I call the place where I train in my trail running as my “playground”. My “playground” consists of five different areas and I call each one of these areas by an specific name. The first area where I started training was called “Brown Mountain” and it was a 7-kilometer, one-way up to the mountain and then I would go down back to where I started, to complete 14 kilometers. Way back then, I was using the metric system of distance on my Garmin GPS Watch. During those times, I was not particularly interested with the vertical distance or total elevation gain in my runs.
The second area was called “Django’s Place” which was discovered by my Team Bald Runner’s Elite. My elite runners would go the Hut or house of a man and his wife living in the mountain whom they call as “Django”. They would call him that name because he is fond of riding on his horse when he harvests banana blossoms in the mountain. He had a lot of horses and goats to tend in the mountain. When I started running on this course, I had started using the English unit of distance and it has 4 miles from the start. Through the years, I could extend it to 5 miles or 6 miles depending on where I would make my turn-around point. Usually, I would run 4 miles up and then go back to where I have started to complete 8 miles. The total elevation gain would be 1,700+ feet.
The third area is called “Playground Alpha” which is a very challenging route for a new trail runner. One complete loop would cover 25 kilometers or 15-16 miles and has a total elevation gain of almost 4,000+ feet. This was my daily playground when I started to have a 3-month training schedule from an Ultramarathon Coach. This is where I became a very strong trail runner considering that I was already a Senior Citizen at the age of 61.
The fourth area is called “Playground Bravo” which is more challenging than Playground Alpha. It is also an “out and back” route where the turn-around point is the peak of Mt Natib. One-way distance is 25 kilometers, going back to where I started would cover 50 kilometers. The total elevation gain for the whole distance of 50 kilometers would reach up to 9,000+ feet. Seldom that I would go to the peak of Mt Natib as I would make my turn-around at the camp area where the assault to the peak of Mt Natib would start. Sometimes, I would make my turn-around at the Binutas Area, a one-way distance of 22 kilometers. I usually my longer hikes/LSD on this route when my training schedule demands 22 miles or more!
The fifth area is called “Playground Charlie” or “Mt Roosevelt Assault” or” Mt Roosevelt Double Traverse” which is considered a short but the most challenging course as my playground. From the start to the peak of Mt Roosevelt has 4 miles with a total elevation gain of 2,200+ feet. I usually reach the peak by hiking in 2 to 2:15 hours. But my best record to reach the peak by mixing running and hiking is 1:42+ hours. If I traverse the mountain and go down on the other side of the mountain, I would register 6.8 miles. So, if I “double-traverse” the mountain, I would register a total distance of 13.6 miles with a total elevation gain of 4,200+ feet. In my preparation for the 2015 Trans Lantau 100K, I would do single traverse of the mountain and do some runs and hikes to “Playground Alpha & Bravo”. However, in the 2016 edition of Trans Lantau 100K, I concentrated my training on Mt Roosevelt alone, doing more “double-traverse” runs and hikes. I felt stronger and faster on my race because these workouts! Lately, I have done a “quadruple traverse” on Mt Roosevelt with a little variation where I must miss the flatter sections on the turn-around points to make my second double-traverse shorter by 1-2 miles. I could register 24 miles and a total elevation gain of almost 8,500+ feet. This “quadruple traverse” made my previous finish at the 3rd Tarak Ridge 25K Trail Run two weeks ago, to be an easy race!
For the past months as preparation for the last year’s Clark-Miyamit 50-Mile Trail Run and my next month’s participation in the Tarawera 102K Trail Run in Routora, New Zealand, I have concentrated my training at “Django’s Place” for my trail tempo runs and at “Playground Charlie”/Mt Roosevelt Assault/Double-Traverse/Quadruple-Traverse for my long hikes and runs which would last from 4 to 8 hours, to include “night runs”.
I hope my training in my playground would give me the strength to finish the Tarawera 102K Trail Run and other Trail Ultra Races in the future.