Three years ago on July 31, 2011, I made my Personal Record Time to reach the peak of the famous Hill Taklang Damulag from Fernandez Hill inside the “Molave Complex” of Fort Magsaysay, Palayan City. I was able to record a finish time of 52:37 minutes where the highest peak has an elevation of 409 meters with a route distance of 2.7 kilometers. I started to record my Garmin Forerunner 305 once I departed the marker at Fernandez Hill until I was able to touch the white-painted Cross on top of the peak of Taklang Damulag. My hike was only one-way as I was able to descend on the northeastern part of the hill towards Sitio Baccao.
In this post where I stated about my experience in this blog, I mentioned that that such distance as a race course is very short and the elevation of the mountain/hill is very low but if one thinks of running up and down to this mountain for four times in a single event, then you have a workout like you have hiked or run to the top and back in a high mountain.
A year after my hike from Fernandez Hill To the Peak of Hill Taklang Damulag, I invited some of my running friends to join a formal race which I called “FKT @ Taklang Damulag” which I consider as the FIRST Fastest Known Time (FKT) Trail Run In The Country which was attended by only five (5) runners. The Course Record for the Event was made by Dannin Arenzana with a time of 59:32 minutes! The following is the story about it: https://baldrunner.com/?s=FKT+%40+Taklang+Damulag
On the first day of this year’s Taklang Damulag 100-Mile & 50-Mile Endurance Runs which happened last December 13-14, 2014, I thought of having my training run by doing some “hill repeats” from Fernandez Hill Marker to the Peak of Taklang Damulag and back. On this day, I was scheduled to finish a distance of 10 miles or 16 kilometers.
I carried one hand-held bottle with the intention of making my refilling of water at the Fernandez Hill Complex where the Aid Station of the Race is located every time I finish one repetition of the hill repeat which is equivalent to one FKT (Fastest Known Time) route. I also used my ALTRA Lone Peak 1.5 shoes for the traction I need for the downhill run back to the starting area.
I started slowly and tried to peak up my pace whenever there is a flat portion of the route. I continuously jog my way up along the trail as I passed the usual three (3) streams on the first kilometer of the route. The trail was slippery due to damp brought about by a light shower of rain the night before. It was no problem to my trail shoes. I was surprised that I was tirelessly going up along the trail and breathing heavily but I could not feel that I was getting tired. I felt fine and my HR Monitor showed that I was on the mid-130s of my Heart Rate. I said there is no way that my heart rate is too low despite the intensity of my pace.
The trail route became more challenging due to the presence of rocks which were eroded as part of the widening and improvement of the trail few years ago. A simple mistake of stepping on these rocks would make someone trip or fall on the ground due to imbalance of one’s footing. One has to be careful to land each foot due to the unevenness of the single-track trail. I knew that I would be able to reach the first Rest Station which is a concrete “waiting station” after making a sharp left turn/switchback and I was still maintaining my jog.
After a few minutes, I was able to reach the Second Rest Station and I readied myself for the start of the steepest portion of the trail. Two years ago, there was a Bamboo Hand Rail standing and supported by two bamboo posts where one could hold as you plant your feet higher and higher towards the peak. All I could see was old wooden cross along the trail and it warns me that I was only 300 meters away from the peak of the Hill. Slowly, the steep part of the trail became lesser in incline and I know that I was about to reach the marker telling all the hikers that the Peak of the Hill is very near.
Finally, one has to get his satisfaction of reaching the peak of the mountain when you see a pathway made of rocks. These pathway of rocks leads to the Concrete White Cross on the Peak of the Hill. As soon as I reached the White Cross, I had to touch/tap it and I was on my way back to the trail where I came from and back to the Fernandez Hill Complex. I glanced on my Garmin Watch and it registered a time of 31:32 minutes!!!
I was excited to find out how fast I was even if I did not recall what was my recorded time on my first timed ascent to this hill 3 years ago. I knew that I was faster than my first attempt. So happy about my performance, I tried to stay focused on my run back to my starting area. I took time to avoid those rocks and not to be very aggressive on the downhill run. My ALTRA Lone Peak 1.5 was very responsive and I did not have any slip or slide on the damp surface of the trail and on the rocks. I did not hike or stopped along the way except when I had to slowly approach and cross the three streams along the route. I was very attentive to my footing and I could not afford to break my ankles or trip my foot or fall on the ground due to some mistakes.
I still had water in my hand-held water bottle as I got nearer to the finish line. It was still cold in the early morning when I started my run but I would take some sip of water as soon I started sweating during my uphill climb to the peak of the hill. Once I reached the flatter sections of the trail, I would sip again some water from my bottle and this ritual was repeated every 5 minutes until I reached the starting line. After I crossed my imaginary finish line at the Fernandez Hill, I glanced at my Garmin Forerunner Watch and it registered a time of 1:11+ hours! Not bad!
I think I was able to rest for about 2-3 minutes by refilling my hand-held water bottle and by walking to the location of the Water Hydration Point at the Aid Station located at the View Deck of Fernandez Hill and back to the starting line. It was time to go back again to the Peak for my 2nd Repeat.
Prior to my start of my first run to the peak, a group of soldiers from the Special Forces Regiment were dropped by a 6 X 6 Military Truck by about 400 meters ahead of my starting area and they were ahead of me by almost 15 minutes. On my last 500 meters before reaching the Peak of the Hill, I was able to pass them one by one. They were carrying their backpacks, some carpentry tools and digging tools, too! Aside from the soldiers who are stationed at the Peak of the Hill, I have also those soldiers whom I have passed along the trail as my witnesses for my run towards the Peak.
I just took my time and maintained my jogging for my second repeat of my climb to the peak of Taklang Damulag. The soldiers stationed at the peak of the hill were surprised to see me back to their location as I immediately proceeded back to the starting line after I tapped the White Concrete Cross. Once again, I was very slow and focused to my footing as I descended from the hill and I was bale to avoid those rocks scattered on some portions of the trail.
My ritual once I arrived at the Fernandez Hill area was the same—walk to the View Deck; refill my water bottles; and walk again back to the starting line. I was already on my third repeat back to the peak of the hill as the sun was coming out from the clouds. It was starting to get hot as I was running on my first kilometer of my third ascent to the hill. I had to drink more water from my hydration bottle as I progressed to the peak of the hill. Five hundred meters from the peak, I started to meet those soldiers who have finished their job/task as they descended back to Fernandez Hill. They greeted me and surprised that I was back again towards to the peak of the hill. I just thanked them for their greetings and smiled at them as I continued my jogging.
For the third time, I made a tap to the concrete white cross and asked one of the soldiers for some water to douse my head and face as I could feel already the heat of the sun. It was already 11:00 AM. I took a sit on a chair while the soldier got me a half liter of water. I immediately doused the water on my head and on my buff and it gave me some comfort and relaxed feeling. After saying “Thank You” to the soldier, I was back on the trail back to the starting line.
One kilometer away from the starting line, I started to meet the first two runners of the 50-mile race and then the third runner on my last 500 meters. I had to side-step and stand still on the side of the single-track trail as I wait for the runner to pass me. I would greet and cheer them as they continue their climb.
I was thinking of doing my fourth repeat to the peak while I was on my last 200 meters to the starting line at the Fernandez Hill. I finally decided to take some time to rest and then eat some solid food at the Aid Station before I would decide to continue or not for my 4th and last climb for the day.
After I ate my lunch, I looked back on my watch and found out that I was able to run a total of 10+ miles and my programmed schedule for the day was already attained and complied. So, I finally decided to end my run for the day and made already a plan to do another “hill repeats” on the following day.
I know that this “crazy” effort that I’ve done is spreading from one soldier and Officer to another in Fort Magsaysay and by this time, it is already well-known for the entire Philippine Army. I consider this feat as a record for me (62 years old) and as a Retired Major General of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. And I will be coming back to improve this record in the coming years, whether it will be the fastest time for the climb to the peak and back to Fernandez Hill or for the number of times that I could do on the “hill repeats” in one day/setting.
Who knows, this could be the birth of another challenging trail running event in Taklang Damulag—-“Taklang Damulag FKT Challenge” (6 Hours & 12 Hours Timed Event) where the one with the most number of “hill repeats” wins the event.
Race Route Description: Taklang Damulag 100-Mile/50-Mile Endurance Run (TD 100/50)
1. The race starts at the vicinity of the Special Operations Command (SOCOM), Fort Magsaysay, Palayan City (Nueva Ecija). The SOCOM Headquarters is located at the Abundo Area Complex inside Fort Magsaysay, the largest Military Camp/Reservation Area of the Philippine Army. The race starts at 5:00 AM of Saturday, December 14, 2013 together with the Taklang Damulag 50-Mile Endurance Run.
2. This is a solo race. The cut-off time for the 100-Mile Race is 32 hours. The cut-off time for the 50-Mile Race is 16 hours.
3. From the starting line, runners will proceed towards an east direction to a dirt road which is parallel to the Fort Magsaysay Airstrip. The airstrip is located on the right side of the runners. This dirt road has a lot of potholes and uneven portions. Runners must be able to have their headlights/handheld flashlight on this part of the course since it is still dark at 5:00 AM.
4. After almost 500 meters, runners have to TURN LEFT upon reaching an intersection. It is still a dirt road which leads the runners to the newly-constructed Fort Magsaysay-Laur Road after getting out from the Gate of the Camp. This dirt road goes down and slightly uphill towards the Gate. The distance of this road is about 700-800 meters.
5. Runners shall TURN RIGHT on the paved/cemented Sta Rosa-Fort Magasaysay-Laur Road. This is the same road on the first 3K of the Fort Magsaysay To Dingalan 65K Ultra Marathon Race.
6. There will be an INTERSECTION after running for almost 2 kilometers along the Sta Rosa-Fort Magsaysay-Laur Road. There is a Detachment and Military Checkpoint on this intersection. Runners will have to TURN RIGHT on this intersection which leads to Barangay Dona (Donya) Josefa. Runners will be able to pass on the intersection of Sitio ALORMA and Sitio BACCAO. Runners will have to follow the asphalted road up to Barangay Dona Josefa.
7. Once the runners will reach the center of Barangay Dona Josefa, turn RIGHT and just follow the dirt road. Do NOT take the road towards the LEFT Direction as it ends at the Dona Josefa Elementary School.
8. Runners will reach the first Spillway and after passing the Spillway, it will be an uphill climb and a steel arc will be seen with the markings “WELCOME TO SITIO LANGKA”.
9. After passing the BARANGAY LANGKA Arc, at about 20 meters, there will be a Y-intersection. TURN RIGHT on the Y-intersection and it will be the start of more uphill climbs and descending parts of the route. Ultimately, the runners will be crossing the Palale River.
10. After crossing the Palale River, runners will be able to reach the center of Barangay Palale after few meters. There will be an Aid Station in this Barangay. There are also sari-sari stores in this area.
11. Runners will take the road on the RIGHT as one leaves the center of the barangay. Runners will be going to the direction of the Provincial Cattle Stock Farm.
12. Once the runners reach the Provincial Cattle Stock Farm, TURN RIGHT on the intersection. This road will lead the runners to Barangay NAZARETH.
13. Runners shall reach the intersection of GAPAN-PAPAYA-FORT MAGSAYSAY Road which is a paved/cemented, once they reach the center of Barangay Nazareth. The Aid Station is located at the Barangay Hall of Nazareth. At this intersection, runners have to TURN RIGHT going to a north direction.
14. After 1.5 Kilometers, runners have to TURN LEFT in an intersection that goes to San Mariano/Purok 9/Barangay Militar. On this dirt road, runners shall always take or turn LEFT on intersections along the way.
15. Runners must be able to pass/cross an SPILLWAY on western part of Barangay Militar. After an uphill climb from the SPILLWAY, the runners will reach the PUROK #9 . From Purok #9, the runners will be approaching an intersection with the Santa Rosa-Fort Magsaysay-Laur Road/Highway.
16. After about 1.5 kilometers, runners will reach a busy road intersection (Bangad To Gate 1 Fort Magsaysay Road & Santa Rosa To Laur Road). Runners should TURN LEFT towards Barangay Bangad, Palayan City.
17. After running for 2 kilometers along the Fort Magsaysay-Bangad Road (going North), runners will see a green steel arc with the markings “FORT MAGSAYSAY RESERVATION AREA” and a Waiting Shed on the right side of the road. There is a Y-intersection after passing the Arc and Waiting Shed. Runners shall TURN RIGHT on the road that goes to Barangay MALIGAYA.
18. After runners had passed Barangay MALIGAYA, the road will lead them to the FIRST intersection with a Military Checkpoint & Detachment along the Santa Rosa-Laur Road. Runners shall cross the Paved Road (Santa Rosa-Laur Road) on their way to Barangay Dona Josefa. At this point, runners shall have circumnavigated the outer perimeter of the Camp’s Cantonment Area.
19. Along the Barangay Dona Josefa Road, runner should be ATTENTIVE. The first intersection is at SITIO ALORMA. TURN RIGHT at Sitio ALORMA intersection and go STRAIGHT uphill. The trail will lead the runners to the end of the airstrip. At the end of the airstrip, there is a Y-intersection. TURN LEFT on the said intersection. The road will lead the runners to BATAAN ROAD and the runners will be going to a SOUTH Direction.
20. Along BATAAN ROAD, runners will see FIRING RANGES on their LEFT and a GOLF COURSE on their RIGHT. Runners will follow the Bataan Road until they will reach the intersection going to CORDERO DAM.
21. Runners have to TURN LEFT on a dirt road that goes to CORDERO DAM. After 2 kilometers, there is a Y-intersection. Runners shall TURN RIGHT on this intersection. This trail will lead the runners to the Special Forces School and then to FERNANDEZ HILL.
22. Fernandez Hill is the location of an Aid Station. Runners will have to pass this Aid Station for six (6) times for the 100-Mile Race and three (3) times for the 50-Mile Race.
23. From Fernandez Hill, runners will have to proceed to the peak of Mt Taklang Damulag and then descend on its northern part. The descending trail leads to SITIO BACCAO (along the Barangay Dona Josefa To Barangay Palale Road). Upon reaching the asphalted road, runners shall TURN LEFT and proceed to SITIO ALORMA Crossing/Intersection.
24. Runners shall TURN LEFT at Sitio ALORMA intersection (Going To Cordero Dam). After about 20 meters, TURN LEFT on a trail that leads to CORDERO DAM/LAKE. (Going UPHILL will lead the runners to the end of the airstrip. Don’t take this UPHILL dirt road!)
25. Once the runners are in CORDERO DAM/LAKE (on the right side of the runners), they will reach a Y-intersection (the same Y-intersection that runners had passed after coming from BATAAN ROAD and upon reaching CORDERO DAM/LAKE). At the intersection, TURN LEFT and the runners will be going to the Special Forces School and then to Fernandez Hill. This completes the 12K inner loop.
26. Runners will have to run along the Taklang Damulag course (12K inner loop) for two times.
27. After finishing two loops, from Fernandez Hill, runner will follow the asphalted road that goes out from the Molave Complex (location of the Special Forces School and Fernandez Hill/Taklang Damulag). Runners must pass the Checkpoint/Gate of the Molave Complex that goes directly to BATAAN ROAD.
28. Runners will be running along BATAAN ROAD on their way back to SOCOM Headquarters/Starting Area. At the dirt road at the end of the airstrip, there will be an intersection (the first intersection on a dirt road after 800 meters from the Starting Line), TURN LEFT on this intersection. The dirt road will lead the runner to the Starting Area/SOCOM Headquarters.
29. This completes the FIRST HALF of the 100-Mile Course. The LAST HALF of the course will be a repetition of the FIRST HALF.
30. 100-Mile Race Runners must be able to finish the FIRST HALF in 15:30 Hours. Cut-Off Time for the 50-Mile Race Runners is 16 Hours.
31. On the SECOND LOOP, runners must be able to reach FERNANDEZ HILL in 25 hours before starting their last TWO (Small) Loops at Mt. Taklang Damulag.
After finishing a 10K Race inside the Fort Magsaysay Complex yesterday morning (Saturday), I invited ultrarunners who joined this race for the 1st Official Fastest Known Time (FKT) Run at Taklang Damulag. The FKT Race started at the Fernandez Hill up to the peak of Taklang Damulag and back to the Starting Line/Area. The race covered a distance of almost 6.3 kilometers.
Five (5) runners joined the event and the following was the result;
1. Danin Arenzana—– 59:32 minutes (CR)
2. Ronnel Go———– 1:03:20 hours
3. Bong Alindada—— 1:04:55 hours
4. Mar Marilag——— 1:12:46 hours
5. Stephanie Hefti (F)- 1:13:25 hours (Lady, CR)
Prize/Award For All The Finishers—–Lunch @ Fernandez Hill!
More of this kind of running event will be conducted soon!
(Warning: This is an offensive post to those who are concerned. Please don’t proceed if you feel you are one of the persons being described here)
This is a Race Director’s Report on the past three (3) running events that the PAU and Bald Runner’s Events had organized and directed. These road races consist of the following: PAU’s Fort Magsaysay 60K Run; 1st Bald Runner’s Barefoot Run; and the newly-concluded PAU’s Western Pangasinan 65K Run.
Taklang Damulag is a word from the local dialect of the people from the province of Pampanga. It is a Kapampangan word which means literally as a water buffalo crap or shit or bowel. If used figuratively, it means a person who is a pretender, a “bullshitter”, or somebody who tells stories that are exaggerated, or simply a “liar”. In this post, it would mean as somebody who is not honest or one who does not have a “word of honor”.
In the past, I have conveniently announced the schedule of our PAU Races and other BR’s Events through the Facebook as most of the runners had been accepted as my “friends”. It is very easy to create an Event Page on my Wall and it is from there that I receive persons and names of applicants for each of the event I have posted. I usually announce the limited slots for each event as we want a simple and personalized attention to each of the runners.
On the other hand, it is very easy also for the runners to reserve slot for them and for their friends. Comments are easily posted under each Event Page where most of them are requests and intentions of joining the event. From these comments and a click on the Box “Attend”, it is assumed that the person is ready and well-trained to join the event.
From the number of participants listed on each event, we prepare for the number of medals/trophies and Finisher’s Shirts. This is done by ordering them from our “suppliers and manufacturers” and we pay them in cash using our own money as most of our registrations are accepted through bank deposits and “onsite registration”.
The last 3 Road Races had been very “painful” to us in terms of logistics and financial matters. Each runner knows for a fact that our running events are not being backed up by any corporate sponsor. We simply want to spread the love to running and promote the sports of ultra marathon, whether in road and/or in trails, and this had been our advocacy since we started organizing and directing running events. Our efforts are not geared to earn money but simply, to sustain our efforts in our passion to let every runner “test their personal limits of endurance”.
In the PAU’s Fort Magsaysay 60K Run, 230 runners signified their intention to join the said event and we prepared the logistics (shirts and medals) good for the said number of applicants. On Race Day, only 116 runners joined the race. We smiled and did not complain. In the 1st BR’s Barefoot Run, another 220 runners signified to join the 3.2K Barefoot Run but only 89 runners joined the event. This was not a painful one in terms of finances as we asked P 50.00 as a registration fee, enough to pay for the order of Race Bibs. In the newly-concluded PAU’s Western Pangasinan 65K (“COCOS to SUAL”) Run, 147 runners signified their intention to join but only 76 runners finally showed up at the starting area. We have lots of ordered extra medals and shirts which we have decided as part of our losses. It’s a “strike 3” for us and we could no longer smile and keep our silence.
The financial portion hurts but the “passion” for our love to promote ultra marathon will be sustained. This the gravest ” negative stressor” that I experienced for the past weeks and for me to get a relief from it, I have to express this concern to my readers.
The numbers and data would show that one-half of the applicants for reservation of slots in our PAU Races and BR’s Events are “bullshitters or taklang damulags”.
We have a master list of the names of applicants of each of the events listed above and we have determined already the list of the so-called “Taklang Damulags” in PAU Races and BR’s Events.
From this trend, we are getting “wiser but mean” to all the applicants in our future races. We only prepare one-half of the number of applicants as posted in our Events Page in terms of their simple “loot & evidence” given after the race. If Finishers would exceed more than the logistics we have prepared for the event, then we could always re-order the items from our “suppliers and manufacturers” and award them to you as fast as possible. We have also decided NOT to accept On Site registration to some of our races.
This post is not complete if I don’t try to make an attempt to analyze this trend among the runner-applicants at Facebook.
Why do runners apply for a running event on Facebook and then later, don’t join the event?
Is it impulsively done without thinking one’s schedule in the future days, weeks and months to come?
Does a runner want to impress or “brag” to his friends that he is joining an ultra marathon event organized by the PAU?
Do you want to “brag” to the whole world that you will be a future Ultra marathon runner?
Does a runner want to join the list of Pinoy Ultra Marathon Group at Facebook?
Does a runner want to be a part in the history of running in the country by listing his name as one of the applicants?
There are so many questions to answer as there are so many “reasons” why a runner would include his name in the list where he/she is not fully committed to join the event. It baffles my mind. Maybe, this is a sign of immaturity or recklessness of runners. It could be that “bragging” is the “new” past time or hobby on Facebook. Joining these events is not a joke but it should be treated with serious thoughts and actions. In the same manner that running is NOT a joke, too! Moreso, in ultra marathon running events! If you want to “brag” on Facebook, do it after you have finished the event! You can post your pictures, excitement, medal, trophy, and “loot” to your heart’s content after the event.
I really appreciate those runners who would go out their way to send me SMS or send e-mail to me telling their inability to join the race few days before the race. However, I could only count 3-5 people who have done this effort to inform me. Most of the bulk of the “absentees” could not even have the decency to send me a message on my Wall at FB to explain their side on their inability to join the race after the event.
For those who have consistently supported our races, thank you very much! Most of you are getting stronger, faster and “smarter” ultra runners and I hope you will be able to improve some more and expose yourselves to international ultra running events. Whether you are preparing for the BDM Races and for the 1st 100-Mile Trail Endurance Run, the future PAU events will be nice training grounds for your fitness evaluation, race strategy, hydration and nutrition, and the efficiency of your support system. Be consistent on your training be able to listen to your body.
Our scheduled events will still be posted at Facebook and please refrain from making impulsive decisions by “clicking” the “Attending” button. However, we will not be serious in considering you if your name is listed in the “Taklang Damulags” list. You have to personally convince us that you are matured enough and fitted to be as an ultra marathon runner.