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 With Four (4) Portalets (BR’s Photo)

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

Parking Trailhead

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

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

Commercial Establishments

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

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

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

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

2016 Mt Baldy 14

Very Steep Trail & Impossible To Run Or Jog

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

2016 Mt Baldy 18

Brief Rests & Stops To Adjust The Body To Higher Elevation

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

2016 Mt Baldy 17

Short Downhill Run From Mt Harwood

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

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

2016 Mt Baldy 16

Final Assault To The Peak Of Mt Baldy

2016 Mt Baldy 10

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

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

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

2016 Mt Baldy 13

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)

Running Will Make You Poorer, But…

22 08 2016

If you are an average runner, “middle or back of the pack” runner or Social Media runner, running will make you poorer but there are intangible benefits that you can get from it.

The following reasons why running will make you poorer:

  1. Running is Addictive——Running is like a “drug” for the mind and the body that the more you are comfortable with it, the more you would challenge yourself to be faster or run longer. Having said that, there are “rippling effects” to such addiction and the next reasons will validate my theory. (Note: Running is an addiction that will NOT lead you to kill, steal, or rape somebody!)
  2. Indecision Which Running Shoes’ Brand You Will Be Loyal To ——Most of running friends are attracted to the color combination and physical appearance of the shoes. Some also would think that the more expensive the shoes are, the better for them to brag to their running friends. There are also runners that would prefer to buy shoes that are being used by International Champions whether they are road marathon elite runners or mountain ultra trail runners. You will be wondering why average/middle of the pack and back of the pack runners are using the brands like Salomon, HOKA ONE ONE, and expensive models of ALTRA or ASICS. It is a “bragging right” to have these shoes in the social media because they are very expensive. Result? You pay and spend more even if a cheap NIKE or New Balance or Merrell or Skechers can do the job you need in a running event.
  3. Looking Good In Ones Running Apparel——I don’t understand why most of the runners are fond of using running tights in running events. I know that these running tights are comfortably used for colder environment and not in my country, Philippines. To some, runners would use “triathlon suits” in a marathon or half-marathon running events and I really admire them to be preparing for their Ironman Race in Kona, Hawaii. And come to think of these apparels, they are more expensive than the ordinary running shorts and running shirts. Aside from being expensive, they are heavier than the regular running apparel and if you are a sweaty guy, they tend to be heavier as they absorb most of ones perspiration.
  4. Compression Accessories Are Expensive——I am not the “compression-runner” type but I sometimes use them in races and in my training. However, after an ultra race, I try to use them for recovery while resting or sleeping after the race. Well, for the other runners, I really don’t know if they get some advantage in terms in muscle cramping prevention during the race or being in fashion with the rest of their running friends. For me, they are just added weight to what I am carrying during an ultra race but one thing that calf sleeves are very useful is that when they absorbed the perspiration coming from my body preventing my socks to be wet in the early part of the race, most specially when the prevailing temperature is warm or hot.
  5. Lots of Hydration Bottles and Systems To Choose From——You might have observed the international elite runners to only carry one hand-held bottles and some would wear a backpack with bottles in front and another bladder full of water on the back. Depending on the weather of the place of the event, the mandatory gears required in the race, and the rate of sweat loss of an individual runner, the runner can decide what to choose from these hydration systems. Most of them are expensive but very functional not unless you settle for a commercial bottled water bought at 7-11 Stores as you recycled hydration bottle.
  6. Nutrition and Sports Fuel Are Also Expensive——If you are an mountain trail or road ultra runner, you know what I really mean. And if you have a support crew, your expenses are multiplied depending the number of support crew or pacer you will need for you to successfully finish the race.
  7. Don’t Join My Races If You Complain About Registration Fees——Yes, Registration Fees are very expensive nowadays. So, if you want to save your money for an A-Race which you think that will increase you value in terms of reputation, prestige, and self-satisfaction, just concentrate on your training——do your LSDs, do some Strength Training, do your Tempo and Intervals Runs to improve your Speed, and improve on your weaknesses, whether on your nutrition or mental attitude during the race.
  8. Ultra Marathon Races Are Expensive, Too!——There are local ultra marathon races that offer lower registration fees than the other races but if these races are tainted with suspicion of cheating, the money you paid for your registration fee and the “swags” you received from finishing the race are worthless!
  9. Joining International Races Is A Fortune——I remember an ultra runner who regularly joins my ultra races who said that he will never join any 100-mile/160K ultra marathon race if there is NO Finisher’s Buckle to be awarded to him even if the registration fee is lower than my races. After so many years, the same guy in now planning to gather and earn points for his UTMB participation in Chamonix, France. UTMB 166K Race (more than 100 miles) does NOT award a Finisher’s Buckle but the mere fact that you are going to Europe means a lot of financial resources needed to be saved and spent.
  10. Accessories In Running Add Up To More Expenses——Cellphones/Camera; GoPro; “Selfie” Sticks; Sunglasses; Buffs; Water Repellant Jacket; Trekking Poles; Emergency First Aid Kit; Medicines; GPS Watches with HR Monitor; & Trucker Caps.
  11. Coaching Services——I know that there are Local Running Coaches who are willing and able to help and guide you to an enjoyable and injury-free running life. I am not sure if they are offering free services but it is your responsibility to pay back something to your coach. If you research in the Internet, there are lots of websites who are offering Coaching Services to any body with a certain fee. Just be ready with your Credit Card.
  12. Gym Membership & Regular Massage——I am one of the few “first” members of a well-known franchise of Gym which is very popular in the world but after 3-4 years, I have to give up such membership because it is becoming more expensive and I just do my own strengthening exercises in the comfort of my house. Sometimes, I would visit a not-so well-known Gym and pay on a daily basis. If you have Gym Membership, then this your Annual/Monthly Fees add up to your expenses. In the same manner that if you need to relax your muscles, a regular massage to your professional muscle therapist will add also to your expenses.
  13. Medical Check-Ups——It is expensive to acquire a Medical Certificate or Clearance if you don’t know any Doctor as most of the more popular local races now require the submission of such before you are considered as a participant. If you are long-time or veteran runner, there is no need for you to go to a Doctor to check on your muscle pains or running-related injury, just simply rest and relax and let your body heal by itself.

But there are bigger benefits if you maintain running despite all these expenses you have to incur. There is a saying that goes like this: “Poor People Invest In Money; But Rich People Invest In Time”. In the end, if you keep on running, you are that “Rich People” who are investing in time——for you to live longer, more healthy, and more happy than anybody else and maybe, still running at the age of 80 or beyond.

Through running, I have been “investing in time” so that I could enjoy my retirement and the pension I am receiving from the government and the “golden eggs” from my investments.

So, you may be broke while you have the love and passion in running but in the end, you will be enjoying a longer life and a healthy lifestyle (free from medical bills and maintenance medicines).

Go out and run!

Rich Runner

Simple Attire But Very Expensive!

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!

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

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.


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.


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!

Race Report: KOTM’s Four Lakes 100K Mountain Trail Race (Part 2)

7 04 2016

In about one month, I will turn to a 64-year old mountain trail runner and I have accepted the reality that I am getting old and about to retire from ultra mountain trail running with the hope to leave some legacy to the next generation of runners, most especially to the local ultra runners. I also accepted the fact that I am becoming the “cut-off time chaser” in all my past international ultra races. But for the past months, I improved on my nutrition strategy; more rest and recovery in my training; and getting smarter during races. And because of these reasons, I became more confident to finish the ultra races that I intended or scheduled to join this year. I guess, I might not retire in the near future after all.

I was surprised with my performance in last month’s Translantau 100K in Hongkong even if I was stopped at Km 90 due to severe weather conditions in the mountains. If only the race was not stopped by the Race Organizer, I would have improved my previous finish time last year by one hour or more. Instead of earning 3 UTMB Points, all of us who were stopped along the course were considered as Official Finishers and were given 2 UTMB Points. Due to this setback to earn 9 UTMB Points in 3 Ultra Races, I decided to join the 2016 KOTM’s Four Lakes 100K (FL 100) Trail Run and earn 3 UTMB Points from it.

Here are the reasons why I did good in this race:

More Time To Recover & Rest—-The Translantau 90K that I’ve finished 2 weeks before the FL 100, became my “peak LSD” in preparation for the said race. And the last 50K LSD “heat training” that I did one week before the race was my taper run. Within those two weeks, I did two sessions of leg workouts and the rest were devoted to rest and more sleep. However, before the Translantau 100, I finished the Condura Skyway Marathon (42K) and my Fort Magsaysay To Dingalan 65K Ultra Marathon Race.

Total Elevation Gain——As a mountain trail runner, this is the most important factor to consider in one’s training and looking at the data gathered and recorded by my Suunto Ambit 3 Peak GPS Watch, I was able to satisfy the suggested Total Elevation Gain that I have to attain within a certain distance. For example, if the 100K trail course has a total elevation gain of 15,000 feet, one must be able to train in a course that has at least, a total elevation gain of 1.500 feet within a distance of 10 Kilometers, 3,000 feet in 20 Kilometers, and so on. My playground offers a Total Elevation Gain of 2,100 feet within a distance of 8 kilometers and if I extend it to 22 kilometers, I would attain a total elevation gain of 4,250 feet! This explains why I have the endurance to go up to the peak of any mountain during races.

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 11.10.39 PM

Four Lakes 100 Elevation Profile From SUUNTO Ambit 3 Peak GPS Watch

Nutrition & Hydration Strategy——Don’t wait till you feel you are hungry or thirsty that you start ingesting your food or drink your water/hydration mix. To be safe, once my GPS Watch beeps to register that I have completed ONE MILE (1.6 Kilometers), it usually reminds that I have to eat a bite food or drink my hydration mix. If I have an average speed of 3 miles per hour, then I would hear 3 beeps within the hour which means that I ingest any solid food and drink my water 3 times within the hour. Drinking and Eating are done while on the move which I usually do during my training runs.

Train Heavy, Race Light——I usually bring a lot of water during my training runs but in my races, I only carry enough water to sustain me in between the Aid Stations. But I carry my CarboPro mix packs which I programmed to sustain me for the whole course in my pack. For this race, I carried 12 packs (1 pack/serving in every two hours of running/hiking) but in the end, I only used 7 packs for the whole course. The pack that I carried during the which consisted of the mandatory kits and extra solid foods which was lighter in weight than the pack that I carry in my training runs.

Running Kit——The ASICS Running Shorts that I’ve been using in my ultra trail races since last year’s CM50 is becoming my favourite and my best running shorts so far. The ALTRA Superior 2.0 which I used in Translantau 100 is becoming my favourite choice for my 100K trail races, too! My Salomon 5-liter Advance Skin 3 Pack with its accessible pockets had been also helpful that I could easily reach for my bite foods and candies while on the move. My reliable PETZL Tikka XP which is very light gave me more confidence to run during nighttime.

Reduction of Stop Time in the Aid Stations——It would have been smarter not to stay long in the Aid Stations but I committed some mistakes in having unnecessary “long breaks” in between Aid Stations to sit and eat my food. My experience in the FL 100 taught me some lessons and with the hope to improve on them in my next races.

Screen Shot 2016-04-03 at 11.06.31 PM

SUUNTO Ambit 3 Peak Data

Looking at the data that had been recorded by my SUUNTO Ambit 3 Peak GPS Watch, I will have to improve on my average pace by eliminating some of the mistakes that I’ve committed in this race. I think I brought so many CarboPro Packs and bite foods in my pack. My lack of knowledge on the route from East Market Proper to Dayap made me slower during the race. I think I was also overdressed when the heat of the sun was at its strongest along this part of the route. Hopefully, I will be able to correct all these mistakes on my next race!

FL 100 Results

Ranked #109 Out Of 127 Finishers

I will be back to this race next year!

Race Report: 2016 KOTM’s Four Lakes 100K Mountain Trail Race

5 04 2016

KOTM means King Of The Mountains!

I really did not have any plans of joining the Four Lakes 100K (FL 100) or the Old Spanish Trail 50K (OST 50) this year but with what happened at the Translantau 100K Trail Run in Hongkong two weeks ago where the race was stopped when almost all the runners were at the last one-fourth of the race due to strong winds in the mountains, I finally sent a personal message to my good friend and Race Director of the KOTM Races, Jonel Mendoza, that I would be glad if he will accept my late registration for the Four Lakes 100 Mountain Trail Run. When both Race Directors of Ultra Events in the country talk to one another, the results are always positive.

Within the two weeks in between the Translantau 100 and the Four Lakes 100, I did two sessions of workouts for my leg muscles concentrating on my adductors, the muscle that stretches from the groin to the knee on the inside portion of the leg. I had some experiences of cramping on this muscle during last year’s CM50 and at the Translantau 100 and I need to strengthen and stretched them. I also did one LSD run covering a distance of 50K in a mixed paved and trail surfaces under the heat of the sun one week before the race.

Four Lakes 100 Course Map

Four Lakes 100K Mountain Trail Run  Course Map

There was no pressure or stress on my part what to really expect with this mountain trail race. It will be enough that I would see Jonel and Connie again after years (I think, two years!) of not seeing each other; visit Kayapa and its mountains; mingle with old and new friends who have passion in trail running (most especially in ultra trail running); finally meet my Facebook Friends in person; and be able to earn 3 UTMB points for finishing this race within the cut-off time of 28 hours.

Having finished the first edition of the Mt Ugo Trail Marathon and been a part of the laying out of the Hardcore 100-Mile Mountain Trail Run’s Route Course and a former participant of this race, the Old Spanish Trail (OST) Course is new to me! I have been hearing stories about the place called “Amelong Labeng” from other runners who finished the OST and Four Lakes 100 (FL100) for the past editions but I’ve never asked the details about this place. Since I could not find a detailed description or Race Report of the OST and FL 100 on the Internet, maybe, I will be the one who will try to come up with a good description about the said place through a Race Report on the FL 100.

Race Briefing

Due to a big gathering or event among the locals of Kayapa and neighbouring towns/barangays in the area, the Covered Court of the Kayapa Elementary School was not available and the Race Briefing was moved to the Kayapa Parish Hall which is one of the concrete structures inside the Kayapa Catholic Church Compound. The Hall was filled with lots of trail runners and the rest of the runners who could not squeeze inside the hall were seen standing outside. This was an indication that more runners are interested to join the KOTM series and to think that some of the runners were still on their way to Kayapa, coming from Metro Manila and other provinces.

There are detailed things which are very important that you can not see or read in the event’s website like the description/color of the trail markings or emergency contact number of the RD or being able to see in person and be able to talk with the with the Race Director. Except for the Ultra Events that I’ve joined in Hongkong, the Race Directors in all the other Ultra Events here in the country and in the US are there in person to brief the participants on the “nitty-gritty” of the race event.

Four Lakes 100 Elevation Profile

Four Lakes 100 Elevation Profile

Since I have made my homework on the details of the event (except for the specific drinks and food to expect in the different Aid Stations) what caught my attention is the steady increase in the number of trail runners in the country based from the “new” faces that I’ve seen during the briefing. I felt like I was the “stranger” among the flock of trail runners and mountaineers present in the hall. There were also foreigners present in the briefing which is an indication that our trail running in the country has attracted them to visit the country.

What I like about the KOTM series is that there is NO fun fare and does not carry any CORPORATE Brand and every runner gets what is worth for what he/she pays for the registration fee. On the other hand, I can see some economic changes as shown from new building constructions at the Town Proper area. This proves that Sports Tourism through the KOTM series is bringing some good economic opportunities for the community.

Location of Aid Stations/Checkpoints & Cut-Off Times

Location of Aid Stations/Checkpoints & Cut-Off Times

Race Proper

Start (Kayapa Parish Hall) To Mt Ugo Peak (Km 0 to Km 22)

In all the KOTM series of race that I have joined, the area in front of the Kayapa Municipal Hall was always the Starting/Assembly Area. And for the Finish at the Covered Court of the Kayapa Elementary School. For this year, the Start/Finish Area was changed to the Kayapa Parish Church Area.

I was already in the Starting Area one hour before the start of the race (2:00 AM of Saturday, April 2) and was trying to see the faces of the runners. Hot coffee, local foods, and water were available in the area. I had myself checked-in with the Race Staff and the RD himself and I was confident that I will finish the race. Some runners would approach me and greet me and it made me more relaxed. I would also greet the other runners as the start will be simultaneous with both of the races, Old Spanish Trail 50K Run and the Four Lakes 100K Trail Run. It was still dark to be able to clearly distinguish which one was running what race as seen from the runner’s race bib. I estimated that we were about 300 runners assembled at the Starting Area and for me, it was already a huge crowd.

Before the customary final briefing of the RD, I mentally reviewed the “plan” that I have formulated to be able to finish the race and forced my mind to strictly follow it. Some of the details of my “plan” were the following: (1) Arrive at the Checkpoints, at least, 2 hours before the cut-off time; (2) Refill my hydration bottles in every Aid Station to mix my CarboPro; (3) Eat my solid food stashed in my pack every hour while moving; (4) Don’t stay more than 2 minutes in the Aid Stations; (5) Hike the Uphills and Force myself to run on the flats and downhills; (6) No picture-taking/“selfies” using my iPhone; and (7) Never miss to place a “Coffee Candy” inside my mouth!

Invocation/Prayer Before The Start Of The Race

Invocation/Prayer Before The Start Of The Race

At exactly 3:00 AM, the race started after a countdown from 20 to GO! I started with an easy jog as the first 100 meters was downhill and I could feel that the first 1 kilometre of the course was runnable until the road started to ascend. The first 3 kilometres are already paved as compared few years back that it was only a paved tire track then with patches of dirt road. At the start of the 4K mark, I started to feel that I was already perspiring and it was time for me to unleash the trekking poles tied on my hydration pack. Since the first 10K of the course is uphill, I maintained my hiking using my trekking poles as a support for my old knees and legs! It was still too dark and I was not keen of knowing where and what are the things that I could see around me. I just concentrated on seeing on what my headlight would illuminate…and that is—one meter ahead of me! There are times also that I would bring up my head and see what is happening above me as we snaked towards the higher grounds of the mountain. It was nice to see the headlights of the different runners going to the peak of the mountain.

Approaching AS2 In Domolpos

Approaching AS2 In Domolpos

After two hours of continuous hiking, I reached Barangay Indupit and the surroundings was starting to get brighter as the sun was about to rise on the eastern horizon and at this point I was about to cover a distance of 10 kilometres. Ahead of me was the towering sight of Mt Ugo and the tiny dots of different colours of the runners’ shirts ahead of me as they approached higher elevation. It was a sight that motivated me hike or jog faster along the course.

I started to run when I would see that the trail is descending and without much effort I would be able to increase my pace. From Indupit to Domolpos was an easy run and I reached the Aid Station after 3 hours from the start. I immediately refilled my hydration bottles and prepared my next mix of CarboPro. In a short time, I was ready to “assault” the peak of Mt Ugo. At this point, I started to see the faster runner coming from the peak of the mountain. I would give way and stepped aside from the trail for the runners coming from the peak. This is where I was able to find out that there are so many trail runners whom I don’t know their names! Slowly but surely, I would be able to reach the peak of Mt Ugo in almost 5 hours but I was still comfortable to make up for my slow ascent to the peak after leaving the mountain.

Practically Running With The Ladies Along The Course

Running With The Ladies Along The Course (@Assault To Mt Ugo)

I ate my breakfast at the peak of Mt Ugo and had some picture-taking with a group of friends which slightly delayed my stay at the said Checkpoint. It was nice to finally see the faces of the runners as the day was becoming brighter. Looking at my watch, I was able to register and cover a distance of 14 miles or 22 kilometres!

Mt Ugo Peak To Kayapa East Market (Km 22 to 35)

It was a breeze to go down from the peak of Mt Ugo but with those small rocks along the trail and slow lady runners ahead of me, I was very careful and deliberate in every step of the way. In about 30 minutes, I was able to reach the Aid Station in Domolpos. I immediately filled up my two Simple Hydration Bottles with water and CarboPro mix and be ready for the long descent to the Kayapa East Proper Market.

@ Mt Ugo Peak With Team Tarayem

@ Mt Ugo Peak With Team Tarayem

Since the trail is descending as seen from the course elevation profile, it seems to be easy but with the nature of the trail as being rocky and single track, there is some difficulty in passing the slower runners ahead of me. The trail on this part of the course could be described as very dangerous for very fast runners that a single misstep will lead them to fall on the ravine on his right or hit the rocks on the side of the mountain on his left side.

In my estimate, I was able to reach the AS4 at the Kayapa East Market in 7 hours with one hour as buffer time before the cut-off time of 8 hours in this place. I stopped to refill my bottles and eat some solid foods. I was craving for an Ice Cold Coke but the AS did not have any and one of my good friends assisting in the said AS readily produced a 1.5-liter of Coke. He even gave me a bagful of assorted fresh fruit bites with ice inside the bag and and a bowl of rice porridge with two hard boiled eggs. It took me about 10-12 minutes to sit, rest and eat the foods served to me.

Tiny Dot Along The Old Spanish Trail

Tiny Dot Along The Old Spanish Trail

Kayapa East Market To Amelong Labeng (Km 35 to 40)

As I left the Aid Station/Checkpoint, I knew already what to expect for the next miles—I have to reach the peak of the next mountain with those Telecommunication Antenna! As I was crossing the hanging bridge to the foot of the mountain for the start to my trek to Amelong Labeng, I was reminded on those other hanging bridges along the Hardcore 100-Mile course that one has to cross. Slowly, I was going up to the mountain with the aid of my trekking poles but the heat of the day was making it more difficult for me to have a faster pace. I would take a number of short rests for about 5 seconds each pause before going up again to the said mountain. On hindsight, I committed a mistake in resting in a waiting shed with the rest of the runners where the conversation among us ate most of our time not knowing that most of the runners in the waiting shed were with the shorter OST 50K Race. But the said rest gave me time to eat and hydrate and was able to meet some friends on Facebook whom I met personally for the first time. When my friend Bong Bernadez came up to rest in the Waiting Shed, he gave us the news about the new cut-off time at AS6 in Dayap. I thought it was 14 hours but it was changed to 16 hours! But there is no need to relax as I was focused to finish the race and earn more buffer time in each AS or Checkpoint!

@AS4 East Kayapa Market

@AS4 East Kayapa Market (With Bong Bernadez in Red Shirt)

Amelong Labeng To Castillo Village (Km 40 to 52)

The steep ascent to Amelong Labeng stopped when we reached a school where I managed to refill my bottles in a Comfort Room. I took some time to douse the cold water coming from the faucet to my head and neck. I was comforted with the cold water and I was ready again to reach the next peak where the Transmission Antenna are located. I did not have any problems with my stomach or my leg muscles at this point but the heat of the sun was my main enemy at this point. It was good that I had my last LSD “heat training” a week before the race that I braved to jog and run to the peak. Moreso, when I reached the peak, I continuously jogged and hiked from the peak of the mountain up to the time that I reached the Aritao-Kayapa Highway. Along this part of the course, I monitored my nutrition intake and closely observed the colour of my urine. I was satisfied that I did not feel or see some signs or symptoms of dehydration. I knew that I was perspiring heavily but with my constant drinking of water and CarboPro…and never-ending supply of Coffee Candy in my mouth, I was confident that I would not be dehydrated because I carried with me an extra Salomon collapsible soft plastic bottle full of CarboPro mix . From Amelong Labeng to the peak of the mountain is runnable as the trail is a wide dirt road and it is the same with that in going down from the peak of the mountain to the Aritao-Kayapa Highway. I was able to regain more of my buffer time within this part of the course.

Castillo Vilage To Barangay Dayap (Km 52 to 56)

I was craving again with a sweet Ice Cold Coke once I reached AS5 in Castillo Village. The Pepsi-Cola Max drinks available in the AS didn’t have any sugar in it but just the same I drank some of it. I did not stay long as soon as I refilled my bottles. It was another long climb again coming from the AS5 and the heat of the sun was at its strongest! It never affected me as I steadily used my trekking poles to reach the higher elevation of the next mountain. Before reaching the “Green Lake”, I stopped to eat “suman”/rice cake wrapped in banana leaves and Pork Chicharon! It was a nice feeling to see the “meadow” at the peak of the mountain after passing the Lake! But it was short-lived when I started to go down from the mountain as the trail was slippery and narrow and the descending nature of the trail gave some pain on my knees! My running friend would jokingly said that down the mountain is the next “Lake” and I was laughing when I saw what he was referring to…it’s a Lake full of carabaos! At least, it was a good diversion and joke to forget my aching knees as went down to the foot of the mountain.

After another ascending road, we finally reached AS6 in Dayap and I reached it in 14:10 hours! After eating a bowl of hot Macaroni Soup, changing my shirt, and refilling my bottles, I was out of the AS6 towards Banao at 14:20 hours or 5:20 PM of Saturday!

Dayap To Banao (Km 56 to 69)

As I left AS6 Dayap, I started to meet those faster runners as they were coming from Banao, the turn-around point at Km 70. It was nice to meet and greet them as it was still clear to see their faces (it was about sunset already after leaving Dayap). I mentally calculated that I have to reach Banao in 3 to 4 hours and be back again to Dayap with the same elapsed time so that I will be able to make it before the cut-off time of 24 hours. With a distance of 13 kilometres for one-way (Dayap to Banao), I was confident that I would make it, not unless I got injured or have some muscle cramping along the way that would slow me down!

Later in the early evening, I would see approaching lights coming from the runners as far down and up in the mountains and it gave me some impression if the trail ahead of me was ascending or descending. If I see lights lower than where I am, I would increase my pace as the trail is descending. If the lights are above me, I would power-hike with the aid of my trekking poles and try keep up with my prevailing pace as shown in my watch. This was repeated as well as greeting the runners that I have to meet along the dark trail.

After 3 hours, I was able to reach AS7 Banao and I was happy to reach the turn-around point with added buffer time. After a taste of the delicious hot misua with pork, I was out of the Aid Station and determined to reach back to Dayap. I gave a brief message of thanks and gratitude to all the people at the AS7 before I left by telling them that they are “the angels who came from heaven who saved me after a lot of fights with the demons along the dark and lonely road from Dayap to Banao”.

Banao To Dayap (Km 69 to 82)

I consider this part of the course as my most challenging segment of the course! I started to feel my lowest level of power and strength after covering 4 kilometres from the Aid Station as the trail was relentlessly and never-ending uphill. This is where I felt hungry, cold, sleepy, and weak! There is only one solution——find a place to have a short rest and eat some solid foods! That was what I did! I even shared some of my food to a runner who stopped in my place just to change the batteries of his headlamp! More coffee candies had to be placed in my mouth and keep on drinking my CarboPro mix! After that brief rest, I was energized and continued my trek/hike towards Dayap. I made it in 3.5 hours! I reached AS8 Dayap in 21:28 hours and then left the place after refilling my bottles after 1-2 minutes. The volunteers were offering some hot macaroni soup but I declined the offer and left the place immediately. At this point, I was able to accumulate 2.5 hours as buffer time fort he whole course’ cut-off time of 28 hours.

Dayap To Indupit (Km 82 to 92)

I am already in a more familiar ground as I was descending from Dayap to Pangawan. Though my old knees were hurting as I ran down on those steep and paved road towards the Kayapa-Ambuklao Highway, I tried to keep up with a faster pace but I conservatively prevented from exerting much effort as I knew I have another last steep uphill to encounter before reaching Indupit. As I reached the Highway, I knew I was already in Pangawan. Slowly, I would power hike on those ascending paved road towards Indupit with lots of “false” peaks along the way. When the paved road ended in one of the peaks, it was time to turn right on a single track grass-covered trail and I was on my way to the “mossy forest”.

I will never forget this “mossy forest” as it was the “culprit” why I was DNFd in my attempt to finish the Hardcore 100-Mile Trail Run two years ago! For this year, it will be remembered at the place where I was hit for three times, yes, three times, on my head from the branches overhead as well as from those fallen trees across the path/trail. This is where one would crawl under fallen trees and be patient on the never-ending single-track trail circling the side of the mountain as if you are not leaving the forest! Runner, once again, should be very careful on this trail because the left side of the trail is a cliff/deep ravine and running along this trail needs a lot of focus and attention! Finally, I heard the voices of the runners who were 30-minutes to one hour ahead of me before reaching the Banao turn-around point and they are starting their their descent to the Finish Line.

Indupit To Finish (Kayapa Parish Hall)

It was 24:55 hours when I started my descent from Indupit to the Finish Line. I had almost 3 hours to cover the distance of 8 kilometres before the cut-off time of 28 hours. I tried to reach the last person among the group of runners ahead of me and passed some of them. But later along the way, I decided to slow down and hiked most of the descending parts of the route. There was no need to race with the rest of the runners ahead of me. I gave them the courtesy to finish the race ahead of me even if I still have the speed and strength to reach and cross the Finish Line with a faster pace. It was time to relax, cool-down, remove and stash my jacket inside my pack, tie my trekking poles to my backpack, turn-off and remove my headlight, and fix my running cap. While hiking down to the Finish Line, I tried to review the things that I went through and already came up with a story for my  blog.

I finally crossed the Finish Line at the Kayapa Parish Ground with an unofficial time of 26:45++hours!

To be continued…

Race Report: 2016 TransLantau 100K Ultra Trail Race (Part 2)

21 03 2016

Training & Preparation:

I started my serious training on this event in the month of December of last year (2015). Monday in every week was my Rest Day and almost everyday was devoted to running on flat and hilly terrains. My average mileage for my easy runs and tempo runs was 7-8 miles. My longest run in the mountains would be 7-8 miles during the months of December and January and followed by hikes with the same route the following day. However, in my weekends or Saturdays, I would run a distance of 50-60 kilometres on flat & paved roads for my endurance runs. And on the following day, Sunday, I would go out for a hike in the mountains for a distance of 7 miles. I did this LSDs for 4 consecutive weeks. My tempo runs would be included in my flat long runs on Saturdays and lots of faster downhill running from the peak of the mountain where I usually do my recovery or daily runs. I never visited any oval tracks and do some speed intervals during the period of my training but I did a lot of hill repeats of 1 kilometer distance (run in going up and then easily jog or hike in gong down) with repetitions ranging from 10-15 repetitions, at least once a week!

My participation in last month’s Condura Skyway Marathon was also a part of my training as my gauge if my previous ultra distance LSDs were making me a stronger runner but not necessarily a faster one. I was happy that I did not encounter any “cramping/bonking” issues during the said race.

On the last 4 weeks before the event, I did at least 3 sessions of double-traverse in the mountain that I used as my training ground/playground and in every session, I would register a total of elevation gain of 4,250+ feet within a distance of 14 miles (22.4 kilometres) which I usually finish in 5:45-6:00 hours. In these 4 weeks, I was already using my trekking poles during the runs as well as practiced on how to tie or untie them from my hydration pack while on the move. I would also practice on how to hold them with my hand while on the run. I discovered that I was more comfortable in holding both the trekking poles with my left hand rather than holding the each pole on each hand while on the run on flats and downhills. In this way, my right hand is free to grab my food or hydration bottle from the pockets of my pack.

Trekking Poles

Using My Trekking Poles In My Playground

Two weeks before the race, I had my last double-traverse in my mountain with my best effort; without any “pit stops” and eating/drinking on the move, using my trekking poles, and with a faster pace. This workout registered my fastest time of 4:58+ hours for the course! One week before the race, I joined my race, 5th edition of the Fort Magsaysay To Dingalan 65K Ultra Marathon Race, and finished it in 9:19+ hours. Since the elevation profile of the course is hilly, I knew I would get a lot of leg speed and strength on the ascents and descents and be able to fine tune my nutrition/hydration strategy. On the rest of the days before the event, I just did easy 8K and 5K on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively. However, I got so much time to sleep and recover before my flight to Hongkong.

Comparing my training this year’s event and that with last year’s, my training in the 2015 edition was more in volume and intensity. But in this year’s edition, I had more rest and recovery days and the use of trekking poles were contributory to my faster splits in the different Checkpoints. Additionally, I improved on my nutrition with the use of CarboPro, instead of using GU/Energy Gels every hour during the run. Being smart of not staying long in Aid Stations and by-passing the earlier ones had also contributed to my faster splits in the different Checkpoints.

Nutrition & Hydration

During my training and preparation, I’ve never used my stash of CarboPro since I only use them in my races. Instead, I used only water; Succeed Salt Tablets; SkyFlakes Crackers; and Coke which I buy at the turnaround of my double-traverse located in a populated area.

During the race, I brought and stashed 14 servings of CarboPro in my Salomon Hydration Pack which I intend to use one serving in one Simple Hydration Bottle filled with water within two hours of running/hiking. I would drink it with my Clif Blok Chews or Clif Meal Bar or with the foods available in the Aid Stations.


At Km 22 Along Sham Wat Road In Ngong Ping (5:00-6:00 AM Saturday (Photo By Ying Chai)

I was consistent during the race of consuming one serving of CarPro in between Checkpoints. I would leave the Checkpoint with one bottle mixed with water while the other bottle is filled with the CarboPro Powder without water. As I reached the next Aid Station, I would bring out the bottle with CarboPro powder and ask the volunteers to fill it with water. Once it is done, I would leave the Aid Station immediately and walk while getting one serving of CarboPro from my pack and have the powder fill in the other empty bottle. This drill was done regularly in every Checkpoint in the course.

I brought also Jack N Jill X.O. White Coffee Candies stashed in my Ultimate Direction Race Belt that has two zippered pockets. I would place two candies in my mouth and play them with my tongue while on the run. This would provide me with continuous supply of sugar to my nutritional needs aside from my CarboPro and Chews. One of the pockets of my ASICS shorts was designated as my trash pocket for the wrappers of these candies and the ziploc plastic bags for my CarboPro Mix.

I forgot to bring SkyFlakes from the Philippines but I was lucky to find out that there were crackers being served in the Aid Stations. So, every time I would reach the Aid Station, I would get two packs of crackers and put them in my shorts’ pockets and I would eat them during my run. But I advise you to be careful when you eat their crackers because it made me choked during the run. I stopped choking and coughing when I drank most of my CarboPro Mix!

When there is a chance to eat their Hot Noodles in the Aid Stations, I would mix them with Salami slices and they gave me the much needed fats and salt to my diet. I would also pick-up their Nutella Sandwiches, Raisins, and Chocolate bites as I leave the Checkpoints. I started drinking Coke at Km #44 and every Aid Station thereafter.

Bottomline, I did not have any nutrition or stomach issues during the race. It could be the prevailing cold temperature or cold weather of the day that contributed from having no problems with my digestive system. However, there was only ONE Problem that I’ve encountered during the race…

Peeing During The Race

After leaving the Starting Line and about to enter to the trailhead, a distance of about 1 kilometre, I was already irritated that I need to pee immediately! There was no amount of controlling it that I had to urinate on the side of the street near a fence while the rest of the runners were waiting for their turn to enter the narrow trail. For the rest of the course, I would pee in every 3-4 kilometres!

There are times that I would enter their Public Toilets situated along the popular and visited trails but most of the time, I would just pee beside the trail most specially in the mountains. There was a time that I did not know that a lady runner was running behind me when I just decided to side-step and just pee beside the trail without any cover.

Surprisingly, I did not have the urge to pee when I was battling with the strong winds and fog as I was ascending to the Sunset Peak as well as when I was going down to the Checkpoint in Pak Mong (Km 85).

On hindsight, my regular peeing was a sign that I was regularly hydrated and did not have a feeling that I was “bonking”. Actually, I only ingested two Succeed Salt Tablets during the run.

I could have peed for almost 20-25 times during the race and if it took me 30 seconds to pee, then I would have spent a total stop time of 10-12 minutes and if I would enter a Public Toilet, each pee time would be longer than 30 seconds! I am not sure how I will solve the problem of not peeing so many times in a cold weather environment during a race. I am an expert already in peeing while on the run or on the move but I only do such thing during night running. I did this thing in last year’s participation in this race though where I would here laughter from the runners behind me upon seeing the traces of moisture drops on the dry trail ground as their lights would see them.

On Apparel and Running Kit

During my training in the mountains, I was using alternately, the ALTRA Superior 2.0 and INOV-8 Race Ultra 270 trail shoes. I have observed that the ALTRA shoes was giving me more comfort and cushioning but less in sole traction with the muddy trail/ground/slippery rocks. On the other hand, the INOV-8 Race Ultra’s soles are very aggressive to muddy trails and slippery rocks and there is comfort on my feet in the toe box section but lacking in cushioning. With the help of a weighing scale, I finally decided to use the ALTRA Superior 2.0 because it was lighter than the INOV-8 Race Ultra by 53 grams!

My gray-colored ASICS running shorts had been my favorite shorts since I bought it before the 2015 CM50. It has a side pocket on the left side that fits with my IPhone; a big zippered back pocket; and big slanting pockets on both leg portions of the shorts. I usually use it with my Under Armour Compression Shorts as my underwear/brief and it never gave me any rashes on my groin and butt.

The same as last year, I was using a compression shirt/muscle shirt without arm sleeves (by Adidas) and a white PAU long-sleeved shirt as my Uppers. I brought two Jackets (Uniqlo Water Repellant Down Jacket & Columbia Water Repellant Windbreaker with Hood). I used the Uniqlo Jacket on the 1st half of the course and the Columbia Jacket on the 2nd half which was proven to be very effective against the strong winds in the mountains and maintained my body heat temperature despite of the cold condition of the night. I was using my old Shenza Compression Calf Sleeves; Drymax Trail Socks; and Dirty Girl Gaiters. To protect my ears from getting cold, I used the Mission Buff (Blue-colored) which is thicker and longer in size than the other buffs in the market. For my cap, I used my old white Under Armour Runner’s Cap.

Lantau Cable Car Trail Ngong Ping

Along The Cable Car Trail In Ngong Ping @ Km 62 (Photo By Freebird)

My trekking pole is made by Black Diamond which is the old version of the Ultra Distance Z-poles which is 120 cm. long. It is always partnered with my old and trusted Specialized Cycling Gloves!

I bought the new version of the Salomon S-LAB 5-Liter Hydration Pack on the mid-part of last year and it was my 2nd time to use it in a race. Instead of using the Salomon plastic bottles that go with it, I replaced them with Simple Hydration Bottles with the reason that they have bigger openings where I could easily pour my Powder Mix from the Ziplocs containers that I use. What I like in this hydration pack is that it has a lot of expanding zippered pockets as well as back main compartments which can accommodate my jacket and my nutrition needs. I could easily tie and untie my trekking poles while on the run or on the move without removing my pack from my body. The same is true when trying to reach for my nutritional needs.

I’ve been using a Mission Buff for the past two years and I’ve selected it for the Hongkong event because it is thicker and longer and it is advertised to maintain coolness to the body but for the prevailing situation during the race I’ve used it as a cover to my ears from the cold temperature and at the same time absorb the sweat coming from my head. The buff did its work and it was very useful for me during the race.

Medication & Drugs

Once I ingested the Hopias (Chinese Bread), which I brought from Manila, few minutes before the start of the race, I took 2 pieces of Aleve tablets and one capsule of Immodium. After eating my egg sandwich (Km 55) before trekking the Ngong Ping 360 Emergency Rescue Trail, I took another 2 pieces of Aleve Tablets.

To be continued…

%d bloggers like this: