Record Time: 52:37 Minutes

This was the elapsed time it took me to reach the peak of Mt Taklang Damulag as I started from the Fernandez Hill of the Special Forces Regiment’s Camp and Training Area inside Fort Magsaysay. The place is also popularly known as “Molave Complex”.

The plan was to recon and hike a segment of the 100-mile endurance run route that includes the Fernandez Hill-Taklang Damulag- Cordero Dam-Special Forces Training Area and back to Fernandez Hill. This a trail loop which has a distance of 13 kilometers. However, at the back of my mind, I was thinking of coming up with a first attempt with a record time for a trek to the famous Mt Taklang Damulag’s peak with the Fernandez Hill as the starting area.

Fernandez Hill Marker Serves As My Starting Line/Area
Mt Taklang Damulag On The Background

I was accompanied by Lt Col Dennis Pacis, the Chief Operations Officer of the 7th Infantry Division who is a triathlete and an ultrarunner; Captain Jason Que who is the Chief of the Training Department of the Special Forces School; Jack, a member of the Elite Team Bald Runner; two NCOs of the Special Forces who are both runners in the PA Battalion Run Team where I was the Commander; and nine (9) soldiers who are presently on training to become members of the Special Forces Regiment. I personally named this group as the “Ultra Recon Team Six” (based from the famous and popular US Navy Seal’s Team Six).

We started at 10:45 AM with overcast sky from the Fernandez Hill in line formation with at least 6 soldiers in front of me. As I was strictly following my HR training to include this trek, I maintained an HR of 135 about 100 meters from the start with LtCol Pacis and Capt Que behind me. However, our hiking started to increase its pace as we started to climb the mountain.

The trail leading to the peak of the mountain was a combination of crossing at least 3 streams where our feet/shoes have to thread on the water current; sticky, slippery and muddy soil; rocks; and single-track trail covered with grasses. My TNF trail shoes were no match to the combat boots of the soldiers in crossing the streams and walking along sticky and slippery mud along the route. My advantage to these soldiers was that my shoes were lighter than their combat boots.

As we started to climb the mountain, I started to think of coming up with a record time for a Military General, retired at that, to ever climb and reach the peak of the said mountain. Although I am not sure if the past Commanders of the Special Forces and Special Operations Command had undergone this record timing process, I thought that I might as well start coming up with a “trivia” as to who and what is the fastest time for a General (retired or active) to reach the peak of Mt Taklang Damulag.

In less than 400 meters from the start line, my HR started to spike to 145 bpm from my training max of 135 as a result of my excitement to reach the peak with a record time. And my HR steadily increased as I got higher towards the peak of the mountain.

I was wearing my GF 305 on my left wrist (to measure the distance and elevation) and my TIMEX HR Watch on my right wrist. From time to time as I moved upwards, I had to glance of these two watches for the distance covered and my prevailing HR.

From 145 bpm, my HR spiked to 165 and later to a maximum of 183 bpm when I reached the 2.4K mark on the uphill climb to the mountain. I decided to take a rest/breather for about 2 minutes just to be able to adjust to my breathing and to be able to look around on the lower plains of Nueva Ecija. I felt like I was going on a “blackout” or pass out as I started to feel dazed and exhausted but the scenery and the beauty below made me happy and satisfied. A lot of “deep breathing” repetitions made me recover and kept on glancing my HR watch as my bpm was decreasing. As soon as my HR watch reached and indicated 155 bpm, I continued my hike on the last 400 meters to the peak of the said mountain.

I simply tapped the white cross at the peak of the mountain with my right palm to signify that I reached and conquered the very peak of the mountain. My time was 52:37 minutes and I asked Capt Que to make a record/journal of it as part of the trivia of the Special Forces Regiment.

BR With the Special Forces' "Ultra Recon Team Six" On Top of Mt Taklang Damulag

The two Special Forces NCOs were surprised and gave me two “thumbs-up” for being the fastest hiker (whether in my age category or being a General of the Philippine Army, retired or active) to reach the peak. I just smiled to them while I was gasping for air! I wanted to tell them that I was not yet running and it was all hiking. In due time, I will try to run it and improve my time on my next trek to the mountain.

Resting and Looking Around the Scenery On Top of Mt Taklang Damulag

As per gathered by my GF 305, the highest peak has an elevation of 409 meters with a route distance of 2.7 kilometers from Fernandez Hill. It is a short course and a very low mountain but if you think of going up to this mountain for four times in a single event, then you have a very high mountain!

Now, I am thinking of a short trail running event which is dubbed as “Mt Taklang Damulag 5.4K Challenge” !



Even if my Garmin Forerunner 305 has Interval Workout
feature which up to now I don’t really even know how it is operated, I still
bought a Gymboss which I could easily clip on my running shorts or gym workout
pants or just simply place it on a table or any part of the room if I want to
use it.

While I was visiting the ARC Store in Manila last April, I
was trying to look for a pedometer or any gadget that would count my steps/cadence
while walking/hiking or running. Instead of looking for one, my eyes caught the
colorful Gymboss gadget displayed on one of the walls of the store. I
immediately lifted one of the units and tried to read the instructions on how
to use it.

Such visit in the said store ended buying a silver colored
Gymboss with a price of P 1,275.00. You might be surprised why I bought this
small gadget impulsively and without any hesitation.

An Exact Replica of my GYMBOSS

The main reason why I bought the Gymboss was to use it in my
“Tabata” workouts for push-ups, sit-ups, strengthening workouts (yoga and
pilates) and dumdbell exercises at home.

Anyone can easily operate the Gymboss by selecting the
times/periods involved in my Tabata workouts to include the time of the
exercise, time of rest in-between exercise, the number of frequency, and the
selection whether you prefer a beep sound or vibration mode for the start and
end of every interval.

To give you an example of what I’ve been doing in my Tabata
workouts—I set the Gymboss for a duration of 40 seconds for me to do any kind
of exercise (push-ups, sit-ups, yoga/pilates pose, or strengthening exercises
using the dumdbell or any weight machine) and then set one-half of the duration
of my exercise as my rest interval which is 20 seconds. As a minimum of set of
intervals, I set 20 times which take exactly 20 minutes to do one set or cycle
of my exercises. In between intervals, the Gymboss would beep to warn the user
that it is the end/start of an interval period.

For almost three months, I’ve been using the Gymboss
purposely for my Tabata workouts and later for my daily 10-minute squat workout.
But it can be used also for running and cycling.

In running, one can use it for speed interval workouts at
the oval track and also with the Jeff Galloway method of running where one
could set the period of running and walking on interval mode.

GYMBOSS For Jeff Galloway's Running Method

In cycling, the Gymboss can be used in interval workouts in
actual road cycling and on stationary bike if you want spinning workouts.

I highly recommend GYMBOSS to any endurance athlete.
Hopefully, ARC Manila has still stock available for everybody interested to own
this gadget.

Running Season

Do we have a “running season” in the Philippines?

Do you prepare and train for a particular race during this supposed “running season” in the country?

Are runners and race organizers observe this supposed to be “running season” in the country?

If your answer to these questions is NO, then, we have to find out what is the appropriate “running season” for the country.

In countries where they have four seasons—spring, summer, autumn, and winter—they usually start their running season during spring time up to the end of autumn. Runners usually recover during winter time when it is hard and cold to be running with sleet and snow on the roads and trails. They usually recover, re-charge, rest, or do indoor cross-training activities just to maintain a physically fit body. So, if you observe the race schedules of popular marathon races in these countries, they are scheduled from the end of spring up to the end of autumn (Ex. Boston Marathon in April and New York City Marathon on the 1st week of November). The same is true with the popular mountain trail endurance runs and the more extreme running events (Ex. Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run on the last weekend of June and Badwater Ultramarathon on the 2nd week of July).

In the Philippines, we have only two distinct seasons–wet and dry seasons, which means that we have 6 months of wet/rainy season and another 6 months of dry/hot season. Rainy season starts in the month of June and ends on the last week of November and the Dry season starts in December and ends on the last week of May.

If you think that the 6 months of the dry season would be the appropriate “running season” for the country, you could be slightly wrong. The first 3 months (December, January, and February) are the coldest months of the year but it is followed with the very hot months of March, April, and May where Race Organizers should start their races very early in the morning.

So, based on my observation, the appropriate “running season” for the country would be the period from the first week of December up to the last week of February.

If you are a smart runner, you have to follow a “running season” where all your training and preparations are geared and focused to races (marathon, half-marathon and ultra runs) scheduled in the months of December, January, and February. Make the other scheduled races in the remaining months as part of your your training and evaluation workouts. Also, make the first three months of the rainy season (June, July, & August) as your rest & recovery months or start of your aerobic endurance phase.

On the financial side, if you are preparing for a certain race on the suggested “running season”, you will be saving a lot of unnecessary registration fees to unnecessary weekend races which are not part of your training and evaluation program for a certain race. Be smart, be simple and focused to a particular race where your target goal is realistic and attainable.

This is just a personal advise and please feel free to make your own suggestions through your comments on your thoughts about our country’s “running season”.

2011 Takbo Runfest 16K

Respect and Loyalty. These are the two basic words that explain why I decided to run this 3rd edition of this running event which commemorates the 3rd Anniversary of had been the No. 1 Running resource here in the country and it is very instrumental in spreading the awareness of long distance running to everybody. had done a wonderful job for the past 3 years. Thanks to Jinoe & Quennie Gavan and to the rest of the members for their dedication to running.

My attendance to this event could not be possible without the help of Jonel/FrontRunner Magazine who reacted to my call for a Race Packet as I was not able to register for this race due to my long stay abroad. Thanks, Jonel and I know already whom to call if ever I decide to run shorter races in the future.

BR as Patagonia Model

At 4:55 AM, I was already at the Starting area and I observed the usual festive mood in road races done in Metro Manila. I think the last race that I joined with this kind of atmosphere was the Condura Marathon last February. I just smiled and try to compare the simplicity of my ultra races and to the rest of the road races that are done in the city. However, it is a must to have such festive mood to give justice to all the corporate sponsors that supported the event and at the same time “prep” the runners before the start of the race.

After almost 5 months of absence in road races in Metro Manila, old and new runners would greet me that would end up for photo-ops. It was nice to see friends whom I’ve been running with for the past 3-4 years. I was able to observe that there are new faces in running in different forms and sizes. This is a good indication that more of our countrymen are getting aware of adhering to a healthy lifestyle through long distance running.

My attendance to this race, aside from being seen and meeting old and new friends, was purposely used as my formal “comeback” run after recovering from an injury. It was also my intension to use the 16K race as my slow long distance run as part of my new training.

Easy Running

My new training program (on experimentation) is basically based on my Heart Rate Monitor (heart’s beats per minute). The goal is to be able to maintain an Average Heart Rate of 132-142 beats per minute during the run in order to develop my aerobic endurance base. Translating this to my average running pace, it is very, very, slow that I would end up brisk walking in some segments of the course.

The race started on time and I was at the back of the whole pack once all the runners cleared the starting line. I was wearing two watches: Garmin Forerunner 305 on my left wrist and a Timex Watch with Heart Rate Monitor on my right wrist. My heart rate started at 122 bpm and gradually increased up to 135 bpm. During the run, I kept on glancing on my right wrist just to be sure that my heart rate monitor will not spike to 160 bpm.

By strictly observing my HR throughout the race, I was able to observe all the things that were going on, from the front/lead runners all the way to the last runners! Through the different turn-around points, I was able to greet and see more runners which I’ve never done before in my previous races. I guess, my new training brought me another view and perspective on how to observe the conduct of races and at the same time being seen by everybody.

BR with Barefoot Runner

Another aspect that resulted in this race was the fact that I had a lot of conversations with new runners at the back of the pack whose main purpose in joining the race was to be able to finish it. I came to realize that I was also a runner trying to inspire and motivate people at the back to finish the race, not through my posts in this blog, but also in “action” in road races! This another definition of running as fun!

Having Fun With The "Bald Runners" of Team Kamote

Special mention goes to Team Kamote Runners who were with me at the back of the whole pack. This team is awesome and a happy group that they run and finish together as a group/team. I enjoyed staying with this group from Km 8-12! See you in my ultra races!

A road race is not successful without the volunteers. I am happy to note that the ultra runners from the 1st  generation of members were in full force as volunteers along the way as marshals, cheerers, and photographers. Guys, you are the best!

Having Fun With Runners At The Back of the Pack

Who cares about the finish time and PR for the race if you are following a new training program that would result to an injury-free running career for the years to come? But for the record, I crossed the finish line in 2:34+ hours (my GF time) with a bonus of 500+ meters. Yes, I was able to maintain an average heart rate of 132-142 bpm throughout the race and I really enjoyed the company of runners as well as the volunteers.

Based from my GF data and consistent to my new training, I usually cover 6.22 kilometers every hour with an average HR of 142 bpm. Translated to ultra run pace, you can easily finish a 100-mile endurance within the cut off time of 30-32 hours if you have the patience to follow this kind of new training. However, due to the heat and humidity in the country, I could run and walk slower at 5.66 kilometers per hour and still maintaining my average HR at 132-142 bpm.

This is the reason why I discovered a formula for the most relaxing cut-off time in my ultra races. Divide 5.66 kilometers by the distance of the race and you have your prescribed cut-off time!

Congratulations to for another successful event! Happy 3rd Year Anniversary!

See you on the roads and trails!

(Note: Whoever posted the pictures above at FB, my special thanks to you, guys!)

Conversation With A Senator

After a brief period at the Finish Area of the 2011 Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run and after an overnight stay at Rocklin, California, I decided to travel to Las Vegas, Nevada on the following day. My car’s GPS guided me for a 9-hour driving from North to South along Highway 99 and ultimately arriving at The Strip just in time for dinner.

Senator Frank Drilon & BR @ TUMI Store (Premium Outlet), Las Vegas

There are only two (2) things that I like to do in Las Vegas—Shopping and Eating. Since I am not fond of gambling (due to lack of money! hehehe!), I’d rather spend my money to some of my new line of running apparel and hiking needs. Well, my favorite places to shop are the Premium Outlets in key cities where I visit. For Las Vegas, it has two (2) Premium Outlets, one is located on the North side of The Strip and the other one is at the Southern end of the same Strip. Aside from having all the branded stores in one place, the prices of items are discounted and far cheaper than the goods you buy in Shopping Malls.

The North Premium Outlet had just opened at 10:00 AM and I was with my wife going around the shops. Just for curiosity, I entered the TUMI Store to find out the Sale Price of my TUMI Backpack which I bought from Rustan’s three years ago. Well, for a discounted price at an Outlet Store, the same backpack sells at $285.00 (exclusive of 7.5% sales tax). Not bad.

As I looked around the store, I saw a popular face and figure in Philippine Politics and boldly said something to get the attention of the person. The conversation went this way:

Bald Runner: Senator, Kumusta po? (How are you?)

Senator Drilon: (Surprised to hear a Tagalog words in Las Vegas) Ha? Mabuti naman.

BR: Nasa recess ba ngayon ang Senate, Senator?

SD: Ah..Oo

BR: E, di bale walang Senate Investigation ngayon sa atin?

SD: (Smiling) Wala!…Taga-rito ka ba?

BR: Hindi po. Pareho tayong nagbabakasyon dito! (Of course, I was smiling, too!) I came here to watch the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Trail Run in Auburn, California.

SD: (With facial expression of being confused to hear strange words from me which are non-political terms) Ahhhh…

BR: Sir, this is an extreme sports event in running on mountain trails which I want to introduce in our country. By the way, I am Retired General Jovie Narcise of the Philippine Army and now the President of the Philippine Association of Ultrarunners, our national sports federation on ultrarunning.

SD: (Looking at me intently from foot to head) When did you retire and what was your last post/designation?

BR: Senator, I retired from the active military service in May 2008 at the age of 56 and I had been promoting running and other long endurance runs as part of healthy lifestyle and well-being among our countrymen for the past 4 years. My last assignment was in your province/region as the Commander of the 3rd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army based in Jamindan, Capiz (Panay Island) for almost 1 1/2 years.

SD: That’s nice to hear.

BR: By the way, Senator, I have with me my wife who is a Registered Nurse in California (pointing my open palm to my wife who was holding my digital camera).

SD: (Smiling at my wife) Kumusta po kayo?

My wife just smiled and nodded at the good Senator.

BR: Sir, would you mind if my wife would take a picture of us here inside the TUMI Store?

SD: Yes, of course!

BR: Sir, once I get back to Manila, I will pay a courtesy call to you in your office at the Senate and present a copy of the said picture as a proof that we met here in Las Vegas. Maybe, I will have the opportunity to brief you about my advocacies in order to promote wellness and healthy lifestyle to our people through running and other endurance sports. I hope the good Senator will be able to support such advocacies and sports events.

SD: Yes, by all means! You can visit me anytime.

BR: Thank you very much, Senator!

The photo-ops was done and I gave Senator Drilon my personal Call Card. And later asked the Senator for us to leave the store ahead of him.

On a personal note, I was wearing a linen short pants with a Zion National Park Souvenir Shirt and driving shoes. Maybe, the good Senator was surprised to see a retired General wearing a casual wear appropriate for a temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit in Las Vegas.

Well, the Bald Runner knows how to blend with the crowd!

Now that I am back in Metro Manila, it’s time to print the picture above and set an appointment with the good Senator!

Result: PAU Fort Magsaysay 60K Ultra Run

The following is the Official Result of the PAU Fort Magsaysay 60K Ultra Road Race from Fort Magsaysay, Palayan City to Dingalan, Aurora on July 16, 2011.

Rank Name Time Points
1 Dick Balaba 6:25:46 60
2 Junrox Roque Jr 6:32:11 59.08
3 Gene Olvis 6:36:02 58.45
4 Alfred De Los Reyes 7:04:58 54.49
5 Jose Duenas 7:08:47 54.03
6 Tina Narvaez (F) 7:16:51 53
7 Bert Camangonan 7:21:25 52.43
8 Chito Vegim 7:37:28 50.6
9 Deo Jaravata 7:41:59 50.1
10 Salvador Castilla Jr 7:47:33 49.52
11 Randy Rubio 7:51:44 49.08
12 Magno Rafael Gabotero 7:52:36 49.02
13 Jerome Bautista 7:54:18 48.81
14 Graciano Santos Jr 7:54:37 48.77
15 Simon Favel Miranda 7:55:01 48.73
16 Jonel Mendoza 7:59:37 48.26
17 Keshia Fule (F) 8:02:57 47.92
18 Elmer Tolete 8:07:11 47.51
19 Paolo Osmena 8:07:39 47.46
20 Frederick Quitiquit 8:13:33 46.9
21 Carlos De Los Santos 8:21:04 46.19
22 Ronnel Go 8:23:40 45.96
23 Junn Besana 8:27:49 45.58
24 Allan Martos 8:37:13 44.75
25 Roberto De Los Santos 8:37:25 44.74
26 Victor Verry 8:41:43 44.37
27 Gil Brazil 8:42:17 44.32
28 Allen Gaspar 8:52:30 43.47
29 Christian Oting 8:52:50 43.44
30 Jose Cando 8:56:50 43.12
31 Jael Wenceslao 8:56:52 43.1
32 Emerson Sto. Domingo 9:03:21 42.6
33 Kharl Ocampo 9:05:44 42.41
34 Ceasar Aquino 9:05:57 42.4
35 Bong Bernadez 9:08:11 42.22
36 Kokoy Delmo 9:08:12 42.21
37 Ferdie Cabiling 9:10:07 42.07
38 David Buban 9:15:25 41.68
39 Rodel Montejo 9:15:34 41.66
40 Jose Lorenzo Mina 9:15:40 41.65
41 Wilfredo Parcon 9:16:00 41.63
42 Jerome Aragones 9:16:17 41.61
43 Arnel Vizmonte 9:16:47 41.57
44 Nuestro Arman Garcia 9:17:54 41.49
45 Camilo Paran Jr 9:18:10 41.47
46 Julius Savella 9:19:32 41.37
47 Chaps Grande 9:24:31 41
48 Mel Severino 9:25:27 40.93
49 Chito Carrion 9:26:01 40.89
50 Emilio Hulipas 9:28:00 40.75
51 Edward Villareal 9:29:54 40.61
52 Irene Ong (F) 9:30:08 40.6
53 Mac Millan 9:31:26 40.51
54 Vans Camano 9:32:13 40.45
55 Ricardo Cabusao Jr 9:33:59 40.33
56 George Dolores 9:34:06 40.32
57 Anthony Alindada 9:35:37 40.21
58 Junar Layug 9:36:41 40.14
59 Camilo Kagaoan Jr 9:38:48 39.99
60 Fernando Sy Jr 9:38:48 39.99
61 Steve Paul Dumlao 9:40:33 39.87
62 Julius Cervantes 9:43:54 39.64
63 Francis Frio 9:52:17 39.08
64 Ronel Gallardo 10:01:01 38.54
65 June Villamor 10:01:04 38.52
66 Randy Racho 10:01:05 38.51
67 Alladin Cordero 10:01:32 38.5
68 Nelson Anthony Malillim 10:01:39 38.48
69 Cesar Abarientos 10:02:35 38.41
70 Rod Apolinario 10:03:29 38.35
71 Gaphet Grande 10:05:42 38.21
72 Art Virata 10:06:46 38.15
73 Ofelia Lorete (F) 10:07:45 38.1
74 Jake Pescador 10:08:27 38.04
75 Bee Yen Soberano 10:10:08 37.94
76 Bart Torralba 10:13:09 37.75
77 Vic Topacio 10:13:18 37.74
78 Alex Jonesy Jones 10:13:19 37.74
79 Michael Joseph Ko 10:15:37 37.6
80 Ronald Illana 10:17:35 37.48
81 Marvin Pangan 10:22:41 37.17
82 Mar Marilag 10:27:08 36.91
83 Ed Escalante 10:33:21 36.55
84 Wesley Orana 10:37:36 36.3
85 Janus Ajusto 10:39:11 36.21
86 Carmeli Ortega (F) 10:40:50 36.12
87 Erlinda Pamesa 10:42:40 36.02
88 Larry Daliwag 10:42:42 36.01
89 Nap Ocampo Jr 10:42:45 36
90 Ronel Espinoza 10:43:12 35.98
91 Harold Lorete 10:43:47 35.95
92 Joseph Ligot 10:44:01 35.94
93 Sherwin Botabara 10:46:02 35.83
94 Andy Joshua Oting 10:49:05 35.66
95 Jerome Jamili 10:51:28 35.53
96 Marco Christopher Montaos 10:52:55 35.45
97 Jonly Sabaricos 10:53:50 35.4
98 Sammy Delena 10:54:10 35.38
99 Emil Perez 10:56:34 35.25
100 Carlo Serrano 10:56:38 35.24
101 Eric Caramay 10:56:55 35.23
Finishers After Cut-Off Time
102 Vince Rodriguez 11:21:16
103 Garry Garcia 11:24:48
104 John Paul Bautista 11:25:53
105 Zaldy Santillan 11:43:14
106 Mark David Aquino 12:53:10
107 Ellen Castillo (F) 12:55:46
108 Brandy Simbe 13:22:18
109 Dindo Magallanes 14:19:30

Conversation With A Champion

One hour before the first runner to arrive at the Finish Line of the 2011 Western States 100-Mile Endurance Race, I was already on the gallery/grandstand area of the Placer High School Oval Track which is a few feet away from the finish arc. Volunteers for the race were mixed with lots of spectators whom I believed were family, friends, and other ultra runners from all over the neighboring States in USA and from other countries around the world.

As soon as the Emcee, John Medinger, publisher & editor-in-chief of Ultrarunning Magazine, announced that Kilian Jornet was a few meters aways from the entrance of the Oval Track, I purposely went down to the sides of the Finish Arc and positioned myself on the left side of the gallery.

I was standing on the gallery and on my left was a guy who was wearing a Hawaiian Shirt and denim pants. There was no way that I could see his frontal appearance as we were standing side by side. As soon as Kilian Jornet crossed the Finish Line, I must have said something about the physical description of the Champion. In my recollection, I might have said, “He’s small as an ultrarunner”! And then the guy on my left said something and our conversation started.

I will mention him in our conversation as the Hawaiian Guy and our conversation went this way. (Actually, he did almost all the talking and I could hardly comprehend/understand some lines that he said. I hope I can accurately relate what transpired in that brief talk with this guy).

Hawaiian Guy: Kilian Jornet is a kind and sweet person. We had been “twitting” with each other months before this race. I knew what he went through in his training and preparation.

Bald Runner: He’s too small and light to be an ultrarunner. He came prepared for this year!

HG: Kilian Jornet is a honest man and he was very transparent on his preparations towards this prestigious event.

BR: Yes, I’ve seen his Kilian Quest Videos in the Internet and he is really good. And he has the full support of Salomon.

Our conversation was interrupted with the announcements of the Emcee and some moments of taking some pictures of the Champion. As the second runner, Mike Wolfe, crossed the finish line, we continued our conversation.

The guy kept on talking about the challenges and the hardships that the elite and the average runners had gone through in their training and most of all, to come up with their respective goal in finishing the race on hand. I just kept nodding my head and sending the message to the guy that I understood all the things that he was teling me.

And suddenly, I’ve asked the following questions:

BR: Did you have the chance to participate in this race? Are you waiting for a particular runner to arrive at the Finish Line?

HG: I finished this race for THREE times! And this is the only time I came to be an spectator in this race for the past 22 years. I was the CHAMPION in the 1989 Edition and my name is Mark Brotherton! This is the old WS 100 Belt Buckle that I won as the Champion then. (Showing me his BIG Champion SILVER WS100 Belt Buckle as he turned his body to his right!)

BR: Ohhh…Wow!!! Awesome!!! (Surprised with BIG eyes!!!) I am Jovie and I am from Manila, Philippines. This is my first time to watch this event and see the terrain of the route. I came here to run for MIWOK 100 but I was injured and I extended my stay here to see the real action of the top ultra trail runners in this event.

Mark Brotherton: Very nice! I have friends who are Filipinos and they are the “best” Registered Nurses in the whole world. As a Medical Doctor, I’ve worked with them. They are kind, loyal and industrious. Do you have plans of participating in this race in the future?

BR: Thanks for that nice compliment to our nurses. Well…I hope I am still strong to finish a 100-mile run in 30 hours with my age of 60 years old by next year. I have to qualify first. I have to improve my 50-mile finish time.

MB: You can finish it. Just prepare and train for it. Wait…I think there is a famous ultramarathon race in the Philippines which I discovered while I was browsing the Internet 2-3 nights ago. I think…it’s the BATAAN DEATH MARCH!!!!

BR: (Surprised…Smiling…with both Eyes wide-open!) Oh, yes…we have that race in the Philippines and I am the Creator and Race Director of the said event and we had this year’s 3rd edition last March. This year, we did the first BDM 100-Mile Run where the finish line is the very same place where the POWs Concentration Camp was located in Camp ODonnell, Tarlac.

MB: Wow! It’s a honor to meet you!

BR: It’s my pleasure also to meet and talk to a Legend and Champion of the Western States 100!

MB: We have to look where Kilian Jornet is right now and I have to meet him.

BR: OK, I have to look for my wife, too! And then try to have a picture with Kilian.

As we were going on a separate direction, Mark said something which I could vaguely understand…but there were words which I could understand.

Mark Brotherton: Jovie, thanks for the conversation. I hope you will not say I am “Mr GAGO” if you relate this story to your friends.

Bald Runner: No! I will not do that! Bye..Thanks! (At the back of my mind, I was thinking that Mark B must be fluent in Tagalog as he is associated with Filipino nurses in the hospital. Well, I just said to myself…if there is “LADY GAGA”, why not for a “GENTLEMAN GAGO” as a name of a male singer? hahaha! I am sure, he should be a Pinoy!)

As soon as I was back at the Hotel, I immediately opened my laptop and browsed the Internet to find out more about Mark Brotherton. This is what the results are: 1985 WS 100; 1987 WS 100; and 1989 WS 100.

As the Champion in the 1989 edition of the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Race, his finish time was 16:53:39 hours. In this year’s edition, his time would land on the 13th position which is still considered as solid, heroic, fast, and strong finish.

He is now one of my “friends” on Facebook and we exchange “comments” with one another. I know he will be the first one who will read this post as soon as I publish it.

With his permission, I am posting some of his pictures that I “grabbed” from his Profile at Facebook.

Janelle & Mark Brotherton (Note: The Hawaiian Shirt & WS100 Silver Buckle)
WS 100 Champion Mark Brotherton In Action

Yes, he is also sporting a “Bald” look!!!

This confirms my theory (again??) that “Bald Runners” are the best Ultra Runners!!!! (Joke!)


If you are familiar or have a GPS gadget in your car or in your iPhone/Android Apps (not in your Garmin Forerunner watch), you would know about the word.

Once you set your destination on the said GPS and push the button “GO”, you are “locked” to the said place and the GPS will do the rest for you by taking the fastest route (or sometimes, the less traffic route) and it will lead you exactly to your destination. However, if you miss a street or a turn, a voice of a lady would be be audible and you would hear the word, “recalculating”!

The word, Recalculating, will warn you that your GPS will correct your mistake and finally, bring you on course to your destination.

At this point in my running career as an average runner, I am on a “recalculating” mode after missing a “turn” or missing an “exit” along the highway. In long distance running, those “missed turns and exits” could be similar to mistakes in training; injury; plateau in competition; wrong choice of running shoes and apparel; wrong coach; wrong attitude; wrong company of running friends; wrong goals/objectives; boredom; wrong values; wrong choice of races; wrong focus; or simply, wrong choice of living the life!

So, “recalculating” mode would mean to me as rest and recovery; change in training; change in one’s strategy in racing, nutrition & hydration; changes in Race Directing; changing in one’s attitude; changing one’s values; changing one’s outlook in life; or simply said, completely “overhaul” of what I’ve learned and doing before. Recalculating is Changing!

With my running and preparation for my next race, I have embarked on a different approach which I’ve been doing for the past one week. This kind of training will take me at least 3 months to determine and test if it is working for me. I hope that the duration of 3 months would completely bring back my aerobic endurance base. I really need PATIENCE in this kind of training.

Give me three (3) months before I could post in this blog if I am improving or not. Knowing that running is an experiment of one, I hope this kind of training approach and philosophy will guide me towards more years of living and be able to fulfill my “dreams and bucket list” in running. (Note: It does not mean that I will be out from blogging from those 3 months!)

Let us find time to think and ponder on the quotation below:

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself”—-Tolstoy

“Hi-Tech” In Ultra Running

Just like in any sport, technology is coming into play as an edge over your opponent or competitor. In endurance sports like long distance running/ultra marathon runs, technology plays on the runner’s kit (shoes and apparel), nutrition, and hydration. This is in addition with the technology devoted on the running form and body/physical structure of the runner; and other training-related “ways and means” in order to win in a certain race.

In the newly-concluded Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run, interest had been focused on the training/preparation and the equipment/kit & nutrition that the Champion, Kilian Jornet, had used during the race. On the training/preparation, we all know that Kilian Jornet had been all around Europe and the world, so to speak, since his 3rd finish in last year’s Western States 100 to compete in ultra trail races and documenting his “Kilian Quest” as sponsored by Salomon. Last May, 5 weeks before the WS 100, he won and registered a course record for the TNF 100K in Australia.

Kilian's Shorts & Shirt (A close-up with my picture with him reveals its Gel pockets) Source:

In his attire during this year’s WS 100, we was wearing a loose “muscle shirt-type” upper attire which is colored white and combined with a loose trail shorts which has an inseam of about 3-4 inches. But if you noticed closely the upper white portion of his shorts, you could see a belt-type pocket all-around his waist where you can see GU Gels in it. It appears that the belt/waist portion of the shorts is lined-up with secret pockets where the runner can store/carry gels or powdered electrolytes. Wearing loose apparel was a way to solve the the hot temperature on the canyons along the route of the race.

I did not see Kilian using a hydration bottle when he reached the Placer Oval Track. He was not holding anything during his last 300 meters to the finish line. However, in his pre-interviews, he stated that Salomon had made a special hand glove water bottles for him which he can hold while running. Kilian was a victim of lack of hydration and electrolytes on the last quarter part of last year’s WS 100 as he experience muscle cramps. As you can see in his first attempt in the WS 100, he was not holding or wearing a hydration system during the race.

In an article at, the hand glove bottles were featured as shown below:

Hand Gloves With Water Bottles & Food Bars (Source:

As for the running shoes, he used the lightest Salomon Trail Shoes which is considered as a prototype to be tested in the said race.

Salomon Trail Shoes (Source:

And he was running without any socks!!!

Looking at the physical structure of Kilian, he was very light in weight. His height could be 5 feet and 6 inches with a weight of about 130-135 pounds. Using the lightest apparel and equipment and proper nutrition and hydration, could result to a well-trained and prepared athlete for the Championship in this race.

Of course, he has the Salomon Team on his “back and sides” to fully support and finance him just to be able to win the most prestigious 100-Mile Trail Run in Northern America.

This is an example and mark of what we call, “Sports Excellence”.

If you are wondering at what age he started to be trained and his exploits in the past, you can read his story and other related topics about him at

On the latest interview of Kilian Jornet after his win in the WS 100, you can read about his insights here at Running Times.