“Know The Enemy” (Bulldog Trail)

Practice Run And Orientation Tour At The Bulldog Trail  Run Route (9:30 AM-2:15 PM 26 July 2008)

According to Sun Tzu, the Chinese Strategist, that if you know yourself and you don’t know the enemy, you are are not sure to win in every battle you fight; but if you don’t know yourself and you know the enemy, in every battle you incur some casualties and “lapses” and chances of winning the battle will be costly; but if you know yourself and you know the enemy, in every battle you are sure to be victorious!

Since I am a warrior runner, I should be able to know the enemy and be able to conquer it victoriously. Knowing myself as capable and ready to run my first ultra trail run (hopefully), I have to know the enemy, the Bulldog Trail Course. So, this morning, my son and I went to the Malibu Creek State Park and orient myself with the trail and route of the race.

My son is very efficient on locating places, using the Internet to get from Point A to Point B, and driving to any place where I would want to go. So, we woke up at 7:00 AM of Saturday, took our breakfast, changed to our running gear, and prepared our water supply and we were out of the house before 8:00 AM. We took the CA Highway 110 South and then took the Interstate Highway 10 West towards Pacific Coast Highway (CA Highway 1) and later reached the City of Malibu. We passed by the famous Pepperdine University and we were on our way going east towards the mountains. In a few minutes, we were in Las Virgenes Road towards the entrance of the Malibu Creek State Park.

We paid $ 8.00 for our entrance and parking fee to the said park. It was almost 9:00 AM when we entered the park. We prepared our water supply and tried to look on the map at the park the trails we are going to take as part of the Bulldog Trail Run. It took us sometime to orient ourselves but with the help of one of the Park Rangers (an old guy) and explaining our route in detail, we were able to get some basic information about the trail routes in the park. I’ve observed that there were hikers and mountain bikers preparing to enter the trails around the park.

A pose before the practice run with the mountains on the background. I was wearing an all-out The North Face Kit to include my trail shoes. I had my Nathan Lumbar Water Belt and a Hand-Held Water Jug
A pose before the practice run with the mountains on the background. I was wearing an all-out The North Face Kit to include my trail shoes. I had my Nathan Lumbar Water Belt and a Hand-Held Water Jug

Since this was our first time to run on a trail in California, I told my son that we came here to the park to orient myself and have a feeling on how to run trails and we’ll make this run as a tour of the place where we have to stop for a while to take some pictures of the surroundings and the route. Once we hit the trailhead of Crags Road, we started our slow run. I was surprised that the wide road became narrower, only to find out that we were actually running on the rocky portions of the Malibu Creek without any water. And then the trail would become wider as a dirt road but the elevation is slowly increasing. We continued to slowly run at the Crags Road until we reached the intersection with Bulldog Trail Road, which was turning to the left. We stopped briefly on this part to take some pictures.

This is the rocky part of the trail along the Malibu Creek without any water. I could just imagine all the runners lined-up along this narrow trail during race day.

This is where the start of most of the trail going up to the highest peak of the mountain.

This part is the intersection of Crags Road and Bulldog Road which is about 4 kilometers away from the Starting area.

From the intersection of Bulldog & Crags, the trail road becomes higher and higher in its elevation and the heat of the sun was already hitting us. I think the temperature in the area was already at 85-87 degrees Fahrenheit and we started to sweat and breath heavily while jogging. We continued our slow run along the way and stopping by places where I want my pictures to be taken by my son. Sometimes we had to stop when there are intersections along the way and most of the time we take the wrong trail and we had to go back to the bigger trail or “fire road”. The first 6-8 kilometers from the Crags-Bulldog Trail intersection were uphill and it was really hard for me as this was my first time to run an uphill climb with such a long distance! At this point we met two mountain bikers who just stopped for some rest and another mountain biker whom we met at a higher elevation along a curve which surprised me and gave him the left side of the road which he appreciated by saying “Thank you”.

Running on trails in California made my throat very dry in almost every 100-200 meters running uphill and I have to take a sip of water from my water jug. It was my first time to experience such situation. In the Philippines, I could run 12 kilometers without drinking any water but running trails here is entirely a different experience. I hope I will be able to acclimatize with more practice runs on the said route.

This is another portion going to the peak of the mountain through the Bulldog Trail and at the top of the road was where I met a mountain biker whom I gave more way on my left as he curved down the trail.

What I liked about my first trail run in the mountains here in California (except my previous training runs at Griffith Park and Mt Hollywood) was the view of the surroundings—different rock formations in different colors; the view from atop the mountains with the sight of the Pacific Ocean in the west and mountains/vast lands and communities saddled on top and on the sides of the mountains in the east, north & south; the clean air that I breath even if it was hot; and the refreshing wind coming from the Pacific Ocean.

My new M Arnuva 50 Boa Trail Shoes from The North Face was very versatile and responsive during my trail run most especially during the downhill part of the course. It gave me the much-needed traction on the road to prevent me from sliding on the ground.

At the end of the Bulldog Trail, we started to brisk walk and slowly jog until we reached the Corral Canyon Trail where we saw two white guys riding on two big horses going towards us. We had to give way to these horsemen and they uttered words of encouragement for making up to the peak of Bulldog Trail. This is what I liked when I ran for my first time in this trail—ALL The People you meet along the trail would greet you (Good Morning/Good Afternoon or say Hi!) and smile at you. We had to do the same too to other people we met along the way.

These are the directional signs along the intersection of each trail along the route. In between such trails, seldom you could see directional signs and there were times that we got lost along the way.

On our way going down the Corral Canyon Road, we met a family and kids on mountain bikes going to the peak of the mountain (about ten persons). The last kid (12-14 years old boy) of the biking group just dropped his bike and just stopped and stand on the trail while the other kid was shouting at him to continue to carry/push the bike up to the peak of the mountain. I was smiling while I was passing this kid who was almost crying and full of sweat because of being tired or due the effect of the heat.

A pose at the TV “Star Trek” shooting location.

My son, John, ran the whole one-half of the entire loop without his shirt and he was “sunburned”.

The Corral Canyon Road was not all downhill ride as there were other uphill roads and we had to walk again. We went through rock formations which according to my son were used as filming locations of the TV series “Star Trek”. We took some pictures and we saw a couple walking ahead of us who was familiar with the trail. We even saw an Oriental woman (Japanese or Korean) whom we tried to ask for directions but she did not understand us! Anyway, we just followed the wider trail road and started alternately walking and jogging. I had to pee at Kilometer # 16.

This was part of the Corral Canyon Trail-Backbone Trail which was going uphill where three other guys running the trail overtook us.

At the middle of the stretch of the Corral Canyon Road, two big guys who were consistently running overtook us and after a couple of hundred meters another one passed by us and we could see them running farther from us. We just maintained our brisk walking and I was getting worried because our water supply was about to be gone. I had only one-half full of my water jug (half-liter full) with almost 10 kilometers back to the base camp and my son had the same water supply on his water bottle.

This pose was taken at the peak of the Corral Canyon Trail /Backbone Trail before we ran downhill towards the Las Virgenes Road. The background is the Pacific Ocean and we were about 8 kilometers aways from the Finish Line. 

When we reached the downhill portion of the route, I started to run and just let the weight of my body carry my feet along the route. My pace became faster and faster until I was able to overtake the last guy who overtook us. I realized that using a specific trail shoes is a must in this kind of situation. An ordinary running shoes could not hold the feet and body in a downhill trail with all the loose rocks and soil on the ground and I can say that running shoes lack the traction needed to prevent from having a slip or slide along the route. My fast downhill pace made me overshoot to the direction of a small trail that leads to a narrow Tapia Trail and I ended to a secured gate of a Water Reclamation Facility ( Water Filtration Facility) at Tapia Camp which is a Restricted Area. I have to go uphill for about 100 meters to reach the detour trail and waited for my son who was having a problem with his shoes (he was using a Nike cross-training shoes which he used for his alternate training).

While waiting for my son on a shaded portion of the trail, the white big guy whom I overtook was about to run the wrong way when I told him that he has to take the trail where I was standing. The guy stopped by where I was waiting for my son and we had a brief chat. I found out that he is with a group of runners from Simi Valley who will be running the Bulldog 25K Trail Run and it is his first time to run along the 25-K loop. He told me that there is another guy from his group who is at the back and he is trying to wait for him. Anyway, it was nice talking to him and his name is “Bob”. I told him about this blog! Later, I saw him and his running mates/friemds at the parking lot of the camp after finishing my tour of the Bulldog Trail Run route.

At the end of the Corral Canyon Trail, we met two guys in backpacks going up the trail. We also saw a Restroom and stopped there to refuel ourselves with our water supply. We got lost on this part of the route and we decided to run along the Las Virgenes Road until we hit the entrance of the Malibu Creek State Park which was another 2 1/2 miles of brisk walking and jogging as this paved and busy road was going uphill. We learned later on the map that we should had followed the single trail that goes up towards the mountain for another distance, the same distance as the one we took along the Las Virgenes Road, before the trail ends at the Parking Area of the camp.

My last pose at the entrance of the Malibu Creek State Park before we ended our practice run.

We ran & walked along the Bulldog Trail 25K route of about 25.5 kilometers in 4:45:40 hours with an accumulated ascent of 4,593.6 feet (1,392 meters) and descent of 4,217.4 feet (1,278 meters). Our run started at an elevation of 600 feet (182 meters) and reached the highest peak of 2,528 feet (766 meters).

My practice run and orientation tour of the Bulldog Trail was a nice experience and a good feel of “knowing the enemy”. I will be back on the next weekend after the San Francisco Marathon for another practice run and be able to hopefully simulate the race with more consistent running, lesser brisk walking and more water to carry.

I am beginning to love trail running in the mountains!


14 thoughts on ““Know The Enemy” (Bulldog Trail)

  1. levyang

    Nice pics and great recap of your trail run. I’m thinking that trail runs will make you an even better and stronger road warrior. After running all those trails, running on the road will be so much easier.


  2. aldzheimerz

    Yes Sir, I ran my first trail yesterday at the TNF100.. The trail became really muddy as expected in the Phils especially with the unpredictable weather. Team Baldrunner did very good sir! I congratulate the team for getting top awards at the event.


  3. miraclecello

    Don’t strike a match BR, those plants look like ready-made tinder for wildfires, the exact opposite of our trail run in the wet near Mount Batulao yesterday.


  4. i gotta warn you, br, sounds like you’re about to catch the trail running bug.

    good for you for familiarizing yourself with the bulldog trail and its conditions. hopefully it will be cool on race day. here’s my 2007 bulldog recap and photos which you might find familiar: http://tackbow.blogspot.com/2007/08/bulldogin.html

    btw i emailed you at your yahoo address if you’d like to get to get together for a trail run after sf. cheers!


  5. hmm,
    hey north face runner =) the trail is challenging. perhaps it will be more challenging if muddy and slippery like the trail of TNF run yesterday in Nasugbu…

    i sent you an email to your gmail. please check it out…


  6. rayabe

    Hi BR! Great photos of the trail, scenery! Very apt title for your entry, too! I wish we could’ve done that to prepare for the TNF100 (which went well; so did your team). Good luck on your races!


  7. kingofpots

    levy, i was running on trails whenever i am in laoag to make my legs stronger and more responsive. but my finish times in the road races became slower as i did not maintain my speed runs at the track. so, i guess, i still have to balance my trail runs and speed runs at the tracks or my tempo runs.

    aldz, i fielded that team to make the runners know or aware that the incoming baldrunner’s events will be more on ultra trail running in the moutains in the north and in the sierra madre mountains. so, you still have time to practice before we initially launch our projects. thanks!

    cecil, even without lighting a match, the heat here could start a fire! hahaha! the entrance of the malibu creek state park had been burned few days ago. hopefully, the weather will be cooler during race day.

    eric, thanks for that recap and nice pics on your bulldog trail 25k run last year. i’ll try to run the course again on the saturday morning after the san francisco marathon. i hope to meet you and ben gaetos there.

    highaltitude, it’s summer here and the altitude & heat are the “killers” here. running trails here is entirely different from the running i had experienced during my mountain runs in baguio city in the past.

    rayabe, what is good about trail running is that you can have a practice run on the trails way ahead of the scheduled race day because there is no vehicular traffic as compared in preparing for a marathon race on the streets. thanks!


  8. yeah, the heat makes different. It is therefore a different experience.
    hmmm, i sent an email to your gmail however it bounced back to me 😦 i actually need your favor on something, do you mind if i have your email address? if so, please email me in this address: Kar_Jr at yahoo dot com. Thanks a lot.


  9. loonyrunner

    great pics, great run! wow! that’ll be nice… so we don’t have to wait for TNF to have trail runs. Hopefully they’ll be scheduled early so we can prepare for them 😀


  10. kingofpots

    highaltitude, i just e-mailed you and i am waiting for your reply.

    loony, at least, we’ll give you 6 months to one year to prepare for our trail running events. i just read a story of an ultra runner here who prepared for almost 4 years to finish the western states 100-mile endurance run. good luck & happy running!


  11. loonyrunner

    wow! 4 years! must be a lydiard runner, trained that long so he’d peak when he finally decided to run. Will be waiting for the trail runs 😀


  12. kingofpots

    loony, this guy was DNF in his first western states 100-mile run & while waiting to be qualifed again for the race, he trained hard in the mountain trails for almost 4 years. ultimately, he was one of the few who finished the “grand slam of ultramarathons” (4 100-mile races in 4 months).

    wayne, from where i am right now, the earthquake was strong but we are safe. actually, we have stronger earthquakes in the philippines. we’ll see you this sunday!


  13. Pingback: I’m Racin’ the BullDog…and Two Other Trail Run Events | The Runners Muse

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s