Repost: Copied From the Facebook Page of the International Association Of Ultrarunners (IAU)
2018 IAU 24H Asia & Oceania Championship Race Report
Japan dominated 2018 IAU 24 hour Asia & Oceania Championship. Yuri Matsumoto (219.112 km) and Yoshihiko Ishikawa (253.420 km) both from Japan took home gold medals in individual competition. They lead both teams for double gold medals at Team competition with Women aggregated result of 620.181 km and Men 752.474 km. This was fantastic event.
The championship took place on December 1st-2nd at Soochow University, Taipei in conjunction with the Soochow 24 Hour race, this year celebrating its 18th edition. The race was organized on 400 m track. The LOC had few international invitees for the open race. Among them was a 27 years old Ivan Penelba Lopez from Spain participating in open race who took early lead in the race. He was running superbly and managed to lead the races during entire 24 hours. Finally reaching over 258 km he was over 5 km ahead of Championship winner Yoshihiko Ishikawa (JPN). Ivan builds secured lead over the time and kept lead over the track at Soochow University.
In the Championship from early hours there were few nations running together. The majority were from Mongolia, Japan and Australia. After 6 hour in the lead we had 3 runners from Mongolia and Japan, 2 from Australia and India. All of them being within 4 km distance. Slowly over time stinging was changing in favour of runners from Japan, Australia and India. However other runners kept very good pace. After 12 hours in top 5 we had 3 runners from Japan and one form Australia and India.
Top 5 men after 12H
NARAKI, Toshiro (JPN) 135.600 km
ISHIKAWA, Yoshihiko (JPN) 133.600 km
TAKAHASHI, Nobuyuki (JPN) 131.200 km
THWAITES, Michael (AUS) 128.400 km
HOSAHALLI NARAYANA, Ullas (IND) 125.947 km
It was very similar in women competition. Runners from Mongolia had a very strong opening but after 12 hours we did not have as strong domination as in men field. There were two ladies from Japan, one from Australia, New Zealand and Mongolia.
Top 5 women after 12H
HAYVICE, Fiona (NZL) 121.481 km
AOTANI, Mizuki (JPN) 120.000 km
JONES, Tia (AUS) 118.227 km
GANBAATAR, Uugantuya (MGL) 118.175 km
MATSUMOTO, Yuri (JPN) 116.800 km
The next few hours settle the standing in both competitions. Men field was led by 3 Japanese where in women Tia Jones from Australia was leading the pack. It was not over yet, especially in women competition as after 18 hours there were only few meters difference between Tia (AUS) and Fiona Hayvice (NZL) and least than 1.5 km among all top 4 ladies.
When we were getting closed to the end it was more and more exciting as all top runners were in striking distance from each other especially in women competition. In the last 3 hours Yuri from Japan joined the battle with Tia from Australia over 1st place. There was only 600 m difference between both ladies.
In men competition Yoshihiko from Japan has a solid lead of 5.6 km over second teammate Nobuyuki. Ullas from India was just 140m behind second place and it was still 2.5h to go. Finally the standing remains unchanged for men but all three were close to each other and over 250 km.
In women competition Yuri final manage to build a gap and secure gold medal. Second place after a long lead and battle went to Tai from Australia and bronze to Aiko from Japan.
ISHIKAWA, Yoshihiko (JPN) 253.420 km
TAKAHASHI, Nobuyuki (JPN) 252.301 km
HOSAHALLI NARAYANA, Ullas (IND) 250.371 km
NARAKI, Toshiro (JPN) 246.753 km
HORSBURGH, Ewan (AUS) 235.771 km
MATSUMOTO, Yuri (JPN) 219.112 km
JONES, Tia (AUS) 218.177 km
KANEMATSU, Aiko (JPN) 212.700 km
HAYVICE, Fiona (NZL) 202.320 km
TUFFERY, Dawn (NZL) 202.041 km
Japan 752.474 km
Australia 675.354 km
India 645.936 km
Japan 620.818 km
Australia 599.654 km
New Zealand 563.443 km
This is a great opportunity to thank LOC, Chinese Taipei Federation, other involved for hosting great continental championship.
Race Report: 8th Clark-Miyamit 50-Mile Ultra Trail Run (CM50)
The score is now 3-2! For the past six years since 2012, I finished successfully the Clark Miyamit 50-Mile Race for three consecutive years, starting when I just turned 60 years old. I was lost on the last 3 kilometers to the Finish Line in the 2016 edition missing the cut-off time where I could had finished it easily. And then I volunteered as the Aid Station Marshal at AS3 in last year’s edition as my way of giving back to the trail running community in the country.
In my past Race Reports of this event, I made sure my story to be detailed as I can remember so that future trail runners who would like to join and challenge themselves with this event had some background on what to expect along the route and get some lessons and tips about my training/preparation; nutrition and hydration strategy; and those detailed things on what to do if things would go wrong. Until this time, I would re-read and review all my previous posts about my Race Reports whenever I have plans of joining this event. The RD, Atty Jonnifer Lacanlale is a very good friend who would readily accepts me to run his event in a short notice.
As everybody knows, I posted on Facebook that I finished the race but beyond the cut-off time of 9+minutes and I am considered as an Official DNF of the event. Out of 205 starters, I could had been the last finisher at #162 ranking and would had defended my self-imposed title as the Oldest Finisher of this Badass Event. And I was devastated and frustrated once I crossed the finish line for not being able to implement on my Race Plan—reach the turn-around point/Peak before 9:00AM; leave AS 4 after coming from the Miyamit Falls on or before 12 Noon; reach AS3 at 1:30PM; and a “go-for-broke” and “survival” mode on the last 4:30 hours for a distance of 22+kilometers to the Finish Line.
I failed “big time” on the last section of the plan where I had 4:30 hours of time to run a distance of 22+kilometers. If I finished the race within the prescribed cut-off time of 18 hours, I would not be here explaining those things that went wrong during the run. I would have easily said that everything went right and mentioned some “glitches” that challenged me to endure in order to reach the finish line. The runners who were with me on our descent from AS4 and AS3 towards the Finish Line were surprised that I faltered on the last 19 kilometers (AS2) up to the last last 8 kilometers (AS1). With those who were with me “fighting for the last golden minutes” (I think there were 5-6 of them whom I passed on the last kilometers, who are younger), I am sorry for giving them a false expectation or hope of telling them that we could still make it before 6:00PM. What I was trying to instill in them was to fight for their last strength and breathe in order to cross the finish line….they should have the “do or die” attitude to reach and cross the finish line, end their suffering, and of course, collect their deposit of P500.00!
You might say that I am “sour-graping” or looking for some excuses for not being able to finish this race as what I had planned for. But this is me, I had been a runner throughout my life and a fighter and passionate in this sport. It is in my brain, blood, and my body system. Whether I fail or succeed, I will still be a runner. And this is what really happened…..
My Coach prepared a Training Schedule for me after finishing the Salomon Cappadocia 63K Medium Race (in the middle of October) in preparation for the MILO Finals Marathon which will be held on December 9, 2018 in Laoag City. I told him that I would like to finish my BQ time of 4:10 or faster for my age of 66 years old in the said race. So, since then, everything on my workout was for a Marathon distance. However, two weeks ago, I told him that I will be joining a 50-miler trail run and just be able to finish the event as an LSD. I lied on the reason! Actually, I was trying to earn my UTMB/ITRA Points in this event and maybe, improve on my ITRA Performance Index. He told me not to join the event but I could have the option to choose a lesser distance and I told him that I could downgrade to the 60K event. He replied that 60K was too much for me and he was against it. So, the only choice I had was for the 10-miler event which I did not mention to my Coach. For the past days, I just kept silent and followed my prescribed training every day but on two weekends before the CM50, I would increase the number of hours of hiking in the mountains with my trekking poles in the company of one of my ultra running friends who joined and successfully finished the 60K course. My Coach silently knew that I was “hard-headed” and he would see my posts on Facebook that I am going for the CM50. This was my first mistake…not following the advise of the Coach whom I am paying for his services. Lesson learned: Let the experts do their work and strictly follow their advise!
2. For the first time, I decided to use a HOKA One One Speedgoat2 for this race, instead of my New Balance or ASICS Racing Flats or my Salomon Speedcross 4 which I’ve been using before. At Kilometer #8, while approaching PUNING’s RESORT my left foot hit a small rock imbedded on the road and I tripped, making my left knee hit the ground first, and then my right knee, and then followed with my two hands which acted as my brace to protect my face from hitting the ground! It was a hard fall as the ground was hard and solid, not a sandy ground! Shit! This tripping/falling to the ground was happening again early in the race with a pair of HOKAs on my feet. This thing happens to me all the time whenever I wear these HOKAS! I knew it was going to happen because I am natural “shuffler” when I run! Even if I was wearing the brightest headlamp available in the market, Lupine Lighting System, at that time, a sloppy “shuffler” runner like me should not wear HOKAS in a trail race. The impact of the fall on my knees would bring back havoc and pain as I descended from the peak down to Barangay Sapang Uwak. Lesson learned: I should have used my Salomon Speedcross 4 or Speedcross PRO or my new NB Racing Flats!
3. I bought the most expensive Trekking Poles in the market——GIPRON Trekking Poles and they are the lightest! I used them once or twice in my short runs and they were fine. But during my ascent and descent to and from the Peak (during the race), they gave me some “pain in the ass” as the string would loosen its hold on the different segments of the pole. Instead of the usual 3 segments in the Black Diamond and Leki Poles, GIPRON are folded in 4 segments. I would stop whenever the segments would loosen as both poles create a weird sound as they hit the ground. I would tighten the string only to find it loosen again after a few meters. It was stop and go for me fixing on this problem. Because of this problem, it slowed me down and just distracted my focus to maintain my speed/pace. A lot of runners had passed me on my way down from the Peak to the Falls because of this predicament. After a day since the race, I sent a message to an ultra running friend in Hongkong and sent him a picture of the locking system of the GIPRON Trekking Pole and told him my experience during the race. He told me that the trekking poles were not LOCKED when I used them during the race. He instructed me to pull the string harder until I could see a small knot on the string and let that knot to be anchored on the slot at the top end part of the handle! Another SHIT again!!! I saw the small knot as I pulled the string harder away from the handle! I was cursing and laughing when my friend told me that “I was not the FIRST one who experienced this SHIT on these trekking poles!” Lesson learned: Ask the manufacturer of this expensive trekking poles to enclose some written instructions on the package whenever they ship out to their buyer! Not even the video on YouTube would tell you about the presence of this small knot (on the string) on these trekking poles!
4. Whether I apply Anti-Chafing Stick or “thing” on my Red Salomon S-LAB Sense Shorts or not, they still give me chafing on my groin areas! Yes, I have my chafing already as early when I was at Km 19 and it became worst when I was on my way back from the Peak. After the race, I could see the chafed areas as big as the size of a 10-Peso Coin on my left and right groin areas. When I finished the Salomon Cappadocia Ultra, I had the same chafed areas but they were not as deep and big; and did not give me so much pain during the race. Lesson learned: I should always bring an Anti-Chafing Stick as part of my Mandatory Gear for 50K and up races.
I did not have any problems with my nutrition and hydration strategy during the race. I had enough water, electrolytes, and “solid” foods with me stashed in my hydration vest’s pockets and inside the pockets of my AMIHAN GoLite Belt. My Ice Bandana was always full of ice whenever I stopped at the Aid Station. I don’t think I stayed so long in the Aid Stations as I would eat the prepared solid foods most specially at AS4 and 3 (on my way back to the Finish Line) which were manned by special friends in the ultra running community.
The Race Organization; Trail Markings; Aid Station Services; and the prevailing Weather during the race were the BEST, so far, in the history of this race. Thanks to Atty Jonnifer Lacanlale for this International Standard Badass Event and for his Outstanding Leadership to make this yet another successful event.
Congratulations to all the Runners! Hopefully, I will be strong enough to join in next year’s edition!
Sometime in August 2015, I featured Conrado “Jun” Bermudez, Jr in this blog as the First Filipino Runner/Ultrarunner to have finished a 200-Mile Mountain Trail Single-Stage Endurance Race at the Bigfoot 200-Mile Endurance Race in Washington State, USA. It was in the post in this blog where I wrote about his background and running accomplishments since he became a passionate runner. For this year, 2018, he finished the Ultimate Award in Ultrarunning in the United States which is the “Grand Slam of Ultrarunning” Eagle Award and I was able to send him an e-mail to congratulate him on this inspiring feat which is considered as a “dream” to be accomplished among the best ultarrunners in the world. I also sent him some questions to answer of which I am now publishing his answers in this blog.
BR: Congratulations on your 2018 US Grand Slam of Ultrarunning finish! That’s a huge accomplishment and biggest pride for being the First Filipino to receive the Eagle Award in Ultrarunning. You are now Finisher #354 out of the 363 Finishers of the GSU since this award was created in 1986.
As usual, hoping that you will have the time, I am sending you some questions for you to answer which I will publish in my blog. There is no deadline though as I know you are still resting and recovering.
Jun:Thank you for this opportunity to be included on your blog, sir. Thank you also for mentoring me when I started my ultrarunning way back in 2013. As a Filipino citizen, it is a great pleasure and honor to represent our country in this sporting event. My heartfelt gratitude to all the support!
As a 45 year-old runner, joining the Grand Slam was a no-brainer. There was no shadow of doubt not to join. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and this chance may not be available to me in the future. If it is going to happen by that time, I may not be physically that capable anymore for the challenge due to old age.
BR: What is your feeling now that you have finished the US Grand Slam of Ultraruning with an impressive time of 106:52:09 hours and the First Filipino to have received the prestigious Eagle Award in Ultrarunning?
Jun: I am deeply delighted and humbled to be part of this 32nd year of the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning, a special historical event in ultrarunning world. It still feels surreal that I was able to finish them and trace the footprints of the first finisher, Thomas Green, in 1986 and the grandfathers of the five 100 milers. These races are the oldest 100 milers in the US or probably in the world with the Old Dominion 100-Mille Cross Country Run for 40 years, Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run for 41 years (the oldest in the world), Vermont 100-Mile Endurance Run for 30 years, Leadville Trail 100 Run for 35 years, and the Wasatch Front 100-Mile Endurance Run for 38 years. Just to be entered in the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning events, itself, is a privilege. It takes a lot of luck in the lotteries (Western States 100, Leadville 100, Wasatch 100) to get entered in the same year. All of the races, except Wasatch 100, do not give provisional entry anymore. For non-lottery events, the Vermont 100 is a first-come-first-served basis and the registration sold out in less than 15 minutes when it opened, and the Old Dominion 100 got filled up weeks before the event date which normally did not happen in previous years. My success was not possible without the support of my friends and, of course, the encouragement, the love and understanding of my wife and my daughter.
BR: You are one of the few Eagle awardees who finished and completed the FIVE Races in a span of three months, what was your recovery in between these races?
Jun: The Grand Slam is arduous to complete. The three to four weeks of minimal time for recovery between races and the cumulative fatigue put so much toll on our body.
I ran two road marathons in April (Boston and New Jersey) prior to the Old Dominion 100 (02 June). I started my taper three weeks before the race day so my body could fully recover. In between races, my first week of recovery consisted of moderate stretching and no running, which were slow hiking and light spinning workout. For the first two days after the race, I was doing ice therapy on my feet to remove the inflammation. And mostly during the period, I was doing a dynamic compression of my legs to flush out waste and hasten muscular recovery. Also, I am sleeping with my legs elevated almost every night even when I am not on training because I spend so much time on my feet at work with the load (tactical gear) on my body. I was taking Essential Amino Acids (EAA’s) complex to include Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s) to stop muscle tissue breakdown and reduce muscle soreness. It would take three to four days after the race for my legs to feel fresh and pain-free again. I was also consistent with my bodyweight strength workouts all throughout the Grand Slam.
In the second week and onwards, my recovery usually started with 30 minutes of easy running then alternated the next days with spinning and short tempo or intervals (controlled pace) on the treadmill.
A week before race day, I spent most of the days resting and sleeping. My routine was
taking two nights of having eight to ten hours of sleep two to three nights before the event so I would regain my energy and not be sleepy during the race. Although my recovery plan was not perfectly executed, I was still able to prevent injury and was able bounce back to be prepared for another adventure, and nailed them one by one to enjoy the experience.
Below is the illustration of events with their respective dates:
Old Dominion (02 June, Saturday) > 3 weeks >
Western States (23 June, Saturday) > 4 weeks >
Vermont (21 July, Saturday) > 4 weeks >
Leadville (18 August, Saturday) > 3 weeks
Wasatch (07 September, Friday)
BR: It seems that you did not have any “issues or concerns/injury” in every race, how did you manage to fight the “demons” (heat, exhaustion, muscle cramps, if any, GI issues, altitude, and “bonking”) during these races? What was the “hardest race” in this series of race?
Jun: My body held up very well. I do not have injuries since I started running ultras in 2013 except for my sprained ankle that I twisted during the HURT 100-Mile training in early December last year. I think my training on incline trainer/treadmill has preserved my legs to be stressed and injury-free. With my work schedule, at least 85% of my training was conducted indoor.
100 miles is a long journey but a manageable distance. For that long, I experienced nausea, vomiting, GI issue, and cramping during races. But I embraced them as my “normal”. I approached these races in a simple way, to control them by avoiding mistakes. As my spiritual endeavor, I ran the five races solo (no pacer, no crew) and dug myself deeper and fighting the adversities alone. One key to success is I put my heart and soul in this endeavor.
In my training, I focused on the elements that could eventually hit me during races. Since these are summer series, heat is the biggest factor. The US west coast has a dry heat with extremely high temperatures while the east coast has high humidity that brings to higher heat index. Twice or Thrice a week I was doing heat training on my incline trainer from one hour to a maximum of five hours wearing a double layer of thermal gear and raising our room temperature to make it hotter. To complement my heat training, I was wearing my armored vest at work for the whole day even during the hottest days. During the race, I was wearing a hat, bandana, and arm sleeves where I placed ice cubes in them. All of these help to neutralize my body temperature. So, for heat, I was really prepared and it did not bother me during the races.
Another element that is quite difficult to prepare is altitude. It is the most dominant factor that resulted to a huge number of DNF (Did Not Finish). Shown are the high altitude races of the Grand Slam with their corresponding highest elevation: Western States 100 (8,750 ft/2,667 masl), Leadville 100 (12,600 ft/3,840 masl), and Wasatch 100 (10,467 ft/3,190 masl). There are also significant sections of the courses that are above tree line. This is my weak point as a sea level flatlander. I incorporated speed work on my training since running on altitude is ran at slower pace. Although it does not really contribute on acclimation, it is still beneficial to run the race faster in order to have enough buffer from the cutoff and finish it with less pressure.
Among the Grand Slam events, the Old Dominion 100 and Vermont 100 have the fastest courses with 66.27% and 79% finish rate, respectively. Old Dominion has a cutoff of 28 hours. They are a runner’s race since the climbs are not long and steep. But the Old Dominion could be surprising. The Sherman Gap section is a steep technical climb. These two courses are on low elevation but with high humidity. In Western States 100, I suffered a lot of cramping in most parts of my legs starting at the early miles until halfway. The second half was even worse when I had a stomach issue. The course is point to point mountainous terrain but it got easier in the second half with the course going more downhill than uphill. I felt that among these races, my body was beaten up the most here. Despite the heat, it has 81% of finish rate. In Leadville 100, cramping was not that significant but I was nauseous the whole time. I did not have solid food intake all throughout the race. Every solid I took just went out. I went to Colorado 13 days before the race. But even with acclimation, breathing during a long climb in Hope Pass was a struggle. The air is just so thin that I could not push hard. The cutoff of 30 hours also made the race harder. The high altitude and fast cutoff contributed to a low finish rate of 57.9%.
The most difficult event for me is the Wasatch 100. It has a 62% finish rate. After four races, my body was not primed to run anymore, especially that my legs felt sluggish. The nausea hit me after a quarter of the race and I could not take solid food again. The course has more climbing and it is on high elevation. It was also the second hottest temperature in the history of the race. This year a significant number of bees were scattered in different sections of the course, which was difficult to avoid. Some got stung 14 times. Fortunately, I was only hit twice. Although this is the most technical course of the Grand Slam, this also has the most beautiful scenery. During this race as I was to retrospect the past four races, and the long journey of trials and tribulations, I was feeling highly and spiritually rejuvenated since it is already the finale of my Grand Slam journey.
I have some friends and compatriots who shared the trails with me and it lifted my spirit and energy. Thanks to Casey Fisher (Old Dominion, Western States, Leadville), Jovencio Luspian (Western States), Tim Aquino (Leadville), Kian Vicera(Leadville), Philip Pagdanganan (Leadville and Wasatch), and Ryan Espulgar (Wasatch) for friendship. The memories we have will be forever etched in my heart.
BR: What would you recommend or advise to Filipino Ultrarunners who would plan to complete or join this series of Ultrarunning Races?
Jun: The new system of the Grand Slam (started two years ago), which includes four of the five events with Wasatch 100 as a mandatory race, has given more opportunities for runners to join without undergoing through the virtually impossible selection process of the Western States 100.
The Grand Slam events per se involves time and money. As a starter, if a runner can afford the financial and logistical burden, and manage the time schedule, non-running-wise, he is ready to tackle the series. We just live once anyway. Taking the Grand Slam challenge is a priceless opportunity and a big milestone.
In the Grand Slam, a runner can choose what series he wants to attempt. A total of 18 finished this year from 28 starters. These are the variations with the corresponding number of finishers:
1) original version: Old Dominion, Western States, Leadville, Wasatch Front. None (except the two who did five races)
2) pre 2017 version: Western States, Vermont, Leadville, Wasatch Front. Seven
3) Old Dominion, Western States, Vermont, Wasatch Front. Six
4) Old Dominion, Vermont, Leadville, Wasatch Front. Three
5) Old Dominion, Western States, Vermont, Leadville, Wasatch Front. Two
In my personal point of view, the core of the Grand Slam are the Western States and the Leadville, aside from Wasatch Front which is mandatory. Missing either one of them could mean not a “complete” satisfaction for me. Leadville is known for being a grandslam-killer. And these two races are icons in the annals of the 100-mile races worldwide, especially the Grand Slam series.
Another step is to find a Western States 100 qualifying race that has more climbing and elevation in order to get used to the mountainous course. Applying for lottery every year gets a runner more chance to be picked.
In Leadville 100, there’s a 50% chance to be selected in the lottery. In the essay part of the application/registration, a runner has to indicate his willingness to be entered into the Grand Slam and make a convincing story of his running journey to get a better chance to be selected. Although it is a lottery, I still believe that the race organizer gives considerations to this special request.
Wasatch Front 100 is the mandatory and final race of the Grand Slam. It is also a lottery and the chance of getting in is high. If in case a GS entrant will not get picked in the lottery, the race organizer gives a provisional entry, meaning the entrant has a chance to run Wasatch if he is successful on his third race.
Another aspect to consider is the physical and mental readiness of the runner. Experience is a huge factor. So, doing back to back races that have difficult terrain is a good test. This is also to develop the physical stamina as well as to harden the mental fortitude of the runner. Most of the time, it is the indomitable spirit that brings the runner to the finish line.
BR: Having closely followed your Ultrarunning feats and accomplishments, you have only 2 DNFs, Barkley Marathons and UTMB. You redeem yourself in the 2017 UTMB and you finished in one of the coldest UTMB race. Do you have plans of going back to Barkley? What are your future races?
Jun: The Barkley is not in my thoughts right now. Being out there knowing the difficulty of the course, that five loops is an impossible feat. It is arguably the toughest race I ever experienced. I gave my all and had managed to finish one loop. I do not have a definite race for next year except for the Boston Marathon. I threw my name for lotteries in Hardrock 100 (5th year application) and Western States 100 (1st year application after getting in this year). There are some interesting races that I want to do in the future, maybe another mountain 200 miler and road ultramarathon. Some of the races that I did are also worth coming back. I love the electrifying spirit of UTMB, Leadville, and Western States, and also the old traditional and small community feel of the Old Dominion.
BR: Lastly, Did you get the services of a Professional Coach in preparation for this year’s events and what shoes did you use in your Grand Slam Races?
Jun: I did not get the services of a Professional Coach and I did my training on my own. I used the Hoka One One Mafate Speed 2 for Old Dominion and Western States and Hoka One One Mafate EVO for Vermont, Leadville and Wasatch Front.
Thank you, Jun for answering my questions. Your answers are considered as “Gold Mine” for those ultra runners, Filipinos or Non-Filipinos, dreaming to be a Finisher of the US Grand Slam of Ultrarunning. Keep inspiring us and good luck on your future runs/races.
Race Report: 2018 Salomon Cappadocia Medium Ultra 63K Race
After my early on the race DNF at the Maideira Island Ultra Trail Race (MIUT) in April 2018, I immediately looked for another Ultra Trail World Tour (UTWT) Event where I would join even if I was already registered to join the TNF Lavaredo 120K Ultra Race on the last weekend of June 2018. When I DNF at Km 65 at the TNF Lavaredo 120K Ultra due to “altitude sickness”, I have evaluated myself and accepted that I am already getting older and weaker despite the fact that I’ve been training consistently for my races. Having thought of my past DNF, I was able to assess myself that I should run shorter/medium ultra trail races which are less than 100 kilometers to regain my confidence to continue doing international trail running events.
As soon as I was going back to Manila from Madeira, I reviewed the remaining races for the UTWT and I found out about the Salomon Cappadocia Ultra Trail Races which is scheduled on the third week of October 2018. Through a close and good friend who is based in London, Great Britain and had visited Turkey in the past, I made her a request to find out the details of the said race even if I could easily read the details of the said race in the Race Event’s Official Website. It was on the first week of May that I decided to join the said race. From there, I was officially registered to join the Medium Ultra which is 63+K distance. Later in the month, I asked my top trail runners who are regular runners in my BR’s Events and representing the Philippine Association of Ultrarunners (PAU) if they can join the event and take a shot at the longer distance which is the 119K event. Finally, we made a team of three (3) runners in the Medium distance (63K) and two (2) runners in the Ultra distance (119K). It was later, in the following months that another Filipino trail runner, Alex Yap, registered also to join the Ultra distance event. For this year’s 2018 edition, the Team PAU/Philippines is represented to join this event for the FIRST time!
My trip itinerary with our Team will be discussed in a separate blog to include our accommodation in Urgup, Cappadocia, Turkey. This is to include my training and other administrative activities related to the Race.
The Cappadocia Ultra Trail (CUT) 119K and Cappadocia Medium Trail (CMT) 63K Races started at exactly 7:00 AM of Saturday, October 20, 2018 at the Town Center of Urgup with 300+ CUT starters and 500+ CMT starters. So, 800+runners were at the starting line raring to go for their respective distances in a cold morning. After some greetings and briefing by the Race Director/EMCEE, the race started where I placed myself and my Pinoy co-runners for the CMT at the middle of the pack. The two Pinoy runners for the CUT were positioned in front of the runners.
The first 2 kilometers were on an uphill cobble-stone wide road where I could easily find my space once I left the starting line. Once the road leveled up, I was already few meters away from the start of the trail/dirt road where later we have to cross the paved highway going to the center of Urgup. Once I was on the wide dirt road, I was already feeling comfortable with my pace aside from the fact that we had a familiarity of the place due to a recon run on the first 9K of the route two days before the race day. As the wide dirt road would become narrower into a single-track trail, I would pass the slower runners who would form a “conga” line from the sides of the trail. This had been my routine on this part of the course, most specially, on the ascending portions of the trail. There were some flat portions where I could run and hike on short steep ascents until we reached a cobble-stoned paved road leading to a populated area where a “Stone Castle” is located. We passed this town and we descended to a very steep cemented stairs until we reached again a dirt road.
It was my plan to have an average speed of at least, 6 kilometers per hour on the first 10K of the course just to able to reach the first checkpoint so that I could have a buffer time of 20 minutes. And that is what I did. I reached the first checkpoint in 1:30+ minutes and I did not have to waste any time inside the Aid Station after I refilled my bottles with water. The place is called Ibrahimpasa which 10.8 kilometers away from the Start Line. I picked up 3 slices of Apple and placed them inside my Salomon Vest pocket. It took me at least one minute in this Aid Station. From this Checkpoint, it was another paved road going to the very peak of the mountain which is lined with houses. It was drizzling and cold but I enjoyed the coolness of the day and the air around me. Once at the peak, everything after was about 7-kilometer downhill where I was surrounded with the beautiful scenery of the mountains and hills on both sides of the trail. The scenery consisted of rock formations and rocks with some holes in them. I knew that the distance from Checkpoint 1 to Checkpoint 2 is 17 kilometers but I was confident that my two bottles of water and drink mix were enough for my hydration for the whole distance due to the cold weather. Although I have an empty hydration flask in my pack as a reseve for my hydration drinks, I was not able to use it during the whole duration of the race.
The descending portion from the peak ended in a populated area with cobblestoned roads with commercial establishments on both sides and some parking areas. Race Marshals were there to point to us on which direction to take once we approach a road crossing. Because of the different electric posts and trees abound on both sides of the streets, there were tape markings tied on these posts and trees aside from those sticks with flag being being placed on strategic places and corners of each street turn. and As I got nearer to Checkpoint 2 which is called Uchisar, another populated area with houses and commercial establishments, I could see two pointed stone castles from afar but I need to pass through tunnels and canyons on a single-track trail. There was an incident where I bumped my head on the on the upper portion of the tunnel when I was not able to bend my body at a lower level just to be able to clear and pass through the tunnel. A Malaysian trail runner, Bryan Kho, was tailing behind me when this incident happened and he shouted to me, “Ingat, Sir”! (Be Careful, Sir!). And I said, “Thank you!”. I am glad that was the only cave with the lowest ceiling over ones head! The 63K route has a lot of tunnels to pass through and most of them are wide and big enough for the runners to pass through.
On a winding and uphill route going to the Checkpoint 2 (Uchisar), most of the runners in front of me would bring out their cellphones and took some pictures of a garden with lots of flowering plants beside the road. I was not tempted to bring out my phone and promised myself not to take any pictures of anything along the route before the start of the race. Finally, I reached the Uchisar Aid Station which also served as the Checkpoint 2. It is located inside the “Rock Castle” and I estimated that I was able to add another 15 minutes to my buffer time which was already 45+minutes in total. I did not stay long in the Aid Station after I refilled my bottle; drank some water and Coca Cola; and finally mixed my powdered nutrition. I left a lot of runners at the Aid Station who arrived earlier than me. I was already approaching Km 28. as soon as I left the Aid Station.
Few meters from the Aid Station is a very steep descent that runners in front of me would stop and look for other part of the route where their trail shoes would be stable and prevent them from sliding. Although I did not have any trekking poles, I was happy that I decided to use my Salomon Speedcross 4 as it gave me the appropriate and stable traction on those loose and steep downhill runs. On the downhill, I observed that there were lots of tourists along the route and there was a group of children who were very noisy as they trekked the trails where we shared with each other. I avoided these children until I reached a paved highway with some Police and Race Marshal directing the traffic as runners would cross the Highway. It was at this point that I was able to see a Camel and because of my excitement to see one for the first time, I brought out my Cellphone and took a picture of the animal and a “selfie”!
From the Highway, it was another descending part of the route with rock formations on the left side and I was amazed with the beauty of the place. It was starting to heat up as the sun would show from the cloudy sky but the air was still moderately cold. I would be running with other runners on a wide dirt road which is sandy and loose on this part of the route. There are other parts which are muddy but my trail shoes would manage to maintain its traction. On these flat sandy trail, I would increase my pace and race with the other runners, making those runners in front of me as my “targets” to overtake. At this point, I was confident that I would be able to finish the race in less than 10 hours based from my prevailing speed as recorded by my Garmin GPS Watch. But I think, I celebrated too early!
I finally reached Checkpoint 3/Aid Station 3 in Goreme which is Km 35.5 with one hour and 15+minutes as buffer time and I was able to meet Akyut, a very popular Turkish ultrarunner who is finished the Spartathlon for so many times, as the Chief Marshal at the said Aid Station. I refilled my bottles and grabbed some apple chunks/cuts and stashed them in my vest pockets; ate some chocolate raisin bread; and drank some Coke. I was frustrated to find out that they don’t have any Ice which I intend to use for my Ice Bandana. I think this is the place where I stayed longer for about 4-5 minutes.
I started running on a flat terrain for about 1.5 kilometers from the Goreme Aid Station until I reached another paved road where I merged and joined the runners of the 38K distance event. As I left the paved road towards the trailhead, I was joined by these 38K runners who can still run through the trail on the ascents while I would hike on such parts of the route. I became irritated and uneasy whenever I could hear the footsteps of these runners who would be a group in 5-6 runners or more on a “conga” line. I was courteous enough to side step on the trail whenever they would be behind me and I was able to do this for so many times. Knowing that the distance to the next Checkpoint is 12.7 kilometers with two peaks/mountains to pass, I knew that my pace and speed had slowed down. Aside from the passing 38K runners, the ascents and descents were more technical, steeper, and more challenging. I was already having some signs of early cramping at this point but I was able to manage it through my nutrition and tempering my speed/pace. This part of the course slowed me down and I conclude that this is the hardest part of the course! However, this part of the course could be the most scenic and most beautiful, too.
As I was about to descend from the second mountain, the 63K and 119K runners were separated from the 38K runners and I was happy to be alone again on the trail. This is where the scenery would be amazing again. The single track trail would be tricky/technical because it is along the side of the rocky mountain where either side of the mountain would be very steep and scary to look to the bottom of the mountain. The downhill on the side of the mountain has long switchbacks but there are steep short ascents and descents in-between. Finally, I reached a descending cobblestoned road that leads to a populated area which is lined up with commercial stores with their local products. After a short right turn from these stores, I would see the Aid Station at Cavusin which is Checkpoint 4 and located in a small one-story building on the corner left side of the road.
I refilled my bottles, drank water and coke, ate some slices of their chocolate raisin bread and stashed some slices also inside my empty ziplock bag. I already knew at this point that my buffer time of one hour plus had been reduced to less than 30 minutes and I really needed to get back fast on the trail route. I was following a male runner which was 10 meters ahead of me and after about 200 meters, I was faced with steepest incline of the course which took me almost half hour to reach the first level portion which later became much steeper after one kilometer. I call this portion as “Kiss The Mountain” (where the slope of the mountain is on your face) and there is no established trail as I reached the peak of the mountain. I was passed by a tall and younger male runner with trekking poles when I reached the peak of the said mountain and our eyes met with each other and smiled to one another. At this point, I was already cursing myself why I did not bring my new GIPRON Trekking Poles with me. Anyway, it was only at this part of the race where I thought I would have needed the aid of my trekking poles.
I could not believe when the peak of the mountain is a plateau where we would run for at least 2 kilometers and descending to a trail on the side of the mountain for another 3-4 kilometers. As I start to descend from the mountain, I would see the next Aid Station which is the Fifth and Last Checkpoint at Akdag, but it was still another almost 3 kilometers afar before reaching the Checkpoint. On these last 2 kilometers to the Checkpoint, the trail was very steep and the soil was very loose that almost all the runners in front of me had to slow down. But my reliable Salomon Speedcross 4 did the work for me as I put more speed on my downhill run. I reached the Akdag Checkpoint with about 30+ minutes as a buffer time from the cut-off time of 10:30 hours. With almost 9 kilometers to the Finish Line, I knew I would be able to finish the race in 11+hours. I refilled my bottles for the last time and mixed my nutritional powder which would be enough to bring me to the finish line.
The last section of the course is a vineyard with a rolling terrain which I would run the flatter sections and brisk walk the ascents. I could hear the sounds of the passing vehicles from the highway and it was my gauge on how I was progressing in my run towards the finish line. The sounds were becoming louder as I got nearer to the Highway but it was becoming darker as the sun was already setting to the west horizon. I was passed by a couple of male and female runners who are locals in Turkey and I made them as my “guides” towards the finish line. They were also kind enough to wait for me as I appear around the bend to make sure that I was following them. I decided not to use my headlight as I knew the street lights would be able to illuminate the last meters to the Finish Line. As soon as I crossed the Highway, it was my last 800 meters towards the Finish Line and everything was all downhill! However, I was very careful on the last few meters of the cobblestoned road because the road was rough and the cobblestones were not lined evenly flat that I might trip on them with a single misstep. (I found out later that some runners had fallen and tripped themselves on this road before they crossed the finish line).
I crossed the Finish Line in 11:36+ hours, which is almost one hour before the race cut-off time of 12:30 hours! I was happy and I was able to redeem myself from my past DNFs in the Ultra Trail World Tour races where I registered. This finish gave me much more confidence to join and tackle more international trail races in the future. Aside from my personal satisfaction and accomplishment of this race, my Team PAU made a history as the FIRST Filipino Team of Ultra Trail Runners to have finished the Cappadocia Ultra Trail 119K and the Cappadocia Medium Ultra 63K Trail Events.
I started to get the guidance of a Professional Coaching Service in my ultrarunning/running in the middle of June 2017. Actually, it was my second experience to get the assistance of a Coaching Service abroad. The first one was with Karl Meltzer and it lasted for one year although I was the very basis Coaching Program that I have enrolled in. I became a very strong ultra trail runner in a short period of time and his Coaching/Training Schedule made me finished 3 successive finishes in the Clark Miyamit 50-Mile Ultra Trail; 2 Finishes in the Translantau 100K; and Tarawera 100K finish in New Zealand. My two attempts in the San Diego 100-Mile Endurance for two successive years did not go as planned because of GI issues related to excessive Heat Exhaustion in a desert environment and Nutrition problems. On hindsight, it maybe due also to overtraining and lesser appreciation of rest and recovery in between training blocks or in between race events.
When Jason Koop, author of Training Essentials Of Ultrarunning, published his book, we started to become friends on Facebook and that I would be one of the first to purchase it. And even went to the extent of recommending it to my FB friends after getting the full appreciation of his scientific approach to ultrarunning training. It took me sometime to read the book and started to apply its concepts in my daily training. Not until an advertisement popped out on Internet that CTS was offering One Dollar First Month Fee for their Coaching Service. I immediately sent an inquiry to Jason Koop through Direct Message and he replied to me instantly with a positive note. I told him that I am a 65-year old and I need to be a better mountain trail ultrarunner.
After a week of processing, I got a designated Coach and Premium Training Peaks platform where I can upload the data from my GPS Watch and at the same time, where I could see my Training Schedule. John Fitzgerald is my Coach and he would give me feedback almost everyday and I could arrange a scheduled phone call or simply send him a SMS regularly if I need some inquiries or inform him about my feeling/s during and after workout. He would know my races and adjust my training based from the information available from the event.
After one year being an athlete of CTS even if I failed in my scheduled Ultra Races last year and this early part of 2018, I admit that CTS and Coach John Fitzgerald were the primary factors/reasons why I was able to qualify for the 2019 Boston Marathon and most of all, not being “burned out” in every training block and in between my racing events.
On hindsight, I think I have over estimated myself in choosing very hard races in Europe & USA which are part of the Ultra Trail World Tour (UTWT) series. I should have chosen those shorter ultra versions of these races which could had served as my initial exposure or recon runs in these very challenging races. However, at this time, I knew that I am ready to go back in these places/races and more confident to finish these races with the support of CTS.
For an old and passionate runner like me, CTS will be my partner and guide to tackle more challenging ultra mountain trail races in the future.
For more particulars about the CTS Professional Coaching Services, you can contact them here at www.trainright.com
Registration & Acceptance To The 2019 Boston Marathon
On the first hour of the scheduled registration day for runners who are faster than 20 minutes or more on their qualifying time for the Boston Marathon, I filled up my Registration Form for the 2019 Boston Marathon on or about 10:00 PM September 10, 2018, Monday (Manila Time) and sent it immediately. I immediately received a reply letter via e-mail that my Registration Form had been accepted and I had to wait for the confirmation or acceptance to the said event. I immediately checked the balance of my Debit Card and I found out that I was deducted the Peso equivalent amount for the $250 US registration fee for International Runners which I positively consider as a good sign that I will be accepted to join this event.
I was able to qualify to join the 123rd Edition Boston Marathon when I finished the 2017 Revel Canyon City Marathon Race held on November 4, 2017 in Azusa, California. I did not expect to finish the race in sub-4 hours and it was my goal to finish the race within my qualifying time of 4:10 hours. Since the first half of the marathon distance was downhill, I took the risk to let the weight of my body and my leg turn-over to dictate my pace and when I saw an opportunity for me to finish in sub-4 hours, I just maintained my pace and made sure that I would never have any muscle cramps which would slow down my pace. For the record, I was able to cross the finish line in 3:46:06, which is 23:54 minutes faster than my qualifying time of 4:10 hours. And as a bonus, I was the First Place Runner for the Age Category of 65-69 years old.
It took me a lot of years and marathon races to qualify for the Boston Marathon and I finally made it when it was time that I did not expect it. For a passionate runner, being able to qualify and join the Boston Marathon is, I think, the pinnacle of Road Racing. Boston Marathon is the Holy Grail of Road Marathon Racing for being the oldest Marathon Race in the USA and most prestigious Marathon In The World! This makes me a Legitimate Qualifier of the event and not as a Corporate Sponsored or Charity Runner.
After two days since I registered for the race, I finally received a Confirmation Letter that I will be joining the race on April 15, 2019 through e-mail and I was advised to wait for the Formal Letter of Acceptance to join the race through the Post Mail.
I have already bought my Round Trip Plane Ticket from Los Angeles to Boston and back and had already arranged for my accommodation during my stay in Boston. My Round Trip Plane Ticket from Manila to Los Angeles and back will be purchased before the end of this year.
I have already started my training on the very first day of this month of September. It will be through this blog that I will be posting my thoughts, training and preparation for the 2019 Boston Marathon.
I will keep you posted on my daily training and activities even if I have some local and international road and trail races that will be part of my training prior to the said event. Join me in this journey.