By the time this newsletter hits your inbox, runners in the 2020 edition should have been testing themselves along the course of the Badwater 135, which many consider to be ‘the world’s toughest footrace’. Alas, in a very last-minute decision, organizers of the Badwater 135 cancelled this year’s edition, leaving this year’s field wondering what they could have accomplished with their fully formed fitness and heat acclimation strategies.
I have been fortunate enough to run and crew for the Badwater 135 a total of eight times, as well as prepare numerous runners for the event. All of these experiences have had an impression on me, and I am a better coach because of them. No other group of runners prepare quite as meticulously as the Badwater athletes do. The combination of the searing heat, mind numbing monotony of the road, the complexity of the application process and the exclusivity of getting an entry, the sheer expense of participating, and a relentless culture of improvement that has evolved over the years all combine to create what I observe to be the most prepared ultramarathon field on the planet. And the statistics bear this out. Badwater, despite the notoriously difficult conditions, has a finish rate of 85-90%. As a comparison, the Leadville Trail 100 hovers around a 50% finish rate for any given year, and the coveted Western States 100 has finish rates routinely between 70 and 80%. Make no mistake, the Badwater runners and their crews come fully prepared and bring it on race day.
Badwater is also one of the greatest hot environment sports performance proving grounds imageable. The searing heat will put your heat acclimation strategy to the test. Frequent access to your crew (your crew can leapfrog the runner in a support van) allows the runner to put cooling strategies and nutrition interventions in place without many logistical limitations. Being a crafty lot, Badwater runners have implemented an array of bizarre, sometimes effective and ultimately outlawed strategies in order to gain an advantage. Over the years I have seen everything from the use of refrigerated trucks to pacers on rollerblades with umbrellas (both of these strategies are now prohibited, by the way) to battle the heat. Still, the Badwater runners don’t always use the most efficacious strategies when it comes to heat acclimation and nutritional interventions. They tend to try to combat the challenges the course and environment will throw at them with contrived and combined strategies that at times are ineffective or even counterproductive. You might not ever have the urge to do the Badwater 135, but there are still some lessons we can all learn from the strategies this hearty group of ultrarunners use to battle the course and the heat, what actually works and how things go awry.
Heat Acclimation Strategies
Out of all the unique aspects in preparing for the Badwater 135, acclimating to the heat naturally gets the most attention. With temperatures that can be in excess of 120 degrees, runners rightfully approach this element of preparation with upmost importance. I first attended the Badwater 135 in 2006. When I arrived in Death Valley, I curiously took a straw poll of the participants to understand the heat acclimation strategies they used in training.
Over the years, either at the race of from afar, I have done the same straw polling and observed what the athletes were doing to prepare. I recently pulled my notes from these experiences and below is a short list of various protocols I’ve found, in no particular order:
- Running on a treadmill with a dryer vent blowing on your face. As a bonus, some runners would put portable heating elements round the treadmill for an added effect
- Running in the heat with a down jacket, pants and rain jacket
- Running on a treadmill in a greenhouse
- Running on a treadmill in the sauna. This normally involves cajoling the gym owner into some, shall we say, creative electrical engineering that may or may not pass a fire inspection
- If your gym owner was concerned about said electrical engineering, doing jumping jacks and core work in the sauna
- Driving around town with the heater turned up, perhaps with a down jacket
- Passive sauna exposure
- Camping in Death Valley in the weeks leading up to the event
- Turning up the heat in the house to > 90 degrees
- Some combination of some or all of the above with time frames that range from days to months
Although the complexity and duration of these protocols vary, they all can be catalogued into two broad categories: 1) passive acclimation/acclimatization strategies and 2) active acclimation/acclimatization strategies. Each have basic advantages and tradeoffs.
Passive strategies (strategies where you just sit there and let the environment do its job) allow for heat acclimation to occur with minimal interruption to training. They do not, however, allow you to ‘feel the heat’ while running, and many athletes feel the need to experience training in a hot environment before competing in one, simply to understand the sensation.
Active strategies (strategies that use a combination of exercises and environment) allow for heat acclimation to occur and for the athlete to feel the sensation of running in a hot environment. However, compared to Badwater, where the humidity is low and solar radiation is high, some of the contrived active strategies will be mismatched, particularly the overdressed ones that create a high humidity environment with little solar radiation. Additionally, active acclimation strategies involve some training compromise either by reducing the duration or intensity of the training session to accommodate for the increase in core temperature.
How Heat Acclimation Strategies Actually Work
Fundamentally, heat acclimation strategies work by inducing systemic and cellular responses to help your body cope with the heat. Systemically, your body responds (primarily) by increasing plasma volume and sweat rate in an effort to dissipate heat. Cellularly, your body upregulates heat shock proteins which act as cellular chaperones and managers for proteins that have been damaged by heat stress and other forms of degradation. Both systemic and cellular responses help athletes manage the heat in various ways, ultimately resulting in increased exercise capacity in the heat (and sometimes in temperate environments).
What has started to emerge in the research is that the extent of core temperature increase is critical to the success of the strategy. Heat up your body to a certain temperature and then hold that temperature for a certain amount of time and you get great results. Miss the mark on the temperature or duration and the physiological results are not as good. This critical core temperature, which appears to be in a very narrow range of 38-38.5 °C or 100.4-101.3 °F, is difficult to achieve and athletes will describe it as somewhere between ‘feeling hot’ to ‘too hot, dizzy and lightheaded’.
Through this lens, we can look at the aforementioned strategies from our (perhaps ill-fated) Badwater runners. Strategies that are capable of producing a core temperature of 38-38.5 °C will be markedly more effective than those that do not. Additionally, active acclimation strategies (strategies that involve running/cycling in the heat or overdressed) will most likely be hampered by compromising exercise intensity, as a high core temperature will limit the duration or intensity of running (how long can you run while being ‘dizzy and lightheaded’?).
Many athletes now choose to use an ‘active-passive’ protocol, where they go out and do a normal run and then immediately jump into a sauna or hot water immersion bath. The initial run begins the process of increasing core temperate and the heat exposure from the bath or sauna finishes it off to achieve the critical temperature of 38-38.5 °C. In this way, training is not compromised and the sauna/hot water immersion bath session duration is reduced. If you really feel like you need to ‘feel the heat’ to experience the sensation of running in a particular environment, contrive the environment to try to match the temperature, solar intensity and humidity of your event as much as possible, and do so for the minimum number of sessions to do the trick. For the Badwater runners, a treadmill with a dryer vent blasting in your face a few times is a better option than running around in a down jacket for a month.
Ultrarunning has been known to produce good hallucinations. Sleep deprivation combined with physical exhaustion, bonking, and blurred vision is a ripe recipe for the mind to conjure up memories of distant past and teleport them into a fuzzy present. And Badwater hallucinations are the best, by far. While your trail ultrarunning compatriots will brag about stories of a stick that turned into a snake, a tree stump that looked like a bear or a rock that talked, the Badwater hallucinations take this altered reality to a whole other dimension. The runners at Badwater encounter a cast of characters ranging from the Michelin Man to old 49er miners. Even the infamous white line painted on the road gets in on the action by transforming into various beings of and out of this world. Hallucinations come complete with incomprehensible background stories (the Michelin Man is there to run for President), unintelligible plot lines (I was helping the 49er change a tire), and bizarre interactions that border between a Star Wars movie and a DMT trip.
There is zero training for this. So, I have no help for you here other than to say if you really want an out of this world experience, just go run Badwater.
Too Much Aid Can Be a Bad Thing
One of the differentiating features of the Badwater 135 compared to other ultramarathons is that you have copious access to your crew and supplies. Food, water, pacers, your medical kit and the all-important performance enhancing ice, are never more than several minutes away. And, this level of assistance can be intensive. I once paced an athlete from Furnace Creek to Stovepipe wells, just a 24.6-mile section of the race, and blew through over 60 liters (15.8 gallons) of ice water in the process of drinking and dousing. And while it might seem like a luxury to have your every ultrarunning need fulfilled at a moment’s notice, at times it can be a bad thing. Runners can take on too much fluid and too many calories, particularly in the beginning of the race, simply because they are there. And later they lean on their crews to bail them out of a situation when they could simply just put their head down and run.
Remember that when you are training, you are doing the vast majority of it by yourself. Almost any racing situation involves many times more support than you would receive during any training session. And Badwater is an extreme example of this. While ultrarunners should learn to leverage their crews, pacers and other support personnel, they should not rely on them to get the job done. You don’t need pacers or crew to get the job done (in most ultras). Do they help, yes. But, running is ultimately the responsibility of the runner.
Badwater will be back
Like many of the races that couldn’t happen this year, Badwater will ultimately be back. I look forward to returning in some capacity, as an athlete, coach or crew. I simultaneously learn and get a chuckle out of many of the strategies athletes use to prepare for the event. I love hearing stories of how many layers of clothing athletes put on for a simple training run and how Kermit the Frog ran alongside athletes in the middle of the night during the race. Soon enough, we will get to experience or hear about all of these again. Until then, we can learn for the next time.
Gibson, Oliver R et al. “Heat alleviation strategies for athletic performance: A review and practitioner guidelines.” Temperature (Austin, Tex.) vol. 7,1 3-36. 12 Oct. 2019, doi:10.1080/23328940.2019.1666624
I have been a loyal user of Salomon Trail Shoes since I started training and joining in trail running events whether they are local or international ones. After I have used a lot of pairs of their S-LAB Sense Trail Shoes, I bought my first pair of Speedcross 4 in one of the local distributors in the Philippines. ROX Philippines at BGC was my first choice of store if I am looking for reliable trail shoes. This is also where I bought all my Salomon S-LAB Sense Trail Shoes. I was lucky when the store have a 9 1/2 size of the Speedcross 4 as most of their stock for sale don’t have half-sizes. I immediately bought the said shoes and brought them to my Playground for a good run. That was almost 3 years ago.
As compared to the S-LAB Sense models, I found the Speedcross 4 to be more padded on the uppers and tongue which gave more comfort to my feet when running. I am also appreciative that the shoe drop or the difference between the stack height of the forefoot area and the heel portion is 10 mm which gave much comfort to my aching Achilles tendon on my right heel. I could run forever in these shoes without any pain on my Achilles tendon on the uphill and downhill runs. The shoe weights a little heavy with 310 grams on each shoe but the weight is given more to give comfort to my feet. The best feature of these shoes is the aggressive grip of the lugs on its sole. The sole lugs are best fitted to our local trail condition where most of the grounds are soft and muddy. They are also stable when running on rocks and roots that I did not have any experience of sliding from them. The quicklace system of the shoes is also very efficient and fast when wearing or removing them during races and training. Once you tighten the shoes with the quicklace system, you can roll the end of the lace and have it tucked inside the pocket at the end of the shoe tongue. The shoe looks slick without the ends of the shoelace dangling outside the shoes. The uppers are also quick to dry whenever they become wet with my sweat or during small stream or river crossing. The only weakness of this particular Salomon Model is the narrow forefoot. It is ok with my feet because they are narrow, too but in longer ultra trail races in the mountains, there is the tendency for my feet to expand that I need to loosen its “quicklace”. I have solved this problem by buying one size bigger and my shoe size now for this particular model is now Size 10.
In all my races here and abroad in 2018 and 2019, I have been using the Salomon Speedcross 4 and I am happy with its performance. I am still using them in my training runs but I have observed that the outer sole with the shoe lugs are getting torn apart from the shoes. I guess, the glue that binds the outer sole and the rest of the shoe is already brittle and dry. I could still have some glue in them but I have already bought two pairs of the Salomon Speedcross 5 as its replacement in Sizes 10. Actually, I have used the Speedcross 5 in size 10, in my two latest races: TNF Hongkong 50K last December 2019 and Borneo Ultra Trail Marathon last March this year. I will have a separate Shoe Review on this particular model and will have to compare them with the older Speedcross 4.
I have seen lately on the ads in the Social Media that the Salomon Speedcross 4 shoes are still available On Sale in the local market. Since they are now cheaper, if you haven’t tried them, I suggest you get one pair for your training and for your future trail running events. I guarantee that the price is worth its efficiency and durability. Overall, the Salomon Speedcross 4 is far, the most durable trail shoes in my trail running arsenal and I highly recommended them to beginners, average , and competitive trail runners.
I think I will be using my two pairs of Salomon Speedcross 5 for the next 3-4 years!
In June 2012, I posted a Training Plan for Ultra Distances which I copied from the book of Bryon Powell, “Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide To Running Ultramarathon. In July 2012, I posted another training program for ultra distances but the link on the Internet is no longer available. The training programs that I posted in this blog had been observed to have one of the posts that have been visited more often by my readers and visitors.
Today, I am posting a training program which, I think, I bought from the Internet and I am glad to share it with you. This Training Program for 100K is from Luke Humprey Running of Hansons Running Project. This is applicable to Road & Trail Running distances/events.
This training program has a duration of 18 weeks and it is very easy to follow and understand. It has more speed and intensity as compared to the training plans I posted 8 years ago. It is more detailed on the description of each workout. It is assumed that you are already an average competitive runner if you want to follow this training plan.
Good luck and Enjoy The Process!
After running for six weeks on MAF training, easy running using my Heart Rate Monitor, following the MAF Formula where my beats per minute range would be from 112 to 122 beats per minute must be maintained while I was on my running workout. As a review, Maximum Aerobic Function (MAF) Formula is 180 minus my age of of 68 plus 10 bpm being a runner of more than 65 years old and had never been “sidelined” from running due to injury. My MAF bpm is 122 and my range of MAF Beats Per Minute during my running workout should be 112 to 122. For the past 6 weeks, I was not supposed to breach the maximum bpm of 122 during my easy/recovery runs. However, with my training schedule being a CTS athlete for the past weeks, I have to follow my training schedule and workout as prescribed by my Coach. However, what I have observed was that I was not fatigued in my tempo runs and I could easily recover after a day of hard training.
After two days of not running due to the inclement weather in my Playground, I was fully rested during the weekend and I decided to have my first MAF Test today, June 29, 2020. After a short stretching exercises, I started my run with a warm-up for one mile where my Heart Rate steadily increased from 90 beats per minutes to 112 after my first loop in my Backyard. Before I finished my first mile, I was able to reach 119 beats per minute. Once I finished one mile, I went on on my First Mile for my MAF Test. I finished my first mile in 16:15 minutes where I had to walk for a few seconds after my bpm reached to 123 bpm on the last 400 meter of my first mile. After the first mile, I took a picture of my GPS Watch, take a sip of cold water, and walked a few meters until 30 seconds elapsed (this ritual was repeated every time I finish a mile) and started my 2nd mile. The following is the list of my time every mile:
1st Mile——16:15 minutes 4th Mile——14:37 minutes
2nd Mile—–15:28 minutes 5th Mile——14:35 minutes
3rd Mile——14:31 minutes
It was only on the first mile that I breached 122 bpm to 123bpm but it was able to bring it back after a few seconds of hiking. For the rest of the miles, I was able to maintain my average of bpm within 121-122. On my last mile, I was able to maintain the whole mile with an average bpm of 122.
Although my Backyard Loop is not the ideal venue or location for my MAF Test, I am still satisfied with the result of my test and how my body felt after the workout. My body was very relaxed and not so worn-out or fatigued. In my past MAF Tests few years back, I have been doing them on Oval Track, being faster than my time in my Backyard Loop. With the uneven ground, lots of turns, and single-track trail in my Backyard Loop, I expect that my time would be slower than running in an oval track. On the contrary, I think I am faster now as compared when I had my MAF Test in 2011.
After 4 weeks, I will be doing my second MAF Test with the hope that I will be able to lower the times as compared to the results today. I will continue to apply MAF training in my easy/recovery runs in the coming days and weeks. I know that I will be a better and smarter runner in the next months and years due to this training.
This is a Photo Video that I posted on You Tube with the objective to document the past accomplishments of our local trail runners in international trail running event like the UTMB. This video will be also an instrument for others who will be inspired to join this event in the near future. Thank you for watching.
In the history of the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB), the race started in 2003 but only after eight (8) years (2011) when Ultra Trail Runners from the Philippines started to join this iconic trail ultra which is considered as the “Holy Grail” of Ultra Trail Running In The World. Hereunder is the list of Filipino Runners who finished the race with their Official Finish Time and their year’s edition:
- Jonnifer Lacanlale—–44:00:57 hours (2011)
- Simon Sandoval—–45:19:06 hours (2011) & 20:25:13 (2012/shortened) & 40:25:11 hours (2013)
- Christian Vicera—–45:16:26 hours (2013)
- Aldean Philip Lim—–44:57:22 hours (2014)
- Deo Encarnacion—–43:55:17 hours (2014)
- Miguel Antonio Lopez—41:10:48 hours (2015)
- Roland Wangwang—–41:10:48 hours (2015)
- Aleksis Capili—–43:38:16 hours (2016) & 39:55:54 hours (2018)
- Hermogines Olvis—–35:33:54 hours (2017) *Fastest Time
- Miguelito Carranza—–37:01:00 hours (2017)
- Conrado Bermudez Jr—–40:18:29 hours (2017)
- Maria Josephine Liao—–42:15:14 hours (2017) *Female
- Donald Hermoso—–44:18:53 hours (2017)
- Benjamin Ramirez—–39:33:43 hours (2018)
- Patrick Hervic Aquino—–43:41:48 hours (2018)
- Felmer Hiponia—–44:53:06 hours (2018)
- Manuel Magbanua Jr—–45:59:25 hours (2018)
- Joseph Sibal—–46:04:59 hours (2018)
- Ronnel Valero—–39:29:59 hours (2019)
- Marc Conrad Molina—–41:07:23 hours (2019)
- Magno Rafael Gabotero—–44:10:00 hours (2019)
- James Tellias—–44:34:14 hours (2019)
- Mark Itol—–45:00:41 hours (2019)
- Thumbie Remigio—–45:27:15 hours (2019)
- George Javier—–46:18:16 hours (2019)
After finishing the 2020 Borneo Ultra Trail Marathon (BUTM) 106K Race in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia on March 15, 2020, the Philippines was put on strict Lockdown due to Covid-19 upon my arrival in Manila in the early morning of March 17, 2020. From the Manila International Airport, I immediately went directly to my Playground, driving my personal vehicle, in the Province of Bataan which is 110 kilometers away northwest of Metro Manila. This is the place where I spent those “Lockdown” period/days as imposed by the Government due to the pandemic brought about by Covid-19.
Having surrounded with hills and mountains in my Playground and with a “Backyard Loop” once I step out of the door of the house, I maintained my daily training with the hope that the races where I registered would still be held as scheduled.
A new ultra trail race of KOTM (King of the Mountains) series in the Cordillera Region, Pulag 100K Ultra Trail Race, would be in its first edition on April 18-19, 2020, was supposed to be my next race for the year. But because of the prevailing situation in the country, the Race Director deemed it to be cancelled for safety reasons. Despite this situation, I did a “virtual run” on the date of the event in my Backyard Loop where I finished 50K in 11 hours and some minutes!
For the month of May, I was supposed to go to California, USA and join the 2020 Western States 100-Mile Memorial Day Training Runs for the said weekend. I made already my accommodation reservation and I was glad I was not charged for it. Also, I was glad that my travel reservations were not scheduled before the Lockdown was imposed.
By the end of this June, I was supposed to go to Europe as I was accepted in a lottery to join the 2020 Mont Blanc Du Marathon 42K Race in Chamonix, France but it was cancelled by the Race Organizer/s. I guess, I opted to have my registration on a “roll-over” for the 2021 edition.
Before the end of May, I was able to request for the refund of my registration fee for the Eiger Ultra Trail Race 51K as the Race Organizers announced on the earlier part of May that this event is also cancelled. It was supposed to be my second time to visit the Jungfrau-Interlaken-Grindelwald Region in Switzerland.
So far, those are the four Trail Races/Events which are cancelled due to the Covid-19 situation. I was fortunate that I did not plan ahead and spend some money in advance for my travel arrangements.
Stay Home and Stay Safe!
Expenses @ The 2020 HK4TUC
This is the most sensitive part of my story about Thomas participation in the 2020 Hong Kong Four Trails Ultra Challenge. Most of the Local Runners who are joining International Running Events never post or mention how much they have spent to join a particular event. To give justice to what Thomas had accomplished in this year’s HK4TUC event, it is proper for the Team to be transparent with our finances with the following reasons: (1) to provide future participants the information on the financial aspect of the said event for planning and preparation purposes; (2) to account for everything that the Team had spent before, during , and after the event; (3) to give the impression to my readers that the Team was NOT sponsored by any individual, corporate brand, or the government, and as such, the whole Team did its share to contribute on this matter with the money coming from our pockets. We did not ask for funds from the other runners or conducted any fund raising activities in relation to Thomas attendance or participation in this event.
Amount Of Pocket Money:
At the exchange rate of P 7.00 per HK$ 1.00, I bought the equivalent of P 50,000.00 as the Support Team’s “baon” for the duration of our stay in Hong Kong. However, I still have an amount of 1,000.00 US Dollars as a “reserve” cash to be converted to HK Dollars just in case we will be lacking with our financial resources. My LANBANK Debit Cards will be our “Last Line Of Defense” for any Contingency.
Coming from Thomas’ pocket, on the other hand, he bought HK Dollars at the Airport’s Exchange Facility amounting to P 50,000.00.
Cathay Pacific Fares:
Thomas paid his own RT Fare amounting to P 9,500.00 which included the usual Travel Tax. I paid my RT Fare with two others who composed the Team as members of Thomas Support Team. It costs me P 28,500.00 (Travel Tax included) for three passengers. Our Taxi Fares and Expenses for our Early Breakfast at the Terminal 3, NAIA can be estimated to about P 2,000, of which I paid for it. An additional cost of “Pasalubong” of about P 1,500 was paid in one of the Souvenir Shops at Terminal 3 as our gift to the RD’s wife, being a close friend since I started blogging. This brings to a total of P 41,500.00 for the Team Thomas expenses before leaving Manila.
Upon Arrival @ Hong Kong Airport
Thomas bought a Local Sim Card for almost HK$ 200 and loaded HK$ 300 into his Octopus Card. The money he used came from his personal fund. I bought a Local SIM Card on my own for the same price (HK$ 200) with that of Thomas, and loaded HK$200 into my Octopus Card and loaded HK$100 to each of the two members of the Support Team.
Total Expenses Upon Arrival:
Chari Sevilla, a Filipino working in Hong Kong, offered her Apartment for the Team Thomas as a place to stay during the duration of the Event. This was a big savings for the Team, instead, of paying for our accommodation in the hotel where we usually stay during our visits in Hongkong. (Note: A “savings” for us estimated to be the equivalent to P 20,000.00)
Estimated Expenses For Our Two-Day Recon Runs (Transportation Fares Were Deducted From Our Octopus Cards):
The following estimated expenses for our Food and Drinks along the Trails (MacLehose & Wilson) and in Sai Kung Town.
Initial Groceries/Food For The Team Expenses (To include Logistics for the Event): HK$2,000.00
Additional Expenses For Groceries/Food To Be Cooked During The Duration Of Our Stay In Hongkong: HK$2,000.00
Additional Expenses For Food Spent In Restaurants: HK$1,000.00
Additional Loads To Our Octopus Cards: HK$ 500.00
Total Transportation Expenses During The Event: TAXI Fares To Ferry Thomas From One Trail To Another & TAXI Fares In Going Home To Chari’s Apartment:
Team Thomas was treated to a Chinese New Year’s Eve Dinner & CarboLoading Party for Thomas the night before the event by the sister and nephew of Thomas who came all the way from Canada to cheer for Thomas.
Before we left to the Hong Kong Airport on our way back to Manila, Team Thomas was treated to a lunch by the Family of Jurg, Irene, and Ida Montemayor as a celebration for Thomas “finish” in the 2020 HK4TUC.
The amount of P 50,000.00 that I exchanged for HK$ currency was all gone except for the remaining HK currency in the picture. To include our RT Tickets and other miscellaneous expenses spent in Manila and Hong Kong, I spent a total of P 100,000.00
I am not privy to what happened to the P 50,000.00 that Thomas had exchanged to HK Dollars at the NAIA before leaving Manila but I would guess/estimate that he was able to spend 2/3 of the said amount for his expenses in connection with his participation in the said event.
With this detailed accounting of our expenses, we will be able to plan and prepare for the next year’s event. Thanks to Chari for her hospitality in allowing us to stay in her Apartment with the hope that she will offer again her place for the Team in next year’s edition and for those emergency financial needs in support to Thomas success in this event. Thanks also to Team PAU for cooking the food for Thomas; preparing and packing the logistics/needs for each Leg of the event and for washing the dirty clothes of Thomas.
My personal thanks go to Jurg, Irene and Ida Montemayor, the Original Team Thomas Support, for their unwavering support and concern to Thomas’ welfare throughout the event. Jurg’s presence in Lantau to cheer and wait for the finish of Thomas means a lot to the Team. Thank you also to the sister of Thomas, Marina and nephew John for being with Thomas during the event.
Let me also take this opportunity to thank Tha Na and Josephine Austria for their company and support (food & drinks) at the Stanley Gap Road as we waited for the arrival of Thomas at the end of the Wilson Trail. Thank you also to Christian Viloria, an OFW in Hong Kong and a fast/strong trail runner, who prepared a lot of Filipino Food at the Shek O Road Bus Stop and for his support to Team Thomas.
There are still untold stories about our experience in terms of finances and logistics in supporting Thomas’ finish in this year’s Hong Kong Four Trails Ultra Challenge. The other half of the story is with Thomas. In due time, if time permits, I will be able to have more time talking to Thomas and relate his personal story in this blog.
Running Kit Of Thomas Combisen @ 2020 HK4TUC
The running kit of Thomas in last year’s (2019) HK4TUC did not change in this year’s edition except for his Hydration Vest and Shoes. Even for his nutrition and hydration, they had been the same but there are some things that we need to add.
Thomas decided not to use the Salomon S-Lab Sense 5-Liter Hydration Vest that he used in last year’s HK4TUC because it was already loose for him and wanted to use the one he always used in his trail and road ultras in the past which is the Mountain Hardwear Fuel 3-Liter Hydration Vest/Pack. If I remember right, I bought the same Hydration Vest three years ago at the Columbia Store in SM Megamall and it is still with me except that the zippers in the pockets are stuck and non-operational already. As I googled this item while writing this post, this particular model is no longer in the market and the brand had already stopped making them.
As compared to the Hydration Vests and Packs that the other runners used in this event, Thomas hydration pack/vest was very small in capacity but I was surprised that it was able to accommodate the Salomon Waterproof Jacket, his food, cellphone, a Windbreaker Jacket, Hydration bottles, handy water filtration unit, Headlights, and other miscellaneous things that Thomas needed in every trail leg. It is surprising to see the big back pocket with zipper could expand to accommodate everything. Since the hydration pack/vest has two mid-rib belts which are not stretchable, Thomas can tighten them to be always snugged on his body. Thomas did not use those Race Belts with pockets which is very popular among trail runners nowadays.
Thomas shirts during the event are our PAU Shirts By Bluprint (Imported Brand) but the Logo is printed locally. He used 3 PAU shirts (white, dark gray, & black) during the event and a shirt from Kalenji/Decathlon. He did not change his NIKE Running Shorts with PAU Logo Patch and RP Flag Patch throughout the event but he always change his underwear with the Decathlon’s Kalenji’s Under Shorts every time he starts a new trail leg. Throughout the event, he was consistently using the Injinji Socks and changed them every time he starts a new trail leg.
The day before the event, Rowell Campos brought us to Cam2Sports Store in Mongkok to buy a new pair of running shoes for Thomas. He was looking for an ALTRA Lone Peak 3.0 which he intends to use for the event. Thomas was lucky to find the remaining one pair of ALTRA Lone Peak 3.0 shoes available in the store which was ON SALE at 50% discount. This is the shoes that Thomas used for the 2 Trail Legs of the event (MacLehose & Wilson Trails). It was only in the Hong Kong and Lantau Trails that he used his old ALTRA Lone Peak 3.0 shoes. It was at the Hong Kong and Lantau Trails that Thomas started using his Compressport Compression Calf Sleeves. He did not use any shoe gaiters along the course.
As for his headlamp, Thomas was using a LedLenser Headlamp and another extra one which I could guess to be a regular Black Diamond Headlamp. He used his headlamp at the MacLehose, Wilson, and Hong Kong Trails. In his Lantau Trail, I gave him my Lupine Headlamp which he wore from the start until he reached the lighted portion of Mui Wo Road, near the Finish Line. The rechargeable battery was drained when Thomas gave it back to me. He could have used its High Beam which is 700 Lumens throughout his run/hike along the Lantau Trail. Thomas did not have any negative feedback on the use of his headlamps during those nights that he was on the trails.
As for his hydration needs, Thomas did not have any problem where to replenish his hydration needs, in terms of water or sports/cola drinks. He used his portable filtration unit in places where he can get water in streams in the mountains and in Public Comfort Rooms/Toilets’ faucets. He uses also his Octopus Card to get or buy what he wanted in those Vending Machines available in the vicinity of the Comfort Rooms in each Country Park Facility that he passes. There are also Free Source of Drinking Water which he observed as new additional structure within the vicinity of each Comfort Rooms/Toilets along the trail. And there are commercial establishments in the villages along the trail that Thomas can stop and order some hot food. Thomas can also stop to buy or order some solid foods in commercial establishments in the MTR Stations. There is always a 7-11 Store or Convenience Store in these MTR Stations. It is necessary that a runner in this race has some some Cash and Octopus Card with him during the event.
His food in his pack consisted of “Tikoy” (Rice Cake) from Bicol which we personally ordered for him, “Rice Cakes” (Chinese) from the 7-11 Store, Sky Flakes, Snickers, Yakult, Springs Gels, and Apples. All of these were packed inside the Hydration Pack of Thomas!
Thomas had been alternately using a Visor Cap (during day time) and a Running Cap (during nighttime) to cover his head. However, I have never seen him use any Buff/Neck Gaiter in all his runs in the past and in this event, to include last year’s HK4TUC.
Before he started the Lantau Trail, I gave him my GIRO Cycling Gloves which I know will give him warmth for his palms/fingers during the night and as he approaches the freezing winds of the Lantau Peak and Sunset Peak.
After the event, Thomas and I discussed the things that we should improve on and the things we should learn from his experience this year. He told me that he slowed down significantly at the Hong Kong Trail due drowsiness that brought him “hallucination” moments and the cold/freezing winds during the night. The strong, cold and freezing winds at the Lantau Trail had also slowed him down that he had to stop and take a nap, only to be awaken that he was already lying on the floor in one of the Pagodas/Rest Huts along the trail.
After a thorough discussion, I recommended him some solutions for his problems and we will use them in next year’s Thomas participation in the 10th edition of the HK4TUC.