Race Report: 11th Subic International Marathon & 10K Fun Run (2016)

17 11 2016

Race Report: 11th Subic International Marathon & 10K Fun Run (2016)

This is my third time to join this very challenging marathon race. If you can see the cover picture of this blog, it was during one the earlier editions of this race. The picture was taken at the point overlooking the Subic Airport and the Subic Bay. The second time I joined this event was when the route covered the Subic-Clark Expressway from Floridablanca Exit to Remy Field, Subic Freeport. Since then, I never had the urge or plan to join this event even if it is near my “playground”.

I decided to join this race a day before the race as part of my “back-to-back” weekend run in order to evaluate my training for the previous weeks which was concentrated on “hill repeats” and tempo runs. Knowing the Race Founder who happens to be a Retired General of the Philippine National Police and a Cavalier from the Philippine Military Academy, I was able to get slots/Race Bibs for the 42K Race which is held on the early evening of Saturday and a 10K Run Bib for the following morning of Sunday.

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Subic International Marathon Logo & Ads Poster

Marathon Race 42K (5:00 PM, Saturday, November 12, 2016)

A simple lapse on my part (maybe, it’s because I am getting older already) made me go back from Subic to where I left my iPods and Headphone as they are parts of my race goals and this lapse made me miss the Race Start by 10 minutes! Nevertheless, I knew that the Race Bib has a RFID and my Chip Time would start once I step on the RFID Mat placed on the Starting Line. General Samson Tucay, the Race Founder, was the one who handed me my Bib and wished me “Good Luck” as I left the Starting Area!

My race goal was to finish the race below 5 hours; attack aggressively the uphills by not walking; focused on maintaining my speed/pace; and regularly hydrating myself with water and regularly taking my Power Gels, Salt Sticks, and making sure that I have always some Coffee Candies in my mouth.

I consider this Marathon Race as the Toughest Marathon in the country because of its elevation profile. Two-thirds of the course are hilly (some consider them as mountainous!) and the dark surroundings slows most of the runners but the early evening breeze coming from the sea and the forest in the mountains is very refreshing. If I remember right, this is the very same running and bike route where “world champions” in triathlon were being trained under the tutelage of the famous Triathlon Coach Brett Sutton. Subic Freeport as a training ground was mentioned in the book of Chrissie Wellington and other Triathlon Olympic Champions. This was also my favourite road running playground when I prepare for my Marathon and Half Marathon Races in the past!

I was relaxed and composed when I left the Starting Line and maintained an easy pace with an effort range of 4-6 (from 1-10, where 10 is the most effort exerted) up to Km 5. At this point, I was able to pass two Aid Stations already where I had to take some sip of water that would wash down my saliva mixed with coffee candy. I started to switch on my headlight and EyeCatcher blinking lights strapped on my right and left wrists! It is also at this point where I had to pass the last runner that left the Starting Line 10 minutes ahead of me! As I start to get near the road intersection going to No Hands Beach, I overtook some male runners who were already walking. I started to pick up my pace as I was about to tackle the first uphill climb overlooking the Subic Airstrip and the Subic Bay. At the vicinity of the Airport’s Terminal, I would pass again some runners. At the second uphill climb near the APEC Executive Mansions, I would pass again a group of runners who were walking uphill. I never stopped on these uphill climbs making sure that I would be able to maintain my pace/speed.

The McDonald’s Quarter Pounder Hamburger which I ingested few minutes before I started the race gave me the power and strength to reach the “roller coaster” part of the course (Km 8-20) without having the feeling of getting weak. It was only after I reached the turn-around point (Mile #13) at the Ocean Adventure that I decided to ingest my first GU Gel, however, in every hour I would ingest at least two Salt Sticks while maintaining that my mouth and tongue have some coffee candies to play around. The GU Gel immediately kicked-in that I have to continuously attack the uphill climb up to the Subic’s Morong Gate and then back up to the Airport. I had my 2nd GU Gel on the last 8 kilometres to the Finish Line!

From the turn-around point, I registered a time of 2:15 hours (in my Garmin Watch) and I was happy. Knowing that I might not be able to have a negative split due to fatigue or some kind of incoming muscle cramps, I was contented that I would finish the race in 4:40-4:50 hours. At Km 32, my Garmin Watch registered a time of 3:40+ and I kept trying to increase my pace trying to push myself for a faster pace but I felt that between Km 36-38, I slowed down due to some technical problems with my iPod’s music (I found out later that it was going on a Low Power Mode as my new AKG headset needs a stronger source of power). Instead of listening to my erratic music, I opted to count my steps and do my “strides” (40 seconds fast, 20 seconds recovery) all the way to the finish line. I registered a time of 4:54:30 hours with my Garmin GPS Watch. It was almost 10:00 PM in the evening and I had spent some time to speak to the Race Organizers after crossing the finish line and greet some of my Ultrarunners who joined the race!

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Nearing The Finish Line

 

10K Fun Run (6:00 AM, Sunday, November 13, 2016)

All I needed was to sleep at least 4 hours after the Marathon Race and then woke up early in the morning on the following day (Sunday) for the 6:00 AM Gun Start for the 10K Fun Run. I made sure to be early and I was at the starting line 20 minutes before the scheduled Start Time. I joined the Opening Program with a Prayer; Speech from the Race Organizer; and some Dance Calisthenics of which I enjoyed doing as part of my stretching exercises. If you think I did not have any sore muscles after the Marathon Race, you are wrong! I really needed those dance steps and jumping as my way of stretching my sore muscles!

The 10K and 7K runners were led to the Chute at the Oval Track where the Starting Line was located. I placed myself two meters behind the starting line and waited for the starting gun. I made my last wave to the Race Organizers and they acknowledge my presence before the Gun was fired.

Bang!!! I started to jog as I was able to find a space which was not crowded by the runners around me in about 20 meters. As I left the Remy Field Oval Track towards Rizal Street, I was already passing some runners and most of them were lady runners. The 10K route is the same first 5K of the Marathon Race and it was relatively flat. It was a matter of time before I would reach the turn-around point at Km 5.

At Km 4, a runner who is 10-15 years younger than me passed as I was approaching a bridge and he was the only one who passed me throughout the race. As I got nearer to the turn-around point, I started to count the number of runners whom I was meeting as they are on their way to the Finish Line. As I passed the turn-around point, I counted myself as the #64 and continued to run; tried to increase my pace and making sure that I would take a sip of water on those last Aid Stations towards the Finish Line. At this point, I was happy that I was registering 6.2 to 6.4 miles per hour as my speed. I was already sure that I would register a sub-one hour finish to this race.

Along the way back to the Finish Line, I was no longer sure if the runners I would be passing were the runners of 10K, 7K, or 5K. What was important in my mind was to be able to finish the race in less than one hour. As soon as I was running in front of the Subic Yatch Club Building (last 500 meters), I was already sure that I would be able to attain my goal.

Finally, I crossed the Finish Line in 58:30 minutes! I survived the race with only 6 pieces of Coffee Candies and sip of water in every Aid Station.

After my shower and eating my breakfast, I slept and rested the whole day. I am blessed and thankful to the Almighty Lord that I was able to finish my “Back-to-Back” weekend runs as part of my training for my incoming races.

Things That Helped Me Finish These Races:

  1. Three weeks of focused “Hill Repeats” and Tempo Runs leading to the event. Hill Repeats (on the middle of the week) are done at the middle of the workout at least once a week——The workout starts with an Easy Pace for one mile or 2K and then do “hill repeats” which would last for about 2-3 minutes from the bottom to the peak of the hill at 8-9 pace effort (where 1 is simply walking and 10 is my fastest pace). Jog easily in going back to the bottom of the hill. Do at least 8-10 repetitions. And then jog for 1 mile or 2K to end the workout. As for Tempo Runs, jog/run easily for the 1st mile, then at the middle of the run, do 10-minute tempo run (7-8 pace effort) with 5-minute recovery, do 2-3 repetitions of this 10-minute tempo runs, and then finish with 1 mile or 2K easy pace.
  2. Recovery Runs. In between these “Hill Repeats” and “Tempo Run” days, I would do recovery runs which has 5-8 pace effort which covers a total distance of 7-8 miles to include 10 repetitions of “strides” (40-second “burst” of fast pace and recovery for 20-second easy jog) before my last mile for the workout. These recovery runs are done on the trails.
  3. Long Runs. My longest run was the Rockstar MGM 50K Trail Run in Dona Remedios Trinidad, Bulacan where I finished in 8:45+hours in a brutal and challenging course three weeks before this event. The succeeding weekends were done along the road for a distance of 20K. Before I hit my last mile in these long runs, I would do 10 repetitions of “strides”. However, in these road runs, I would do some “slower” tempo runs that would last for 30 minutes in every 10K. This is where I try my nutrition & hydration strategy and try my running gears to include my lighting system.
  4. No Cross-Training. For two sessions, I just did some selected Pilates poses to strengthen my core muscles. No strength training. No Gym workouts.
  5. Always remember that a Marathon Race or 10K Fun Run is a “speed-endurance” running event where a serious runner does not need to walk during the race. Actually, in Marathon Races and Fun Runs, I usually walk 1-2 meters before I pick up those cups filled with water in the Aid Stations and then walk again for about 3 meters away from the Aid Station while taking a sip of water. In the hilly portions of the course, I would not stop running and try to quicken my pace as if I was doing my “hill repeats” during my training. And that was my “secret” why I looked like I was a very strong runner during the event as what was seen by those runners whom I passed along the course. As gathered from my Garmin Watch and other GPS Watches from my friends who finished this event, the course has a total elevation gain of almost 1,500 feet!
  6. Race Light. Everybody would notice that I would use Running Shorts with an inseam of 2.5 inches in my latest races with “cropped” muscle shirt with holes. It is because I was able to reduce or shave off some grams from my running attire. Try to compare a “wet” cropped muscle shirt with holes from another “wet” full singlet or full race shirt (with sleeves) by holding them each with both hands or weighing them in a weight scale. You will find out how many grams you will be lighter during the run. No Buff or neck gaiters. No Calf Sleeves. No hydration bottle. I was using a Merrell Light Racing Shoes and Light Drymax Socks. I was wearing a Petzl Light which is 115 grams and a Headset which is about 30 grams, weights that are very negligible. Just do the math. If you can save at least 100 grams in your racing weight with 42,000+ jumps alternately with your feet, your legs will be lighter and the tendency for some muscle cramps to occur will be farfetched, assuming that you trained properly. Lastly, in a Marathon Race, leave your Cellphone behind!
  7. Hipster Belt. My Coffee Candies, Salt Sticks, GU Gels, and Power Bar were stashed in the pockets of my Hipster Belt. It became also as my “sweat absorbent” keeping my socks and shoes dry from my perspiration.
  8. Safety & Lighting Gears. The blinking wrist straps from EyeCatcher and PETZL Headlight is a “must” during a Marathon Race being held during nighttime.
  9. Music. Finally, I was able to finally search for and buy a very light, reliable, and of good quality headphone from AKG By Harman (Model: Y30). In the past, I would only use those cheap “ear-plug” headphones during my training runs but they could not stay steady in my ears and that was the reason why I don’t use any headphone in races. Music greatly helped me to motivate myself to keep on going and I would consider it as one of the factors that made me finished the race fresh and focused.
  10. Familiarity of the Course. Having trained and raced in this course for the past years, I knew what to expect ahead of me along the course even during nighttime. Even if it was not part of my plan this year to join this race, I am confident that I could easily make this race as part of my training workout. Having said this, I would make it a point to join this event every year as part of my mountain trail ultra training.
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Very Happy!!!

After I crossed the Finish Line at the Marathon Race, I was able to talk to General Sam Tucay and the rest of his staff. He lamented that he is not getting any profit from this event and its advocacy through the years even if it is already on its 11th edition. He was telling me that he is considering the idea of ending it as an annual event. On my part, I told him that he should not shelve the event and continue it as an annual event even if he considers it as not profitable. It will take some time to make his event as a popular marathon race as the years go by.

On my part, I did not tell him that I will be coming with this Race Report with an appeal to my ultra running friends and members of PAU to consider this event as part of their ultra running workout.

If you are a serious ultrarunner or training for a fast marathon race, you have to include this event as an evaluation or assessment race for your incoming A-races.





Race Report: 1st MGM’s DaBoBong (DBB) 50K Mountain Trail Run (Bulacan)

27 10 2016

Since I finished the 2nd Zamboanga Mountain 50K Run, I did not run regularly for the next 3 weeks and then resumed my daily training two weeks prior to the conduct of this event. Most of my daily training consisted of road runs where I included “strides” and tempo runs within the middle of each running workout. I made some hill repeats per week and two weekends of long hikes in my mountain trail “playground” which lasted for 5-6 hours every workout. On those two weeks of training, I made it a point to have a full day rest on Mondays and two days rest before the event.

While on training, I was eyeing to join the shorter event which is 25K because I wanted to finish the race in 4 hours; go home to Manila early during the day; and my long runs prior to the race were less than 25K. However, while driving to Doña Remedios Trinidad (DRT), Bulacan, I have finally decided to join the longer distance event which is 50K with the thought of going around the 25K-loop twice. Knowing how organized and loaded with logistics in all the MGM’s events that I’ve joined (I guess, I joined all of them!), I finally decided to join the 50K event as soon I checked-in at the Starting Area.

Sometimes, I need to challenge myself and take the risk as to how far I can go in terms of testing my physical and mental limits as a result of my limited period of training; test my gears/equipment; and test my nutrition and hydration strategies.

While it was still dark (2:45 AM) at the Caribbean Resort in Doña Remedios Trinidad (DRT), Bulacan when we arrived, I could see lots of personal vehicles parked and runners wandering around inside the resort; preparing their gears; and taking their nap while waiting for the event to start. I could see the “usual suspects” or “addict” runners in trail running but I could not see lots of the faster ones. I was wondering if there is another trail running event being held for the weekend or it is a sign that most of them are still recovering from the trail event a week before this one.

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Course Map & Elevation Profile (From Facebook’s Event Page)

Few minutes before the start, the Race Director briefed us about the course/map; elevation profile; and the locations of the Aid Stations/Checkpoints/Marshals. However, the briefing did not specifically mention about the rivers to be crossed; the slippery rocks to be climbed/trekked and the numerous waterfalls to be climbed. From the description of the course, I expected that my shoes will be wet throughout the race so that I decided not to use gaiters and calf sleeves. Instead, I used my light Salomon S-LAB Trail Shoes and the thinnest Drymax socks. I took time to review the map course and asked for some clarifications as we have to pass a certain checkpoint for three times. We were advised that the Marshal in the said checkpoint will write a certain “mark” on our Race Bibs to show or indicate that we have passed the said checkpoint for three times. (Looking at my Race Bib after the event, I saw the numbers 1-2-3 written on my Bib). I made sure that I will not get lost during the race.

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Group Picture Before The 50K Start (Copied From Facebook)

The race started promptly at 4:00 AM for the 50K distance event. I took time to walk the first few meters while I turned on my PETZL Reactik+ Headlight. From the entrance of the Carribean Resort, we turned right into an asphalted road and after a flat portion, it was all uphill where I would hike and run trying to keep up with the pace of the other runners in front of me. But I have to maintain my pace with the thought that I would not like to “bonk” on the last half of the run.

For almost one hour and 45 minutes, I was running and hiking trying to focus on what my headlight’s beam was directed in front of me. I was quite bothered with the Nathan Handheld bottle that was strapped on my left palm that the water inside in it was getting out from its sipping valve as I swing my arms. To keep the water from being wasted, I had to drink the water regularly instead of just ignoring the leak. With this situation, I was always in need of water 2-3 kilometers away from the next Aid Station but I just relaxed with my predicament as I can easily scoop some water to drink on the rivers and waterfalls along the route, this is to include the free-flowing water from hoses in some of the houses in the area and man-made wells along the side of the road.

It was already daybreak when I reached the peak of the first “major” climb of the course and it was relatively downhill and flatter portions of the course. Some of the road was paved but most of it was wide smooth dirt road. I tried to increase my pace even if I would glance on my watch that I was having an average speed of 4.2 miles per hour. To me, this is already a big improvement and I was happy that my training (“strides”/hill repeats/tempo runs) is paying off and getting positive results on my numbers/data from my GPS Watch.

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NATHAN Hipster Waist Belt (Medium)

I was regularly ingesting 2 capsules of Salt Sticks every hour and made sure that I have at least two pieces of Coffee Candies inside my mouth. Every 2 hours, I would ingest those packs filled with “Jason Koop’s Bacon & Egg Rice Balls” which I copied from the Ultrarunning Book of Jason Koop. On the major climbs/ascents, I would ingest CLIF Energy Gels (Mocha) with water. All my nutritional needs were stashed inside the pockets of my NATHAN Hipster Waist Stretchable Belt (Size: Medium). I prepared 4 packs (each pack in a ZipLoc) of Jason Koop’s Rice Balls which is equivalent to eight (8) balls. At the Aid Stations, in total, I only ate 4-6 pieces of Jelly Ace, one piece of Hopia, drank two glasses of Ice Cold Coke, and ate 3 slices of native “Biko”/native rice cake. With this regular concern on my hydration and nutritional needs, I did not experience any “bonking” or any cramps on my legs during the run even if it was already hot on my last 10K to the Finish Line.

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Lots of River Crossing & River Running

For the 50K runners like me, we were treated with so many surprises! I was thinking that we just simply cross a lot of streams and rivers but in reality, we were practically running with and/or against the flow of the water! And these streams and rivers where we have to run have a lot of slippery rocks underneath the water which made my running and hiking unstable. And for the rivers, some are deep up to one’s breast (depending on your height) and most of them have strong current but the current would bring one to a shallower portion of the river.

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“Killer” (Small) Loop River Crossing For Two Times

For the lots of waterfalls? I thought the route would lead the runners to just simply pass the bottom of the falls but we were wrong! We had to climb the waterfalls and reach the source of the water because that is where the route was! I could not believe it! Aside from climbing these falls up to where the water is coming from, we have to descend from the falls, too! In doing these ascents and descents on raging waterfalls and on the sides of these waterfalls, the rocks where one has to hike were slippery and sometimes you have to take time to select a small notch or crevice on the rocks to place your shoes and fingers to propel you upwards. Practically, were crawling or “rock climbing” on a slippery waterfalls on our way “up or down”. As these waterfalls were inside a forested area, I had to switch on my headlight just to be sure and see where I would hold on those slippery rocks! I am just wondering how those women runners were able to pass through these parts of the route. I highly appreciate their strong will and courage to go through these challenging parts of the course. My snappy salute to you! This “loop” is the most significant part of the course as I have to slow down but I enjoyed the challenge while I was tailing the first women to win this course!

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One Of The Waterfalls (Photo By RT Hernandez)

The so-called “small loop” of the course is also challenging but not as hard as the first loop with those river running and waterfalls’ rock climbings. However, the “small loop” has the deepest river crossing and lots of steep uphill climbs but I tried to run the downhill and flatter sections and “power hike” those ascents. One has to go through this “small loop” for two times and this was where the heat of the sun would take its toll to most of the runners. I have to take time to dip my body to the rivers to cool off and drink lots of water on “small wells” along the route.

Finally, I was on my last 15K of the course before the Finish Line. One kilometre from the last Aid Station, a photographer was waiting and ready to take my pictures. I saw some water falling on the side of the road that I have to take time to have my “shower” to bring down my body temperature. The photographer asked for a “selfie” and I acceded to his request. He told me that the next Aid Station (last one) is already near.

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Last 12K To The Finish Line (Photo By Niche Sio Jensen)

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Cooling-Off (Photo By Niche Sio Jensen)

The wide trail ended on the banks of a wide river where I could see a rope. I took time to rest and look around and found out that there are markers/ribbons leading me towards a hanging bridge, not knowing that I have to go back to the same river after coming from the last Aid Station and now using the rope to cross the wide river! So, I was treated with “Biko”/native rice cake and ice-cold Coke at the last Aid Station. I engaged some conversation with the volunteers and I sensed that they don’t know me. I found out that this is the first time that we, “outsiders”, were the “first” to run on these trails as most of the forests and lands are not yet exploited by “squatters and illegal upland farmers”. They told me that I could still catch up with the 3 runners ahead of me but I was not sure about their information. I was glad that they provided me with with some positive thoughts!

The paved road from the Aid Station led me to the same river that I’ve crossed using the Hanging Bridge but I have to cross now the river with me holding the rope tied across the river. Next, the markers led me to a single-track trail going up to a mountain where the trail has a lot of slippery rocks and inside a forest. It took me some time to reach the peak and then the dirt and muddy road leading to the Poblacion of DRT, Bulacan. I have to run on the middle portion of this trail as both sides had been depressed and became muddy due to the tire tracks from a truck that goes up to the peak of the mountain. It was a mix of jogging and power hiking as the trail is rolling in terrain and once I was out of the forested area, I could see already the roofs of structures of the town of Doña Remedios Trinidad (DRT), Bulacan. I know that once I hit the paved road, everything will be downhill to the Finish Line.

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Course Map By My SUUNTO Ambit 3 Peak Watch

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Elevation Profile From My SUUNTO GPS Watch

I finished the race in 8:45:50 hours. The staff at the Finish Line was expecting me to finish later in the afternoon and they were surprised to see me approaching the resort’s gate/entrance earlier than they have expected.

As a word of advise, don’t bring your iPhone to this event. I did not bring my phone as I did not want to be distracted with the temptation of taking some pictures of the route and I made a good decision. The remaining salt tablets after the last river crossing got melted and the candies became sticky syrup but my rice balls were properly sealed in their ZipLoc that they were dry all the time. If you decide to bring your iPhone, make sure to use a hydration system that have pockets higher than your breast/chest and have them sealed in a waterproof plastic packs.

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Self-Explanatory

I highly recommend this event to those who are looking for nice scenery, “laid back” trail running event, well-organised/stocked Aid Stations and well-marked course, and very challenging course.

Congratulations to Dabobong Angeles and his Team for this successful event. Congratulations also to all the Finishers of the 50K & 25K events!





Solo Hike To Mt Baldy (2nd Time For 2016)

21 10 2016

On an early Monday morning, I woke up at 3:30 AM and drove all the way to the trailhead of Mount Baldy with the thought that I would be the first one to “summit” the peak for the day.

From my house to the trailhead was an easy drive for 45 minutes and it was still dark when I arrived at the Parking Area at Manker Flats. While I was preparing my things (hydration pack and shoes), another vehicle arrived and parked across the road where I was preparing my things. The other vehicle had two hikers in it and they immediately opened their vehicles’ trunk to retrieve their packs and went directly to the trailhead. They were 5 minutes ahead of me when I finally started after taking a pee in one of the Portalets.

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Parking Area Beside The Road

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Trailhead Going To The Mt Baldy Falls

They were wearing headlights as I saw them in front of me for about 200 meters. I was not wearing a headlight and I was confident that the light from the moon could easily illuminate the dirt road towards the commercial establishment at the Ski Lift. Before I was able to hit my first mile, I had already overtaken them after I greeted them. As I moved ahead of them, I could still hear their conversation as they were taking their time for the hike.

Being confident that I was already the first one on the trail, I maintained my hiking pace until I reached the Ski Lift’s Commercial Center. It was already daybreak when I reached the place and nowhere I would find find the two hikers behind me.

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Mt Baldy Ski Lift & Commercial Center

As I passed the Ski Lift’s Commercial Center towards the Devil’s Backbone Trail, I saw a Rescue Truck parked at the end of the Fire Road, the farthest that a four-wheeled vehicle would reach towards the peak of Mt Harwood. I was thinking that those guys aboard in it were just ahead of me but as I saw at the horizon and the trails above me, I would not see any individual/hiker ahead of me towards the peak of Mt Baldy.

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Devil’s Backbone Trail

Looking at a distance ahead of me, I would see the Devil’s Backbone Trail and it looks like a very challenging and intimidating ascending part of the trail where both sides have steep slopes that the lowest portion could not be seen. If anybody would slip or feel dizzy and plunge to any of the sides of the slope, I would suspect that a hiker would be hard to be rescued from atop the trail. But if you are already standing and doing your hike at the said place, you can feel that your courage is slowly taking over your mind and for you to be able to cross this dreaded part of the trail. As you passed this trail, you are rewarded with a higher elevation and a flatter portion of the trail with the peak of Mt Harwood in front of you!

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Mt Harwood’s Peak

I decided not to “peak bag” Mt Harwood as I was trying to be fast as possible in reaching the peak of Mt Baldy. As I was hiking on this flatter portion of the trail, I had my first sip of water and I started to feel some perspiration on my back as I was wearing my Uniqlo Water Repellant Windbreaker.

Finally, I was on my last mile before the peak of Mt Baldy! After about 200 meters, I saw a hiker going down from the trail and I said to myself that the guy could have started way ahead of me! He looks like he is a good hiker with all those beard and moustache on his face and the hiking boots he was wearing. He was not using trekking poles. A simple greeting and look on each others eyes as we met were part of the usual practice among hikers and it feels a good sign of showing respect to one another on the outdoors.

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At Mt Baldy’s Peak With Piles Of Rocks With Orange Ribbons

On my final 100 meters towards the peak of Mt Baldy, I met two hikers with backpacks and trekking poles telling me that a helicopter will be arriving at the peak in 45 minutes and my understanding of the message was that there was an urgency for me to reach the peak and spend a short/quick time at the peak. I said thank you to the two hikers as I moved faster and closer to the peak.

Few meters from the peak, I have observed that there were lots of stakes with orange ribbons tied on them that were placed surrounding the peak of the mountain. I concluded that those ribbons were markers for the pilots of the helicopters for them to visually know where exactly they would land. On the peak, I saw three (3) guys with big backpacks and orange jackets whom I assumed to be those who rode in the Rescue Truck parked along the trail going to the mountain. They were lying on their backs and talking to each other and not minding about my arrival in the area. They were inside the area where those pile of rocks formed in a semi-circle which I believed is being used for those hikers who would set their tent and sleep for over night in the area. The pile of rocks is so high that it can protect strong winds from hitting a pitched tent inside the semi-circle area.

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Mandatory “Selfie” At The Peak’s Marker

I could still remember where one of my ultra friends who lives in Los Angeles had to stay and camp at the peak of Mt Baldy for one week as part of his training for the 2015 Angeles Crest 100-Mile Endurance Race. He would pitch his tent at the peak and then hiked and run towards the Ski Lift’s Commercial Center and then back to the peak during the duration of his stay in the mountain. I guess, camping in the said area is FREE as long as one has an Adventure Pass displayed on ones vehicle at the trailhead. As a result of his training, the guy finished the race in less than 24 hours!

I spent almost 30 minutes at the peak, taking some “selfies” and eating my nutrition bars/trail mix fruits & nuts, before starting my descent from the peak. On my way back, I started to move faster and run the flatter sections. If the descending part of the trail is smooth and without any roots or rocks, I would run and quicker with my pace.

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“Selfie” At The Bell Near The Commercial Center

I did not stop at the Ski Lift’s Commercial Center as they were still closed but three (3) SUVs suddenly arrived at the area full with “newly-recruited” Park Rangers and they were instructed to proceed to the establishments. I said to myself that I had to run 3.5 miles down to trailhead and be able to finish my hike before 10:00 AM.

As I was running down along the Fire Road, I could hear the sound of an approaching Helicopter to the mountain but sad to say that I could no longer have the view of the peak of Mt Baldy. Whatever, the activity that was being done in the area was part of the regular training being done in response to any contingency or emergency situation that is usually being experienced among hikers in the area. This is what I call being prepared and work’s efficiency among those people responsible in the safety and protection of the parks.

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Mandatory Pose After The Hike Overlooking The Mt Baldy Falls

At 10:30 AM, I was driving on my way back to the house in Downtown, Los Angeles.

My next plan will be to pitch a tent at the peak and sleep thereat for an overnight stay!





Trekking Poles (2016)

30 08 2016

I have discovered the use of trekking poles in my readings in the Internet about 5 years ago where it was used to aid older people in their walking and hiking on the road and on the trails. As we know, these trekking poles or first popularly known as ski poles which were always being seen in every event in the Winter Olympics and other skiing sports in temperate countries. Some writers would say that the origin of these trekking poles came from the European countries where trekkers, hikers, and trail runners (during the Summer Season and drier months) would use them for balance as well as to preserve their leg strengths for the long haul and also aid them in steep ascents and descents.

For the past few years, almost in all the European Trail Running Events as well as Ultra Trail Running Events you would see almost all the participants carrying with them trekking poles during the race. I would have the impression that the routes of these events have very steep ascents and descents that one would need these trekking poles.

When I first used these trekking poles on the paved road, I received some laughs and negative comments from cyclists who would pass me along the road to the point that they would ask me where is the SNOW and my SKI? But a few months after such incident, I would see Marshall Ullrich using these trekking poles on his successful USA Trans-Continental Run few years ago. If only these cyclists would see the video and read the book of this famous ultra runner, they would be convinced that trekking poles are also used in ultra running.

Trekking Poles Adventure Runs

Using Trekking Poles In My Adventure Runs

Lately, I’ve seen that some of the Ultra Trail Running Events in the United States have already allowed the use of these trekking poles as compared when it was then a “no-no” for runners to use these poles. Some would say that one is having an undue advantage from the other runners who would not use these poles. Some would say that it is a form of cheating in ultra trail races. But whatever it is worth, I have a personal experience in using these trekking poles on the road and on the trails.

Let me first give some suggestions on the use of trekking poles with the following enumerated observations:

1. Do not use trekking poles for the first time in a trail running race without having used them extensively in your training. It follows the over-used advice in racing of not using something new during race day.

2. If the trail running event is a marathon distance or 50K, do not bother to bring or use these trekking poles if the total elevation gain is less than 3,000 feet or in a relatively flat course.

3. If the number of runners is more than 300 runners where the course is 100% single-track trail with less than a marathon distance (42K), don’t bother to use trekking poles as it will slow you down, slow down the runners behind you, or you might hurt somebody else in front or behind you. Use good judgement in using trekking poles on a single-trail trail, most specially in a most populated trail running event.

4. It is highly recommended to buy those trekking poles which could be folded in 3 parts as they could be easily stashed and held by the hands as if one is holding a baton while running. Since they are light, their weight is insignificant and they could be easily brought back to their intended lengths in a few seconds. There are hydration packs that have strings or elastic bands that could hold these poles or stashed/held by the pack while they are folded. Make some practice in removing or stashing the poles to and from the hydration pack during your training runs.

5. If you carry the trekking poles with your hands, while running, on its expanded length, make sure that there is no one behind you as you might poke the tip of the trekking pole to the runner while swinging your arms. If there is somebody behind you, make sure you don’t excessively swing your arms to the point that you might hit the runner behind you. You can have the option to carry the trekking poles with only one hand and be able to control that arm from excessive swinging or you can simply fold the poles and stashed them in your hydration pack or hold them with your hands.

Michael Wardian Trekking Poles

Michael Wardian At San Diego 100 Carrying Trekking Poles

6. If you intend to use the trekking poles with their extended length and if you are a slow runner or if you intend to power hike the first half of a 100K or 100-mile run, I suggest you start behind the runners and not mingle with the faster runners behind the starting line. However, if you are a fast runner and intend to be in the podium finish, you can have you folded trekking poles stashed with your hydration pack or just simply hold them with your hands.

7. In my experience of using trekking poles and seeing the faster runners using effectively these poles, I highly recommended buying a longer length from the suggested size or length that is based on your height. Three years ago, I bought a Black Diamond Ultra Distance Z-Poles with the length of 120 cms and I found it to be useful in my training runs as well as in my races. Last year, I bought another Black Diamond Ultra Distance Carbon Z-Poles with the length of 110 cms thinking that they are lighter and which are specifically recommended for my height. But I would find them to be the same weight with my 120-cm poles and I found them a little short for my height. In my ultra races in Hongkong, I found out that most of the trail runners have longer trekking poles than what their recommended size for their height and I tried one of my friends’ trekking poles which are 130-cm in size and I found them to be more adapted to my hiking/running style. Hopefully, I would be able to buy them soon!

Having stated my experiences and observation in the use trekking poles in running events, the following are their advantages and disadvantages:

Advantages:

1. If used in 50-milers, 100Ks and 100-milers and other longer trail runs, these poles will preserve ones leg power and strength for the long haul.
In a technical route and with lots of stream/water crossings, the poles with provide an extra “leg” for balance and stability for the body, instead, of falling or injuring oneself along the route.
2. For safety and protection from wild animals and “creatures” along the route. The poles can be used to ward off snakes and other creatures in the forest/mountain that have the tendency to attack you. I once used my poles to “whack” or strike on the head of an attacking and barking dog in one of the populated areas in the mountains. My swing with the poles to the dog was so strong that it tumbled down as if the dog was knocked out by a baseball bat!
3. For contigency purposes, the poles can be used as a support to ease the pain or body imbalance just in case one has rolled an ankle, or in cases when a runner is injured. In cases of extreme accidents where there is fracture to the runner, I guess, these poles could be used as emergency splints!
4. I’ve seen a runner during the Translantau 100K where he was holding a very long trekking pole and I’ve seen him using the poles as “pole vault” as he jumped along the sides of a single-track trail while overtaking a group six runners on a single file! He did it while we were descending on the said trail. The runner was so fast that I was not able to see his back even if I was able to pass these six runners after him.
5. In this year’s Translantau 100, the winds on the second night was too strong that my body would not be able to stand on my own. But having my trekking poles as extra “anchor” to the ground as I was ascending on the last two mountains of the course, I would have stopped or crawled along the slope up to the peak of the mountain avoiding to be knocked down by the strong winds with almost zero visibility due to thick fog. I was glad that I had my trekking poles with me while trying to keep my sight on the couple of runner in front of me.

Translantau 100 Trekking Pole

2016 TransLantau 100K With Trekking Poles

6. One time when I first joined the TNF Philippines 100, the trail was blocked by two water buffalos/carabaos and I with the rest of the runners behind me could hardly drive them away from the trail. By using the trekking poles as extension of my arms and raising them into the air, the carabaos thought that I was a BIG figure to contend with and slowly I was able to drive them away from the trail. But that incident and delay wasted a lot of my time and I eventually DNFd after one kilometre away from the place of incident. The trail was supposed to be the start of an ascending trail route towards Mt Santo Tomas which considered as the most challenging part of the course.

Disadvantages:

1. Obviously, it is an additional gear to be carried by the runner which means additional weight. Even if the trekking poles has a total weight of 280 grams, carrying it or holding it on a 50-mile, 100K or 100-mile or within a duration of 30 hours would be taxing to the body and you may end up carrying a total of about ten kilos or 5 pounds on the course. Additionally, it will delay you for some seconds in unfolding and folding them while you are running. If you add these few seconds within the distance of 100 miles, they will add up to minutes of maybe half an hour! Without proper training and technique on how to effectively use these trekking poles would mean a delay in finishing ones race.
2. In my three-year successive finishes of the Clark Miyamit 50-Mile Run (CM50), I have never used my trekking poles. I was then 61 years old when I had my first finish in this race and I would outpace and pass younger and stronger runners on my way up to the highest elevation of the course which happens to be the turning point of the race back to the Start/Finish Line. Simply put, if you have the proper training and preparation, there is no need to use those trekking poles in a 50-mile race. If you are less than 50 years old and I see you using a trekking pole while we are competing in the same race, my smile to you would mean that you are a “weak & newbie” trail runner!
3. In some of the international races, they allow runners to carry trekking poles but if the route is a “single-track” trail, they advise you not to use them, most specially if you have runners in front or behind you who are one or two steps away from you. There are also ultra races that require the runners not to use their trekking poles at the first 20-25 miles as most of the runners are running near to each other. Make sure that to ask from the Race Organizer/Face Director if the use of trekking poles are allowed in the race if their use is not stated in its rules and regulations.
4. Do not use trekking poles for the first time in a race you are going to compete. You will be saving the strength of your legs but your shoulder and arms muscles will take a lot of beating that you might no longer move your arms during the later part of the race or after the race.

At my present age of 64 years old, the trekking poles are my “necessities” and mandatory gear in my training and future races. I will be using them more often as I have already bought the proper size for me.

Trekking Poles

Training With Trekking Poles Has Started

I have one year to train with them in preparation for my plan to join the @CCC in Chamonix, France next year, hoping that I will be in the race after the lottery.

Go out and run!





Hike & Run To Mt Baldy (2016)

24 08 2016

Almost every time I visit and stay in Los Angeles, California, I always make a schedule to trek to the peak of Mt Baldy. I have read a lot of blogs and FB status of running friends in Los Angeles that they would go and hike up to the peak of the said mountain. One of my ultra running friends, Benjamin Gaetos, is a regular visitor of this place and one time, I asked him for directions in going to Mt Baldy. And he generously stated the directions and the things to be required to be able to park ones vehicle near the trailhead. This was 4-5 years ago. From then, I was a regular visitor/hiker to Mt Baldy (Mt San Antonio).

Coming from Downtown, Los Angeles, I would drive to Highway 2 North and enter Highway 134 until it merges to Highway 210 East going to Pasadena up to Azusa/La Verne area. I have to exit at Baseline Road, turn Left at the Stop Light/Intersection and then drive towards Padua Street. At Padua Street, turn Right until I would reach the Mt Baldy Road. Turn right at Mt Baldy Road and go north, passing through the big lawns and nice houses in Claremont, until I would reach Manker Flats. A few yards (along the paved road) above Manker Flats, there is a road on the left with Portalets and within the said vicinity is where anybody could park their personal vehicle. The trailhead is the start of the road called “Mt San Antonio (Baldy) Falls Road”.

San Antonio Falls Trailhead

San Antonio Falls Trailhead (BR’s Photo)

Trailhead

Trailhead With Four (4) Portalets (BR’s Photo)

However, one has to display an “Adventure Pass” on Dashboard of the Vehicle to be able to park in this hiking destination. The “Adventure Pass” can be bought in any of the REI Stores in Los Angeles and some of the Outdoor Stores in the area. It costs $35 which is valid for One Year. One-time Day Pass is also available for the price of $5.

Parking Trailhead

Parking Area (Side Of The Road). Adventure Pass Needed (BR’s Photo)

On my first hike, I would follow the “Fire/Dirt Road” going up to the mountain from the trailhead by following where the Ski Lift would end. At the end of the Ski Lift which has commercial establishments and Public Toilet, I would turn left on another Dirt Road that would lead me to the Devil’s Backbone Trail, Mt Harwood, and to the peak of Mt Baldy. Round Trip distance would be 14 miles and it would take me almost 8 hours for the first time that I hiked to the peak.

Commercial Establishments

Ski Lift Commercial Establishment/Water Refilling Station (BR’s Photo)

But later on, on my yearly visits, I would be introduced by running friends on some of the shorter distance and steeper trails towards to the peak of the mountain.

For this year’s visit, it will be my 5th visit to “peak bag” the mountain. And I could make it with my 6th “peak bag” before I would leave Los Angeles for Manila.

Rowell Ramos, an ultrarunner from Los Angeles, invited me to join their group, for my 5th hike to the said mountain. For Rowell and his friends, it is their “bread & butter” as they would peak bag the mountain almost every week. Rowell would sometimes hike alone by starting early in the morning and then before 10:00 AM, he is done with his hike.

2016 Mt Baldy 14

Very Steep Trail & Impossible To Run Or Jog

I joined Rowell, Peachy Poso, and Rico Bagayawa on this hike which was done on the first Saturday of August 2016. We met and assembled at Manker Flats at 6:00 AM and we started to hike as soon as possible. We took the steepest trail leading to Mt Baldy where we veered left after hiking along the Mt Antonio Falls Road for about a mile. But before going to the said mountain, we “peak bagged” Mt Harwood first which is one mile away from Mt Baldy. This “new” trail experience was very challenging as I have to stop along the way for me to adjust slowly to a higher elevation. For the past weeks before this hike, I’ve been running on the road and never had the chance to accumulate vertical distance in preparation for this hike. However, slowly along the way, I was able to adjust my breathing as I positioned myself at the back of the group.

2016 Mt Baldy 18

Brief Rests & Stops To Adjust The Body To Higher Elevation

We started to meet the gusty winds from Mt Harwood but the wind temperature was not too cold that I would be able not to use my Windbreaker/Jacket. After a brief stop at the peak of Mt Harwood, we immediately proceeded to Mt Baldy. I was telling to the group that the same intensity of the wind was the same wind that stopped the race in this year’s TransLantau 100 in Hongkong. After a short descent from Mt Harwood, we were on our final assault to the peak of Mt Baldy. After 30 minutes of relentless hike, we finally reached the marker of San Antonio or popularly known as “Mt Baldy”.

2016 Mt Baldy 17

Short Downhill Run From Mt Harwood

It is self-explanatory that the mountain is called as such because it is devoid of any kind of vegetation, except for a few shrubs on the side of the mountain. From a distance, you can see see its peak as whitish in color.

I think we stayed at the peak for about 30 minutes, taking some of our pictures and talking to some of the other hikers who happen to be friends of Peachy Poso. I was able to eat my energy bar and drink some of my water.

2016 Mt Baldy 16

Final Assault To The Peak Of Mt Baldy

2016 Mt Baldy 10

Finally, At The Peak of Mt Baldy (Rico, Rowell, Peachy, & BR)

We were trying to locate where Mt Baden-Powell was located in relation to Mt Baldy as the 2016 Angeles Crest 100-Mile Endurance Run was being held on that day that we were in Mt Baldy. I was supposed to be in that race but because of lack of training, I opted not to join the said race.

From the peak, we descended via the Devil’s Backbone Trail all the way to the Ski Lift Commercial Area. Since it was all descending trail, we took advantage to run and jog until we reached the commercial establishment. We had some water refill on the public faucet and ate some Empanada brought by Rowell Ramos. After a brief rest, Rowell and Peachy had to continue their trek to the Triple T Peaks which is another 10 miles before reaching the trailhead while Rico and I had to return to the Mt Baldy Falls Road Trailhead which has a distance of 3.5 miles from the Ski Lift Commercial Center.

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Descending Run From Mt Baldy

2016 Mt Baldy 12

Running Along The Devil’s Backbone Trail (Do not look at your sides!)

Rico and I were done before noon time and we parted ways. I was able to hike and run a distance of 10.4 miles with a total elevation of 4,937 feet. The details of my hike & run could be seen here—https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/1291507392.

2016 Mt Baldy 15

Filipino Empanada As Trail Food

I promised to be back to this mountain for another solo hike and run before leaving for Manila.

If you happen to be in Los Angeles and would like to hike a mountain, Mount San Antonio (Mt Baldy) is a must!

(Note: Pictures and Empanada Were Provided By Rowell Ramos)





Why I Hate “Selfies” In Running Events

17 08 2016

In my early years of joining running events, which is about 40 years ago, runners then were not particular with their pictures before, during, and after finishing a race. What was important to them was to finish the race, get their Certificate of Finish and hoping that the race result will be published in the daily newspapers. It was only the Top Male & Female picture that would be featured in the next day’s newspapers, if the race is a Marathon distance. It was only the Marathon Races that award Finisher’s Medal to the runners!

Now that we are in the Age of the Internet and Social Media, the tendency is that you need an evidence that you are participating in a running event by posting a picture of yourself in the Internet/Social Media showing that you are really in the said event. Added to this is a “bragging right” to your friends that you are really a legitimate endurance athlete. No evidence, no “bragging rights”! And the more your pictures is being SHARED and have LIKES, the better for you that your feat is being recognized.

Let me define what I mean by “selfies” or a “selfie” picture. “Selfies” are those pictures taken by ones digital camera or cellphone’s camera where you click the shutter button by yourself with your face or body and the surroundings as a product/result in the said picture. Sometimes, I can consider “selfie” pictures when I see runners stopping by the trail or road to take a picture of the scenery or the surroundings. I don’t consider “selfie” pictures taken by official photographers as well as pictures taken by the support crew or pacer of a runner.

Let me then tell you the reasons why I hate “selfies” in running events and they are the following:

  1. Runners taking “selfies” with another runner on the background or taking a “selfie” behind another runner don’t ask permission to take a picture of you as the background. Most of the time on these “selfies”, they would show that I was walking or having some “low/down moments” when these pictures are taken while the one taking the “selfie” is smiling or laughing happily behind my back or in front of me. Just imagine what the picture would depict if it is posted in the social media.
  2. It slows me and breaks my racing momentum in races. Ok, I admit that I am a very positive person and I don’t say “No” to the requests of other runners to have a “selfie” during a race. But for God’s sake, please don’t ask for a “selfie” with me at the peak of a mountain in a trail race if I am about to continue my run to proceed on the descending/downhill part of the course. As a rule, never ask another runner for a “selfie” during the race. Every runner has their goal to finish the race as fast as they can and that is the simple essence of race!
  3. “Selfies” or pictures taken at the Turn-Around Points in trail runs are also annoying as it delays the momentum of a runner. Simply have the Race Marshal on these points/locations to take note or write the Bib Number and time of arrival of the runner and don’t delay the runner from finishing the race. Just imagine if you are in a group of 4-6 runners in that turn-around point and each runner would wait for his/her turn for him to pose a picture showing that he/she actually reached or passed the said place!
  4. In the Aid Stations, Race Marshals and Volunteers should not take “selfies” with the runners while they are being helped with their food and while refilling their hydration bottles or packs. These requests for “selfies” would alter or disturb the runner’s focus on what he decides to do in the Aid Station at the fastest time possible. Once a runner’s focus is unnecessarily disturbed, his or her temper would spike most specially if his target time to reach that Aid Station/Checkpoint is not met. To be safe, never ask a “selfie” to those who are fast and runners who are focused to improve their finish time/s in a race. Moreso, if they are elite international runners or “good-looking” lady international runners.
  5. Let it be known that even if I am already 64 years old, I am still a competitive runner. Having said this, I have target pace, speed, and finish time in all the races that I join. I would be happy and contented to race with the younger runners in road and in trail races, whether they are non-ultra or ultra distance events. So, a simple delay for a “selfie” would be a reason for my targets to be altered, resulting to slow performance or sometimes, bad temper!
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I am already tired!

So, what is my advise on “selfies” or taking of pictures during the race?

  1. If you want to improve your PR in a certain race, leave your cellphone/camera behind. Aside from being a distraction (of taking selfies/pictures), carrying a cellphone or camera adds weight to your body.
  2. If you have a blog or planning to document your races and need to have some pictures of scenery or places along the race route, do a recon run along the route and you can have all the time to take pictures along the route. On race day, your only goal is to focus to finish the race without any distractions.
  3. If you are a fast runner, you have all the time to take your pictures but do not distract or interrupt other runners and request them to take your picture or ask them to have “selfies” with you. In one of my trail races, a runner in front of me suddenly stopped along a single-track descending part of the route and requested me to take a picture of him that I wanted to deny his request. But I just smiled and did the favour to take a picture of him…not once but three times!
  4. In international races, don’t be stoked to world-class/elite runners by asking them to have “selfies” with them during the race. You can have “selfies” with them during the Race Briefing (a day before the race) or after the Race. These international elite ultra runners are kind and easy to talk with as they would accommodate a “photo-ops” with them once you request them to have one. I never had any problem talking to these people before and after the race.
  5. In races where one of the mandatory gears is a cellphone, the cellphone is a gear that is very vital for your survival just in case of any emergency/accident or serious injury that will happen to you. Bringing out ones cellphone to take pictures of the scenery and “selfies” adds up to the extra time spent in the course, most specially if you are “cut-off time beater” like me. If you successfully finished the race within the prescribed cut-off time, you can register again for the next year’s edition if you intend to run it faster and have a chance to take selfies during the race.
  6. You must be warned also with runners who intentionally request you to have “selfie” with them must specially if you running ahead of them. This kind of runner will destroy or impede your momentum in the race and after taking a “selfie” and making some time to pack or stow your cellphone or camera in your pocket, the one who requested you to have a “selfie” with your will just leave you without even saying “thank you”. Just when you realised that you have been tricked by this runner for stopping, you would see him almost one hundred yards ahead of you with a blistering pace.

“Selfies” are already a “norm” in most of the Social Media outlets and platforms and they are already part of being a runner and as an avid outdoor adventurer. But if you don’t have any time to beat, it is fun and self-satisfying because it creates memories to your activities or events.

With or without “selfies” running is still fun but don’t do it to me when I am racing.

Go out and run!

H1 Recon 02

Smiling But Actually Tired





Blogging Reboot (2016)

15 08 2016

Starting with this post I am back again with my blogging.

Thinking back almost nine (9) years ago, I started this blog to document or journalize my daily running activities; write Race Reports in my running events (whether I am a participant or a Race Director); try to remember and document my previous running experiences; and re-post whatever running resources or information I have read in the books that I’ve purchased and read and what I’ve read in the Internet. Sometimes, I would post my personal opinion on what has transpired in the running world, whether it is within the local or in the country and in the international arena.

So, I am going back to what I know about blogging——sharing and letting my readers know what is happening to me in my running workouts, activities, and adventures. From time to time, I would also share things that are important or worth knowing in the field of running (specially on ultra running).

However, this blog will remain as the main source of information on the Ultra Races that I organise and direct.

I will not be competing with my Facebook account but in essence this blog will be “What is on my mind…about running”.

Now, it is time to go out and run!

Trail Running In Kayapa, Benguet, Philippines

Trail Running In Kayapa, Benguet, Philippines








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