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2018 TNF Lavaredo 120K Experience (Part 6)

3 07 2018

2018 TNF Lavaredo 120K Experience (Part 6)

Post Evaluation: TNF 120K Ultra Trail Race

What Went Right?

  1. Clothing & Gear: I think I used the best clothing gear, from trail shoes to my headlamp lighting system. My “layering” of my upper garment was perfect with a sleeveless Uniqlo shirt inside my Red PAU short-sleeved shirt with my Patagonia “Houdini” Windbreaker Light Jacket. I feel warm with my MIUT Buff/neck Gaiters; Compressport Headband and Salomon Running Cap. I had Giro Cycling Gloves with my LEKI Carbon Trekking Poles. My Salomon Speedcross 4 was perfect for the trail in Lavaredo which I used for two months in my training leading to the event. I was using a Salomon EXO Twinskin Short (Red) which was light, comfortable, and provided me with warm feeling during the night run.
  2. Salomon 5L Sense Ultra Hydration Vest & Pulse Belt: My Salomon Vest carried all the Mandatory Gear and Nutrition Needs for the whole course/event as I opted not to have any Drop Bag at Km 66/Cimabanche Aid Station. My Salomon Pulse Belt was perfect for my Trekking Poles; additional nutrition (Skyflakes) and Cellphone.
  3. Training: My “mountain and hill repeats” were very effective for the uphills and downhill runs for short duration/distance along the course.
  4. Nutrition & Hydration: I only have 5 pieces of Power Gels for emergency situation; 6 pieces of KIND Power Bar; 4 packs of SkyFlakes Crackers (Condensada); NUUN tablets: and two pieces of empty Ziplock.
  5. Pacing & Average Speed During The Race: I have a lot of lessons learned from my early DNF at MIUT in Madeira, Portugal. I needed to be very light during the race and trained for heavy loads (3 Liters of Water + Food) in my daily long runs in my Playground. I was satisfied with my average speed/pacing during my run at the TNF Lavaredo until I was slowed down with dizziness and pain on my knees.

Salomon S-Lab Sense Ultra 5 Liters

What Did I Do To Make It Right?

My frustration in MIUT last April gave me a lot of lesson learned and I was able to adjust things during my training. My early arrival in Cortina gave me the time to adjust with the weather and the altitude. However, I should have visited Tri Cime and other higher elevations of the course by Bus but with my lack of knowledge of the area, I was limited in trying to find the first and last few kilometers of the course. My CTS Coach John Fitzgerald sent me his last guidance with the gist/bottomline of focusing on the things that I could control during the race (nutrition, pacing, and mindset) with hiking with purpose and positive attitude. I learned a lot of variations on how to use the trekking poles during my training leading to this race. I really wanted to hike the uphills more efficiently with the trekking poles. I had more “push-ups” repetitions during my training days in order to make my shoulders stronger than what I had during MIUT.

Bringing lesser gels, bars, drink mix, and lighter mandatory gear (Salomon Bonatti Waterproof Jacket & Pants and Columbia Long-Sleeved Shirt) made my weight lighter during the run. I also carried lesser volume of water from the start to lighten my load but also carried an extra collapsible Salomon Foldable Bottle just in case I needed more water during the hotter part of the day.

After hiking the uphills, I would run at an easy pace on flatter and downhill portions of the course which gave me enough time to reach the First Cut-Off Time Checkpoint and put in more buffer time at the Check Point in Rifugio Di Auronzo.

Bring at least two empty Ziplocks in your pocket (easily accessible) for obvious reason.

Last Message Of My CTS Coach

What was NOT quite right during the race?

I opted to run the downhills on the early part of the course without using my trekking poles, most specially, on the seemingly flatter sections but they are actually gradual descents. I was thinking that I would be faster in running the downhills by not using the trekking poles but I was wrong. If only I have used my trekking poles on all the descents, I could have saved my quads and my knees from having pain even if I was slower by a few minutes. My old knees and legs need some cushioning when running the descents to preserve them for the last half of the course which has more descents.

I should have started to ingest my solid food on the start of the uphill climb from Lake Misurina to Rifugio Di Auronzo while on the move and not at the middle of the climb with a 3-5 minutes short stop and rest.

I should have NOT stayed so long at the Aid Station in Rifugio Di Auronzo and spent a lot of time sitting and talking with the Indonesian guy. I should have limited my stay there by simply eating the soup pasta, drinking my Coca Cola, and refilling my bottles while I was standing. I could have shaved at least 10-12 minutes of my stay here.

I really could not understand why I did not take the risk of taking some Aleve tablets to relieve the pain on my knees after the first switchback from Tri Cime/Peak of Lavaredo. I usually take these pain relievers on the middle of my race just to anticipate the pain on my knees which was very effective in solving the situation I am in in my past finishes.

At The Peak Of Lavaredo

What is the best-case scenario?

1. With a buffer time of 40+ minutes from Rifugio Di Auronzo, I should have maintained it up to the next Cut-Off Time Checkpoint in Cimabanche and gambled any remaining buffer time in every Checkpoint up to the last Cut-Off Time Checkpoint before the Finish Line.

2. I could have used my trekking poles more on the downhill/descents to save my knees/legs and be able to hike relentlessly with purpose up to the Finish Line. The time that made me faster to run or hike on the flatter and downhill sections without the trekking poles was nothing if I could have saved my legs and knees and be able to pass the Cut-Off Time Checkpoints.

3. From the start, one bottle of water/electrolyte mix (500 ml) is enough up to Km 33 to make my load lighter from midnight up to early morning due to the colder air/weather. One bottle filled with liquid in one bottle and another 1/2 bottle of liquid, totaling to 750 ml is needed from Km 33 up to the Aid Station in Rifugio Di Auronzo (Km 50). Carrying just the right amount of water on my vest could significantly reduce the weight I was carrying. Which translates to lighter load to my knees and legs.

What steps can you take to improve?

1. More strengthening exercises to my leg muscles. More push-ups and core exercises for my upper body.

2. More time to train for very LONG downhill running or hiking with the use of trekking poles. Downhill running/hiking distance should be at least 10 up to 20 kilometers straight down, whether they are steep and technical or not. (Note: Never stop using the trekking poles once they are deployed; in uphills, flats, and the downhills.)

3. More Mountain Downhill Repeats! Simply, the reverse of Hill/Mountain Repeats where one has to run or hike the downhill faster than going up to the mountain. This time, using my trekking poles!

4. Bring a lot of BUFF. One for the Ear Cover; one for the Mouth & Nose for the absorption of fluids due to “running nose”; and one for the neck. In addition, I can bring an extra BUFF to be looped on my wrist just in case I need a cloth to absorb some cold water from the streams to douse my head and neck during hotter part of the day.

5. If I have the time, I could have visited/recon by Bus or Car the highest peak or highest location along the course in order to acclimatize or take a brief hike.

The Intense Look @ The Dolomites

To be continued…

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2018 TNF Lavaredo 120K Experience (Part 4)

30 06 2018

2018 TNF Lavaredo 120K Experience (Part 4)

@ Federavecchia (Km 33.5)/First Cut-Off Time Checkpoint

Reaching this First Cut-Off Time Checkpoint at Federavecchia within 6:30 hours was my primary concern and target just to redeem myself from my frustration on my previous performance at the MIUT in Madeira, Portugal on the last week of April this year. I was happy and excited that I was able to build-up a buffer time of 32 minutes. With my age of 66 years old, I could be the happiest person among the runners that reached the said Aid Station.

1st Cut-Off Time Checkpoint @ Km 33.5 in 6.5 Hours/Average Speed: 6.26 KPH

I immediately brought out my almost empty Salomon Bottle, drank the remaining liquid and had it filled up with water, dropped one tablet of NUUN, and placed it back on the vest. Brought out an empty Ziplock bag from my vest and immediately filled it with apple bite cuts and dried apricot and immediately left the Aid Station. It took me less than 2 minutes to do all these things. But as soon as I left the Aid Station, I was facing a straight steep uphill climb.

I started to eat what I took from the Aid Station while I was hiking up the uphill climb which is an asphalted road that can accommodate three runners abreast with each other. The uphill climb consisted of more switchbacks and it lasted for about 2.5 kilometers. It took me two times to eat the fruit bites from the ziplock and they provided me the much needed energy to reach the peak of the third climb of the course and was able to reach Plan Maccetto which is almost Km 39 from the Start. From this point, I started to run on a single track trail which was a soft ground with with lots of small grass around. Even if this place is still considered in a higher elevation, my “running nose” and numbing hands had stopped and the temperature was becoming warmer to my body. After about 3 kilometers of running downhill, I finally reached the edge of a body of water which is called the Lake Misurina!

Tip: You can master the art of filling the Aid Station’s food with an empty Ziplock Bag. It will save you some time, instead of standing while eating your food at the Aid Station. Keep moving while you are eating and hydrating.

Lake Misurina

Lake Misurina is a beautiful lake with very clear water. I was tempted to take a “selfie” and picture of the lake & the surrounding mountains but I promised myself not to bring out my cellphone during the course of my run. The three of us Pinoy runners had talked about not having pictures along the course since it will delay our run/hike from Aid Station/Checkpoint to the next one. Knowing that there are Professional Photographers along the course in different strategic locations, there was no need for “selfies” or picture-taking on the scenery. It was another 1.2 to 2 kilometers run on a wide dirt road surrounding the Lake before I reached a Lady Marshal who was holding a Time Scanner. She tagged me and I asked her how far was the next Cut-Off Time Checkpoint and she replied “10 kilometers”. But looking on the map/elevation profile on my Race Bib, it indicates a distance of only 7 kilometers! I wonder which is one telling the truth, the Lady Marshal or the Map printed on the Race Bib?

@Lake Misurina/Average Speed: 3.81 KPH

After I exited from the periphery of Lake Misurina, I was now following an asphalted road that was going up to the mountain but the runners were directed to run along the dirt path/trail beside the paved road as shown and depicted by the trail markings. It was doing an alternate hike on the paved road and then going back to the dirt track beside the road and back again to the paved road at this point using my trekking poles. I was able to pass by an Asian guy and I started to have a conversation with him. He told me that he is from Hongkong and he was busy looking at his cellphone. Thinking that he was checking on our route through his cellphone, I asked him about the actual distance (while hiking uphill) to the next Aid Station and he answered “I don’t know!” That’s it! That stopped my conversation with him and I just tread on with my fast hiking.

Tip: The main reason why a cellphone is an important mandatory gear is that for communication purposes to the Race Organizer in cases of emergency and not for photography!

Rifuego Di Auronzo

From the paved road, I veered right from the highway and followed a single-track trail that seemed to be going flat and downhill but it was a short one. Looking up ahead of me, I could see from the distance, the iconic Rifuego Di Auronzo where the famous 3-rock mountain formation is located! The Tri Cime mountain formation is the LOGO of the TNF Lavaredo! By looking at the next Aid Station at the Tri Cime, I had a mixed feeling of delight and sadness as I need a lot of strength to reach the highest point of the course. The single track trail was a relentless uphill climb which is about 2-3 kilometers of steep winding uphill assault. As I was about to crest the last “false” peak, I stopped and ate two packs of Skyflakes Condensada and followed it with a Clif Power Gel. I was able to regain my strength after that and I was able to reach the Aid Station and Cut-Off Time Checkpoint at Rifugio Di Auronzo in 10:23 hours! I was able to accumulate a buffer time of almost one hour at this point.

It was an awesome sight to see the Tri Cime in Lavaredo, Dolomites and I became in love with the place! But before I could absorb what I was seeing and feeling at that moment in a place so beautiful to be at, I need to refill my bottles and ate some pasta soup with powdered cheese at the Aid Station. I was seated beside an Indonesian runner and we had a short conversation. The Indonesian happened to be in the same hotel where I was staying and he arrived later than me in Cortina. He is 54 years old and he looks like he is from their uniformed services. I think I was able to spend at least 15-20 minutes in this Aid Station. Finally, The Indonesian and I left the Aid Station at the same time. However, he was stronger and faster than me in hiking with his trekking poles.

Tip: Never, never, never stay at the Aid Station for more than 5 minutes if you need to eat and rest thereat.Never have the temptation to sit!

It was a flat downhill wide dirt road from the Aid Station which is about one and half kilometer and we had at least 3 kilometers more of uphill climb to reach the peak of the Lavaredo Mountain which is the highest point of the course. I could still keep in step with the Indonesian guy on the first 1.5 kilometers but when we turned left for the steep uphill climb, he made a considerable distance from me but I could still see him from afar. I think I was able to reach the highest point in almost one hour from the Aid Station. I think it was at this point where I was able to meet the Official Photographers of the Event. It was also at this point that at least 3 local runners, coming from behind me, tapped my shoulders and cheered me & congratulated me for reaching the said place!

Peak of Lavaredo Mountain

Finally, I reached the peak of the Lavaredo Mountain where I could see the North side face of the Tri Cime! As I hiked the first few meters going downhill, I was excited and happy to have reached at this point. Since my Garmin GPS Watch had been connected with my USB Charger, I could not see what was my actual distance at this point but on the Map/Elevation Profile as reference, it could be at Km 51.

@Rifugio Di Auronzo/Average Speed: 3.13 KPH

After hiking downhill for about 250 meters, I started to feel dizzy. The feeling was like I was drunk with Irish Whiskey and became sleepy! It was almost 10:00 AM (actual day time) and the weather was mild (but I was still wearing my Patagonia Windbreaker with the hood on my head). I panicked and I had to rest and lean on right side of the trail/dirt road. The left edge of the road is deep ravine. While resting and taking in some deep breath, I was tempted to bring out my cellphone and took the picture of the Tri Cime. After taking the picture and drinking some sip of my electrolytes, I resumed my hiking! However, after another 100 meters, I felt some dizziness again! Instead of stopping, I reduced my pace and went nearer to the right side of the trail just to anticipate that if I fell to the ground or pass out due to dizziness, I will not fall to the ravine. I became nervous as I hiked with the thought that I might pass out at this place and be air-lifted with a helicopter or just pass out to die while I am on this place of the earth. All of these things were in my mind, trying to figure out what could be the best to do in this kind of situation. I guess, a simple prayer did the trick and more deep breathing to remove the feeling of dizziness while I was hiking slowly towards the first switchback of the downhill course!

Tri Cime Of The Dolomites

Tip: If you think something is wrong with your body, STOP, take a rest, relax, take a deep breath, and enjoy the scenery. Re-assess yourself, PRAY and resume slowly.

The first switchback along this downhill course from the Tri Cime/Peak of Lavaredo is being guarded by Park Ranger or Polize (?) who were in Red Uniform. From this switchback, it was a steep, rocky and very technical single-track trail which is about 2-3 kilometers of more switchbacks. As I hiked and jogged this portion, I started to feel some pain on my left knee and my quads were already feeling to had been trashed. As I crossed a dry river bed on the bottom part of this trail, I could hardly lift my legs and my left knee pain became more painful. I tried to hike on the flatter section with my trekking poles to relieve the pain on my knees and rest my trashed quads.

My ONLY “Selfie” During The Event

I could feel already the warm air on the lower elevation of the course and I started to have some sweat/perspiration and tried to lessen my thoughts about my left knee pain. I did not remove my Patagonia Windbreaker and instead, just removed the hood from my head and I could still feel the cold breeze passing on my head.

Landro To Cimabanche

Finally, I was on the last 3 kilometers before the Aid Station/Cut-Off Time Checkpoint at Cimabanche (Km 66.9) and I started to do whatever “speed drills” and “strides” I did in my training in order to speed up my pace. The wide dirt road seemed to be flat but in reality, it is a gradual uphill climb up to the Checkpoint. I tried to do all my best to reach the Aid Station within the cut-off time in 12:30 hours but I was thinking already that my race was done once I reach at this point. My aching left knee could no longer withstand the next 53 kilometers of more challenging climbs and steep descents, thus, I could no longer accumulate some buffer time in every Checkpoint. I was envious of those local Italians who were cycling on this road with their nice jerseys and expensive Mountain Bikes, as they would pass or meet me along this road. I just entertained myself on looking on these young men and ladies biking on the said road.

The “sweepers” were able to reach and catch me on the last 50 meters before the Aid Station. One of the sweepers started a conversation with me after he saw on my Race Bib that I came from the Philippines. He told me that his wife is a Filipino and she is from Digos City, Davao Del Sur and they have some children (I forgot how many) and he showed me the pictures of his wife and children in his cellphone while we were jogging. He even asked with a “selfie” with me! Wow! These Italians are like Filipinos and they like/love Filipinos!

Cimabanche: The End Of The Line/Average Speed: 4.07 KPH

I missed the cut-off time by almost 13 minutes!

Tip: Listen to your body…always! Determine your limits and gracefully surrender in defeat. There will always be next time to redeem yourself. You can not fight against nature if you are already weak and injured. You will never win!

While we were in the bus going back to the Ice Olympic Stadium in Cortina, I counted the number of runners who DNFd in the Aid Station and I was able to count to 12 and I was the oldest, I think. I just smiled and one the ladies (from Croatia or Poland?) in the bus (who smiled and winked at me in one of the previous Aid Stations, I guess, in Rifugio Di Auronzo) was also there and she smiled at me, too before I was able to sleep during the ride!

To be continued…





2018 TNF Lavaredo 120K Experience (Part 3)

30 06 2018

2018 TNF Lavaredo 120K Experience (Part 3)

Past Pinoy Finishers Of TNF Lavaredo 120K

  1. Simon Sandoval: He is based in the Philippines. Finished the race in 2014 with a time of 23:33:35 hours, the first Pinoy to finish this race with the best time so far.
  2. Mark Fernandez: Finished the race in 2016 with a time of 29:44:46 hours. He is a Registered Nurse based in Europe, presently in Germany.
  3. Jerome Bautista: Finished the race in 2017 with a time of 26:13:37 hours. Jerome is based in Metro Manila, Philippines.
  4. Ramoncito “Mon” Beleno: Finished the race in 2017 with a time of 27:10:58 hours. Mon is based in Hongkong.

All of these four past finishers don’t have a blog or detailed story about their finish on the said event, except for the Facebook “status” posted by Jerome and Mon after they finished the event last year. However, I was able to contact them through Personal Messenger and asked them about their Travel Arrangements and Accommodation but I did not ask about the details of the route and things to anticipate during the race. However, I am not sure if they will share to me the details of the course/event even if I asked them. Oh, well, I think they were not generous enough to share their stories of pain, hardships, problems, concerns, and tips for victory (?) to overcome this very challenging ultra trail running event. This is the reason why I am doing this blog with a lot of details and be able to share my experience with the other runners, whether I was in pain/frustration and in happy mood!

TNF Lavaredo 120K Elevation Profile

Race Proper

Arwin, Rodel, and I started at the lower one-third of the runners and we initially walked for a few seconds and started to jog along the paved road of Cortina as we cleared the Start/Finish arc of the event. All of the runners were heading to the north direction, passed by the commercial establishments with people and audience cheering on us. We ran along the main highway until we veered off to the left on a short descent and started to climb up to the trailhead. The jog became an easy run for me but I could no longer see the backs of Arwin and Rodel as they were faster than me.

Before The Gun Start

My trekking poles were stashed with my Salomon Pulse Belt and I was running on an easy pace along the seemingly flat highway but I could feel that it was gradually going uphill because I can feel the tightness of my breath and I slowed down but I was happy that I can keep up with my planned speed of 6 kilometers per hour. I brought out my trekking poles as we approached the trailhead. The runners in front of me suddenly stopped and found out that the entry to the trailhead was packed with runners that I had to wait for my turn to enter it in about 2 minutes as only two runners abreast could fit into the entry of the trail. However, as we climbed along the trail, the width widened and each of the runners had some space to hike and jog the uphill. At this point, I had my own space and relentlessly used my trekking poles to reach the higher elevation of the trail. The trail was wide and not technical in nature and some are asphalted at the start but later became as soft soil trail.

Tip: For the faster runners, they can sprint the first 2.5 kilometers of paved road up to the trailhead to avoid the “bottleneck or traffic” of runners preventing them for some wasted time of waiting. For the back of the runner, if you ran the 2.5 kilometers from the start, the “bottleneck or traffic” is a good way to force one to rest and stabilize ones heart rate and breathing.

The following photo grab of my start on the “liveultra trail” shows that I was able to clear the starting timing mat after 4 minutes, reckoned from 11:00 PM and with 3 minutes of delay from the start, I was able to cross the start timing mat in one minute from the place I was positioned.

@ The Start Of The Race

There are 1,700 runners but only 1,650+ actually started the race.

The uphill climb from the trailhead was a regular switchback that continuous to climb some sort of a peak but it was hard to determine the overall surrounding since it was still dark. What I knew was that we were in a forest. I was using my Lupine Headlamp and had it adjusted at its lowest lumen-adjustment which is about 70-80 lumens and was just enough to illuminate 2-3 meters ahead of me. I intended to use this headlight for entire the course after I have tested that its maximum light adjustment (which is 750 lumens) can last for about 12 hours and its low light adjustment can last for 60 hours. Arwin, Rodel, and I discussed that nighttime in the Cortina mountains would come at 9:30 PM (recommended time to put on the headlight) and the early light in the morning at 4:30 AM (recommended time to put off the headlight). So, in summary, we need 5.5 hours for the 1st night and then another full 7 hours for the 2nd night, totaling to 12.5 hours of burning time for our headlight for the entire course. However, in order to anticipate some problems with my Lupine lighting system, I brought with me my Silva Headlamp (70 lumens) with 6 AAA Batteries (3 inside the lamp and 3 as reserve) in my pack which is very light.

Tip: Find time to test the burning time of your Headlight, whether on its “low and high” mode. From the burning time, you can now adjust to the period from of the event’s course “early evening and early morning” times in order to compute, at least, the number of burning time needed to finish the course.

As we reached the first peak (Km 7), I was surprised to see some people cheering us and some flashing of camera. Every time I saw people cheering us along the trail, I would always say “Thank you” and they would reply, “Bravo” or “Ciao”. Wow! They are still awake at 12 Midnight just to cheer us going up to the mountains! I really like the Italians!

As compared to MIUT, I was happy that I could see more headlights behind me, which means that there are more runners behind me, rather than I was one of the few ones at the tail end of the runners. I did not purposely look behind my back to see the runners behind me but in a switchback, as I turn in at the curve uphill, I could glance from my peripheral vision the lights below me! And there are lots of moving lights below me!

First 7K Of The Course (This Photo will be bought soon!)

At the start of the first downhill of the course, I remembered what happened to me at MIUT that I have to wait and stop for the slower runners in front of me to move to resume my running which cost me the extra 5-minute time to be cut-off very early at the first checkpoint @ Km 14. At this time, I was a “bad-ass” to the other runners that I had to pass or overtake them without a word, instead, switching the “maximum brightness” of my Lupine Headlamp to warn the runner in front of me that somebody is very close behind them. I really did not know how many runners I overtook at this point. There was also a group of 7-8 runners in front of me that I overtook where the lady heading this group was shouting after I passed them. What the heck? I really didn’t care what the Italian lady was saying. I was focused not to be cut-off at the first Cut-Off Checkpoint at Km 33.5!

At the bottom of the first descent, my Race Bib was tagged by a Marshal holding a timing scanner and he pointed the direction going to the trail. I think the place is called Plan De Ra Spines which is Km 12. I knew that from the trail the Marshal pointed to me was the start of another ascent. After about 3 kilometers of ascent on switchbacks, it leveled off and I was able to run and I knew I was getting nearer to the First Aid Station, Ospitale!

@Ospitale, First Aid Station @ Km 17.5/Average Speed: 5.94 KPH

From the Hotel, my two Salomon Flask Bottles (500ml each) were filled with my NUUN mix but as I was walking to the Start Line, I was already sipping and hydrating my body from one of the flask bottles. Before the start, the other bottle was already one-half filled with my liquid mix. I thought of myself that I would be lighter during the early part of the course with less water/liquid in my pack. I was surprised that I have few more drops of liquid from the bottle where I’ve been drinking from the start.

The cold weather in the night and early morning prevented me from perspiring profusely. Since I am a “heavy sweater”, to the point that I could lost 1.5 pound of water from my body in my one hour trail run workouts in my Playground (even if I have ingested one liter of water/mix during the run), I was surprised that I have only ingested almost 1/4 of liter before reaching the first Aid Station in Ospitale (Km 17.5) and that is a duration of 2.5 hours running time from the start!

Tip: If you want to be light and fast on the first 15 kilometers, you can carry only one bottle (500 ml) filled with water or liquid mix.

Few meters before Ospitale, I finally saw the back of Rodel and I called his attention and we greeted each other. Since I don’t have the intention of staying long in the Aid Station as it was filled with a lot of runners. I just refilled my empty Salomon Flask Bottle with water and put one tablet of NUUN and I was back on the trail. The timing mat for the Aid Station was some few meters after the table of food and water. I continued with my hike as I knew I was headed for the 2nd peak of the course. I was not sure if Rodel went ahead of me or he was left behind at the Aid Station. What I knew was that, I did not spend one minute in that Aid Station.

I could no longer remember or recall the nature of the trail from this point as I was focused to beat the cut-off time at Federavecchia, the 1st Cut-Off Time Checkpoint at Km 33.5. I must be able to clear the 1st Cut-Off Time Checkpoint in 6.5 hours. But what I recalled was that I started to have some “running nose” which I could not control by sniffing back to my nose! So, I just let them flow from my nose while purposely hiking relentlessly to the peak of the mountain. From time to time, I would use the BUFF that I wrapped around my right wrist to wipe my nose. It started to get cold that my ears were becoming numb and I put on the hood of my Patagonia Windbreaker over my head and pulled down my Compressport Headband lower to cover my ears, this gave some warmth to my face and head. But the worst feeling that I remembered was my hands getting numbed due to the cold weather. As per weather forecast, we would feel freezing temperature of ZERO Celsius from 3-5 AM and I think that was what I was feeling at that time with the rest of the runners. I was wearing a thick cycling gloves with my trekking poles and I could feel my fingers to be bloating and numb due to the cold air and higher elevation. I have a full gloves in my pack and I did not want to waste time of pulling them out and thus, maintained using what I was wearing already with my hands.

Tip: Use your BUFF to cover your nose and mouth when you think the air you are breathing is too cold for you. You can also cover your mouth ONLY in order to let your “running nose” fluid to be absorbed by the cloth.

Tip: Your collection of BUFF or neck gaiters is very useful in mountain trail running, they are effective also in wiping your fluids from your “running nose” if they are “looped” on your wrist. Bring, at least, 3 pieces of Buff.

I thought of eating solid food to generate heat for my body and I was able to ingest one of my KIND Bars with Nuts and shredded coconut. I was able to ingest the whole bar while hiking but after a few seconds, I started to cough heavily! Shit! Some of the shredded coconut were stucked to my throat that were causing to the irritation. I have to drink one half of my bottle flask content just to flush down those coconut flakes in my throat. It relieved me but as I went higher to the peak of the mountain, I still have some coughing but I knew it was no longer due to what I have eaten but I was already experiencing the effect of higher altitude. Finally, I was able to reach the 2nd peak at Son Forca. It’s time to run again!

Tip: Every time you swallow your food, make sure they are chewed to pieces and follow it up with water. Eat your food while you are hiking.

@Passo Tre Croci (Km 28)/Average Speed: 5:03 KPH

I was surprised to see the runners ahead of me after clearing the peak that they were hiking/walking. What is happening to these runners? The road was wide, non-technical, and flat and they are walking? So, I started to run without using my trekking poles and it was an easy run that I was able to pass more runners! After a few kilometers, it was now another downhill switchbacks until we reached a narrow asphalted road on a flat area which looks like a farm with lots of big horses. I was behind a white guy who avoided the trail as the horses were on the trail and I just went pass through those horses as I tried to drive them away from the trail. The guy said that he will not risk doing what I’ve done since he might be kicked by one of the horses. I smiled and I started to talk to him. I found out that the guy is from Auburn, California, USA and I told him that he is supposed to be at the Western States 100 Endurance Run, either as a runner or a cheerer! He said that he has some running friends who are joining this year’s edition and I said I have also two of my friends who are Filipinos who are also joining the event. I asked him to run with me up to the timing mat of the 1st Cut-Off Time Checkpoint but he prefered to just hike.

I was happy I was able to cross the 1st Cut-Off Checkpoint with a buffer time of 32 minutes!

1st Cut-Off Time Checkpoint @ Km 33.5 in 6.5 Hours/Average Speed: 6.26 KPH

To be continued….





2nd Week Of Training: Mt Fuji Mountain Race

30 06 2017

June 19-25, 2017

June 19, Monday, was a well-deserved REST Day for me after my weekend “back-to-back” training runs which culminated in a 10.5 mile recon run in Palayan City, Nueva Ecija & Fort Magsaysay. The heat of the sun on those exposed single-track trail put a lot of exhaustion and fatigue to my body system. I usually have a complete rest on this day by eating and having more time to sleep on Sunday and Monday evenings.

This week will be my first full week of training from Monday up to Sunday. On Tuesday, the training schedule was for me to do a 1:30-hour Endurance Run on a trail and I selected my Backyard’s Loop #2 Trail as my course. This course is what I fondly called as the “Brown Mountain” course which is a wide-dirt road and eventually turns into a single-track trail to the foot/peak of Mt Quadrante and Mt Tambong/Mt Maniwalan. I was able to cover a distance of 7.17 miles for 1:31+hours with an average speed of 12:42 minutes per mile. I observed that my run was very comfortable because of the cooler air as I started my run very early in the morning, before the sun rises.

On Wednesday, I had my first “hill repeats” or Interval Training workout. The total time for this workout, to include the warm-up run; hill repeats & rest between interval; and the cool-down run, would result to 1:30 hours. I did my “hill repeats” in a place where the housing subdivision was discontinued and the place was all mine in the early morning as there were no people in the area. It was my first time to feel the shortness of breath and the feeling of being dizzy as if I am going to have a “heart stroke” after I did my 4th repetition. I have to adjust my pace but I tried my best to push harder as I reach the highest elevation/end of my hill repeats in every repetition. I have to bring up my knees higher; swing my arms faster and wider; and breath as hard as I can. The total distance that I covered was 6.78 miles but I felt that I was able to force my heart and lungs to a higher level of exertion than I had before!

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Endurance Runs @ Backyard’s Loop #2 (Mt Tambo/Maniwalan At The Background)

On Thursday, I had my Recovery Run/Easy Run for one hour where I covered a distance of 5.20 miles. This was done on a paved road where the first half was slightly going uphill and then back to where I started.

On Friday, it was another 1:30-hour Endurance Run which I decided to have at the same course that I did last Tuesday (at my Backyard’s Loop #2). The same as of Tuesday’s run, I have to run up to the mountain for 45-46 minutes and then turn-around towards the starting line for the second-half of my workout. To my surprise, I was ahead or faster by 2:30 minutes when I reached the turn-around point during my run last Tuesday and I just continued my run for more elevation gain for the rest of my time before turning around for my last 45 minutes back to where I started. I was able to cover a distance of 7.63 miles on this workout!

On Saturday, I had my second “hill repeats” session, the same session/workout that I had last Wednesday but the total number of hours for this workout is 2:30 hours. Since it was the schedule of one of my PAU races (Mariveles To Bagac 50K Ultra Run), I have to think of a way where I can insert my training workout while I am supervising this race. Instead of “hill repeats” of going up the hill and then back down the hill, I improvised my “hill repeats” by continuously going up towards the peak or highest point of the course. So, I brought my vehicle to the highest point of the course, parked it, and then I started my warm-up run by going down the mountain for 40 minutes on an easy pace. From the point where I made my turn-around, I returned up to the mountain doing my “hill repeats”. After 1:20 hours, I continued my run and tried to catch up with the runners of my race. After 2:30 hours I was able to cover a distance of 13 miles. Since the road was not as steep as my “hill repeats” on Wednesday, I felt I did not push too hard and felt that I was still strong after the desired number of hours of my workout for the day had elapsed.

On Sunday, the goal was to practice running and hiking on a higher elevation gain for 4 hours which is a good equivalent of “double-traverse” to my Backyard’s Loop #3 (Mt Roosevelt Traverse). It was also a workout to train for my hydration and nutritional needs in longer runs with more elevation gain. I was in the company of PAU runners who just finished in the previous day’s 50K run! We had some rests and “pit stops” along the route but we were able to make it in 5 hours for a total distance of 13.3 miles. It was nice to be back on this course which I missed for the past 4 weeks. We had some delays on our uphill climb due to the growing tall grasses and plants that partly cover the trail. On our way back for our 2nd traverse, the sun was already hot as most of the trail is exposed to the sun. We slowed down due to the heat and I had to submerge myself to a flowing stream, 3 miles before the finish line! We ingested some solid foods and soda drinks at the turn-around point (Mile 6.6).

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At The Peak Of Mt Roosevelt With PAU Runners

Everyday, I have to force myself to sleep 8-9 hours every night and after my “hill repeats” sessions, I had to take a nap in the afternoon for some rest. My nutrition intake for the week consists of ordinary Filipino foods and fruits.

The following are the totals for this week:

Total Duration (Time): 13:40 Hours

Total Distance: 52.8 Miles/84.48 Kilometers

Total Elevation Gain: 21,795 Feet

Elevation Gain Per Mile: 412.78 Feet

Lace up and go run!





1st Week of Training: Mt Fuji Mountain Race

21 06 2017

June 12-18, 2017

After I have finished the  4th & last Marathon Race of the BR’s Quad Marathon, I did not run for two days, Tuesday & Wednesday, to give rest to my tired body. I simply ate and slept for these two days with some stretching to my legs and body. These two days officially started my training for the Mt Fuji Mountain Race which will be held on July 28, 2017.

Starting on this week, I started to shift/change my training using the time duration of my workout as my goal/objective for every workout, instead of planning to run a certain distance. For the past training cycles, I have been concentrating on the number of miles I have covered every week and it is worth a try to be counting on the number of hours as the priority data for my workouts. Mileage will be secondary data to be considered and recorded.

On Thursday, I had a one hour recovery run on a flat paved road with an Average Pace of 12:09 minutes per mile. My GPS Watch registered a distance of 5.02 miles. It was a very relaxing pace where I would be running and talking with one of my former elite athletes with Team Bald Runner who happens to be a runner-soldier of the Philippine Army. I thought it was an easy and relaxing one hour run but the data in my GPS Watch registered otherwise. It appeared that I was exerting so much effort on the last half of my workout.

On Friday, I made sure to have a slower and more relaxing one hour recovery run where I registered a distance of 4.95 miles and with a slower Average Pace of 12:23 minutes per mile but the workout was done on the streets surrounding Fort Bonifacio with lots of rolling hills. The total elevation gain was 1,816 feet and was able to register an Average BPM of 132. I guess, I was too fast in this workout as a result of my deep-tissue massage the night before this workout.

On Saturday, the schedule was to run 1:30:00 hours on the trails. I had my run in my backyard/Playground’s Loop #1 which is an “out and back” route up to the distance where my GPS Watch registered a time of 46 minutes! This was my first trail run since I’ve finished my Quad Marathons. I call this workout as an “Endurance Run” which I am training for as my regular pace in all my trail running races/events. Having said that, these Endurance Runs will be the “bread and butter” in all my weekly workouts. I was able to finish a distance of 6.43 miles with an Average Pace of 14:14 minutes per mile. The total elevation gain is 2,011 feet with an elevation loss of 1,880 feet. My Average BPM is 150 with a Maximum of 161. I think I was running with a faster pace considering that the course has lots of steep hills.

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Saturday Run @ Backyard’s Loop #1

In the afternoon of Saturday, I had some strengthening exercises which I finished in 30 minutes which are geared towards my core!

On Sunday, I was invited by a friend to recon the proposed course of a new trail route where the event will be held later this year. It was supposed to be a 2-3-hour trail run but we finished the run in 5:05:07 hours covering a distance of 10.7 miles with a total elevation gain of 7,336 feet  and a elevation loss of 7,247 feet. We were running the first half of the course until we hiked towards the peak of Mt Mapait which has an elevation of 1,137 feet and power hiked the last half of the course. Due to the exposed nature of the trail from the heat of the sun, we were exhausted and had to make a lot of stops on flowing streams to cool off our bodies. The Average Pace in this workout was 28:26 minutes per mile (to include rests) with an Average BPM of 129.

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Sunday’s Recon Run & Hike In Palayan City/Fort Magsaysay

For four days, I was able to register 8 hours and 39 minutes duration of run, covering a distance of 27.1 miles. The total elevation gain is 11,176 feet. Which means that for every mile that I covered, I was able to get an elevation of 412 feet!

Week #1 Summary:

Number Of Hours: 8:39 hours

Distance: 27.1 miles

Total Elevation Gain: 11,176 feet

Elevation Gain Per Mile: 412 feet

This is just the beginning of my training cycle and I am happy that I am having fun without any “niggles” or extreme pain on my legs or body. I am hoping that I will be stronger and faster next week!

Lace up and go run!

 

 





Mental (Training) Preparation

23 03 2017

For a serious marathoner or ultra runner, the physical training in preparation for an event needs a lot of time, effort, dedication, patience, money, and hard work just be able to attain those number of miles, hours of training, and comply to the scheduled training one has to follow. It is already ingrained in us the importance of the following: Long Slow Distance running to develop our endurance; Interval Training and Hill Repeats to develop our power, strength, and speed; Tempo Running to develop a sustained pace for a certain period of time; and Recovery Runs to allow our muscles to recover after a certain more intense workout or after a block of weekly training. And most important of all, Rest, for our muscles and the whole body to recuperate and rebuild as a result of the stress the body had been exposed to.

Even if we think that our physical preparation is perfectly done, there is still a great possibility that we fail to cross the finish line. There are outside factors that will try to challenge our physical training. It could be the weather, the difficulty of the terrain (high altitude), injury, or if not, accidents! But what is most important during the race is how your brain works before and during the race.

Mental attitude during the race is the key to a successful finish in a race and it plays a lot in all my successful finish in the past.

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“Train Heavy, Race Light”

For a runner to have a positive mental attitude during the race, he/she should have done his/her assignment on mental training/preparation before and during his/her physical training preparation for the event. Only few of our elite or average ultra runners who would tell us in their respective blogs on how they mentally prepared themselves to podium finish or simply finish the event. Or maybe, they don’t know about mental attitude as it is already ingrained in their body system without them knowing it.

Here are my suggestions for anybody on how to mentally prepare for a certain running event, either you are a “newbie” runner or a hardcore ultra runner:

  1. Create a Blog——It is now very easy to create a blog or personal website where a runner can use it as a Daily Dairy. Just make sure that all your stories or entries are true and accurate. This is where you describe your physical training and the place where the training is done on a daily basis. In short, this is your Runner’s Logbook where you include what you think about your training for the day and how your body feels before, during and after the workout. Do not fabricate or manufacture your daily entry. If you missed a daily workout, say so! Nowadays, you can have your blog on Facebook! This “diary” will become your reference in your future races. And please don’t think that you will be “sharing” your “secrets” to your readers by showing to the world how you are preparing for your next running event. The key word in the present world of Social Media is “SHARE”. The more you share your experience, the more you inspire others!
  2. Shout It To The World——If you are dreaming a certain event for you to join, announce it to the world. If you are intending to Register to a certain event, announce it to the world through your Social Media accounts. If you have successfully registered to an event, announce it to the world. Announcing your intention to the World is too easy to be done nowadays. You can announce it to your Blog/Website, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. The key here is that as early as possible, announce to the world that you are participating a certain event and you announce it that you will finish the event. Announcing your participation to a race makes you accountable of the things you would do to finish this race. You are also accountable to your family, relatives and friends.
  3. Make A Bet——As if you are gambling, make a bet on yourself. If you finish the event, you must be able to reward yourself with something that is very significant and reminds you of your accomplishment. It could be something physical (object—-new shoes or new running gear/apparel or a trip to a place where you can rest and relax. If you fail in your event, think of of something that will penalise or punish you! Maybe, you could take a rest or simply do another sports which you hate most! Or maybe, punish yourself by volunteering to a race where you hate the Race Director! The key here is that you should challenge yourself to be the best you could be!
  4. Ask Somebody To Make A Bet——It could be your close friend or Friends on Facebook whom you would challenge to gamble with you. If you win, you get something from them and if you lose, you give something to them. Just simple as that! Challenge your friends to gamble with you!
  5. Ask for Sponsorship and Donations——If you are very good in convincing other people, most specially to your friends, in helping you finance your trip or provide you some of the needed support like water, sports drinks and food, you can ask for sponsorship or donations. In this way, you are adding accountability to your success (or failure) among those who have donated your needs for the race.
  6. Be transparent——Post anything on your Blog those evidence that you are dedicated in your training and in your quest to finish your event. It could be coming from your workout/s on Strava, Dailymile, Training Peaks, or any pictures of you doing your homework for the event.
  7. Read Race Reports of Finishers——Most of the runners abroad have their own blog and most of them are elite runners but most of them are average ultra runners. They would share their experiences and lessons learned during their race. These blogs would provide all the detailed information about the Race. However, do not try to attain their finish time and their split times on the different Checkpoints along the route. What is important is that you can pick-up and learn some details about their attitude and sometimes, their strengths and weaknesses (mistakes) during the race.
  8. Try to Mimic or Train In A Place Similar to the Event’s Course——By studying the Elevation Profile of a certain race, you can easily determine or locate a place where you can do your training. As I said in my previous posts, you have to compute the elevation gain in every 10 kilometres of the race and then find a place where you can train with the same total of elevation gain. If it is not possible, do mountain “repeats” or multi-loop runs in a course where it is hilly or in a rugged terrain. Make sure also to be observant on your time as some of the checkpoints have a very tight cut-off times in some sections of the course.
  9. Do “Brainstorming” Sessions——In the military, we do “brainstorming” sessions during the planning stage of a military operation. We write down the possible scenario that will lead to a successful attainment of the mission/objective and in the same manner, write down the scenario that will lead to the failure of the mission. In running an ultra, you have to do this also. As of this time, you know already your strengths and weaknesses in running an ultra race. Write them down and review them as you recall them in your successes and failures in your past events. Write down also your “time-tested” remedies/solutions when you hit some “issues” along the run. From all these data, you can now write a chronological list of things to do and/or things that you experience in your body in every section of the course or in every certain period of time that you are running in an event. Hopefully, you will create a very long list and while you are reviewing them every day, you will be able to compress them and come up with an outline or a shorter version. Remember that the things on the list are the things that you are EXPECTED to do and the things that your body would react or expect to experience, considering the weather, your pace, and the terrain of the course during the race. If there is a need to have a back-up Plan, then do so! Read these plans as often as possible!
Hiking 04

Do Your Homework Diligently

Since this post is for one’s mental preparation and training before a running event, I leave it at that and more to come on how we can sustain a positive mental attitude during the race. If you have any suggestions, feel free to make a comment/suggestion on this blog.

Thank you!





Race Report: 2017 Tarawera 102K Ultramarathon Race (Part 1)

16 02 2017

Race Report: 2017 Tarawera 102K Ultramarathon Race (Part 1)

Introduction

Nine years ago when I was planning to conduct the first edition of the Bataan Death March 102K Ultramarathon Race (BDM 102), I found a list of Ultramarathon Races that was published in the Internet and one of them was the Tarawera 100 which was described to be an ultramarathon event on the beach and in the forests of Rotorua, New Zealand. Little did I realize that the said event was born on the same year that the BDM 102 had its first edition with the same distance, except for the fact that it was purely done on the trails and on the scenic spots of New Zealand.

I have read a few blogs and Race Reports about the event from international trail running elites since then and I was amazed how fast these runners would finish the race. Every year, I would also see pictures on Facebook of Pinoy Runners based in New Zealand finishing the event. And last year, I found out that some runners who joined my BDM Races and PAU trail races (Arlene Agulto and Jose Mina, Jr) have finished the race and I’ve read their respective Race Report on Facebook and on their blogs.

After I’ve read their blogs and posts on Facebook, I started to research more about the said Ultramarathon Event. Finally, in the month of July last year, I have decided to join the event. (The event usually starts to accept the registration of runners in the month of June).

While I was on vacation in the US in August 2016, I registered for the race and paid 320 New Zealand Dollars. My daily runs since then were geared towards finishing this race event even if it was six (6) months away which I think was the ideal length of period to train and prepare for this event.

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Hiking With Ultra Running Friends

Training & Preparation

I have started running on the paved roads for almost one month and going to the mountains for some hikes during weekends. I would work on a faster leg turn-over and tempo runs on my Tuesday to Friday runs with an average distance of 8-10 miles a day. After I have the confidence of building-up my endurance, I started to run on the trails which are runnable and made sure that I would gain at least 1,500 feet every 6-7 miles of distance. But on weekends, I would go on long hikes in the mountains for a period of 5-6 hours. These hikes would give me at least 5,000 to 6,000 feet of elevation per workout and this was where I would practice my hydration and nutrition strategy. On those long hikes, I would use my trekking poles to lessen the pain on my knees, most specially on the downhill hikes or runs.

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Over Acting (#OA)/The Most Abused Hashtag During My Training

These two months (July-August 2016) of training resulted to my satisfactory performance to finish the Zamboanga City 50K Mountain Run last September 2016 and the DBB Rockstar 50K Run which was held in the mountains of Doña Remedios Trinidad, Bulacan in October 2016. After these two 50K runs, I continued my training and concentrated my daily running more in my Playground (mountains of Bataan). This was where I have increased my Vertical Gains in my daily as well as weekend LSD runs. I would typically run a distance of 14 miles with a vertical gain/loss of about 4,500 feet, by doing a “double-traverse” to a 2,000-foot high mountain (Mt Roosevelt) with very technical and steep trails. In every week, I would do 2-3 times of “double-traverse” workouts, in the middle of the day! I would start at 9:00 or 10:00AM and finish at 2:00 or 3:00PM. These “double-traverse” workouts prepared me for the Clark-Miyamit 50-Mile Trail Run. I would consider myself to have finished the race within the cut-off time of 18 hours even if I was lost on the last 2 miles of the course. As per my endurance; nutrition and hydration strategy on these three ultra trail events (Zamboanga City 50K Mountain Run; DBB Rockstar 50K; & CM50), I was confident that I was on the right track of my training as I finished these three “evaluation races” without using any trekking poles.

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Wide Dirt Road @ Playground “Alpha”

Last December 2016, my training was not consistent because of the PAU Races that I’ve have to prepare and conduct on the said month. I was planning to run multi-loops of Taklang Damulag with the runners for the duration of two days as my “back-to-back” weekend runs but I was able to run only one loop with a distance of 12.5 kilometers. However, during the Christmas break (two weeks), I started to consistently do some intense stationary cycling and biking workouts on paved roads just to be able build some strength on my quadriceps. I guess, those cycling workouts developed some unused muscles during my runs and my quads started to appear more pronounced and distinct. On the last week of December, I made my first-ever “quadruple traverse” hike and run in my Playround which would take me 7-8 hours of hiking with an elevation gain of almost 8,000 feet and I would repeat the said workout again after a week. I was happy that my body would withstand those “torture and painful” workout and stress just for me to prepare for the Tarawera Ultramarathon. For the month of January, I put more mileage, vertical gains, more “mountain repeats”, and downhill running to my training plus a couple of workouts on longer rides on my MTB and more “heat” training on my daytime runs! I would no longer keep track or record the data/numbers of my daily workouts as long as I would comply and run the number of miles that is scheduled in my weekly training program.

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“Train Heavy, Race Light”

On these two months/8 weeks prior to the event, I practiced my training principle of “Train Heavy, Race Light” by wearing a Hydration Vest with 2 Liters of Bladder filled with water and with my nutrition stashed on the front pockets. On my tempo runs, I would only bring one or two Simple Hydration Bottles tucked on the back of my shorts and carry a number of Coffee Candies on the pockets of running shorts which would served as my source of sugar/nutrition for the workout. I would also do my hikes and runs without using my trekking poles to make sure that my legs and knees are holding up with those very technical steep ascents and descents in my playground. It was part of my race strategy not to bring my trekking poles for the race.

My last evaluation race for the Tarawera Ultramarathon was the Tarak Ridge 25K Trail Run. This is where I’ve proven that I was quick in climbing steep inclines due to my reduce weight and leg strength due to my “double-traverse” and “quadruple traverse” workouts in my Playground

For the months of December 2016 and January 2017, I limited my intake of carbohydrate (on mostly rice and sweet/cola drinks) for me to reduce my weight from 142 lbs to 132 lbs which I consider as my ideal racing weight for ultra distances. Before I left for New Zealand from Manila, I was 133 lbs but a day before the race (when the Volunteers were taking my Body Weight as I was about to receive my Race Packet) I registered a weight of 140 lbs! I was surprised that I was able to put some weight while I was on my way to New Zealand and for a few days of stay already in Rotorua. But I was not worried, I knew I needed those newly-accumulated body fats/weight because of the weather forecast on the day of the event. It will be hot and humid and it was playing in my mind that those not used to the heat will be on a “carnage”.

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Trekking Poles For My Recovery Hikes

In summary, I was consistently logging 55-65 miles per week for the months of December and January done on the mountains of my Playground. I was confident that for doing those “double-traverse” and “quadruple traverse” workouts at Playground “Charlie”/Mt Roosevelt would prepare my body for the challenge at Tarawera 102K, the same preparation I made for my successful finishes at the TransLantau 100K (Hongkong) for two successive years in 2015 & 2016.

Trip & Transportation To Rotorua, New Zealand

Last September 2016, I have already canvassed and asked for quotation for the possible flight and purchase of plane ticket to New Zealand from Manila. And also for the available land transportation from the Auckland International Airport to Rotorua. This is also to include for my accommodation or place to stay in Rotorua. I did not bother to contact the Race Organizer or the Race Director of the Event asking questions about directions, places to stay, and schedule for the event. One of the runners who joined the 2016 UTMB brought home a Souvenir Program of the 2016 Tarawera Ultramarathon Race with some posters given by my friend, Jason Schlarb and I reviewed all the things that are written about the said event. All the details, suggestions, and advice on how to reach Rotorua from Auckland International Airport are already there.

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NZ Multiple Entry Visa Valid For One Year

It was a choice of a cheaper ticket with more stop-overs along the way which means more days of travel (3-4 days) or buying a more expensive ticket fare with less than 30 hours of travel. I got the more expensive one but the mileage I will get from my trip is added to my Frequent Flyer Privilege and a shorter trip would mean more time to visit more places in the place of my destination. In short, I bought the ticket way before I was issued a NZ Visa which was processed for only 3 working days. Being a Frequent Flyer of Korean Air, my trip has to pass first to Incheon International Airport and then transfer to the flight from Incheon to Auckland International Airport after 12 hours of layover. What is good was that I was given a Free Voucher to stay at the Incheon International Airport’s Transit Hotel with Free Meals. So, after 3.5 hours of flight from Manila to Incheon, I was able to rest/sleep until the scheduled boarding time for my connecting flight to Auckland. So, my total time of travel was only 26 hours!

Initially, I planned to get the services of a Rent-A-Car once I land in Auckland but few days before my departure I cancelled my reservation/booking because of not being confident to drive a different traffic or road driving protocol from what I am used to. Right hand drive vehicles are new to my driving habit! I don’t want that “Shit Happens” before the running event which I prepared for the past 6 months and invested so much resources/money for it only to be distracted or would not push through because of a “stupid” vehicular accident on my part.

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Transit Hotel @ Incheon International Airport

My “host” for my accommodation provided me the necessary option for my land trip from Auckland to Rotorua. She advised me to take the Bus Service (for long distance trips) where she gave the names of the Bus Companies to choose from.There are 3 Bus Companies catering to long distance trips in New Zealand and they are: InterCity Bus, Naked Bus, and the Mana Bus. I selected the InterCity Bus and made my bookings through their Website and it was very easy using my “loaded” E-Card through Mastercard! (Next time, I will avail of the Mana Bus because they have toilet in their Coaches and they are “two-deckers” with cheaper price!)

As soon as I landed in Auckland, I had some time to walk-through the Airport, ate some meal, and sit, patiently waiting for my scheduled bus trip. Whether you are going to the North or South of the North Island of New Zealand, you have to take the Transporter 360 Bus to Manukau which is about 40-45 minutes drive. At Manukau City, you have to wait for the scheduled bus to Rotorua at the Bus Stop across the Westfield Mall. At the Westfield Mall, I would go around again to see the stores inside and then ate a good Burrito at the Food Court. From Manukau to Rotorua was a 3-hour drive with never-ending sight of farms and ranch full of lambs and cattles and vast fields planted with corn. The scenery was simply amazing as totally different as what one would see on a bus trip from Manila to Laoag or to the Bicol Provinces! New Zealand is a Paradise!!!

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Bus Stop @ Auckland International Airport

It was 7:00 PM when I arrived in Rotorua and there was still sunlight. A Taxi would be available at the Town Center’s Bus Drop-Off Area and the house where I would stay was only 3 kilometers from the Bus Station and 2 kilometers from the Redwoods Parks which is Starting Place of the Tarawera 102K Ultramarathon.

The Taxi ride from the Town Center to the House where I stayed was only a short 10-minute ride. I was met by my Host/Owner of the house and she showed my room. She gave me a tour of the house and told me what to use in my cooking while I will be in their house. She gave me additional information about the Bus/Commute System from the house to the Town Center and vice-versa and briefed me on the location of the Redwoods Park; the Holiday Inn; and the grocery stores in Downtown.

To be continued.








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