sun that went directly hitting the runners, I was sweating profusely and I was on the verge of being dehydrated. Simply put, this part of the course just simply put the “nails to my coffin”, so to speak, in order for me to be over exhausted and weak. Even if I was able to refuel, rest and re-hydrate myself at the Aid Station on the halfway mark of the course, I was able to spend so much of my time and I was already thinking of ending the race.

2013 TNF 100 Picture @ Barangay Alang Route

2013 TNF 100 Picture @ Barangay Alang Route

I tried to continue the race but after hiking for 500 meters, my knees and quads were not cooperating. It was time to preserve the weak body and prepare to recover as I decided to DNF in the race.

Running Form Will Do The Trick!

Running Form Will Do The Trick!

Aside from training for the downhill running along the trails for the past 11 months, I made sure to have a taste of running downhill on a cemented road in my playground, just like the road at Barangay Alang. Eleven months ago when I started training for my ultra trail runs, I discovered this place which is a part of my Playground “Bravo” 50K Trail Run course and I promised myself to train for hill repeats in this place in order for me to be properly prepared for the Alang portion of the TNF 100 course.

I was able to come up with a running technique on this steep cemented road which is appropriate for my old knees. I just have to shorten my strides, bend my legs from the knees, come up with a faster leg turn-over, bend my upper body slightly forward, swing my arms with a faster tempo, relax my shoulders, maintain a midfoot strike on the ground and make sure my eyes are focused at least 3-5 meters on the ground in front of me. I can not suggest this technique to the other runners as this is what I had experimented for my style of running. I was able to manage the pain on my knees and preserve them by following on this technique.

Hopefully, I would be able to reach the halfway point of the TNF 100 Race course without any issues or problems. If I reach the halfway point with some time to spare, I know I would be able to finish the race.

Wish me luck!





Mt Kalbo

22 04 2014

“Kalbo” means Bald.

Three years ago on my first trek to the peak of Mt Natib, the highest mountain in the Bataan Natural Park, I noticed a mountain peak without any trees or vegetation on it as seen on the right side from the trail going to a place called “Binutas”. The “peak” is located on a nearby mountain ridge and it is very noticeable because of its bare appearance.

Rounded Peak Of Mt Kalbo

Rounded Peak Of Mt Kalbo

Due to curiosity, I asked the guide if the peak has a name or something that would identify it among the local people in the area. The guide said that the mountain popularly known in the area as “Mount Kalbo”! I laughed and asked from the guide if he is really serious, and he said, “Yes”. The mountain peak is really called “Mount Kalbo” among the locals living in the area and I thought that someday I would be able to peakbag the said mountain.

After two years, I was able to trace a trail from my Playground to the peak of Mt Natib. But the trail is very challenging that it took us some time to really re-trace the trail which is being used by the hunters in the area. I brought some of my running friends to join me in trying to connect the trail from where I stopped with my training partner up to the place called “Binutas”. Due to the lack of time, we decided to turn-around and returned to where we started. It was a good 30K trail blazing experience among friends.

Finally, after starting very early in the morning, my training partner, Danin and I were able to reach “Binutas” after coming from the North side trail approach to Mt Natib, which means that we came from the Subic/SBMA area. It was a 40K total of “out and back” course and we came to know that we only had to trek for about 5 kilometers from the point we turned around with my running friends. On our first successful attempt, we had to deal with tall grasses; vines, and plants with thorns on those rarely-used trail.

To my surprise, on the last 1.5 kilometers before reaching the place called “Binutas”, we could see the peak of Mt Kalbo which is situated on the right side of the trail. I think my training partner and I would pass the foot of the peak for about 5-6 times already on our regular training runs to “Binutas” and Mt Natib since we discovered that Mt Kalbo was within our reach.

Playground BRAVO 50K Trail Run Participants

Playground BRAVO 50K Trail Run Participants

@ "Binutas", Near Mt Natib During The Playground BRAVO Race

@ “Binutas”, Near Mt Natib During The Playground BRAVO Race

Two weeks ago, four (4) brave trail runners attempted to run the North Trail Course to Mt Natib in a trail race dubbed as “Playground BRAVO 50K Trail Run” which is actually a 51-Kilometer “out and back” course and only three (3) runners finished the course. Although they experienced the usual sharp blades of grasses, thorny vines and plants; and leaf-covered vines on the ground that traps ones feet, these runners were able to pass the tests of this trail with flying colors, not to mention the brutal elevation and the heat within the area.

In my desire to clean the trail from these grasses, vines, and thorny plants, I brought two of my men with their bolos and foods/drinks to once and for all clean the trail for easier running and trekking.

Cleaning Of The Trails

Cleaning Of The Trails

After one hour of cleaning the trail within the vicinity of the foot of Mt Kalbo, I finally decided to instruct my men that we have to “peakbag” it and trace whatever trail that can be seen towards its peak. From the trail where we were cleaning, everything was an assault towards the pointed part of the mountain.

More Cleaning In The Forest

More Cleaning In The Forest

We had to slowly put our foot one after the other as we go up the peak and hold whatever plant or growth as we pulled our bodies upward. It was a very slow and deliberate pace as we got higher in elevation. After about 350 meters of steep inclined approach, it leveled up and I started to see a lot of rocks surrounding the last assault to the peak. More rocks can be seen on the last 50 meters towards the peak of the mountain.

The Assault Trail To The Peak

The Assault Trail To The Peak

The Final Approach To The Peak

The Final Approach To The Peak

Finally, we were able to “peakbag” Mt Kalbo! It appears that the reason why there is no thick vegetation or trees on the peak is because of the presence of a lot of rocks. Only the cogon grasses thrive on the peak and it gives a semblance of its appearance as a bald mountain, most especially when the cogon grasses start to turn to brown and dried during summer.

Finally, A Pose At The Peak With Mt Natib In The Background

Finally, A Pose At The Peak With Mt Natib In The Background

More rocks can be seen on the flat portion of the peak but I have observed that the same vegetation that can be seen at the peak of Mt Natib is the same with that of Mt Kalbo. There are wild plants; cogon grasses; and orchids that can be seen at the peak.

There is a trace that an industrial drill had been used to bore a hole from the peak of the mountain and it has a cement marker that is almost disintegrating due to the elements. There is also a wooden pole which drilled to the ground that we could hardly pull from the ground. I guess, the wooden pole was placed beside the cement marker where one can place a flag or a cloth marker on top of the peak.

Cleaning The Peak & Exposing The Rocks

Cleaning The Peak & Exposing The Rocks

After some photo-ops, I instructed my men to clean the peak of the mountain and cut those tall grasses in order to expose the rocks on top of the peak. How I wish these rocks will not be vandalized by people who will be visiting this place.

Rocks At The Peak Of Mt Kalbo

Rocks At The Peak Of Mt Kalbo

My Men & Training Partners

My Men & Training Partners

Many thoughts and ideas came into my mind as I inspected every inch and foot on top of the peak of Mt Kalbo. I guess, Mt Kalbo Trail Run is coming soon as a challenge to trail runners.

After about 45 minutes at the peak, we decided to go back to the place where we started. It was a good 12 hours in the mountain and we finally reached our place at 9:45 PM.

My Garmin Watch registered an elevation of 930 meters at the peak. The whole 40K course also registered an Elevation Gain/Loss of 7,000 feet.

It was a good 40K “out and back” distance for the day! We officially “peakbagged” Mt Kalbo. And I am officially inviting bald trail runners/mountaineers to visit the place and I am also declaring it as the Official Mountain of the Baldies!

 





Benson: An Aeta Friend

21 04 2014

In one of my trail running adventures, I was able to meet Benson, an Aeta residing in a Resettlement who is trying to earn a living by making and transporting charcoal in the mountains of Bataan. I was on my way to discover trails within my backyard when I met him. I asked him to orient myself in the different trails in the mountains and he was glad to help me.

I met Benson while he was on his way back to his residence in the Aeta Resettlement. He was carrying two sacks of charcoal which heights are taller than him. I can not believe how he was able to carry those sacks of charcoal with his thin and short body. What impressed me more was that he was using a rubber sandal walking/hiking on those mountain trails. His hiking pace was faster than me and my companion. He was really fast despite the fact that he was using a rubber sandal and carrying those two sacks of charcoal which are heavier than his weight.

Benson With My Men

Benson With My Men

While we were in our pits stops and water resupply points, I find time to talk to him and was able to gather a lot of information about him. He is married to another lady Aeta who just gave birth to their first child two months ago. He burned his bamboo hut which he constructed in the Aeta Resettlement Area and he gave me a vague statement/answer on the reason why he burned his hut. Since he does not have a place of his own, his child and himself are staying in the hut of his mother-in-law.

We asked some directions from him on how we can explore the mountains in the area and we asked the presence of mountain trails within the area. He is willing to be our “guide” if we intend to explore the nearby mountains and he asked that we should be in his place/resettlement area before 6:00 AM.

In our pit stops, we shared our bottled water/drinks and bite foods. Upon reaching the resettlement area, he invited us to the hut of his mother-in-law and offered us a beehive full of pure honey. Instead, we offered him and the rest of the children in the hut with our Cloud 9 Chocolates and Pan De Sal (local bread). After about, 10 minutes of rest and changing his shirt, he offered his service to guide us to the road that leads to the main Highway.

Picture With Benson Before We Parted Ways

Picture With Benson Before We Parted Ways

After hiking for 3 kilometers, he pointed a paved road that leads to a subdivision and gave some instructions and information about the description of the paved road. I brought out some cash in my hydration belt and I gave my money but before I can hand him my money, he asked not to be given such cash. He said that the money we have will be used for our fare for our tricycle and jeepney ride in going back to where we started. However, I asked and begged him to get the money for the milk of his baby and he gladly accepted it.

From there, we left him as he walked back to the resettlement area. And for us, we still have 14 kilometers more of dirt and paved roads before we reached our final destination.

One of these days, I and my training partner will be going back to get the service of Benson as our guide to the mountains in the area.

I hope we can explore and measure another 30 kilometers along the mountain trails so that I can have a 100-mile mountain trail route in my playground.








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