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.

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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

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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





Tess Leono & Geral Tabios: Pinoy Runners Finish Badwater 135-Mile Ultra Marathon, “World’s Toughest Running Event”

25 07 2016

Tess Leono, a Project Analyst of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and local resident of Mandaluyong City, Metro Manila finished the prestigious Badwater 135-Mile Ultra Marathon Race which starts from Badwater, California in the Death Valley National Park passing through three mountain ranges up to the Finish Line at Mt Whitney Portal which is considered as the highest mountain in the mainland USA. The race is popularly known as the “World’s Toughest Foot Race Event” because it starts at an elevation of 280 feet below sea level and finishes at an elevation of almost 8,300 feet above sea level. Runners would be able to tackle and pass three mountain ranges that would total a cumulative vertical ascent of 14,600 feet up to the Finish Line. Adding to the elevation, the prevailing temperature during summer in the area is 120-145 degrees Fahrenheit with gusty winds in the mountain ranges and sandstorms on the flatter areas.

This year’s 39th edition of the race was held on July 18-20, 2016 with 97 runners who were divided into 3 separate Starting Waves according to their past qualifying races. Tess Leono started the race with the First Wave at 8:00 PM of Monday, July 18 with 30+ other runners. The faster runners, 3rd Wave, started at 10:00 PM of the same day.

Badwater Tess Leono #22

Badwater Tess Leono #22

Tess Leono finished the race in 46:01:29 hours and ranked #82 among the 97 starters. The race has a cut-off time of 48 hours and checkpoints and time stations were located along the route which strictly impose intermediate cut-off times. Each runner-participant is equipped with Spot Satellite Tracker device showing their real-time location during the race which can be seen by everybody on the Internet.

The runners came from the different countries and from the different states in the US who were duly screened and invited to join the race. Most of these athletes are noted Ultrarunners, Triathletes, Adventure Runners, and Mountaineers. Runners from twenty (20) different countries were represented and the remaining runners represented twenty-seven (27) States from the US. Out of the 97 runners, 51 were Veterans/Repeaters and 46 were “first-timers” or rookies.

Tess Leono is one of the “first-timers” in this race which happens to be her first visit to Mainland USA. Her accomplishment in this race gives her the titles as the “First Local Filipino Runner” and “First Filipino Woman” to ever finish this prestigious race.

Tess In Action (Photo By Peach Poso)

Tess In Action (Photo By Peach Poso)

On the other hand, Gerald Tabios, another Filipino Ultra Runner residing in New York City also finished the race for the third consecutive times since 2014 where every edition he improves his finish time. He finished the race in 41:42:20 hours, an improvement of 40+ minutes, and ranked #61 out of the 97 starters. Gerald Tabios is from the Province of Bukidnon.

The Overall Champion in this year’s race is Pete Kostelnik of Nebraska, USA with a finish time of 21:56:32 hours registering a New Course Record for this race. He won the race in last year’s edition and finished it faster by almost one hour. In the women’s side, Venti Alyson of Barbados, USA won the Women’s Championship placing 5th Overall with a time of 25:53:07 hours. Out of the 97 starters, 13 runners were declared as DNFs due to fatigue, injury, and effects of the environment to them.

Team Leono (From Left, Rowell Ramos, Franco Soriano, Tess Leono, Peach Poso, & Ben Gaetos) Photo By Rowell Ramos

Team Leono At The Starting Line (From Left, Rowell Ramos, Franco Soriano, Tess Leono, Peach Poso, & Ben Gaetos) Photo By Rowell Ramos

Tess Leono started as an ultrarunner by joining the scheduled races of the Philippine Association of Ultrarunners (PAU) and the Bald Runner’s Events for the past three (3) years and her consistent performance as Lady Champion and Podium Finisher in these road & trail races earned her the PAU Runner Of The Year Award for two consecutive years (2014 & 2015). She is the only woman who have finished the PAU Grand Slam Races in one year (Antique 100-Mile Run; West Coast 200K Ultra Run; Taklang Damulag 100-Mile Endurance Run; and the Bataan Death March 160K Run). Last February of this year, she was declared as the Lady Champion in the yearly Manila To Baguio 250K Ultra Marathon Race. She submitted her finishes in these PAU Races as her qualifying races to join this year’s Badwater 135 Ultra Marathon Race.

Team Tess Leono At The Finish Line (Photo Courtesy of Rowell Ramos)

Team Tess Leono At The Finish Line (Photo Courtesy of Rowell Ramos)

Team Gerald Tabios (Photo Courtesy Of Donna Tabios)

Team Gerald Tabios At The Finish Line (Photo Courtesy Of Donna Tabios)

At the moment, Tess Leono is now resting and recovering from the said race. In an interview with her, she said that this race is so far the most challenging foot race that he joined and she is happy that she was able to push through despite her “down/low” moments along the route.

“I did not know why I tripped and fell down on the pavement on the downhill run from Townes Pass to Panamint Springs for two times that my Support Crew had to immediately treat my wounds on my hands and legs. I owe a lot from the support, care, and pacing provided by my Support Crew headed by Benjamin Gaetos”, she said.

Benjamin Gaetos, a Filipino Architect/Engineer residing in Los Angeles, California is the First Filipino to have finished this race in 2013. The other team members consisted of Western States 100-Mile Finisher Franco Soriano of Livermore, California, Rowell Ramos & Peachy Poso, both from Los Angeles, California. They are all accomplished ultra runners who have prepared and trained for this event.

Gerald Tabios Cheering & Handing The Philippine Flag 10 Miles To The Finish Line

Gerald Tabios Cheering & Handing The Philippine Flag  To Tess 10 Miles To The Finish Line

Tess also said that, “The hot temperature along the route was too much to bear as compared to the prevailing temperature in the Philippines during summer and the gusty winds on the peaks of the mountain ranges along the route was too strong that I had to slow down to a hiking pace”. In her statement, she was lucky that on the second night the temperature plunged to its lowest at 60 degrees Fahrenheit that she was able to recover and ran faster, however, she started to have colds as a result of the sudden change of temperature.

Knowing that her friends and running mates in the Philippines are rooting for her success, it was pure grit and determination that drove and motivated her to finish this race at all cost. “I will never forget my experience in joining this race as most of the runners who would pass me along the course would either stop or walk just to engage a conversation with me and try to encourage me with their positive advise of pushing through my pace up to the Finish Line. It is heartwarming that most of them would say that they will be waiting for me at the Finish Line and they really did! This is the reason why I love ultra running!”, she said.

The Filipino Pride: Badwater Tough Tess (Photo Courtesy of Ulysses Chan of Paksit Photos)

The Filipino Pride: Badwater Tough Tess (Photo Courtesy of Ulysses Chan of Paksit Photos)

Tess Leono made a history and she will be an inspiration for more Filipino ultra runners to shine in international competition.

After one day rest in Lone Pine, California, I asked if Tess Leono would be willing to return to improve her finish time and she said, “I need more training, more planning for my race logistics, apply the lessons I have learned, and find out if I can get more sponsors to support me, then I would be glad to return.”

In an interview by the Balitang Pinoy of ABS-CBN California with the President of the Philippine Association of Ultrarunners (PAU), the National Sports Federation on Ultrarunning in the country, Major General Jovenal D Narcise AFP (Ret), he said that, “After 7 years of patience and consistency in conducting ultrarunning races in the country, it is now proven that our runners could compete in international races and that would give pride and inspiration to the whole nation and we have our first woman finisher in the Badwater 135 Ultra Marathon”. He also added that, “With this accomplishment and participation of our runners with other countries, hopefully, the government will have the heart and political will to provide “all-out” support to our athletes/runners in this kind of sports”.

General Narcise is the Founder and Race Organizer & Director of the yearly “Bataan Death March 160K & 102K Ultra Marathon Races” which is tagged as the most prestigious Ultra Marathon Event in the country.

Team Leono With ABS-CBN's Balitang Pinoy & ARC's Joe Matias

Team Leono With ABS-CBN’s Balitang Pinoy & ARC’s Joe Matias (Black Shirt)





DNF @ 2016 Hardcore 100-Mile Mountain Trail Run

24 05 2016

DNF (Did Not Finish) @ 2016 Hardcore 100-Mile Trail Run

I have a lot of DNFs in my previous attempts to finish a 100-mile mountain trail run here and abroad and many are wondering why I would just simply finish one of my ROAD 100-mile ultras in my races and earn those buckles that I have designed. One of the important reasons why I insist on finishing a 100-mile trail run is because I have already transformed myself as a mountain trail runner after the conduct of the 1st Taklang Damulag 100-Mile Endurance Run. Since then, I limited my exposure to road racing as well as training on paved roads.

Maybe, my old age is fast catching up on my body that I need to spend more time in the mountains. However, more effort is exerted on my muscular and respiratory systems while I am in the mountains but after every run or hike I feel energized and more relaxed. It could be due to the following: the nice sights & scenery of the place where I came from, the clean and unpolluted air that I inhaled, or the variety of the ground where my feet would land that makes me more agile and fast in thinking. And the list gets longer with so many more reasons…

Fast Forward…The Hardcore 100-Mile Mountain Trail Run is very close to my heart as I was a part of the RD’s team to recon and measure the route for the first time within the duration of three consecutive days. We started in Kayapa, reached the peak of Mt Pulag, spent two nights in Balite, and then exited on the trailhead in Ambaguio, Nueva Viscaya and later linked up with our Support Team along the Maharlika Highway in Bayombong, Nueva Viscaya. We braved to fight the rains, the heat of the sun and the challenges of the mountainous terrain in Benguet and Nueva Viscaya. And the rest is history.

I made my first attempt to join the race in 2014 and I got lost on the first 14 kilometres due to error in judgment and arrived in Babadak Aid Station (Km #62) beyond the cut-off time of 16 hours. I was totally exhausted upon arrival at Babadak Aid Station even though I was well-prepared for the said event as I tried to catch-up from the loss of time I made from the Start to Pangawan. As compared this year, my preparation in terms of mileage and vertical distance is not even one-half of the mileage in put into the race in 2014.

I did not have any intention of joining this year’s Hardcore 100 but after my TransLantau 100 “abbreviated” finish last March where I was awarded only 2 UTMB points instead of 3 points, I decided to join the Four Lakes 100 where I could earn 3 UTMB points. I finished the Four Lakes 100K with a time of 26:45+ hours and it gave me the boost to try my luck again for the Hardcore 100 after asking the RD if I can still join the race. Instead of joining the TNF 100, I opted to join this year’s H1 Recon Run/Hike for me to familiarise again the first half of the route. Practically, my training for the event started immediately after I finished the Four Lakes 100 and I knew that the allotted time between FL 100 and H1 was not enough to gain more vertical distance and mileages appropriate for the event. But the hard-headed attitude in me prevailed and I know that any runner would not need “luck” to finish this race.

You may think that I was too ambitious to join this event and brave enough to toe the line with the rest of the Starters at the Starting Line but there is no shame in me because I am already 64 years (with nothing to prove anymore) and I would be happy to count the number of younger runners whom I could pass along the way which is, one or the other, would boost my morale to continue the race. So, my objective in this race was to catch up any runner whom I would see in front of me even if they are mountains ahead of me as long as I can see them and at the same time be able to build-up some buffer time before those designated cut-off times in the different checkpoints along the route.

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Hardcore 100 Route Map & Elevation Profile

The Journey To DNF

The race started at exactly 12:01 AM Friday, May 20, 2016 at the Kayapa Elementary School’s Multi-Purpose Covered Court with 134 starters for the Hardcore 100. Having considered myself as the Oldest Runner among the participants, I positioned myself at the back of the pack and started walking. I think I walked on the first 200 meters because it was an uphill along the Highway until we entered the trailhead which was a short downhill where I started to run and jog. I practically jogged the flatter part of the course and brisk-walked on those uphill climbs. I knew that it was an 8-kilometer distance of uphill before we reached the short climb to the trail of the “Mossy Forest”. However, upon reaching Km 7, it started to rain and I had to bring out my Patagonia Water-Proof Jacket to prevent my body from getting cold and wet. I was happy to see that there is a Marshal manning the short climb up to the Mossy Forest as this was where I got lost in 2014. I tried to run inside the Mossy Forest and I was comfortable with my pace until I was knocked down with a branch of tree that fell down years ago across the trail. I resumed with my run until I reached Pangawan and I refilled my bottle with water. The RD and the rest of the volunteers were there cheering us and telling us our split time as we arrived at the Aid Station. My time was 3:02 hours for 14 kilometres and I was 32 minutes late/slower from the “time plan chart” that I prepared and carried with me. Instead of losing hope, I have to think positively and made my brisk walking faster on the next 3 kilometers of uphill climb to Dayap.

I think I was able to shave off some minutes of my delay from Pangawan to Dayap because of better footing on the ground even if it was raining. The road has a concrete tire track and the exposed ground is too hard to become a muddy one as it was not saturated with the rain. I took advantage to improve my pace after leaving Dayap. However, the road to Banao (newly-graded for widening and improvement) became very muddy as more parts of the trail became ankle-deep mud with water. There are even landslides, too where barely one-foot of track could be passable on the edge of the mountain cliff. This made my pace slower even if I had the aid of my trekking poles to prevent me from sliding and landing on my butt on the ground.

Hardcore 100 39 Hours

Cheat Sheet: Time Plan Reference For A 39-Hour Finish

Before reaching Banao, I was able to pass 8 runners and most of them did not have any trekking poles as they deliberately and slowly selected/chose the drier parts of the trail where they would avoid sliding on the muddy road. Even if the course profile on this part of the route is steeply going down, a runner would not dare to run a faster pace with the mud and slippery nature of the trail. So, instead of getting faster and improving one’s pace in this portion, I had to move slowly and deliberately instead of falling down and getting injured in the process. One false or mistake move on my part would mean a fracture or two on my ribs or bones. Better to be safe than landing in a hospital and giving a problem to the RD. One of the runners whom I passed just simply sat beside the trail wearing his raincoat and declared himself as DNF for having blurred vision! Before reaching Banao, the sun was already on the horizon, the rain had stopped and I could see signs from the cloud formation that the day will be a hot one!

As I looked at my watch, I was already delayed for almost one hour due to the muddy road (and slow start up to Pangawan) and decided to continue without dropping by at the Banao Aid Station. Knowing the different natural and free-flowing water sources along the trail, I was confident that I could easily refill my hydration bottles and bladder with water. It is a steep downhill run from the Banao Aid Station until you reach the bottom where one has to cross the 2nd Cable Hanging Bridge along the course. From the bottom, one has to go uphill again until one will be running along the edge of a mountain where on your left is a big & wide raging river. This is where you will pass the famous Sitio Happy, Kabayo where one will be running on the middle of a mini-rice terraces. Just be careful on your footing that you might land or fall down on the lower level rice terrace which has a height of at least 10-12 feet. There are more Cable Hanging Bridges to cross along this part of the course and be careful not to slip on those wooden planks. The course seem to be flat as the trail becomes flat as one has to run beside the raging river. Sometimes, you will run a flat trail with a narrow irrigation canal on your left side after passing the ABAT Elementary School until you reach a “meadow” where some houses are located. From the houses, it will be a deep descending part of small rocks on the trail where is a wooden fence on your right and a big trunk of fallen tree on the middle/left side of the trail. Take advantage of picking up your pace on these flat and descending parts of the course. After crossing the longest Cable Hanging Bridge in Kabayo, be ready for the next 7 kilometres of relentless climb up to the trail intersection/crossing of Napo-Tuyak which is still one kilometre away from the Aid Station/Checkpoint.

ToNapoTuyak

The Longest Hanging Bridge Towards Napo-Tuyak

I started to slow down on the last 5 Kilometers to Napo-Tuyak because of the heat of the sun and the steep climb to the crossing/intersection before the Aid Station. It was only on the last 2 kilometres that I thought of ingesting some solid food and taking in my first Salt Tablets that I was able to recover some strength to beat the cut-off time in Napo-Tuyak by 2 minutes. The “pit stop” to eat and rest on the last 2 kilometres was costly that I squandered 20-25 minutes of my “buffer” time.

I was the #124th and last runner to arrive within the cut-off time of 11 hours at Napo-Tuyak (Km 45). How I wished there was an Ice Cold Coca-Cola drinks to greet me at the Aid Station but there was none. The newly-cooked Camote just arrived and I picked-up one or two pieces which were still hot to eat. I put them in my pocket and proceeded to the store where I could buy some Coke. After eating some solid foods and the newly-cooked camote with the Coke, I started my climb as the last runner to Grassland without any hope of arriving at the next Aid Station/Checkpoint within the cut-off time of 16 hours!

It is a consolation that it was my 4th time to trek on this very steep climb from Napo-Tuyak to Babadak no matter what time will I arrive at the next Checkpoint. There was still light as it was before sundown when I finally reached the Grassland. There is no need to bring out my Cellphone as I was here for so many times since started in trail running. From the Grassland, I was on a Hiking Mode to Babadak and hoping that I would be transported back immediately to Kayapa for my shower, tooth-brush, hot food and warm bed.

I missed the cut-off time of 16 hours in Babadak Aid Station/Checkpoint and I was declared “DNF” (Did Not Finish).

Things To Be Improved To Myself:

  1. Fighting With Age & Body Deterioration——I am so lucky and blessed that I’ve reached this age without any major illness or living a life while taking in some “preventive maintenance” drugs/medicines to buy more time in existence in this world. All I could do is to maintain my health/physique and continue what I love doing which is trail running and hiking up and down the mountains. I will be going back to Kayapa next year and finish this course and be declared as the “Oldest Finisher in this Event”.
  2. More Mileage, More Vertical Distance But More Rest——For one to successfully finish this race within the cut-off time of 40 hours, one needs the whole year to train and prepare for it. An average runner knows what is meant by periodization and one must follow this principle of training. For my age, I would strictly follow this principle and make the H1 as my A-1 Priority Race and consider the rest of the races of the year as part of my training and evaluation leading to this Main Event. The training cycle of 3-4 weeks will be observed as to give time for my body to rest and recover for the workouts I’ve put in to my body. Hopefully, I will be devoting more sleeping hours during the days and nights during my training period.
  3. Strengthening Exercises——My strengthening exercises and drills at the Gym for 4 weeks leading to the race complemented or substituted in some of my absences and missed trail running days in my weekly schedules. I did not feel any attacks of cramps or tightening of my muscles on my legs and arms except for some pain on my lower back which needs more “core exercises” during my climb from Napo-Tuyak to Grassland. I think those gym workouts which were concentrated on my leg muscles to include my butt muscles had greatly helped in my run and hike without any signs of any pain or developing any injury to my legs.
  4. Tool or Devise To Remind Me To Eat——I usually use the “beep” sound of my watch every time I complete one mile as a reminder for me to take in my liquid and food but most of the time, I would not hear the sound while on the run. There are times also that I become hard-headed not to drink or eat even if I hear the sound and focus more on what I see in front of me while running. I think I have to practice or train on this using my iPhone as a reminder device or use my iPod music, too! My faster pace between Banao to Kabayo and then to Napo-Tuyak contributed on my lack of concern on my nutrition to the point that I forgot that I had with me in my Hydration Pack lots of Clif Chews which could be eaten easily and gave me the needed energy just like when I ran the TransLantau 100. Age is catching so fast on my memory that I forgot also to take my Salt Sticks/Tablets on the early part of the race when the sun was out and I was sweating profusely and only to remember to take in some when I was about to be totally drained from my energy on the last 2 kilometers to Napo-Tuyak! Next year, this thing will never happen again! Can anybody suggest those “talking” Applications to be downloaded for my iPhone?
  5. Weather, Expect For The Worst——I’ve used my ALTRA Superior 2.0 in my successful runs for the Translantau 100 and Four Lakes 100 but it did not perform well on muddy and slippery trails of H1. Aside from not being aggressive on holding my feet from sliding on muddy trails, the insole kept on folding-up front inside my shoes! I thought that a lump of mud had accumulated inside my shoes that I had to dip my feet/shoes on every running water I could pass along the route just to remove the mud inside. I had some slips but I was glad I had trekking poles to balance myself. I think I have to go back to my Inov-8 Mudclaw or New Balance Trail Shoes with Vibram Soles if this event will be scheduled on this part of the year where I would anticipate some rains during the event. As with my Patagonia Jacket, it passed flying colours on what it is used for as a raincoat and warmer outfit to prevent me from the cold winds in the Grassland. I have used a The North Face Waterproof Jacket during my Recon Hike two weeks before the race as it rained from Napo-Tuyak to Grassland and it passed with flying colours, too!
  6. Trekking Poles——I used my almost 4-year old Black Diamond Trekking Poles which is 120 cm in length. I used them in my past TNF Races, Mt Ugo Marathon, Translantau 100s, Four Lakes 100, and CM50 editions and they are very useful. Now that I am becoming an expert on the use of trekking poles, I feel that I need a longer one in size for more stability. I will buy the same brand of trekking poles with 130 cm in length.
  7. Need For More Speed On The Trail——Hardcore 100 is a very unique mountain trail running event. One has to need some Speed or Faster Pace on the first half of the race and then maintain a comfortable jog-walk pace on the second half of the race. If you don’t have a “buffer time” of 3 hours upon reaching the Napo-Tuyak Aid Station/Checkpoint (Km 45), be ready to DNF at the Babadak Aid Station/Checkpoint (Km 62). If you are arrive at the Babadak Aid Station within the cut-off time of 16 hours in good condition, you have a 50-50 chance of finishing the race within the 40 hours cut-off time. In order to have a “buffer time” of 3 hours at Napo-Tuyak, I have to run an average pace of 5.6 kilometres per hour from the Starting Line up to Napo-Tuyak! Considering the total gain in elevation of about 13,000+ feet within the distance of 45 kilometres, the said pace is a very fast one for me. In my training, I could only manage to have my fastest average pace up to 4.9 kilometers per hour with a lower total gain in elevation by almost 3,000 feet. I have one year to improve my average pace appropriate for the first 45K of the course, hopefully! This will be the first thing that I will improve on in order to have a greater chance of finishing the race.
  8. More Recon & Visits To The Route—-Aside from doing more practice runs on the first 62 kilometres of the route (Start to Babadak), it is also a “must” to know and feel how it is like to run and hike from Napo-Tuyak back to Dayap (Km 102) during nighttime. From Dayap to the Finish Line is the “reverse” version of the Four Lakes 100 route but there is still challenge to it as one has to reach the peak of Mt Ugo before going to the Finish Line. Hopefully, I will be able to do my practice runs and hikes by segment or section on this part of the route when the body is already weak and exhausted. We will see!

As a closing note in this post, I know that there are so many younger, stronger, and more experienced trail runners who have declared themselves as DNF in this race, to include our foreign friends/neigboring countries’ mountain trail runners who have finished other challenging races in other parts of the world and this Hardcore 100 event is something that we could be proud of. This international event could not be possible without the vision and advocacy of Jonel Mendoza and his Team to bring Sports Tourism in this part of the country and establish an added economy for the people of Kayapa and its environs. Let us support this event whether you are a trail runner or a volunteer and hopefully, the government and/or private entities will come into play and be aware of this event and come up with “projects” or establishments for better living conditions and accommodations for the people joining this event.

And for those local Pinoy Runners, Men & Women,  who took the Podium Finish Positions and up to the Top Ten Overall Ranking, they have proven that they could Break The Course Record in the previous year/s and even performed well within the standards of the world’s elite international trail runners. This outstanding performance of our Local Trail Runners shows and proves that we can compete among the top international elite trail runners in the world. I just hope that our local as well as our multi-national Outdoor Corporate Brands and Private Business Establishments, and of course, our Government will have the INITIATIVE and CONCERN to bring these outstanding trail runners to international competitions and exposure.

To those who experienced running in this event and about to join  this most challenging trail running event in the country, always remember, you came to join this event not to brag to have tried or finished it but you came here to prove that you can endure the most painful experience you can inflict on to yourself because of mountain trail running…thus, you will know more about yourself and what you are capable of from the strength of your mind and body.

Congratulations to those who endured the pain and victorious to have defeated the mountains and had successfully finished the race. To those who failed, we have one year to prepare, train, and save some money.

See you next year!





Official Result: 1st NORTH COAST 200-Mile Ultra Marathon Race

17 05 2016

1st NORTH COAST 200-Mile Ultra Marathon Race

Gun Start & Starting Place: 12:01 AM May 12, 2016/Laoag City (Ilocos Norte)

Finish Line: La Perla Inn, Santa Ana, Cagayan

Finish Time: 12:01 AM May 15, 2016

Cut-Off Time: 72 Hours

Number Of Starters: 9 Runners

DSC_0205

Pioneers Of The NORTH COAST 200-Mile Run

RANK              NAME                            TIME (Hours)

  1. Thomas Combisen (Overall Champion, CR) —–64:37:41
  2. Dondon Talosig (1st Runner-Up, Overall) —— 65:55:31
  3. Jonathan Moleta (2nd Runner-Up, Overall) —– 67:05:57
  4. Allan Sabado —————————– 70:16:30
  5. Roberto Vocal, Jr ————————– 70:45:23
  6. Benedict Meneses ————————- 71:41:25
  7. Jocel Lanas***—————————- 73:14:49

***Beyond Cut-Off Time

DSC_0250

Thomas Combisen, Overall Champion & Course Record Holder

Congratulations To All The Finishers! Thank you for your support.

See you in the next edition (2017)!

 





Route Description: 1st NORTH COAST 200-Mile Ultra Marathon Race

11 05 2016

The race starts on Midnight of May 11, 2016 in front of the Provincial Capitol of Ilocos Norte which is located along Rizal Street in Laoag City.

Ilocos Norte Provincial Capitol

Ilocos Norte Provincial Capitol

From Rizal Street, runners will go on easterly direction until they reach the second street intersection and then TURN LEFT along the so-called BACARRA Road. The Bacarra Road goes on a northerly direction towards the town of Bacarra. After passing the Bacarra Bridge, the runner follows the Highway towards the town of Pasuquin and by-passes the Poblacion of Bacarra.

The runners will pass the town of Pasuquin as he/she proceeds to the town of Burgos. The Kilometer #50 Checkpoint will be located in front of the Burgos Municipal Hall.

Kapurpurawan Rock Junction Before Poblacion of Burgos

Kapurpurawan Rock Junction Before Poblacion of Burgos

In Front Of The Burgos Municipal HallI

In Front Of The Burgos Municipal Hall

After passing the Windmills in Burgos and Bangui, the runners will be on their way to the Boundary of Pagudpud. Once they reach the intersection/junction going to the Poblacion of Pagudpud and towards the Province of Cagayan, runners would have covered a distance of 72 Kilometers.

Pagudpud To Cagayan Junction (Kilometer 72)

Pagudpud To Cagayan Junction (Kilometer 72)

After 18 kilometers, runners will reach the famous Patapat Bridge and hopefully, the last runner will pass this place while there is still daylight. Patapat Bridge is Kilometer #90

Patapat Bridge (Kilometer #90)

Patapat Bridge (Kilometer #90)

After 10 kilometres, there is a flowing water from a hose from the side of the mountain which is very near to a road repair construction due to mountain slides. This is the Kilometer 100 mark of the route.

Free-Flowing Water on the Right Side of the Road Near a Landslide Repair/Construction

Free-Flowing Water on the Right Side of the Road Near a Landslide Repair/Construction

After 2 kilometres, the runners will reach the Ilocos Northe-Cagayan Boundary Arc (Kilometer 102).

Ilocos Norte-Cagayan Highway Boundary Arc

Ilocos Norte-Cagayan Highway Boundary Arc

From this point, runners will be going downhill towards the town of Santa Praxedes and to the plains of Claveria, Pamplona, and Abulog until they reach the famous Magapit Bridge, the Longest Suspension Bridge in the country.

Claveria Arc

Claveria Arc

Pamplona Welcome Arc

Pamplona Welcome Arc

The Pamplona Welcome Arc is Kilometer #150 and the Pamplona Poblacion is Kilometer #160.

Eight Kilometers before the town of Allacapan is marked as Kilometer #200.

Upon reaching the Magapit Bridge, the runners would have reached Kilometer #226.

Magapit Bridge

Magapit Bridge

After crossing the Magapit Bridge, runners will TURN LEFT towards the town of Lal-lo, Cagayan and proceed to Aparri, Cagayan. The runners will pass the DUGO Intersection (Dugo, Camalaniugan) on their way to the direction of Aparri until they will reach Km Post 0578 which is 4 Kilometers before reaching the town of Aparri. At this Kilometer Post, runners will TURN-AROUND back to the DUGO Intersection and then TURN LEFT towards Santa Ana, Cagayan.

The DUGO (Camalaniugan) Intersection is Kilometer #244.5 and the Km Post 0578 which is the TURN-AROUND point is Km #251. Upon reaching back to DUGO after coming from the TURN-AROUND Point, the runners should have covered a distance of 258 Kilometers.

DUGO (Camalaniugan) Intersection

DUGO (Camalaniugan) Intersection

TURN-AROUND Point Before Aparri, Cagayan

TURN-AROUND Point Before Aparri, Cagayan

From the DUGO Intersection to the Finish Line in Santa Ana, Cagayan will be a long-stretch of flat road of about 62+ Kilometers. The Finish Line will be at the LA PERLA INN which is 10 Kilometers away after passing the Santa Ana Welcome Arc.

Santa Ana, Cagayan Welcome Arc (Last 10 Kilometers To The Finish Line)

Santa Ana, Cagayan Welcome Arc (Last 10 Kilometers To The Finish Line)

La Perla Inn Entrance

La Perla Inn Entrance

La Perla Inn Merker & Road To Santa Ana's Centro

La Perla Inn Marker & Road To Santa Ana’s Centro

Good luck to all the Runners!








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