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Race Report: 2018 Salomon Cappadocia Medium Trail 63K Race

24 10 2018

Race Report: 2018 Salomon Cappadocia Medium Ultra 63K Race

Introduction

After my early on the race DNF at the Maideira Island Ultra Trail Race (MIUT) in April 2018, I immediately looked for another Ultra Trail World Tour (UTWT) Event where I would join even if I was already registered to join the TNF Lavaredo 120K Ultra Race on the last weekend of June 2018. When I DNF at Km 65 at the TNF Lavaredo 120K Ultra due to “altitude sickness”, I have evaluated myself and accepted that I am already getting older and weaker despite the fact that I’ve been training consistently for my races. Having thought of my past DNF, I was able to assess myself that I should run shorter/medium ultra trail races which are less than 100 kilometers to regain my confidence to continue doing international trail running events.

As soon as I was going back to Manila from Madeira, I reviewed the remaining races for the UTWT and I found out about the Salomon Cappadocia Ultra Trail Races which is scheduled on the third week of October 2018. Through a close and good friend who is based in London, Great Britain and had visited Turkey in the past, I made her a request to find out the details of the said race even if I could easily read the details of the said race in the Race Event’s Official Website. It was on the first week of May that I decided to join the said race. From there, I was officially registered to join the Medium Ultra which is 63+K distance. Later in the month, I asked my top trail runners who are regular runners in my BR’s Events and representing the Philippine Association of Ultrarunners (PAU) if they can join the event and take a shot at the longer distance which is the 119K event. Finally, we made a team of three (3) runners in the Medium distance (63K) and two (2) runners in the Ultra distance (119K). It was later, in the following months that another Filipino trail runner, Alex Yap, registered also to join the Ultra distance event. For this year’s 2018 edition, the Team PAU/Philippines is represented to join this event for the FIRST time!

My trip itinerary with our Team will be discussed in a separate blog to include our accommodation in Urgup, Cappadocia, Turkey. This is to include my training and other administrative activities related to the Race.

Salomon Cappadocia Poster/Logo

Salomon Cappadocia Ultra Races Statistics

Race Proper

The Cappadocia Ultra Trail (CUT) 119K and Cappadocia Medium Trail (CMT) 63K Races started at exactly 7:00 AM of Saturday, October 20, 2018 at the Town Center of Urgup with 300+ CUT starters and 500+ CMT starters. So, 800+runners were at the starting line raring to go for their respective distances in a cold morning. After some greetings and briefing by the Race Director/EMCEE, the race started where I placed myself and my Pinoy co-runners for the CMT at the middle of the pack. The two Pinoy runners for the CUT were positioned in front of the runners.

Cappadocia Medium Trail 63K Elevation Profile/Details

The first 2 kilometers were on an uphill cobble-stone wide road where I could easily find my space once I left the starting line. Once the road leveled up, I was already few meters away from the start of the trail/dirt road where later we have to cross the paved highway going to the center of Urgup. Once I was on the wide dirt road, I was already feeling comfortable with my pace aside from the fact that we had a familiarity of the place due to a recon run on the first 9K of the route two days before the race day. As the wide dirt road would become narrower into a single-track trail, I would pass the slower runners who would form a “conga” line from the sides of the trail. This had been my routine on this part of the course, most specially, on the ascending portions of the trail. There were some flat portions where I could run and hike on short steep ascents until we reached a cobble-stoned paved road leading to a populated area where a “Stone Castle” is located. We passed this town and we descended to a very steep cemented stairs until we reached again a dirt road.

Cappadocia Ultra Trail Start/Finish Area

First 3-4 Kilometers of the Route

Cappadocia’s “First” Castle

It was my plan to have an average speed of at least, 6 kilometers per hour on the first 10K of the course just to able to reach the first checkpoint so that I could have a buffer time of 20 minutes. And that is what I did. I reached the first checkpoint in 1:30+ minutes and I did not have to waste any time inside the Aid Station after I refilled my bottles with water. The place is called Ibrahimpasa which 10.8 kilometers away from the Start Line. I picked up 3 slices of Apple and placed them inside my Salomon Vest pocket. It took me at least one minute in this Aid Station. From this Checkpoint, it was another paved road going to the very peak of the mountain which is lined with houses. It was drizzling and cold but I enjoyed the coolness of the day and the air around me. Once at the peak, everything after was about 7-kilometer downhill where I was surrounded with the beautiful scenery of the mountains and hills on both sides of the trail. The scenery consisted of rock formations and rocks with some holes in them. I knew that the distance from Checkpoint 1 to Checkpoint 2 is 17 kilometers but I was confident that my two bottles of water and drink mix were enough for my hydration for the whole distance due to the cold weather. Although I have an empty hydration flask in my pack as a reseve for my hydration drinks, I was not able to use it during the whole duration of the race.

Route Scenery

The descending portion from the peak ended in a populated area with cobblestoned roads with commercial establishments on both sides and some parking areas. Race Marshals were there to point to us on which direction to take once we approach a road crossing. Because of the different electric posts and trees abound on both sides of the streets, there were tape markings tied on these posts and trees aside from those sticks with flag being being placed on strategic places and corners of each street turn. and As I got nearer to Checkpoint 2 which is called Uchisar, another populated area with houses and commercial establishments, I could see two pointed stone castles from afar but I need to pass through tunnels and canyons on a single-track trail. There was an incident where I bumped my head on the on the upper portion of the tunnel when I was not able to bend my body at a lower level just to be able to clear and pass through the tunnel. A Malaysian trail runner, Bryan Kho, was tailing behind me when this incident happened and he shouted to me, “Ingat, Sir”! (Be Careful, Sir!). And I said, “Thank you!”. I am glad that was the only cave with the lowest ceiling over ones head! The 63K route has a lot of tunnels to pass through and most of them are wide and big enough for the runners to pass through.

Cappadocia’s Second Castle

On a winding and uphill route going to the Checkpoint 2 (Uchisar), most of the runners in front of me would bring out their cellphones and took some pictures of a garden with lots of flowering plants beside the road. I was not tempted to bring out my phone and promised myself not to take any pictures of anything along the route before the start of the race. Finally, I reached the Uchisar Aid Station which also served as the Checkpoint 2. It is located inside the “Rock Castle” and I estimated that I was able to add another 15 minutes to my buffer time which was already 45+minutes in total. I did not stay long in the Aid Station after I refilled my bottle; drank some water and Coca Cola; and finally mixed my powdered nutrition. I left a lot of runners at the Aid Station who arrived earlier than me. I was already approaching Km 28. as soon as I left the Aid Station.

Camel Along The Road

Few meters from the Aid Station is a very steep descent that runners in front of me would stop and look for other part of the route where their trail shoes would be stable and prevent them from sliding. Although I did not have any trekking poles, I was happy that I decided to use my Salomon Speedcross 4 as it gave me the appropriate and stable traction on those loose and steep downhill runs. On the downhill, I observed that there were lots of tourists along the route and there was a group of children who were very noisy as they trekked the trails where we shared with each other. I avoided these children until I reached a paved highway with some Police and Race Marshal directing the traffic as runners would cross the Highway. It was at this point that I was able to see a Camel and because of my excitement to see one for the first time, I brought out my Cellphone and took a picture of the animal and a “selfie”!

Cappadocia’s Camel “Selfie”

From the Highway, it was another descending part of the route with rock formations on the left side and I was amazed with the beauty of the place. It was starting to heat up as the sun would show from the cloudy sky but the air was still moderately cold. I would be running with other runners on a wide dirt road which is sandy and loose on this part of the route. There are other parts which are muddy but my trail shoes would manage to maintain its traction. On these flat sandy trail, I would increase my pace and race with the other runners, making those runners in front of me as my “targets” to overtake. At this point, I was confident that I would be able to finish the race in less than 10 hours based from my prevailing speed as recorded by my Garmin GPS Watch. But I think, I celebrated too early!

I finally reached Checkpoint 3/Aid Station 3 in Goreme which is Km 35.5 with one hour and 15+minutes as buffer time and I was able to meet Akyut, a very popular Turkish ultrarunner who is finished the Spartathlon for so many times, as the Chief Marshal at the said Aid Station. I refilled my bottles and grabbed some apple chunks/cuts and stashed them in my vest pockets; ate some chocolate raisin bread; and drank some Coke. I was frustrated to find out that they don’t have any Ice which I intend to use for my Ice Bandana. I think this is the place where I stayed longer for about 4-5 minutes.

Rock Formation Scenery Along The Route

I started running on a flat terrain for about 1.5 kilometers from the Goreme Aid Station until I reached another paved road where I merged and joined the runners of the 38K distance event. As I left the paved road towards the trailhead, I was joined by these 38K runners who can still run through the trail on the ascents while I would hike on such parts of the route. I became irritated and uneasy whenever I could hear the footsteps of these runners who would be a group in 5-6 runners or more on a “conga” line. I was courteous enough to side step on the trail whenever they would be behind me and I was able to do this for so many times. Knowing that the distance to the next Checkpoint is 12.7 kilometers with two peaks/mountains to pass, I knew that my pace and speed had slowed down. Aside from the passing 38K runners, the ascents and descents were more technical, steeper, and more challenging. I was already having some signs of early cramping at this point but I was able to manage it through my nutrition and tempering my speed/pace. This part of the course slowed me down and I conclude that this is the hardest part of the course! However, this part of the course could be the most scenic and most beautiful, too.

As I was about to descend from the second mountain, the 63K and 119K runners were separated from the 38K runners and I was happy to be alone again on the trail. This is where the scenery would be amazing again. The single track trail would be tricky/technical because it is along the side of the rocky mountain where either side of the mountain would be very steep and scary to look to the bottom of the mountain. The downhill on the side of the mountain has long switchbacks but there are steep short ascents and descents in-between. Finally, I reached a descending cobblestoned road that leads to a populated area which is lined up with commercial stores with their local products. After a short right turn from these stores, I would see the Aid Station at Cavusin which is Checkpoint 4 and located in a small one-story building on the corner left side of the road.

Mountain Peaks & Castles

I refilled my bottles, drank water and coke, ate some slices of their chocolate raisin bread and stashed some slices also inside my empty ziplock bag. I already knew at this point that my buffer time of one hour plus had been reduced to less than 30 minutes and I really needed to get back fast on the trail route. I was following a male runner which was 10 meters ahead of me and after about 200 meters, I was faced with steepest incline of the course which took me almost half hour to reach the first level portion which later became much steeper after one kilometer. I call this portion as “Kiss The Mountain” (where the slope of the mountain is on your face) and there is no established trail as I reached the peak of the mountain. I was passed by a tall and younger male runner with trekking poles when I reached the peak of the said mountain and our eyes met with each other and smiled to one another. At this point, I was already cursing myself why I did not bring my new GIPRON Trekking Poles with me. Anyway, it was only at this part of the race where I thought I would have needed the aid of my trekking poles.

I could not believe when the peak of the mountain is a plateau where we would run for at least 2 kilometers and descending to a trail on the side of the mountain for another 3-4 kilometers. As I start to descend from the mountain, I would see the next Aid Station which is the Fifth and Last Checkpoint at Akdag, but it was still another almost 3 kilometers afar before reaching the Checkpoint. On these last 2 kilometers to the Checkpoint, the trail was very steep and the soil was very loose that almost all the runners in front of me had to slow down. But my reliable Salomon Speedcross 4 did the work for me as I put more speed on my downhill run. I reached the Akdag Checkpoint with about 30+ minutes as a buffer time from the cut-off time of 10:30 hours. With almost 9 kilometers to the Finish Line, I knew I would be able to finish the race in 11+hours. I refilled my bottles for the last time and mixed my nutritional powder which would be enough to bring me to the finish line.

Rock Formation Along The Route

The last section of the course is a vineyard with a rolling terrain which I would run the flatter sections and brisk walk the ascents. I could hear the sounds of the passing vehicles from the highway and it was my gauge on how I was progressing in my run towards the finish line. The sounds were becoming louder as I got nearer to the Highway but it was becoming darker as the sun was already setting to the west horizon. I was passed by a couple of male and female runners who are locals in Turkey and I made them as my “guides” towards the finish line. They were also kind enough to wait for me as I appear around the bend to make sure that I was following them. I decided not to use my headlight as I knew the street lights would be able to illuminate the last meters to the Finish Line. As soon as I crossed the Highway, it was my last 800 meters towards the Finish Line and everything was all downhill! However, I was very careful on the last few meters of the cobblestoned road because the road was rough and the cobblestones were not lined evenly flat that I might trip on them with a single misstep. (I found out later that some runners had fallen and tripped themselves on this road before they crossed the finish line).

Live Update Time Of Finish

I crossed the Finish Line in 11:36+ hours, which is almost one hour before the race cut-off time of 12:30 hours! I was happy and I was able to redeem myself from my past DNFs in the Ultra Trail World Tour races where I registered. This finish gave me much more confidence to join and tackle more international trail races in the future. Aside from my personal satisfaction and accomplishment of this race, my Team PAU made a history as the FIRST Filipino Team of Ultra Trail Runners to have finished the Cappadocia Ultra Trail 119K and the Cappadocia Medium Ultra 63K Trail Events.

Salomon Cappadocia’s Ultra FIRST PINOY Finishers (From Left: Alex Yap, Thomas Combisen, Khristian Caleon, Jovenal Narcise/BR, Rodrigo Losabia, & Ronnel Valero)

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Official Result: 6th Antique 100-Mile Endurance Run

24 09 2018

6th Antique 100-Mile Endurance Run (2018)

Starting Area: Guimbal Municipal Hall, Iloilo

Start Time/Date: 10:00 PM September 14, 2018

Finish Area: Culasi Municipal Hall, Antique

Finish Time: 7:00 AM September 16, 2018

Cut-Off Time: 33 Hours

Number Of Runners: 10 Runners

Number Of Finishers: 9 Runners

Percentage Of Finish: 90%

Race Start @ Guimbal Municipal Hall

RANK        NAME              TIME (Hrs)

  1. Remy Caasi (Overall Champion/Female Champion/Female Course Record)—25:17:58
  2. Edwin Fernandez (Male Champion) —27:19:34
  3. Gibo Malvar (1st Runner-Up, Male) —27:20:20
  4. Dondon Talosig (2nd Runner-Up, Male) —28:20:24
  5. Richard Gano —31:11:31
  6. Rodrigo Losabia —31:20:15
  7. Carl Don Rudas —31:24:36
  8. Reese Rogel (1st Runner-Up, Female) —32:54:30
  9. Tess Leono (2nd Runner-Up, Female) —32:58:20

Remy Caasi, Overall/Female Champion

Edwin Fernandez, Male Champion

Congratulations To All The Finishers!





On Having A Professional Coach

22 09 2018

On Having A Professional Coach

I started to get the guidance of a Professional Coaching Service in my ultrarunning/running in the middle of June 2017. Actually, it was my second experience to get the assistance of a Coaching Service abroad. The first one was with Karl Meltzer and it lasted for one year although I was the very basis Coaching Program that I have enrolled in. I became a very strong ultra trail runner in a short period of time and his Coaching/Training Schedule made me finished 3 successive finishes in the Clark Miyamit 50-Mile Ultra Trail; 2 Finishes in the Translantau 100K; and Tarawera 100K finish in New Zealand. My two attempts in the San Diego 100-Mile Endurance for two successive years did not go as planned because of GI issues related to excessive Heat Exhaustion in a desert environment and Nutrition problems. On hindsight, it maybe due also to overtraining and lesser appreciation of rest and recovery in between training blocks or in between race events.

When Jason Koop, author of Training Essentials Of Ultrarunning, published his book, we started to become friends on Facebook and that I would be one of the first to purchase it. And even went to the extent of recommending it to my FB friends after getting the full appreciation of his scientific approach to ultrarunning training. It took me sometime to read the book and started to apply its concepts in my daily training. Not until an advertisement popped out on Internet that CTS was offering One Dollar First Month Fee for their Coaching Service. I immediately sent an inquiry to Jason Koop through Direct Message and he replied to me instantly with a positive note. I told him that I am a 65-year old and I need to be a better mountain trail ultrarunner.

After a week of processing, I got a designated Coach and Premium Training Peaks platform where I can upload the data from my GPS Watch and at the same time, where I could see my Training Schedule. John Fitzgerald is my Coach and he would give me feedback almost everyday and I could arrange a scheduled phone call or simply send him a SMS regularly if I need some inquiries or inform him about my feeling/s during and after workout. He would know my races and adjust my training based from the information available from the event.

After one year being an athlete of CTS even if I failed in my scheduled Ultra Races last year and this early part of 2018, I admit that CTS and Coach John Fitzgerald were the primary factors/reasons why I was able to qualify for the 2019 Boston Marathon and most of all, not being “burned out” in every training block and in between my racing events.

On hindsight, I think I have over estimated myself in choosing very hard races in Europe & USA which are part of the Ultra Trail World Tour (UTWT) series. I should have chosen those shorter ultra versions of these races which could had served as my initial exposure or recon runs in these very challenging races. However, at this time, I knew that I am ready to go back in these places/races and more confident to finish these races with the support of CTS.

For an old and passionate runner like me, CTS will be my partner and guide to tackle more challenging ultra mountain trail races in the future.

For more particulars about the CTS Professional Coaching Services, you can contact them here at www.trainright.com 





Official Result: 3rd Tagaytay To Naic 100K Ultramarathon Race

4 09 2018

3rd Tagaytay To Naic 100K Ultramarathon Race (2018)

10:00 PM September 1, 2018 to 6:00 PM September 2, 2018

Starting Line: Picnic Grove, Tagaytay City

Finish Line: Covered Court (Municipal Plaza), Naic, Cavite

Number Of Starters: 22 Runners

Number Of Finishers: 20 Runners

Group Picture Before The Start

RANK          NAME             TIME (Hrs)

  1. Gibo Malvar (Overall Champion) —14:10:40
  2. Aldrin Pallera (1st Runner-Up, Overall) —14:30:23
  3. Dondon Talosig (2nd Runner-Up, Overall) —15:12:12
  4. Mark Devora —15:31:17
  5. Jenneth Soriano (Female Champion) —16:40:47
  6. Goldenboy Herrera —17:15:42
  7. Jay Velasco —17:39:08
  8. Aldwin Palomo —17:48:28
  9. Aris De Leon —17:48:30
  10. Kathleen Piñero (1st Runner-Up, Female) —18:19:54
  11. Bob Tolete —18:19:58
  12. Tereso Sy —18:20:02
  13. Khristian Caleon —18:23:15
  14. Glenn Rosales —18:23:18
  15. Lawrence Cajote —19:13:06
  16. Reque Angway —19:13:13
  17. Anne Rose Paras (2nd Runner-Up, Female) —19:37:43
  18. Barney Mamaril —19:38:07
  19. Michael Socito —19:38:17
  20. Arianne Ortega (Female) —19:54:38

Gibo Malvar, Overall Champion

Jenneth Soriano, Female Champion

Congratulations To All The Finishers!





Official Result: 6th WEST COAST 200K Ultramarathon Race (2018)

19 08 2018

6th WEST COAST 200K Ultramarathon Race (2018)

4:00 AM August 17, 2018 To 10:00 PM August 18, 2018

Starting Line: Remy Field Oval Track, Subic Freeport

Finish Line: Barangay Lucap, Alaminos City (Pangasinan)

Cut-Off Time: 42 Hours

Number Of Starters: 7 Runners

Number Of Finishers: 5 Runners

Percentage Of Finish: 71.4%

6th WEST COAST 200K Starters

RANK          NAME                    TIME (Hrs)

  1. Thomas Combisen (Overall Champion) —32:25:45
  2. Gibo Malvar (1st Runner-Up, Overall) —38:32:43
  3. Carlito Rudas Jr. (2nd Runner-Up, Overall) —40:45:46
  4. Edwin Fernandez —40:51:05
  5. Richard Gano —41:10:56

2018 WEST COAST 200K Finishers (42 Hours)

Congratulations To All The Finishers!

 





2018 Badwater 135-Mile Ultramarathon Experience (Part 5)

13 08 2018

2018 Badwater 135-Mile Ultramarathon Experience (Part 5)

From Towne Pass To Panamint Springs

I consider the stretch from Stovepipe Wells To Towne Pass as the most difficult section of the course due to the following: 1) the runner had already ran a distance of 40 miles without sleep and exhaustion is about to creep in; 2) it’s the 2nd morning and the temperature is almost the same when one started and it can rise up to 127 degrees Fahrenheit in the middle of the day; 3) if the runner has the tendency to have an imbalance of electrolytes in his body system, the body will not be able to process whatever food intake, whether they are in the form of gels, liquid, or solid food; and 4) and the relentless uphill climb which is about 5% to 10% gradient where you can see the point where you should reach at a distance is too much to bear and think that particular uphill climb is endless.

On Our Ascent To Towne Pass

Tess and I were well-supported by our Support Vehicle and Crew on this portion/segment as they would stop to refill our hydration bottles every 500 meters to 1 kilometer. Tess would be only treated with Ice Cold Water spray by our team once she reaches the Support Vehicle. Sometimes, I would use the water from my Simple Hydration to douse ice cold water to Tess’ head. However, I did not have the plan or thought of carrying the ice cold sprayer bottle while I was pacing her. There are pacers who would follow their runners behind with a bottle sprayer and it was my first time to see such. By doing this, there is a tendency for the ice cold water to become a hot water while it is being carried by the Pacer due to the heat of the environment. The ice I place in my Simple Hydration bottle whenever I reach the Support Vehicle would be easily transformed to a hot water in a few minutes while I was following Tess. As compared with the Salomon Collapsible Bottles which I had for my electrolyte drinks, I’ve observed that the coldness of the liquid stays longer than the ice water in my Simple Hydration Bottle. During my pacing job to Tess, I was carrying with one Simple Hydration Bottle with Ice, and later melted to Ice water; and a 20-ounce Salomon Collapsible Bottle with my NUUN Electrolyte drink. So, for our relentless climb to Towne Pass, we repeatedly refilled our bottles whenever we reached our Support Crew/Vehicle. We also had the time to ingest some food available in our Support Vehicle.

We had KIND Fruit & Nut Bars (my primary food intake); fresh fruits (apple bites and ice cold watermelon); Rice O Roni; Champorado; Cookies; Sandwiches (prepared by Jas); Noodles; Pizza; Peanut Butter; Ham; Gels; Bundaberg Ginger Beer; and Ice Cold Soda (Coke & Mountain Dew). These food were prepared and served to us during the run, most specially along this segment of the course. I bought two packs (8 pieces) of KIND Fruit & Nut Bars and two packs (8 bottles) of Bundaberg Ginger Beer which I intend to use as my source of food and cure/treatment for any GI issues I might have during the run. I offered/gave one KIND Bar to Tess on our uphill climb to Towne Pass but she only took a bite and returned the remaining bar to me. I was then forcing her to eat some solid food but she would prefer her instant Champorado. I ate the remaining bar and consistently fueled by this fruit & nut bar which is a mix of sweet and salty tastes. I also started to introduce her to drink the Ice Cold Bundaberg Ginger Beer to make her stomach settle due to her frequent throwing out of her food and drinks from her stomach. I wanted her to finish one bottle during the course of our run for a few kilometers but she would not want it. Frankly speaking, this Ginger Beer and my NUUN Electrolyte Drinks had arrested my problem on my GI issues of not being able to fully process my ingested food in my stomach.

Bundaberg Ginger Beer

Our pace/speed was on the average at this segment even if we slowed when we were about 2 miles from the peak of Towne Pass. I told Tess that we will be able to even up or make up for our lost time as we descend from the peak of Towne Pass. It was a matter time as we relentlessly power-hiked the remaining portion before we crest the top most portion of the Pass.

After we refilled and re-fueled on top of the Pass, we tried to increase our pace/speed and we were making good with it. However, the strong crosswind coming from our right side or right portion of the mountain pass was so strong that it slowed us down. Coupled with the heat of the day, we would hike and run but our hike would become longer than the time we would run or jog.

At this point, I could see that Tess could not cope up with the increase pace that I would like her to attain. So, we walked and I allowed her to dictate the pace of our run/jo/hike down from Towne Pass. There was a time that she asked for a Peanut Butter Sandwich and that she had to throw it away after a bite on the side of the road. As for me, I would eat everything that I was offered by our Support Crew. Even if I was running and jogging, I was still fresh because I had only about 20 miles of running from Stovepipe Wells. Plus the fact that I was well hydrated and fueled by the solid foods I was eating/ingesting.

There are two important things that I did to entertain Tess while I was pacing her: First, talk to her and ask her about her past sports and past “love life”, however, I was not sure if it made her more motivated during the run or it made her weaker for asking her. Second, my regular Farting behind her made her laugh and smile at first but when it was becoming repeatedly heard, I was not sure if the smell had jolted her body system once in a while or had to stop breathing just to let the smell pass away from us.

The descending portion from Towne Pass would cover almost 9 miles and we would stop from time to time to refuel and refill our bottles. As we reached the bottom portion of the Pass, it was again another seemingly flat but increasingly uphill climb to Panamint Springs which could be seen from a distance. It was another challenge to us to be boringly looking up to the place of our destination along a straight wide road as if it is an endless road to run. The 7-mile road portion up to Panamint Springs seems to be easy but the strong headwind coming from the desert was battering us head on to our uphill climb pace. We would run/jog and hike to reach our Support Vehicle repeatedly.

Endless Road To Panamint Springs

There was a time that our Support Vehicle would park away from us longer than one kilometer that it took us more effort to reach it because of the hot headwind that would meet us along the way. Our Team would look for a more stable shoulder where they would park in order to avoid from being being stucked in the place and need someone to help them push the vehicle. I would complain that they had parked so far that we had consumed already our water before we reached them. At this point, I was feeling dehydrated but I would drink a lot of water and electrolyte drinks just to arrest and remedy such situation.

This uphill climb to Panamint Springs is very memorable as runners would hear the roar of jet planes or fighter jets of the US Air Force in a nearby Air Base passing and crossing above the route. There was a time that you can feel and hear the roar of a passing fighter jet plane on top of you but when you try to look up in the sky, you could no longer see any figure or form of a jet in the horizon. I would learn later after the race that this place is the training ground of the famous Stealth Jet Bombers which you could hardly see because of its speed and its appearance to blend with the sky.

At Panamint Springs Time Station/Cottage Area

It took us a lot of time to reach the Panamint Springs and the last two miles was too painful for Tess as she lagged behind down the road. I went ahead of her to the Time Station just to make sure that the Race Marshals were there to check us. Finally, Tess arrived at the Time Station at Panamint Springs weak and exhausted. She told me that she will have a shower at the “Cottage” and try to sleep for some time but she was already telling me to DNF at this point. I suggested her not to think of pulling the plug off at this place as she has at least 35-40 minutes buffer time before the cut-off time and we have a lot of time to reach Darwin after her rest at Panamint Springs. She has 9 hours to cover 17 miles to Darwin and after reaching Father Cowley’s Pass Vista Point which is 5 miles from Panamint Springs, it is all downhill and flat roads to Darwin for the remaining 12 miles before the next cut-off time of 5:00 AM of Tuesday morning.

Panamint Springs Restaurant

While Tess was having her shower and sleep/rest in the “Cottage”, we had the time to refuel/gas up our Supply Vehicle; resupply our stock of Ice but instead bought frozen bottled water by the gallon (8 gallons of frozen water) due to the fact that the 6,000 packs of Ice prepared for the event were all sold out as early as 6:00 PM of Tuesday; and we were able to have our first decent dinner/meal during the event Panamint Springs Restaurant; and we also had time to have our first Shower/Bath at the Park across the road from the Restaurant. The shower was Free with Towels. We ordered food for Tess but she did not mind touching it after she woke up from her sleep. The food that we ate at the Restaurant was the most expensive one that we had in California and to think of it that the food we ate were pasta and hamburger meals!

Tess was already reluctantly and forced herself to DNF at this point when she finished her shower and nap. I talked to the Race Marshal at the Time Station and told me that there are still at least 3 runners behind us and about 25 runners had DNFd already before reaching Panamint Springs! Wow! I was surprised later to know that at least 3 former Champions and Course Record Holders had DNFd at Stovepipe Wells and some at Furnace Creek.

We were able to encourage Tess to push up to the peak of Father Cowley’s Pass with Khris as the Pacer with the arrangement that I would pace Tess again once they reached the peak. Tess and Khris left Panamint Springs at 9:30 PM with 3 other runners left behind at the Cottage.

After 3 kilometers, I parked our Support Vehicle in a designated Parking Space at this ascending zigzag part of the route. It took Tess and Khris 1.5 hours to hike the distance. Again, Tess pleaded to DNF but we would find a way to ease her GI issues by giving her White Flower Ointment. The ointment made her continue but after two kilometers, I was told by Khris that Tess would be holding his arms as they walked along the road. I drove the Support Vehicle to the Parking Area of the Father Cowley’s Pass Vista Point (Peak). As I was driving, I would see Tess lying on the road while Khris was giving her massage on her legs. At this point, I have concluded that Tess is done with the race. The distance of 8 kilometers from Panamint Springs to the Father Cowley Pass Vista Point had been very painful and brutal to Tess’ condition and it took her almost 4 hours to reach the peak. There was no way she would recover and then cover another distance of 12 miles (20 kilometers) for 4 hours (5:00 AM Tuesday is the next cut-off time in Darwin) with her condition.

While we were parked at the Vista Point, the Park Ranger/Race Marshal would come to us and inform us that our runner were seen by them to be lying on the road. At the Support Vehicle, we waited for the arrival of Tess and Khris and our Race was over.

We are bound for Lone Pine, California, 35 miles away, and it will be my 2nd night without sleep as a Driver and Pacer of the Support Vehicle and Tess, respectively.

I wonder if I could still drive with one eye open and the other eye closed and reached Lone Pine safely.

To be continued…..





2018 Badwater 135-Mile Ultramarathon Experience (Part 4)

8 08 2018

2018 Badwater 135-Mile Ultramarathon Experience (Part 4)

From Badwater Basin To Furnace Creek (0 to 17.5 Miles)

It was almost 15-20 minutes after the race started when we left the Parking Area. After being shouted at by the Traffic Marshal as we merged to the road, we moved on with a slow speed. I didn’t mind being shout at as it was a result of misinterpretation of the hand signal of the Marshal. Our main focus was to support Tess Leono and I have also the habit to shout at runners who are trying or observed to be violating my race rules and regulations.

Tess was already far from our sight as we moved on the first 200 meters of the route. Actually, we could no longer see her back! The temperature was still 120 degrees Fahrenheit and there was no sign that the heat is beginning to cool down even if the sun is about to set from the west horizon.

It was already “early evening twilight” when we saw the back of Tess on the left side of the road. She was not on the back of the pack as we advised her to be easy and slow on this section of the route but we were surprised to see her at the middle of the pack!

The following were the notes I had written/inputted in my iPhone’s Notes from the time the race started as I drove the Support Vehicle:

• Initially running at 9 kilometers per hour up to Km 5
• She kept on pouring water on her head on the first 5 kilometers and we had to stop every 2 kilometers (1.25 miles)
• She was looking like “stressed and nervous” on the early part of the race until she reached Km 8 (5 miles)
• Advise her to slow down within the first 5-kilometer stretch and advise her of the 12:3 ratio of run and walk (12 minutes of run/jog and 3 minutes of walk). She can lower her speed to 7 kilometers per hour.
• At Km 11, she had her first pee and she slowed down to a speed of 8 kilometers per Hour.
• She started to ask for a change of Shoes at Km 12 but when I asked why she was changing on the early part of the race, she changed her mind and decided not to push through.
• Told her to take some bite foods at Km 12 and she did. At this point, she was relaxed on her pace but she was still sweating profusely.
• At 9:00 P.M it was still 113 degrees Fahrenheit in temperature (as glanced from the Vehicle Controls)!
• Reached Km 15 in 1:58+hours
• She asked for her Chamois cloth at km 16.8.
• Arrived at Km 18 in 2:30 hours
• Arrived at Km 19 in 2:38 hours
• Arrived at Km 20.5 in 2:52 hours
• Asked for Coke for the 1st time at Km 21.6 at 3:03+hours
• Arrived at Km 24.6 in 3:36:30 hours
• Arrived at Furnace Creek Crossing Km 27 in 4:00:00 hours
• Arrived at Furnace Creek Aid Station at Mile 17.5 in 4:18 hours
• Bought 3 packs of Ice at Furnace Creek General Store
• Arrived at Km 40 (Mile 25) in 6:17+hours

2nd Day Sunrise

My Personal Observation On The First 25 Miles

Tess was very fast on the early section from the Start to Furnace Creek Time Station @ Mile 17.5 (Start To Mile 17.5) but she apparently slowed down on the later half of the section due to many stops and refill/exchange of her Simple Hydration Bottle with Ice Cold Water. She was holding/carrying only one bottle at a time during the run. However, I have observed that most of the 16 fluid ounces of ice cold water was being poured on her head. We reached the Time Station at Furnace Creek at 4:18+ minutes without any mandatory cut-off time at this point.

It was in this Time Station (Furnace Creek) that she asked for a seat and a change of her shoes. In an instant after she sat, she was already having muscle cramps on her legs. We wanted to stretch or massage her legs but she shouted at us with “Don’t touch me!” Ok, fine…She was sweating profusely and we gave her a lot of water in her hydration bottle but I have observed that she would pour the ice cold water on her legs! Ok…I thought, maybe she wanted to have her 2XU long tights to be wet with cold water. Later on, she asked for a pair of scissors. What? For what is the scissors? Khris gave her the pair of scissors and she was cutting the lower part of her tights in a vertical manner. I only suspect that the tights was putting a lot of pressure/compression on her ankle and calf muscles. She felt relieved when she made some cuts on her tights. Later, I found out from her that it was her first time to use this new 2XU tights. I thought she was using her old tights for this event. We gave her the food that she asked at this point. In a few seconds after the pouring of ice cold water on her tights/legs, cutting her tights, and eating some foods/drinking some water and Coke, she was back on the road.

It was her request that we should stop whenever we see her on the road. In my estimate it would take us a few minutes from the time we prepare her next supply of water and food before we move from where we stopped up to the time we see her on the road. Sometimes, she would run, at least, one kilometer before we would look for a parking space on the side/shoulder of the road. As a driver, it was very tricky to look for a wide and stable space on the shoulder/side of the road. There are times that the shoulder is very loose with small rocks/sand that you don’t want your tires to go deep on those loose sand and rocks. The RD had advised us not to suddenly brake on these loose shoulders once we park our Support Vehicle as some of the vehicles would be sucked on the side of the road. It is also automatic that we would slowly drive our vehicle out of the shoulder when we leave. There is no rush in parking and leaving the parking area.

Loose Shoulder Along The Road

We could no longer count how many times we parked at the shoulder of the road of which we don’t have to. But it was difficult for us to have a nap or have time to rest and wait for Tess as she approaches our Support Vehicle as soon as we park our Support Vehicle on the shoulder. This park-support-leave cycle was repeated every almost one kilometer to one mile until it was sunrise.

At the break of dawn, we would see a lot of runners and Support Vehicles passing us and they are the runners that started with the Second Wave at 9:00 PM. Tess would continue with her run and walk, and she was back with her good running condition.

It was a matter of time before we reached Stovepipe Wells at Mile 40 as Tess would move progressively forward with the rest of the runners. The heat temperature had lowered in the early morning of Monday but it went as high as 120 degrees Fahrenheit as early as 9:00 AM. As the runners relentlessly moved forward, the heat of the sun and the winds had also relentlessly became hotter and stronger. At a distance, we could see already the building structures of Stovepipe Wells. It was time to prepare myself as the Pacer of Tess once she reaches the Stovepipe Wells General Store.

Pacing Tess Leono From Stovepipe Wells To Panamint Springs

At The 2,000 Feet Elevation Marker

• Started to pace her at Stovepipe Wells General Store. We power hiked the uphill up to the Time Station where the RD was waiting which is still 8 miles away from the center of SP Wells. The RD was located at the 2,000 Feet Elevation Sign on the left side of the road. At this point, the RD told us that we missed the 10:00 AM cut off time by 9 minutes but he told us that we just proceed to Panamint Springs and be able to recover the negative time we had. It was time to push Tess to jog and hike the uphill climb to the peak of Towne Pass. At this point, the Elite Group who are with Wave 3 started to pass us and I observed that they consistently jogged on the road which is to my estimate is 5-15% gradient. I tried to jog behind Tess and I felt comfortable. While I slowly jogged behind her.

From Stovepipe Wells To Towne Pass

• Since I don’t want that our crew would also assist me on my needs from the Support Vehicle, I asked them to aid and concentrate on helping Tess on her needs once we approached our parked Support Vehicle. There are times when Tess would simply leave me as I was still refilling my bottles and chewing my solid foods. Most of the time, she would be 50-60 meters ahead of me and I have to jog the uphill climb just to be able to be directly positioned behind her. It would take me almost one minute to jog the distance where Tess is located.

Before Reaching Towne Pass

• Early on, I taught her run while counting on her strides. I told her that we should do the “20/20 strides”—-20 strides on the run & 20 strides while walking. We did this kind of run & walking ratio on our way to. Panamint Springs. I also taught her to power hike as if she was race walking!

• After we crested the peak of Towne Pass, I was confident that the downhill route to Panamint Springs will provide us the confidence of a faster pace and speed. But I was wrong!

To be continued….

Downhill From Towne Pass








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