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 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.





Official Results: 6th Taklang Damulag 100-Mile/50-Mile Endurance Runs (2016)

13 12 2016

2016 (6th) Taklang Damulag 100-Mile Endurance Run

5:00 AM December 10, 2016 To 3:00 PM December 11, 2016

Start & Finish Area: SOCOM Headquarters, Fort Magsaysay, Palayan City, Philippines

Course Cut-Off Time: 34 Hours

Number Of Starters: 10 Runners

Number Of Finishers: 2 Runners

Percentage Of Finish: 20%

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Starters Of Taklang Damulag 100 & 50-Mile Endurance Runs

RANK                           NAME                                    TIME (Hours)

  1. Gibo Malvar (Champion, Overall) ———–33:51:20
  2. Graciano Santos (1st Runner-Up, Overall)—-33:51:23
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Overall Champion Gibo Malvar

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Overall 1st Runner-Up Graciano Santos

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2016 (6th) Taklang Damulag 50-Mile Endurance Run

Start & Finish Area: SOCOM Headquarters, Fort Magsaysay, Palayan City, Philippines

Number Of Starters: 6 Runners

Number Of Finishers: 4 Runners

Percentage Of Finish: 66.66%

RANK                 NAME                                      TIME (Hours)

  1. Thomas Combisen (Champion, Overall) ——–12:57:59
  2. Alfredo Peralta (1st Runner-Up, Overall)——–16:42:10
  3. Tess Leono (Champion, Female) —————16:43:20
  4. Kathleen Piñero (1st Runner-Up, Female) ——-17:52:47
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Overall Champion Thomas Combisen

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Female Champion Tess Leono

Congratulations To All The Finishers!

Note: Photos Courtesy Of Dhan Punzalan 

Pictures: https://www.facebook.com/dhae.punzalan/media_set?set=a.10154034637236975.1073742096.655141974&type=3&pnref=story





Race Report: 2016 Clark-Miyamit 50-Mile Ultra Trail Run (CM50)

4 12 2016

Race Report: 2016 Clark-Miyamit 50-Mile Ultra Trail Run

The goal to attain for this race is simply to finish my fourth (4th) consecutive finish in this race. I admit I did not train well/properly for this race as compared to my previous editions. I considered this race as part of my training for next year’s Tarawera 100K in Rotuora, New Zealand where most of my training runs on the previous months were on the paved roads except for those trails runs I had in Dona Remedios Trinidad, Bulacan last Octoder. My longest run for this race was the “back-to-back” Subic Marathon 42K on a Saturday and then a 10K run the following day which was held two weeks before this race. And since that weekend, I never had a chance to run/hike the necessary vertical distance needed for this event. In short, I did not have “consistency” in my training.

As usual, I only appear at the starting area two-three hours before the Start/Gun Start for my Race Packet Pick-Up and Mandatory Gear Check-Up. I don’t usually go to the usual Race Briefing and scheduled Race Packet Pick-Up. After my Mandatory Gear-Check-Up, I was back to my vehicle and tried to sleep for the remaining hours before the Gun Start. One hour before the Gun Start, I ate my last meal before the race with my extra “Jason Koop’s Rice Balls” with a CarboPro Drinks. I knew that this meal will last me for the next 2 hours after the race had started.

Fifteen minutes before the race started, I was at the Starting Arc and it was time to see some of the international runners and the “usual suspects” in trail running in the country. I could see new faces and younger runners among the crowd. Some would greet me and ask for group picture with me and I would also greet those runners whom I would see in other running events. After the usual “Start Briefing” of the RD, it was time to switch on my headlamp and GPS Watch!

Pak!!! The Gun Start had sounded and I was at the upper one-third of the runners. It was a fast start on the first mile and I think I was having a speed of 5.5 miles per hour and I tried to slow down! It is always the case in my previous two editions that I ended gasping for breath by the time I reached the trailhead towards the river. It was good it was a downhill that I was able to recover and slowed down with my pace.

Running along the river full of lahar was effortless as there were no water to wet our shoes for the first 5 kilometres. But on the first chance that my shoes was immersed on the river for the first time, I could sense that not much of the lahar went inside my shoes. The shoe gaiter that I was wearing was preventing those powdery lahar sand from entering my shoes! I was using a New Balance RC1400V4 which is a Racing Flat and I was happy that my shoes was very light even if it was wet and I could also feel that it would dry up quicker than my usual trail shoes. The only drawback is that if the trail is muddy and sticky, I need to be careful and slow with my footing!

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With George Dolores At The Peak Of Mt Miyamit (Turn-Around Point)

At the Aid Station #1 (Km #7), I had my water refilled in my handheld bottle. By the way, I was using two handheld water bottles, one bottle is half-filled with water and the other one on my right was empty with only CarboPro Powder Mix in it. I knew that I could survive a half-filled water bottle in between Aid Stations except for the distance between AS4 and to the Peak of Mt Miyamit and back to AS4 which has a total distance of 20 kilometres. This is where I would start to fill up my bottle with a CarboPro mix and carry two bottles filled with water and powder mix. If I still lack the necessary water along this segment, I brought my Life Straw and “hope and pray” that a stream of water is still present flowing along this segment of the route where I can refill my water bottle. Every year, I would do this ritual along this segment of the route!

From Aid Station #1, I knew already what to expect——more sand/lahar filled dirt roads/trails; cemented stair; lots of steep descents and ascents; flat trails at the edge of sugar cane plantation; crossing the wide Pasig-Potrero River; the tunnel at the SCTEX; and then to Barangay Sapang Uwak. At the Pasig-Potrero River, there was not much of the flowing water but there was a very short river crossing where the depth is almost to my waist and the current was too strong that one has to grab a rope that was tied across the said river. Before reaching the Aid Station #2, I brought out a pack of my “Jason Koop’s” Rice Ball where one plastic pack container is filled with at least 3-piece equivalent of such balls and I had to eat it all for my first food intake on the race. I finished the water on my handheld bottle on my left palm as I approached the next Aid Station. It was still dark and did not spend much time in the Aid Station.

Since it was downhill from the AS2, I tried to run and maintain my pace all the way up to the center of Barangay Sapang Uwak. I did not have any problems with my Headlight as I have programmed the illumination rate or burning time to reach up to 15 hours of continuous lighting. Finally, a marshal signalled me to enter a detour part of the course which the first time it was introduced in this year’s edition. Instead of running uphill towards the Barangay Hall where the next Aid Station was located along a paved road, the RD deemed it necessary to avoid the cemented road. It was a good move to maintain the name of the event as an ultra trail run but….it made the course harder this time!

I call this “detour” as the “Stairway To Heaven” because after you pass this section, your curses and calls for all the Saints to help you while trekking on this trail, you will finally say that the Aid Station #3 as “Heaven” once you reach it. In the darkness of the night, I could feel that the distance of the detour is about 3-4 miles but in reality, it is only 2 kilometres of rolling terrain and with steep ascents that look like you are already “kissing” the ground. It was good there were diggings on the ground that resemble as stairs on this steep slope of the mountain. On the way back, one has to be very careful in going down on this slope that a misstep might bring you rolling down out of the newly built trail. I have to roll down the straps of my handheld bottles to my wrists and make use of my hands to grab anything on the ground for stability and balance.

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New Balance Racing Flats

From AS3, I hiked and tried to recover from the exhaustion I felt after reaching this part of the route. I just covered a distance of 24 kilometres and I felt that my energy was completely zapped at this point. How could it be? I still have 63 kilometers to go and I felt like I was about to quit. It was good it was still dark and cold. The breeze of the air; fresh air to breath and the presence of the fog gave me the strength to push myself. While hiking, I did a lot of deep-breathing and I just thought that with the fresh air that I was breathing, I would regain my strength! That was what I did until I met the first runner from 60K race! I was amazed by these runners who were about to go back to where we started and it was still dark as compared to the previous editions that I could comfortably and clearly see the faces of those leading runners. I would have thought that there will be course record to be broken again.

Finally, I reached Aid Station #4 and knowing the names of the Volunteers and being ultrarunning friends, I was treated like a “king” where they would serve me everything that I needed. After making sure I mixed my CarboPro with water on my right handheld bottle, I was on my way to the peak/turn-around point which is 10K distance and then back to this AS4 for a total of 20 kilometres. I slowly hiked from the AS4 as it is uphill and then tried to jog on the descents and flat portions of this segment.

As I was passing on a sharp-curved and narrow single track trail, I outbalance myself and my leading foot landed on a cliff and my whole body just fell off the cliff. I was quick to make my handheld bottles as my anchor to whatever or thing that would prevent me from falling to the bottom of the cliff. I was able to stop my body from falling but I need to lift my body to a distance of about 4 feet to reach the level of the trail. Knowing that a runner was trailing me behind for about 10-15 meters, I just rested myself with my body flat on the cliff and tried to observe if there was any pain in my body (making sure I did not incur any wounds or fractures!) while waiting for the next runner to see me on the cliff. The runner stopped and he asked, “Sir, what happened?”. And I said. “I fell!!!” He immediately pointed the tips of his trekking poles to the direction of my hands and I was able to grab them. I was able to reach the level of the trail with the runner pulling his trekking poles towards him and I was okey. I thanked the runner and asked him to just go ahead of me as I would hike and try to feel if my body was okey to finish the race. I felt some numb pain on my right quads and my groin muscles were starting to have cramps! I slowed down and took some time to drink my CarboPro and take in some salt tablets while walking towards the turn-around point.

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LifeStraw a.k.a. Life Saver

It took me 3 hours to reach the peak after I left AS4 with all the fall, slow pace & cramping after the fall and a brief rest at the Peak. From here, I have 8 hours to reach and cross the Finish Line. I knew I could make it with more time to spare as long as I keep on moving. Halfway before reaching AS4, I was already in need of water as I usually drink a lot on this portion of the course plus the fact that the heat of the sun was starting to be felt inside the forested areas. I had to reach that stream of water and scoop some water into my handheld water bottle. Once I reached the stream, I have to walk upstream for about 3 meters and got some from the flowing water. It was time to use the Life Straw that was tucked inside one of my shorts’ pockets. I have to use the Life Straw twice to sip the water inside my hydration bottle. The said water gave me the necessary strength to bring my body to the AS4.

At the AS4, I took some time to rest; eat my rice balls and have my bottles refilled with water before going down to the Miyamit Falls. As compared to my previous finishes, I usually go down directly to the Falls once I reach the AS4. Not this time due to exhaustion and my accidental fall on a cliff. I usually calculate at least one hour to be spent in going down; resting at the Falls; and going back to AS4…and that has happened again in this year’s edition.

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Optional Pose At The Miyamit Falls

The volunteers manning the AS4 were kind enough help every runner passing or dropping by their station and they even go to the extent of giving more what was served on the table. Those “reserved” Coconut Water Drinks did wonders to my tired body that I was able to drink almost half of the bottle-pack! Thank you, guys!

From AS4, it was all downhill but the heat of the sun was on us, thus, preventing us to have a continuous run. It was a jog-walk-jog routine from this point and maintain a relentless forward motion making sure I would be able to cross the finish line within the prescribed cut-off time of 18 hours! It was a matter of time before we could reach AS3 which I call “Heaven”! At this point I joined 3 runners ( one male & two female) and I had a lengthy conversation with an ultra friend, Ariel Tuto Aquino who is also gunning for his 4th successive finish. In our calculation, we would be able to finish the race in 17 hours and some spare minutes.

At AS3, I just refilled my hydration bottles and drank some soda offered by a friend and then left the AS3 alone. It was a very deliberate hike in going down along the “Stairway To Heaven” and I was glad my NB Racing Flats had enough traction to hold me from sliding on those steep parts of the trail. However, I felt the sole portion of my feet were starting to cramp (first time to experience!) due to the very thin support on my forefoot. Once the cramps would appear, I would slow down with my pace and simply walk until the pain disappeared. Finally, I was at the cemented road inside Barangay Sapang Uwak and I continued to battle the exhaustion and pain until I saw some of the runners ahead of me having a rest/drinking ice cold drinks in one of the sari-sari stores in the barangay. I just continued with my jog as I knew I had a little “buffer” time for this race as I was thinking of those steep climbs before AS1 where I usually weaken in previous editions.

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Approaching AS2 Towards The Finish Line (Km #70)

Patience to alternately jog, run and hike was the smartest things to do from AS3 to AS2 even with the heat of the sun was upon us. It was just a matter of time before we ( I was trying to catch-up with two runners in front of me) would reach the AS2 which is actually 17 kilometers away from the Finish Line. In my estimate, I had only 30 minutes as a “buffer time” which I knew would be enough for me to cross the finish line. I did not spend much time at the AS2 after I refilled my bottles. It is time to attack those steep descents and ascents before reaching AS1. I really slowed down on these portions because my hike was too deliberate using my hands as anchor to prevent me from sliding and use them too in propelling myself to go up on the steep ascents. I guess, I lacked some training on these situations during those weeks and months before this event. I hope to be smarter next time.

Upon reaching the AS1, which is 7 kilometres to the finish line, I still have 1:15 minutes to tackle such distance and I was confident to cross the finish line before the 18th hour knowing that there is only one easy ascent at the trailhead before reaching the paved roads of Clark. Unfortunately, on the last one mile with 15 minutes to go, I sped up my pace and went straight on the intersection where I should have turned RIGHT. It was too late to realise that I was lost at this point. So, I simply finished (beyond the cut-off time) and reported to the staff at the Finish Line that I got lost. I was still awarded the Finisher’s Medal and the Finisher’s Trucker Cap without the Finisher’s Shirt.

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Approaching AS1 Towards The Finish Line (Looking worried!)

For sure, I will be back for my “graduation rites” next year in this event.

To be continued…

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Finisher’s Trucker Cap & 4th CM 50 Finisher’s Medal





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!





Race Report: 2nd Zamboanga Mountain 50K Ultra Marathon Race

18 10 2016

Race Report: 2nd Zamboanga Mountain 50K Ultra Marathon Race/September 18, 2016

After I finished the first edition of this race last year, I promised to myself that I would join every edition of this race as long as I am still strong to run an ultra distance event. I would make this race as my evaluation run as part of my training for my future ultra races here and abroad.

Three months ago, I have started my training for this race but instead of doing it on the trails and places where there are considerable elevation gain and/or loss, I have to do my training on the paved streets. I have to follow the usual training program and daily mileage which I have followed for the past three years of ultra running training. However, these street running workouts had to last for about two months before I had to go back to trail running.

The only difference with my training this time as compared for the past 3 years, is my desire to be faster as I grow older. I placed more emphasis on the conduct of “strides” during my daily runs and do at least two times of “tempo” runs during the week. Weekends would be devoted to long runs up to 18 miles with a faster average pace.

On the third month, I did a lot of hikes in the mountains on weekends which would last up to 6-7 hours and on weekdays, I would do 8-9-mile runs on trails with an elevation gain/loss of at least 2,000 feet every workout. This is where I would train myself on my hydration and nutrition with only water as my fluid intake. I tapered for about two weeks which consisted of hikes and easy runs in my “playground”.

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The Mandatory START Group Picture

What is good with this race is that the Hotel (Palmeras De Zamboanga) where I stayed is the Starting and Finish Line of the event. I went out of my room 20 minutes before the start with enough time to greet and have “photo-ops” with the other runners. Before I went out of the Hotel, I was greeted with free sandwich and hot coffee at the end of the hallway and was able to take advantage of this offer as part of my stay in the hotel. I knew that the coffee and the sandwich would be enough for my food intake before I reach the first Aid Station at Km #8.

The race started promptly at 5:00 AM after a short prayer and 57 starters left the starting line. It was still dark when we were running along the street leading to the Pasonanca Park but the streetlights were enough to light up our way. Knowing that the first kilometre is flat, I made an easy pace and just followed the runners in front me. At Km #3, a runner started a conversation with me and I asked if my prevailing running pace would be maintained up to the finish line and replied him, “Yes”. And then asked permission if he would be allowed to pace with me during the duration of the race. And I said, “Yes”! We would be running side by side from this point up to the Finish Line. At that time, we were on a speed of 4 miles per hour as gleaned from my Suunto Watch.

It was my intention to maintain the said speed throughout the race. As I had predicted before the race, I have announced on Facebook that I intend to improve my ranking of #17 and finish time of 8:34+ hours from the result last year. Actually, my target goal was to finish the race below the 8-hour time and maintain the speed of 4 mph up to the Finish Line.

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Route Map & Description

We reached the 1st Aid Station (Km #7) without any problem and tried my best to run through those ascents without any brief walks or hikes. I took me less than 2 minutes to refill my bottles with ice cold water and eat some suman. From the Aid Station, we had to follow the paved road as the route became a “roller-coaster” and it started to be warm. After about 4-5 kilometers, we reached the 2nd Aid Station in front of an Elementary School. I had to refill my hydration bottle with ice-cold water, douse some ice-water on my head and face as the day was starting to be hot. I ate two ripe bananas and I was back on the way. From this Aid Station, it was the start of a single-track technical trail which has some rocks, mud, and flowing water.

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Course’ Elevation Profile

As I tried to speed up my pace on the descending portion of the trail which was muddy and slippery, I started to feel some “cramp” on my left calf and I asked the runners behind me to pass while trying to walk my way down the trail. I was still running downhill but I made sure to slow down my pace. I brought out some of salt tablets and ingest some and kept it to my mind to regularly ingest some every hour during the run. After a few seconds and minutes, I was able to regain my pace and it was just a matter of time before we would reach the first Turn-Around point which happens to be the Zambales Elementary School.

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Marvin Sicat, My Running Partner During The Race

At the start of a newly cemented road inside a thickly vegetated area in the course, we met the two leading runners. This is where I started to hike the ascending parts and run the flat portions and descending parts of the route and kept on drinking my water in my handheld bottle during my hikes. As we got nearer to the Turn-Around point, we had to meet those runners who just left the 3rd Aid Station at the Turn-Around Point which happens to be in a School. As I count the number of runner that I and my companion-runner would meet, I was ranked as #12 runner with my partner as #11.

In last year’s edition, I stayed in this Aid Station (Km #16) for a longer time as I tried to ingest more food and drink lots of water and craved for sweeter drinks. I even had more pictures taken with the other runners whom I was able to catch up in the said Aid Station. For this year, I was surprised to see a Zamboanga local runner who was still sitting and trying to cool off in the Aid Station when I arrived. “Chabby” is a very fast and strong ultrarunner and he beat me last year by almost one hour. I had to ask him his situation and he said that he was ok. But, I was brief in my stay by having my bottles refilled with water and then take in a mouthful of spicy noodles which gave me a little “jolt” and in less than 5 minutes, I was out of the Aid Station with my “partner” in tow.

It is a continuous uphill climb from the Aid Station and after about 1 kilometre, we started to meet the other runners behind us who were on their way to the Aid Station at Km #16. After passing the newly-paved road inside the thick forest, we were back again to the single-track trail before reaching the next Aid Station. Unknowingly, Chabby was few seconds behind us and we were together at the said Aid Station. However, he opted to stay behind as he changed his attire and wanted to rest for awhile. After refilling my bottles and eating some fruits, hard-boiled eggs, and rice delicacy, we were out of the Aid Station. The dreaded “Gulod De Medio” was already in my mind as I left the Aid Station! However, we passed another runner after about a kilometre away from the Aid Station. That makes me #11 and my partner as #10 as we battle the next ascent and the heat of the sun!

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Steepest Climb @ Gulod De Medyo

As my running “partner” and I were about to climb the “Gulod De Medio”, we saw a runner clad in black attire (with 2XU tights) in front of us within a distance of 20 meters. I made my pace faster with the intention to close the gap with between us with the runner in front of us. As we were in the steep ascent of the “Gulod De Medyo”, the runner saw us trying to get nearer to him but as soon as he reached the peak, he started to run faster! At the middle of the steep ascent, I started to slow down due to fatigue and the heat of the sun but I had to exert more effort but slowed my pace just to be able to reach the peak. I knew that as soon as I passed the peak, it was a gradual descent to the next Aid Station.

I took some Ice Cold Coke and native rice delicacy at the Aid Station and after refilling my water bottle, we left in a hurry! I knew that the course/route to the next Aid Station was a generally downhill. However, the heat of the sun was the one which prevented us from increasing our pace. At this point, it was our last 18 kilometres and in a matter of time, we would be able to reach the next Aid Station.

Finally, we reached the Aid Station and the lady volunteers were excited to see me that they asked me to have some pictures with them! Since I needed time to rest and ingest more food, I allowed them whatever pictures they could take while I was there. I guess, this is the Aid Station that I rested the longest time on the course because of the heat of the sun and the fact that the course will be uphill from this point to the next/last Aid Station. I ate drank a lot of Coke while ingesting two pieces of their local Suman with Latik which are bare (without any banana wrap). I thanked the lady volunteers for being there and for being able to serve us with the foods we needed. This one of the very reasons why I keep coming back in this race——very happy, very encouraging , and very helpful and beautiful lady volunteers!!!

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Fighting It Out With The Heat Of The Sun

I consider the next segment of the race as the hardest as one has to go uphill to the last Aid Station. It is not about the steepness of the segment but it is the continuous and gradual ascent that will force the runners to hike on the exposed portions of the road from the heat of the sun. This is where we could see again those who are trying to catch us from behind and from the distance we had made as a “buffer”, we can safely say that we will be able to maintain our rankings up to the finish line!

Reaching the last Aid Station was a relief as from this point, it is the last 7 kilometres of the course which is all downhill. We did not stay long in the Aid Station after we refilled our hydration bottles and ate some bananas. I carried a “Sakto” Bottle of Coke and my Handheld Bottle filled with water and I was confident that my liquid/water was enough for me up to the Finish Line but I was wrong! My running partner had to share some of his water and the Race Organizer had to place another Aid Station in about 3-4 kilometres from the Finish Line because of the heat of the sun. The descending portions of the course was steep and some are still rough with gravel and small rocks but the concrete pavement was too much for my knees but my legs were surprisingly prepared for the beating and pounding of my feet. My strides were short but quick and I was able to increase my pace as I took advantage of the gravity. It was the heat of the sun that really gave some problems to my body. However, I was prepared for it as I brought a lot of salt tablets and “coffee” candies; and really focused on my hydration strategy. The Aid Station at the last 3-4 kilometres was very helpful to everybody and I was able to regain my strength and keep my pace up to the finish line.

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Lots Of Ice @ The Aid Stations & Emergency Aid Stations

On the last 1.5 kilometres to the Finish Line, my running partner begged off that he should stop and slow down for awhile because of leg cramps and I replied to him that we should finish together. But he started to walk while I was maintaining my running pace. I guess, he was very courteous and respectful enough to offer the 10th place to me as a guest and a Senior Citizen! At the Finish Line, I found out the complete name of my running-partner, Marvin Sicat, who happens to be a close friend of one of my “pioneer” runners in the Bataan Death March 102 Ultra Marathon Race.

Finally, I crossed the Finish Line in 8:04:30 hours even if my plan was to finish in sub-8 hours with a ranking of 10th finisher. I was able to improve my time for almost 30 minutes and my overall ranking by 7 slots and I attribute my improvement to my quick turn-around at the Aid Stations; having a running partner/“pacer”; training with more “strides” and tempo runs on paved roads on the first two months; and later on the last month prior to the race on my hikes to mountains with higher altitude. My focused nutrition and hydration were also followed where I had to drink water regularly, eat solid foods in the Aid Stations, ingest my salt tablets regularly every hour, and regularly placing some coffee candies in my mouth.

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Crossing The Finish Line

The Zamboanga Runner’s Club and their Race Sponsors did an outstanding job for this race to be a successful one. I highly recommended this race to all my readers to this blog, most specially to those who are ultra runners, local or foreigners. It is worth the trip to Zamboanga City. Next year, I will be back!

https://www.facebook.com/notes/zamboanga-runners-club-ph/2nd-50k-zamboanga-mountain-ultramarathon-official-results/1463020747052863

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Swags: Nice Finisher’s Shirt & Heavy Finisher’s Medal





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.

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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!








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