Jag Lanante: The FIRST Pinoy Finisher Of The Hongkong Four Trail Ultra Challenge (HK4TUC)


When everybody was still sleeping on the early morning of the First Day of the Year 2015, a “low-key” ultra marathon race event was about to start in Hongkong. The ultra event is called the “Hongkong Four (4) Trail Ultra Challenge” (HK4TUC) which had been founded and organized by Andre Blumberg, a German executive based in Hongkong who is a “par excellence” ultra trail runner who lately had finished the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning in the USA and the Lake Tahoe 200-Mile Endurance Run, the first 200-mile trail run done in the United States.

Andre Blumberg, five years ago, had to run the four famous Trail routes in Hongkong for four days, running each trail course each day. The following are the trails: MacLehose Trail with a distance of 100 Kilometers; Hongkong Trail with a distance of 50 Kilometers; Wilson Trail with a distance of 78 Kilometers; and the Lantau Trail with a distance of 70 Kilometers. The total course distance is 298 Kilometers. The total elevation gain is 14,500 meters!

Andre’s feat in running these trails gave him the idea for the other ultra runners to experience the challenge, thus, the birth of the HK4TUC. To make the event more challenging and exciting, he imposed a cut-off time of 60 hours and runners have to run through the trail courses on a reverse direction. If the books or publications about the Hongkong Trails are presented on chronological Stages, from 1-10 or from Start to Finish, as the case maybe, the race event starts from the FINISH area and ends at the START area or from Stage 10 to Stage 1. The clock does not stop when the runners had to be transported from one trail course to another, by land or by the sea ferry.

Starters With The RD (Jeri Chua, Janelle Sleet, Andre Blumberg, Paul Wong, & Jag Lanante)
Starters With The RD (Jeri Chua, Janelle Seet, Andre Blumberg (RD), Paul Wong, & Jag Lanante)

The event’s rules and regulations are very simple. There is NO Registration Fee, No Medals, No Finisher’s Shirt, No Aid Stations, No UTMB Points, No Competition or Rankings, and No Checkpoints. However, runners can take advantage of the convenience eateries/stores and vending machines along the route for their food and drinks. This is simply a “self-support” event. Bragging Rights is the only Prize for Finishing this Event.

After four years of its existence and with an average of 4-5 participants each year, there are only four (4) finishers in this event since January 2011.

Jag Lanante is the FIRST Filipino to make an attempt on this most dreaded ultra running event and he is one of the four ultra runners who were brave enough to toe the line at the Starting Area in MacLehose Trail. I happen to know him by his name only through Facebook and had never seen him in person. But I have so much respect in him as I found out about his running accomplishments which I gathered from his Facebook Wall from the time we became as FB “friends” since the middle part of last year.

Start Of The MacLehose Trail 100K Leg
Start Of The MacLehose Trail 100K Leg

I was sick with Flu (cough and colds) and I was bed-ridden for the duration of this event from Start to Finish but I would be able to glance and peep through my Laptop if my Internet connection is strong from time to time, most specially during midnight and early morning. It was through the HK4TUC Facebook Page that I was able to monitor the progress of the event. Four ultra runners——Two Lady runners from Singapore (Jeri Chua, the favorite one to finish due his previous finishes in the Tor Des Geants and UTMB and Janelle Seet who would take numerous trips from Singapore to Hongkong to train and recon the trails for the past two years; One local runner from Hongkong (Paul Wong); and One Pinoy who is based in Bangkok, Thailand who happens to be Jag Lanante.

Jag was considered as the “underdog” and the “weakest” among the four runners as he comes from a “flat and plain” Bangkok elevation whose training consisted of 500-meter loop course in a Parking Area in a Private Hospital in Bangkok where he works as a Nurse and he does his running in between his 9-hour work shifts, most of his running workouts are done in the early morning. He would also sneak in and secretly pass through their Security Guards if he needs to use the building’s emergency stairs for his “stair climbing and hill repeats” just to put in some elevation gains in his routine. On his “off days” and weekends, he would go to a nearby Public Park which has a 2.5K loop (flat again!) and do his runs in loops where he would only take note of the number of hours he would run, however, his longest running time would be at least 6 hours. Worst information about him is that this trip for the event is Jag’s FIRST trip to Hongkong! He is not accustomed to the cold weather environment of Hongkong and the hilly terrain of the course. He was equipped with his Salomon Hydration Backpack where he stored his food (all bread), water and extra clothing/jacket; a $7.50 worth of Casio Watch which he was using for the past 8 years; and a borrowed HOKA One One Tarmac Shoes! Initially, Jag did not have with him a trekking pole! He would later borrow the trekking pole from one of the runners who DNF’d midway at the MacLehose Trail (1st trail course of the event). Right from the start of the course, he was already a complete picture/description of a “failure” of an ultra runner who would attempt to finish this dreadful and brutal event, a simple example of a DNF runner!

Jag @ The Wilson Trail (2nd Leg)
Jag @ The Wilson Trail (2nd Leg)

And for this reason, my attention would be focused on the progress of Jag Lanante as to where he was during the event. I would make a bet to my “inner self” that Jag would “throw the towel” once he finished the Wilson Trail course (2nd Trail). So, I decided to close my laptop, took my meal, ingest my medications, and went back to bed. I said to myself, “there will be No Finisher” in this year’s event.

I guess, I have to eat my words and committed a mistake of an early misjudgment on the capabilities of Jag!

I found out that while I was sleeping on the first day of the year (due to the effect of my medications), the four runners started the event with a perfect Hongkong weather, blue skies and the sun shining hot providing a perfect running weather for the participants. Jeri Chua from Singapore took an early lead from the other three runners and she was ahead of the expected time of arrival in every stage of the MacLehose Trail (in reverse, of course!) but surprisingly had to deal with her recurring knee injury which became very painful on her part and could hardly maintain her targeted pace. She declared herself as DNF after running and hiking on the course for about 14 hours. She was not able to complete the 100K MacLehose Trail course. Jag Lanante and Paul Wong finished the MacLehose Trail together with a time of 21:30+ hours. The last runner, Janelle Seet finished the 1st trail leg in less than 27 hours but she was already complaining of blisters which made her to register a slow finish time to complete the first trail course.

Jag Lanante In Action
Jag Lanante In Action @ Lantau

Jag and Paul were together in their land transport (Taxi Ride) to the next staging area for the 2nd trail course which is the Wilson Trail, a distance of 78 kilometers. They were able to take a nap while being transported to the starting area of Wilson Trail and that was equivalent to a 45-minute power nap! After being served with Hot Soup and some foods at Nam Chung, Jag and Paul started together for the 2nd trail leg, Wilson Trail. However, being a local runner of Hongkong and thorough knowledge of the trails, Paul Wong started to run faster than Jag Lanante that resulted him to pull away for the lead starting at Pat Sin Leng and finally finishing the Wilson Trail in less than 50 hours. He was already on the third day and barely 10 hours more to go before the cut-off time.

What happened to Jag Lanante after Paul Wong left him on the early start along the Wilson Trail? Jag would tell me that he got at least, two “lost moments” at the Wilson Trail——the first lost moment was when he was left alone by Paul when it was so cold and was sleepy to be more focused on looking for the trail markers. He missed the trail marker in going to the 8 Immortals of Hongkong as he was “sleep walking” for 2 hours going down along the trail only to realize that he could no longer see any trail marker. He would go back up again to finally locate the trail marker; the second lost moment was when he reached Taipo (village) as he could not determine from the map provided by Andre as to where the Wilson Trail would re-start again after hitting the village. Jag’s problem was exacerbated when he impulsively asked a Chinese lady who can speak and understand a little English as to where the Wilson Trailhead is located. Jag was instructed by the Chinese lady to go to the end of a river but Jag was frustrated to find out that the lady gave him a false/wrong instructions. Jag started to panic as he went going around the village trying to find out where the Wilson Trail Marker is located. He tried to compose himself, prayed, and relaxed at the same point/location where he entered Taipo. He decided to wait for the arrival of the last runner, Janelle Seet, knowing that the lady has a lot of friends cheering her along the route who are familiar with the route. Finally, Jag joined Janelle for the final push to finish the Wilson Trail leg. Jag’s total “lost moments” time would add up to almost 7 hours! Jag and Janelle finished the Wilson Trail in 54 hours or 2:00 PM actual time on the third day!

Janelle & Jag After Those Lost Moments In Taipo
Janelle & Jag After Those Lost Moments In Taipo

The transition or travel time from the “finish line” of Wilson Trail to the “start of the Hongkong Trail (3rd leg) is very brief/short as both locations are very near to each other. Paul Wong was already ahead despite of the 10-hour remaining time before cut-off time and Jag and Janelle were barely on a 6-hour time before the cut-off time. All the remaining three runners decided to still push through with the event but it was already a “Survivor Challenge” as to who would last to finish the event and be able to kiss the green Mail Post in Mui Wo, Lantau Island.

Obviously, Paul Wong was the first runner to start the Hongkong Trail and he was leading for some hours. Jag Lanante and Janelle Seet started later for the 3rd leg of the event. From the very start of the Hongkong Trail, Janelle had to beg off and allowed Jag Lanante to get ahead of her. Jag regained some energy despite numerous and countless “low moments” after finishing 178 kilometers with a very small amount of time to rest and sleep. He was determined to finish the event but he has to reach Victoria Peak and be able to catch up the earliest ferry ride to Lantau Island for the last 70K of the event.

Jag Aboard A Van As Transition From One Leg To Another
Jag Aboard A Van As Transition From One Leg To Another (He Was Awake!)

It was only when he was on the last 6 kilometers of the HK Trail course that he knew that he was already the leading runner among the three “survivors”. He was met by Vic So (2014 HK4TUC Finisher/“Survivor”) along the course to cheer him and informed him that he was able to pass Paul Wong at Km #25 when he went inside a market to eat. Jag finished the HK Trail at Victoria Peak before midnight on the third day and he was able to catch the ferry ride scheduled to leave HK for Lantau at 12:30 AM/Midnight on the 4th day. Paul Wong arrived at the Victoria Peak at 1:00 AM of January 4 while Janelle Seet finished the HK Trail later in the evening. Unknowingly from Jag, the two runners finally decided to “throw the towel” and cease from taking the ferry ride to Lantau. The reason? Extreme exhaustion and sleep-deprived conditions!

Jag Lanante was able to know that Paul Wong and Janelle Seet finally decided not to push through with the Lantau 70K leg from Andre Blumberg who escorted him to Lantua Island. The information was sent through Andre’s cellphone. Jag had already spent 65 hours since the start of the event and he was on the starting line for the Lantau 70K leg!

Slow In Pace But Fighting To Push The Body To The Finish Line
Slow In Pace But  Pushing The Body To The Finish Line @ Sunset Peak, Lantau

I was thinking that Jag was able to sleep during those transition/transfer trips from one leg to another but I was wrong! He told me that he was able to sleep for three times only——first was at the end of Km #33 along the Wilson Trail when he slept while waiting for his order in a Noodle Shop/Eatery; the second one was during the 30-minute ferry ride from HK to Lantau Island; and the third one was a 5-minute nap he requested from Andre while he was experiencing some leg cramps at the Lantau Trail.

Knowing that he was the ONLY runner left in the event and way, way beyond the cut-off time of 60 hours, he asked Andre if he is still be a part of the event and considered as a Finisher in the history of the event. Andre would reply him that this event is not a race and therefore, there are no DNFs, however, if he decides to survive and finish this event, he will get the much-needed support from him no matter how many hours would it take him to reach and “kiss” the green Mailing Post at Mui Wo. Paper, the wife of Andre who is a Thai, informed Jag that the his co-workers in Bangkok are rooting for him to finish the event as he unknowingly seen the cheers and words of encouragement posted by his friends in Thailand through the HK4TUC Facebook Page.

Jag @ Lantau Island (Last Leg)
Jag @ Lantau Island (Last Leg)

These words of encouragement from Andre and Paper drove and fully motivated Jag to finish the event. Lantau 70K Trail Course is a hard one with 3,300 meters of vertical gain, Jag has to be focused and be able to endure the pain, exhaustion, hallucinations, sleep deprivation, blisters, distractions and there is no room for him to get lost along the course. He has to finish this event.

But there is a more pressing situation and uncompromising reason for him to finish the event! He and his wife have to catch a flight back to Bangkok and he has only 19 hours before his plane leaves at 8:00 PM on the evening of January 4! He thought, at all cost he has to be in that plane with his wife no matter what happens!

Few Meters From The Finish Line!
Few Meters From The Finish Line!

With pure grit and determination despite some doubts for him to finish the last 70 kilometers of the event, Jag was able to finally kiss the green Mail Post in Mui Wo with Andre waiting for him with a Champagne Victory Spray of Moet Rose that served as an informal “body shower” to mask the smell of dirt and perspiration from Jag’s body before proceeding to the Airport. Jag finished the Lantau 70K Leg in 16:30 hours which was in actual time at 5:30 PM of January 4, 2015, 4th day of the event, finishing and surviving the whole event with an official time of 81:30 hours.

The Kiss To The Green Mail Post
The Kiss To The Green Mail Post

After a quick informal conversation/congratulatory greetings and picture-taking among the runners and the RD’s team friends and volunteers, a taxi was waiting for Jag and his wife to bring them to the Airport in order to catch their flight back to Bangkok scheduled to leave at 8:00 PM that evening. I am sure that the 3-4 hours flight time from HK to Bangkok was the best sleep that Jag experienced in his lifetime!

After making sure that Jag had fully recovered from his “brutal but inspirational” finish at the 2015 edition of the Hongkong Four Trail Ultra Challenge, I sent him a Personal Message on Facebook to congratulate him for being the “FIRST Pinoy Ultra Runner to Finish” the said event. This Facebook conversation led me to ask some questions about him and his experience during the event. Thus, this story is posted as an inspiration to all the readers of this blog, most specially to our Pinoy Ultra Runners.

And The Champagne Victory Spray By The RD
And The Traditional Champagne Victory Spray By The RD

To answer the mystery on the toughness, pure grit and determination of Jag to finish the event as I am not convinced that his one year training on a “flat, plain and boring” loops in his Hospital’s Parking Area and Bangkok’s Public Park prepared him for the event. There could be more information about this humble and ever-smiling runner as to why he has a “strong heart and a positive mental attitude” to finish this most feared ultra running event among the locals of Hongkong and other ultra runners in nearby Southeast Asia, despite the fact that the event is free; a chance to tour the nice scenery of Hongkong on foot; and a good reason to shed off those accumulated calories brought about by the Holiday Season.

My fellow ultra runners would be able to read “between the lines”, so to speak, as I mention the following facts about Jag and his “running career” and background:

1. Jag is 29 years old, a native of Davao City and had been an OFW as a Nurse in Bangkok, Thailand for so many years. He started to train and run for the past 4 years. He is married to Kathleen Faith who works also in the same hospital with Jag. They don’t have any kids.
2. He finished his primary and secondary schoolings in Davao City but decided to finish his BS in Nursing at Mountain View College in Bukidnon after his parents would not allow him to be admitted to the Philippine Military Academy (PMA).
His best finish time for a Marathon Race is 3:10+ hours which was held on his Birthday, four months after his Boss introduced him to running.
3. His first ultra was the 2013 TNF 100 but four months later, he finished as #10 in a 50K trail run event, both were held in Thailand. And since then, he tried his best to run everyday and prepare for the HK4TUC.

Lastly, I would ask him what would be his next ultra race. He replied to earn his FIRST 100-Mile Buckle in one of the ultra races in the Philippines if his work schedule’s leave would match the scheduled date of his choice of event. But he gave me a 100% assurance that he will be back for a repeat with a better performance at the 2016 edition of the HK4TUC.

I replied back to him immediately, “It will be a honor running with you on the First Day of 2016 HK4UTC on the early miles of Stage 10 of the MacLehose Trail!” His silent answer is depicted on the picture below!

The Ever Smiling & Humble Jag Lanante
The Ever Smiling & Humble Jag Lanante

Congratulations Jag, the FIFTH Finisher in the history of the Hongkong Four Trails Ultra Challenge!!! My snappy salute to you and from the rest of the Pinoy Ultra Runners here in the Philippines and abroad!

More pictures and stories/details of the 2015 HK4TUC can be seen here: https://www.facebook.com/HK4TUC

(Note: Photos Courtesy of Paper & Lloyd Belcher of Hongkong)

Official Results: 2014/4th Taklang Damulag 100-Mile & 50-Mile Endurance Runs


4th Taklang Damulag 100-Mile Endurance Run

5:00 AM December 13, 2014 To 3:00 PM December 14, 2014

Special Operations Command (SOCOM) Headquarters, Fort Magsaysay, Palayan City (Nueva Ecija)

Number Of Starters: 16

Number Of Finishers: 9

Percentage Rate Of Finish: 56%

Runners @ The Starting Area
Runners @ The Starting Area

RANK           NAME                                 TIME (Hours)

1. Lao Ogerio (Champion, Overall)——30:47:32

2. Milbert Cabral (1st Runner-Up, Overall—–31:07:38

3. Alfred Delos Reyes (2nd Runner-Up, Overall)—–32:38:52

4. Tess Leono (Champion, Female, Course Record)—-33:23:01

5. Ariel Briones —————————————–33:35:34

6. Dindo Diaz——————————————–33:37:31

7. Bong Dizon——————————————–33:38:58

8. Simon Pavel Miranda ——————————–33:40:21

9. Myk Dauz ———————————————-33:40:58

Overall Champion Lao Ogerio
Overall Champion Lao Ogerio
First Female Champion & Course Record Holder Tess Leono
First Female Champion & Course Record Holder Tess Leono

4th Taklang Damulag 50-Mile Endurance Run

5:00 AM December 13, 2014

SOCOM Headquarters, Philippine Army, Fort Magsaysay, Palayan City

Number of Starters: 12

Number Of Finishers: 12

Percentage Rate Of Finish: 100%

RANK          NAME                        TIME (Hours)

1. Raul Ragaodao (Champion, Overall/Course Record)—–12:39:30

2. Luc Hapers (1st Runner-Up, Overall/Course Record)————–12:50:31

3. Mark Raon (2nd Runner-Up, Overall)———————13:31:27

4. Von Rayan Martinez————————————–14:51:53

5. Romhel Biscarra —————————————15:33:40

6. Loradel Hanopol (Champion, Female)—————-16:18:31

7. Jobert Inclan———————————————16:37:45

8. Emma Libunao (1st Runner-Up, Female)—————18:35:19

9. Katherine Villaflor (2nd Runner-Up, Female)———18:53:37

10. Cleo Gevero (Female)———————————-18:53:38

11. Efren Monzon——————————————-19:32:33

12. Roland Pagaduan ————————————–19:32:33

Champion & Course Record Holder Raul Ragaodao
Champion & Course Record Holder Raul Ragaodao

Congratulations To Everybody!

Official Result: 8th Tagaytay To Nasugbu (T2N) 50K Ultra Run


8th Tagaytay To Nasugbu 50K Ultra Marathon Race

4:00 AM To 1:00 PM December 7, 2014

Starting Area: Picnic Grove, Tagaytay City

Finish Line: PETRON Gas Station, Nasugbu, Batangas

Number Of Starters: 63

Number Of Finishers: 63

Cut-Off Time: 9 Hours

RD's Briefing Before The Start Of The Race
RD’s Briefing Before The Start Of The Race
T2N Batch #8 Group Picture Before Gun Start
T2N Batch #8 Group Picture Before Gun Start

RANK                N A M E                                   T I M E (Hrs)

1.  Alen Bautista (Champion, Overall)————-4:54:47

2. Arnel Renato (1st Runner-Up, Overall)———5:19:22

3.  Lao Ogerio (2nd Runner-Up, Overall)———5:22:12

4.  Rhina Sison (Champion, Female)————–5:22:26

5.  Carlo Contemplacion—————————-5:25:01

6.  Annaliza Marsan (1st Runner-Up, Female)—5:38:52

7.  Jess Evangelista———————————-5:42:53

8.  Antonio Delos Reyes—————————–5:45:56

9.  Elpidio Berja————————————–5:46:42

10. Mark Anthony Rodica—————————5:46:54

11. Jerdie Jurado————————————-5:52:36

12. Aljim Gacad————————————–5:53:22

13. Rasette Hao Pesuelo (2nd Runner-Up, Female)—5:53:51

14. Madison Trinidad——————————–6:02:24

15. Loradel Hanopol (Female)———————-6:03:15

16. Myk Dauz—————————————–6:05:28

17. Ma. Rowena Madrid (Female)——————6:06:54

18. Kathleen Pinero (Female)———————–6:07:00

19. Ruben Veran————————————-6:17:17

20. Cecile Lalisan (Female)————————6:18:40

21. Ronald Robles———————————–6:24:57

22. Efren Olpindo———————————–6:30:17

23. Jaime Patricio———————————–6:31:09

24. Allan Pablo————————————–6:31:23

25. Ma. Teresa Villa Abrille (Female)————-6:31:24

26. Aleli Gloria Delos Santos (Female)———–6:38:29

27. Romhel Biscarra——————————–6:38:38

28. Eduardo Gelindon——————————6:41:11

29. Jake Nelson Cheng—————————-6:41:47

30. Richard Allan Mangalip———————-6:43:25

31. Maria Celeste Layug (Female)—————6:43:41

32. Myla Go (Female)—————————-6:43:42

33. Wilnar Iglesia———————————6:43:43

34. Floriemay Ragas (Female)——————6:43:51

35. Fraulein Mariano (Female)—————–6:46:35

36. Abby Aliwalas (Female)———————6:46:36

37. Edwin Cruz———————————–6:53:03

38. Renato Grande——————————-6:55:56

39. Eda Maningat (Female)———————6:56:18

40. Gerson Yuzon——————————–6:58:46

41. Ramil Lomboy——————————-7:02:35

42. Emma Libunao (Female)——————7:04:03

43. Marlon Santos——————————7:04:04

44. Mar Marilag——————————–7:05:50

45. Stephen Avanzado————————-7:10:20

46. Severino Khita—————————–7:15:43

47. Arnel Fajardo——————————7:17:40

48. Adrian Aquino—————————-7:19:08

49. Allenstein Co——————————7:20:19

50. Rommel Ayuson————————–7:34:03

51. Ma. Corazon Ramos (Female)———–7:34:50

52. Alberto Cruz, Jr—————————7:35:15

53. Joan Pardo Arevalo (Female)———–7:45:51

54. Edna Yao Lim (Female)—————–7:45:54

55. Joey Genecera—————————-7:50:42

56. Fernando Torres————————-7:52:34

57. Eliza Laureles (Female)—————–8:02:51

58. J. Cip Lim——————————–8:21:39

59. Quennie Lynne Aceveda (Female)—-8:26:06

60. Amor Gabriel, Jr————————8:26:07

61. Julius Danas—————————–8:41:35

62. Richard Toledo————————-8:43:28

63. Rosita Dino (Female)——————8:57:36

Overall Champion Alen Bautista
Overall Champion Alen Bautista
Female Champion & 4th Overall Rhina Vince Sison
Female Champion & 4th Overall Rhina Vince Sison
Last Runner Rosita Dino
Last Runner Rosita Dino

Congratulations To All The Runners & Support Crew!

Race Report: 2014 Clark-Miyamit 50-Mile Trail Run (Last Part)


Race Report: 2014 Clark-Miyamit 50-Mile Trail Run (Last Part)

What Went Wrong?

5. Gout Attack——Just when I finished my last long run in preparation for this event, I had a gout attack and the joint on my big toe was inflamed and sore. My first gout attack was in March 2008 and since that time my choice of food was limited to those with no uric acid. For the past 6 years and a half, I was on a diet and I was able to control my uric acid intake. However, for the month of October, I was not able to control my diet and craving for boiled peanuts & beans and native chicken & goat’s meat! Actually, on those days and weeks that my toe was inflamed, I forced myself to hike on the mountains. On race day, I was still feeling some pain on my toes but I was able to endure even if I was able to ingest my ALEVE tablets before the start of the race.

Very Accurate Depiction Of My Gout (Picture Taken From Google
Very Accurate Depiction Of My Gout (Picture Taken From Google)

What Went Right?

1. Lesser Mileage, Healthier Knees——I am scared to think that reality is setting in—I am getting older and I need to take care of my knees. With the lesser mileage on every week in my training, I was able to preserve the good condition of my knees. Plus, the addition of a recovery day aside from my usual Monday rest had also added the stability of my knees during the race. I did a lot of strengthening exercises which were focused on my legs and core muscles but most of these exercises were geared to strengthen the muscles surrounding my knees. I did these exercises at least three times a week. If you are wondering what are these exercises, they are very simple! I did body squats, lunges, 100-ups, push-ups; exercises that strengthen my hip flexor using an elastic band; and Pilates exercises that strengthen the core.

2. Taper Properly——This is the most violated training principle among the younger ultra runners whom I know. They think that tapering for one week is enough for them to have fresh legs and body ready to tackle this very challenging race. For the two to three months that I was focused on the training for this race, I had my longest run on the seventh week, which is three weeks before Race Day. My longest run was a 26-mile (42K) mountain trail run which lasted for 8-9 hours and I was able to finish strong and my knees were able to hold on with the course where I had my training. After this long run, I made a steady reduction of my mileage on the coming weeks leading to Race Day until I was running 4-5 miles on my last week and got rested and slept well two-three days before Race Day. This is one of the reasons why I decided to postpone the inaugural edition of the General Aguinaldo Historic Trail Run which I intended to join as one of the participants. This race was scheduled two weeks before the CM 50 Race Day. I was able to monitor the younger runners who joined a trail running event one week before Race Day and I had the observation that they did not perform well in this event. Some of these younger runners would tell me that they have not recovered well after the race they have joined 7 days ago.

3. Nutrition——This is the second time in a running race event that I used VESPA. I’ve used this before in my long runs and I find them effective and working well with my body system. At this time, it was more effective when I started using Udo’s Oil as part of my supplementary nutrition. I usually mix at least two spoonful of this oil once a day in one of my viands/food either in my lunch or dinner for the three weeks that I was on tapering mode. I could feel that I was gaining a little weight which I would thought will be a source of my stored energy in my body to be used during the race. I took one pack of VESPA after eating my meal before the race and for the next 4-5 hours I was full of energy, taking only two (2) pieces of GU Gel, and hydrating with water every 30 minutes. I was not feeling “thirsty” because I was putting a Dynamite Candy in my mouth every time I ingest a VESPA Pack. I suspect that my slow pace made my stored fats as the source of energy and not from the carbohydrates that are available in my body. After 4-4 1/2 hours, I would feel hungry and that’s the time that I would eat my PB & J sandwiches, take another VESPA pack + GU Gels + Dynamite Candy and continue with my run. For the whole duration of the race, I was able to consume 4 packs of VESPA. From AS4 on my way to the peak, I started mixing my 2 MILO Packs with 1 GU Gel in my water bottle which is equivalent to almost 300 calories and I would ingest the whole liquid mix in one bottle within one hour. This mixing of MILO Packs + GU Gel was repeatedly done all the way to the finish line. Last year, I used Perpetuem Powder mixed with water as my source of nutrition and some solid foods (sandwiches, hard boiled eggs, and boiled bananas).

More Carbohydrates @ AS3 (Photo Courtesy Of Team Ayala Triads)
More Carbohydrates @ AS3 (Photo Courtesy Rovelyn Dimaala Of Team Ayala Triads)

Because of the hotter condition of the day as compared to last year, I might have used the stored fats in my body faster than what I’ve experienced before and I felt weak and exhausted once I returned to AS4 after coming from the Peak/turn-around point. It was an “accident” that I impulsively asked for a Sprite Drink and such “sugar-rush” to my body jolted me to be on a faster mode in my pace from AS4 to the Falls and back to AS4! I suspect also that from this point, my body needed more carbohydrates to propel me all the way to the finish line. This is the reason why I had to ingest some rice and solid food and more Sprite Drinks at AS3 and every hour after this, I was already using my remaining Gels up to the Finish Line.

4. Knowledge of the Course——This is the only year that I was not able to run the CM42 race in preparation for the CM50. Also, I did not had any runs or visits or recon runs along the course. From the past CM42 and CM50 races that I joined and finished, I was able to know what to expect along the course, from the Start to every Aid Station up to the Peak and back to the Finish Line. I was confident on what to expect in every turn and particular place along the route. Such knowledge of the course made me more confident that I will be able to finish the course within the prescribed cut-off time of 18 hours.

5. Having Fun——With the lack of mileage, sickness/diarrhea , condition of my knees, gout attack, and of course, my age, I tried to condition my mind to have a better performance on this race. Such positive thinking pushed me to endure everything and reminded me about my race strategy to focus more on my nutrition and that I would be healthy & injury-free to finish the race. This reminded me of the practice or tip of which I adopted from my Coach——placing one piece of GU Gel inside my cycling gloves/one GU Gel in each glove! This practice would remind me that I need to take a Gel every time I would swing my arms while running. Once I use one Gel, I would replace it with another one from my Belt Pouch and place the litter in one of my shoulder pockets of my hydration pack. I was also having fun when I outrun the younger runners and sometimes would scare them when they see me that I am nearing them or about to overtake them. Counting my strides when fatigue and heat of the sun would be very hard to the body gave me more fun as I gained some distance getting nearer to each of the Aid Stations.

Cycling Gloves & INOV-8 X-Talon Trail Shoes (2013 CM50)
Cycling Gloves & INOV-8 X-Talon Trail Shoes (2013 CM50)

6. Evaluation Run——I did not join this race to earn some points for the UTMB and I don’t have any future plans of going to Chamonix, France to join such race. This race is an evaluation run for the training program that was given to me in preparation for this race. It is also an evaluation run to determine my strengths and weaknesses as I prepare for my future races in the next year to come. I have learned (again) a lot of lessons that I need to make some adjustments in my race tactics, strategy and nutrition needs. I have also personally evaluated that my knees are getting stronger if I give them the much needed rest and recovery. I have learned also that I could run in a slow pace for me to use my fats as the source of energy and I could easily switch to a faster pace mode if I consistently add more carbohydrates to my body system. Lastly, taper mode on the last three weeks leading to Race Day and getting a lot of rest and sleep on the last week made a lot of difference.

How Much Did I Spend?

Coaching Services——P 13,000.00
Training Expenses (Travel & Food + Supplements)——P 3,000.00
Nutrition & Hydration Needs (During The Race)——P 2,500.00
Registration Fee——P 2,500.00
Transportation Costs (Gasoline + Highway Toll Fees)——P 2,000.00
New Gear (Ultimate Direction Belt Pouch + SALOMON Cap)——P 2,500.00

TOTAL——P 25,500.00

Was The Event Finish Worth For The Expenses?

Of course, setting an Event Record in the history of this race as the Oldest Runner to have finished the course in two consecutive years within the cut-off time of 18 hours is more than enough to compensate for what I’ve spent financially in this event. I would not regret spending my spare time in the mountains and trails just to prepare for this event. In the course of my training, I was able to meet a lot of people and make friends with the people in the mountains and being able to learn of how these people live in the mountains and know their problems. In the race, I was able to meet new runners and find time to talk to the “usual suspects” in ultra running in the country whom I only meet in person during such events even if we regularly communicate through the social media. Some of them are participants in the race and some of them served as “volunteers and marshals” in the Aid Stations, turn-around point and in the Lahar Area. As you might have observed, I don’t show or brag my Finisher’s Medal or wear those Finisher’s Shirts as they are not important every time I finish a race. It is the experience and the journey in finishing the race that count most.

Hand-held Hydration Bottles (2013 CM50)
Hand-held Hydration Bottles (2013 CM50)

Future Plan On This Event

Definitely, I will be back for the 2015 edition and train harder as long as my knees and body are healthy and injury-free. I need to bring back my INOV-8 X-Talon Trail Shoes and my hand-held bottles which I used last year and try to train for more speed on the trails. I am not shifting to any kind of diet but I will have to be more disciplined and selective on my food, making sure that they are uric acid-free and won’t cause diarrhea.

Suggestions/Advise To “New” Runners For This Event

1. Know your Ideal Racing Weight—-If you think you are heavy and way above your BMI, you should reduce—with more calories to burn and lessen your intake of unnecessary foods. Such weight that you can shave off from your body will compensate for the hydration and foods/nutrition needs that you will carry on your vest or belt/pockets.

2. Start going to the Trails—-I mean, mountain trails! And start your training NOW! Start with some hiking in the mountains along dirt roads or single-track trails and feel how your body responds to the ground, elevation, and the scenery. If you have the time do your trail hiking on a daily basis, then do it! If not, make sure you hike on your weekends or off-duty days. Be patient on this as you make your progress from a 30-minute hike up to 8-9 hours of running/jogging/hiking in the mountains on your peak training period. Once you progress and adjusted to trail running, look for a place that has the same elevation profile with that of the race and do more of your training in the said place. If you can have access to the actual route, by all means, spend your weekend runs thereat. If you are afraid to go to the mountains, then you can do it with the “Philippine Army’s Scout Ranger” way! (Note: This will be discussed in my future post featuring one of my Ultra Running friends)

3. Be selective in your Races—-It is not on the quantity of races that you have finished that defines you as a good runner. It is the quality of your performance in finishing your selected races. If you have decided to join this race as your A-priority race, then start your training as early as possible, save some money for your registration fee and training costs, register early and abide by the race/RD’s requirements, and treat your other running races as your training and evaluation runs. Make sure that you have to make some space or period of recovery in between these running events so that you will come out stronger and smarter in the process. Not because you are still young and strong that you don’t need to taper and have more rest before the Race Day, it is always you and only you will be the one responsible for your success or unsuccessful finish in this race.

Eat While You Are At Rest (Photo By Rovelyn Dimaala)
Eat While You Are At Rest (Photo By Rovelyn Dimaala of Ayala TRIADS)

4. Nutrition is the Key—-In every race, I keep on learning about my nutritional needs. “Fat-Burning” and Carbohydrates as sources of my energy work well with me in ultras. But it took me a lot of time and experience to try what is best for me. It is also worth to know that I have to fully stop and take a rest if I need to ingest solid foods to my system. In the past, I would take in some solid foods while on the move but it gave me more problems like choking and coughing, most specially in high altitude races that I have joined in the past. However, I don’t have any problems ingesting my Gels as I have to suck them quickly and followed with a sip of water from my bottle. Once my taste for the Gel would become uncomfortable for me to swallow, I would start mixing them in my water with my powdered drinks like MILO Packs and just the same, they give me the much-needed calories for my body. As the experts would always advise, fuel up early in the race while your pace is slow and then progressively pick-up the pace while maintaining your food intake and hydration. It is easily said but it needs a lot of practice and discipline.

Thanks for reading my longest Race Report! Keep on running and see you on the mountain trails!

See You Next Year!!!
See You Next Year!!!

Race Report: 2014 Clark-Miyamit 50-Mile Trail Run (Part 4)


Race Report: 2014 CM 50 (Part 4)

Race In Progress: From AS2 To AS1 To The Finish Line

I still have 3 hours+ to cover a distance of 16-17 kilometers (on paper) but in reality, it might reach actually to 22-23 kilometers. I need to run and jog at an average pace of 6-7 kilometers per hour in order to reach the Finish Line before the cut-off time of 18 hours. It is doable and I could still have some “buffer” time to spare just in case I need more time to rest or power hike or simply walk along the course.

After running on the ridges of hills and edges of sugar plantation, I was going down again to the bank of lahar-sand-filled river which is popularly called as the Pasig-Potrero River and on my right is the bridge before reaching the Porac Exit along the SCTEX when one goes to the direction of Subic Freeport. After crossing the vast and wide river, I was back on the bank of the river and tried to follow those reflectorized markers and colored-orange paint that I could see on plants; on sticks; on rocks and on the ground. This time they were already located on my left side.

I was already getting impatient as to when I would be able to reach the “rope-climbing” part before I finally reach the populated part of the course and the cemented stairs that I’ve climb on the early part of the race. As I jogged and power hike, I would allow the faster runners to pass me because I knew that they are younger than me and they deserve to have that bragging rights to have finished the race ahead of me, a Senior Citizen!

Sacobia River
Pasig-Potrero River (Picture Taken From Google)

Finally, I was on my way up to the peak of a hill with those ropes and I know in a short while, I would be on my way to that descending cemented stair to be able to reach the populated area. Just the same with last year’s experience, I was able to see those parked 4X4 jeeps and those children playing on the road trying to mimic the way I run and would keep running on my side. I know that after passing the village I will be back again to that road which is full of lahar-sand which is flat and that will lead me to the AS1 which is near to a Spa and Wellness Facility. One runner had passed me on this part of the course and tried to follow him.

It was already getting dark when I reached AS1 and I thought to myself that I still have 7 kilometers more to go which is I could easily do in order to reach the Finish Line. I guess, I still had one hour and 45 minutes before the cut-off time at this point. The lady volunteer at the AS1 was asking me if I needed something, food and water, were still available and I was the only one she had to attend to. I just said to her, “Thank You” and I was on my way to the last 4 kilometers of lahar-sand filled river of Sacobia. I immediately brought out my headlight and had it fitted on my head as I walked on the lahar. With another runner ahead of me, I could easily spot him on his direction. However, even without the runner in front of me, I would easily get my bearing and direction back to the Finish Line as I still would recall that on my way to the AS1 on the early part of the race, all the runners were running on the left side of the river. So, on my way back, I should be running on the right side of the river trying to be near as possible on the right side of the bank of the river. From afar, I would see the flashing lights of the volunteers/marshals and I made a direct route to reach their positions. I was trying to hug the right bank of the river as I run in semi-circle path towards the trailhead.

Puning Wellnes Spa & Resort @ Vicinity AS1
 Near Puning Wellnes Spa & Resort @ Vicinity AS1 (Photo Taken From Google)

As I ran on these last 4 kilometers of lahar-sand and river with flowing water, different kinds of insects would be attracted by the glow of my headlight and they became problem to my vision. Some of the insects would get into my eyes and made used of my hands as an inverted pendulum to drive them away. It did not take long to endure in this kind of situation as I made my way back to the trailhead leading back to the paved road of the Clark Freeport. As I got nearer to the trailhead, I was able to meet the locals and their families as they proceeded to the river. I got the impression that they were going home to their respective villages which is about 4 kilometers of walking along the river. They even joked at me if they can borrow my powerful headlight as they were moving down to the river without any flashlights. At this point, my Garmin watch just died and I was looking on my other watch on how many more minutes left before the actual time of the day reaches to 7:00 PM. Upon reaching the paved road, I got 45 minutes to go before the cut-off time and I know I would make it and finish strong.

I finally brought my distance nearer to the runner ahead of me up to 5-8 meters behind him as we ran the last 3 kilometer of paved road to the Clark’s Parade Ground. I told the runner that we will finish the race in the same order that we are in, which means that I have no intention of passing or “out-kicking” him on the last kilometer or so. I just maintained my regular LSD pace and I would notice that I was still strong at this point. My legs and knees were not hurting and did not have any bouts of cramping during the duration of the race. My feet were fine and I wasn’t able to feel any signs of blisters except for the annoying lahar-sand that was embedded inside my running shoes and socks.

On the last kilometer before the finish line, I slowed down and let the runner ahead of me to widen our gap in between us. It was okey and took my time to jog easily towards the Parade Ground. Finally, I was able to cross the Finish Line with almost 10 minutes more to spare before the cut-off time. Officially, my finish time registered at 17:50:51 hours! The RD awarded my Finisher’s Medal and I was able to get my Finisher’s Shirt.

Few Meters Before The Finish Line
Few Meters Before The Finish Line

I did it for the second time in two consecutive years. Not bad for a Senior Citizen at 62 years of age! Surprisingly, I was not limping, no chafing and did not feel any soreness or pain as I walked towards my personal vehicle.

It is worth to mention the following items that I used during the race. For the second time in a row, I did not use trekking poles in this event. And and never ingested any “pain-killer” and salt tablets during the run.

Running Cap: Salomon’s Matador-X (Red Color/Clima UV50+)

Headlight: Icon Polar by Black Diamond

Sunglasses: Oakley

Neck/Nape/Face Cover/Protection & Sweat Absorbent: Buff

Running Shirt: PAU Long-Sleeved Shirt By A Perfect White Shirt

Running Shorts: PATAGONIA Shorts

Watches + HR Monitor: GARMIN 310XT & CASIO Watch

Belt Pouches: ULTIMATE DIRECTION (Scott Jurek’s Signature Series)

Hydration Vest & Back Pack: ULTIMATE DIRECTION Anton Krupicka’s Signature Series

Water Bottles: SIMPLE Hydration Bottles (Two) + One SALOMON (Collapsible) Water Bottle (10 oz.) inside my hydration pack.

Thermal Blanket: SALOMON

Whistle: SALOMON

Cell Phone: SAMSUNG Dous Flip-Phone

Camera: NIKON Coolpix SO1 Pocket Camera

Calf Sleeves: COMPRESSPORT Ultra (Black)

Gaiters: Dirty Girl

Socks: DRYMAX

Runinng Shoes: SALOMON S-LAB Sense-3 (Soft Ground)

Running Gloves: Cycling Gloves By Specialized

Anti-Blister & Chafing Protection: LEUKOPLAST By BSN and BODY GLIDE

Pain Killer: Two (2) ALEVE Tablets taken after meal before the Start of the Race

Nutrition: 4 Packs of VESPA Drinks; 12 pieces of GELS ( GU + VFuel); 4 pieces of PB & J Sandwiches; 3 Packs of Honey STINGER; One Can of Tuna Paella; 8 Packs/Sachets of MILO Drinks; and 8 pieces of DYNAMITE Choco Mint Candies By Universal Robina Corporation (70 calories in every 4 candies)

Nutrition & Hydration Items Carried In My Belt & Pack
Some Of The Nutrition & Hydration Items Carried In My Belt & Pack

What Went Wrong?

It is nice to analyze once performance in every event that I join so that I can improve in my future attendance to this event. First, I need to discuss my “alibis” or reasons why I slowed down and was not able to duplicate my performance last year. These reasons are geared more to my training and preparation for this race. They maybe gross and disgusting reasons but I have to mention them here:

1. Diarrhea——Would you believe I was having a diarrhea for the whole month of October? Yes, the whole month and no amount of medication would be able to treat it. Just imagine me running towards creeks and streams during my trail running long runs just to be able to relieve myself. I really did not know what illness came to my digestive tract for those weeks. Even in my sleep during nighttime, I would wake up and go to the comfort room for a minimum of 3-4 times! After taking in different brands of Loperamide capsules, my situation did not improve and I just completely stopped taking such medication. Instead, I tried to drink more water and maintained my usual daily diet. I would meet and run the required mileages in my training program but the intensity was not there and I slowed down in my jogging but did more of “power hiking”. I experienced being dehydrated in almost all my long weekend runs.

2. Training Program Adjusted——As compared to last year’s average of 55-60 miles of weekly mileage on my peak training, I was doing 36-42 miles of weekly mileage for the 2 months of training preparation for this year’s event. Last year, I prepared for 5 months and for this year, my preparation was only 2 months! The training adjustment was done for my body to recover for my past ultra trail races in the middle of this year and for my knee injury recovery. It could be a blessing in disguise that I had some medical issues (diarrhea) for me not to over train and put more intensity to my training. There were no speed intervals done for the training period and it was limited to some progressive and tempo runs while doing my long runs and daily short runs. The training adjustment came also with an additional one day of rest and recovery for the week. Monday and Friday became my recovery/rest days for the week and it was maintained for the the tw0-month period of training.

Salomon S-LAB Sense 3 (Soft Ground)
Salomon S-LAB Sense 3 (Soft Ground)

3. Wrong Choice of Shoes——Two weeks before the race, I made a 23K run at the Mt Pinatubo 50K Trail Challenge while monitoring the progress of my race and my runners. I used the Salomon S-LAB Sense 3 (SG) and I found out that the lahar-sand would easily enter in my shoes’ upper mesh. I was so hard-headed in my desire to come up with a 300-Kilometer mileage as soon as possible for this shoes before I could write and post a decent Shoe Review for it. I should have maintained using my INOV-8 X-Talon Trail Shoes which I used in last year’s edition where its canvass material would easily prevent more lahar-sand entering to my shoes. Although I did not bother cleaning my feet and socks from the lahar-sand throughout the race, I have the feeling that it affected my leg turn-over during the run and overall, I became slower and easily got tired from the additional weight my legs were lifting.

4. Weather——This is my hottest running experience on this route but the scenery was its best! My energy was zapped and got exhausted on my way from AS4 to AS3 after coming from Miyamit Falls. I know that most of the runners experienced this kind of situation. It was unfortunate for us to be in the “tail-end” that there were no more ice available for us by the time we reached AS3, AS2, and AS1. This was not a big deal for me as long as I was able to drink some Soda drinks in the Aid Stations. Anyway, my hydration bottles were never empty from this point on to the Finish Line.

Something To Be Proud Of
Something To Be Proud Of

To Be Continued.

Race Report: 2014 Clark-Miyamit 50-Mile Trail Run (Part 3)


Race Report: 2014 CM 50 (Part #3)

Race In Progress @ AS4 To The Peak & Back

Upon reaching AS4 (Km #32), I saw a lot of runners making their refills in their hydration bottles and bladders; and some were eating what the Aid Station had to offer and what they had brought with them in their packs. One of the volunteers, who happens to be an ultra friend, asked my two bottles to be refilled with water as they were about to be empty when I reached the Aid Station. After a few seconds and as soon as my bottles were refilled, I left the Aid Station immediately and did not spend one minute in the place. As I left the place, I was smiling knowing that the Aid Station is consistently manned by Team BORING and I can appropriately relate to what I’ve been posting on Facebook about my training runs——they are simply “boring” trail runs and hill repeats!

AS4 @Km 32 Manned By Team BORING
AS4 @Km 32 Manned By Team BORING (Photo Taken From Facebook)

From the AS4 to the peak of Mt Miyamit is almost 10 kilometers of single-track trail. The trail is dry, hard and compact and there are portions (with rocks) which are slippery. I had to jog on the flat and descending portions and then power-hike the ascending parts of the trail. Almost half-way to the peak, I started to meet the leading runner who happens to be a foreigner and then later on, followed by fast and strong local trail runners. This part of the course is well-covered with trees, bananas and other vegetation except for the last mile to the peak of Mt Miyamit or turn-around point which is covered with tall grasses. The temperature in this part of the course is cooler and it is where you start feeling the breeze of a cold wind. My pace would be slow but I make it a point to breath deeply and take advantage of the cleanest air that is available outside Metro Manila!

I always have the habit of counting the number of runners that I would meet along this part of the trail as I would know how I fared and know my position on my way down after coming from the peak/turn-around point. When I reached counting up to 50 runners before I could finally reach the peak, I just stopped the mental exercise. From this point, I knew already that I was slowing on my pace as compared when I finished this event last year. I can still recall that I was among the top 40 runners when I reached the turn-around point in last year’s edition.

It was only in this year’s race that I was able to see the peak of the mountain; the scenery of the surroundings; the river and trail that goes to the northern approach towards Mt Pinatubo, coming from Barangay Sta Juliana, Capas (route of Mt Pinatubo 50K Trail Challenge); and the clear sky above. As I moved and jogged towards the peak, I could see those tiny figures of runners as they trekked along the single-track trail that leads to the peak. Last year, I was not able to see such sight of ascending steep trail and the runners that were moving slowly towards the turn-around point. As I moved higher towards the peak, I was able to meet familiar faces of trail runners who are half younger than my age. From what I saw from their faces as I met them, I would see varied reactions. Some were smiling and cheering but some were looking-scared, too! Finally, I reached the peak/turn-around point feeling hungry and tired. I reached the peak/turn-around point in 8:10+ hours which was a very slow time as compared to my time to reach the peak last year. I would guess it would be within the 7-hour mark in last year’s edition!

Single-Track Trail Leading To The Peak Of Mt Miyamit (Photo By Chips Dayrit)
Single-Track Trail Leading To The Peak Of Mt Miyamit (Photo By Chips Dayrit)

I immediately got my “loom” band from Brian Tang Sen, who was also taking notes of my Race Bib and time of arrival at the turn-around point. As I looked around, I saw those runners ahead of me sitting on the ground and eating their food that they carried with them in their pack. Since I was drenched with my own sweat, I felt cold as the strong winds would pass my body and I started to chill. To remedy the situation, I decided to go down from the peak and try to locate a place where it is warmer and protected from the strong winds in the mountain. After about 400 meters from the peak, I stopped and ate my food which was one can of Tuna Paella and drank a bit of my water. I was trying to save my water as I was anticipating for the heat and warmer temperature as I descended towards AS4. While I was eating and resting, the runners who were eating at the peak/turn-around point would pass me on their way back to AS4.I wished them good luck and I was hoping that I would be able to catch up with their group.

Brian Tan Seng & Company @ The Peak/Turn-Around Point
Brian Tan Seng & Company @ The Peak/Turn-Around Point (Photo Taken From Facebook)

I felt energized after eating and I had my mixture of MILO drinks and Gel as my hydration while trying to maintain my pace back to AS4. I would try to save the remaining water in my bottles by placing some candies in my mouth and letting them “play” with my tongue. However, within 2 kilometers before reaching the AS4, I started to feel fatigued and wasted. I knew I was about to be dehydrated. I slowed down and tried to hike the uphills and made sure to bring myself to AS4. I consumed the rest of my water and mixed drinks at this point and I was thinking that I would be drinking lots of water once I reached the AS4. While I was on my way back to the AS4, I saw one of my ultra running friends to be sitting on the edge of the trail. I asked him what is his problem and he said something about a fatigue “issue” and I immediately got one of my candies in my running shorts’ pockets. As I handed him the candy, I told him to immediately take it in his mouth and try to relax. I passed him but I knew he will be able to recover after some rest.

As I arrived at the AS4, I saw more familiar faces and most of them greeted me and I greeted them back also. I had my bottles refilled with water and took a chair while waiting for the volunteer to do what I’ve requested. Suddenly, I saw some 1.5 liter bottles of Sprite and I immediately asked from one of the volunteers for some amount of it. For not being able to look for a cup, he offered a lot of Sprite in an improvised cup (empty Sprite bottle cut in one-half) and I was able to ingest an equivalent of 1/2 liter. After a few seconds, I was ready to go down to the Miyamit Falls. I never drank Soda drinks in my training and by drinking Sprite when I was about to be dehydrated gave me an extraordinary feeling of power and strength!

My moves from AS4 to the Miyamit Falls was a non-stop jogging/slow running as the trail was descending. I was able to meet a lot of runners who were going back to AS4. I saw some of the runners to be picking up their hydration bottle which they left on their way down to the falls and retrieving them back again as they reach back to AS4. Last year, I’ve observed a lot of my running friends leaving their hydration packs or hydration belts/bottles at AS4 before going down to the turn-around point at the Miyamit Falls. I personally consider this as unfair practice for those who don’t remove their hydration vest/pack/belt from their body during the entire duration of the race. Anyway, this observation did not affect my motivation to reach the Miyamit Falls and back to AS4 with a faster pace and be able to pass more runners in the process.

One Of The Numerous Pictures Taken With Miyamit Falls As My Background (Picture Taken During A Typhoon)
One Of The Numerous Pictures Taken With Miyamit Falls As My Background (Picture Taken During A Typhoon)

As soon as I reached the turn-around point at the Miyamit Falls, I was able to get my “loom” band and made a quick turn-around back to the AS4. There is no valid reason for me to stop, wash my shoes and remove the lahar-sand in them, or have some pictures taken with me and the Falls as the background. It was a waste of time. The power of the Sprite drink that I had taken from AS4 was still in me and I made it a point to jog and power hike all the way up to the Aid Station. I think I was able to break my record time in finishing this part of the course. It was a very fast climb back to AS4 even if I was sweating profusely as it was too hot already for all the runners. As soon as I reached the AS4, I took another drink of Sprite and I was off towards AS2. I was able to surprise those runners who were resting at the Aid Station and I immediately told them that “the race is about to start from this point!”

The Wide Dirt Road From AS4 To AS3 (Photo Courtesy of Jon Las Bruce)
The Wide Dirt Road From AS4 To AS3 (Photo Courtesy of Jon Las Bruce)

Running from AS4 to AS3 seemed to be the easiest part of the course since most of the trail was descending in nature. But I was wrong, the heat of the sun showed its strength to all the runners and it was time to adjust my Buff so that my nape and most parts of my face are covered; to wear my Oakley sunglass; to continuously hydrate with my water and mixed MILO + GU; and to try to look for a more shady part of the trail which was usually on the right side of the trail. I was glad those sunflower plants on the side of the road were able to provide enough shade for me! My knees were holding up so good that I was able to run a slow and even pace most of the time. This made the other runners to be scared of me as I tried to quicken my pace while I was in front or behind them. I have memorized already this part of the course after so many times of visiting/running this place and I was confident to anticipate of what kind of terrain to expect from afar. My race tactics is always consistent——count the number of strides up to 90 and then repeat; hydrate every 5 minutes with a sip, alternating water and MILO Drinks; breath from the nose; keep shoulders relaxed; power hike on the ascending portions but still maintaining on counting my strides up to 90; and think positively about the race!

AS3 is located in Barangay Sapang Uwak of Porac, Pampanga and the place is a resettlement site for the Minorities called “Aetas”. The building where the AS3 is located is a tourism facility and Barangay Hall Center. Once I entered the populated area of the Barangay and about 400 meters before reaching the AS3, I was hearing a loud announcement from one of the house’s TV that Manny Pacquiao won its latest fight in Macau. I even asked from the Aeta (owner of the house) standing in front of the house if the opponent was TKO’d by Manny Pacquiao and he related to me briefly what happened during the fight as I slowed down from my running! More or less, this is the approximate time of the day that I reached AS3.

Finally, I reached AS3 and I still have 23 kilometers more to go before reaching the Finish Line. With my experience last year, I knew that it was NOT the last 23 kilometers of the race. It is actually the last 30 Kilometers to the finish line as the whole course has a total distance of almost 54 miles! With only 5 hours + to spare to reach the Finish Line within the cut-off time of 18 hours, I made a mental computation on what could be my average pace/speed in order to be safe and be able to finish strong!

Ayala Triads @ AS3 Who Served Food For Me With Watermelon
Ayala Triads @ AS3 Who Served Food For Me With Watermelon (Photo Taken From Facebook)

The Ayala Triads was manning the AS3, the one that I promised to the RD to have my pit stop on my way back to the Finish Line. I really stopped here for about 15 minutes——ate a lot of watermelon bites; I was served with fried bean curd dipped in vinegar (tokwa) and pork adobo with rice; refilled my bottles; mixed my MILO drinks; hydrated with a lot of Sprite; and had a brief chat with the volunteers and the rest of the runners at the Aid Station. I knew that this will be my last Aid Station where I will stop and make my refill, so I took time to rest and eat some solid foods. I was so thankful to the members of the Ayala Triads for very attentive and helpful to my personal needs and to the other runners’ needs.

Last "Pit Stop" For Food & Water Refill @ AS3 (Photo By Rovelyn Dimaala)
Last “Pit Stop” For Food & Water Refill @ AS3 (Photo By Rovelyn Dimaala)

The afternoon was getting hotter as I gained my ground from AS3 to AS2. It was a non-stop jogging and power hiking, alternately. This is the most “boring” part of the course where I would consistently count the number of my strides as I was getting nearer to AS2. It was so simple and “boring” to follow——count my strides while jogging up to 90 and then repeat until I felt I was tired and then power hike up to the count of 30 and then back again to jogging and…counting! It is a “boring” practice/habit but it is very effective! The power hike was my rest period and yet I was still moving forward!

As I was getting nearer to the Finish Line, my Race Belt Pockets/Pouches and Hydration Vest/Pack are getting lighter, too after consuming some of my stashed drinks, food, and gels. But my Salomon Sense-3 Soft Ground Shoes was getting heavier due to the lahar-sand that entered in them. It was time-consuming to stop and clean my socks and shoes from the sand as I knew that I will pass and cross those lahar-filled river crossings (again) before finally reaching the Finish Line. There was no time to fret on such thing where I thought it would be better if I used my INOV-8 shoes which I used in last year’s edition. I did not listen to my first observation when I used them for my 20K run at the Mt Pinatubo 50K Trail Challenge two weeks before this race. I was too engrossed in coming up with a 300-Kilometer mileage before I can write a Shoe Review for this shoes!

I was able to reach AS2 but I simply passed through it and continued my run. My next target was to reach AS1 as fast as I could with my remaining strength and will power. I think I still have 3 hours+ before the cut-off time at this point. It was still daytime!

To be continued.

Race Report: 2014 Clark-Miyamit 50-Mile Trail Run (Part 2)


2013 CM50 Experience

I finished my first Clark-Miyamit 50-Mile Trail Run (CM50) with a ranking of #28 among the 120+ starters and I am proud to have registered a finish time of 15:30:20 hours. I did not publish or post on this blog a Race Report about such accomplishment but I was able to post a Race Report of a shorter version of the event which was the Miyamit Falls 42K Trail Run. More or less, my Race Report on this short trail run (which is one-half of the CM50) covers those significant points that brought my successful finish in this event.

My success in my first CM50 can be summarized by the following factors or reasons:

1. I finally decided to get the services of a reliable mountain trail ultra Coach.

2. My training program was done consistently on mountain trails. Monday is my Rest Day. The rest of the days of the week were running days where recovery or hard/easy runs were strictly followed. My training started in the middle of June of last year, making it to five (5) months as my training/preparation for this event.

3. Hydration and Nutrition were tried and experimented during my long runs.

4. Core Workouts and Strengthening Exercises were done regularly, at least, three times a week.

5. I joined the Miyamit Falls 42K Trail Run and was able to conduct a recon to the peak of Mt Miyamit.

6. The weather during the race was cooler and the sky was overcast.

CM50 Logo
CM50 Logo

2014 CM50 Experience

I finally decided to join this year’s edition in the middle of September of this year as I had some time to rest and recover from trail running for almost six weeks. This “rest & recovery” period was devoted to mostly mountain hiking at an easy and relaxing pace.

I had to make some adjustments to my training due to my recurring knee injury. My knee injury would be the result of getting older and “wear and tear” due to running. This is the reason why I had to run consistently on the trails for a softer impact to the ground. And whenever I try to run on the pavement for my long runs, my knees would be sore and aching.

I told my running coach about my recurring knee injury and my plan not to join the Chimera 100 in Corona, California on November 15. Instead, I told him that I will be attempting my second consecutive finish in the CM50 with a better time without being injured leading to race day.

My coach advised me to take an extra day off for me to recover and rest before my weekend long runs so that my knees will be well-rested before my long runs on trails. After back-to-back long runs on weekends, I would take my usual Monday rest day. By doing this on my weekly runs, I was able to sustain healthy knees and kept them from any soreness or pain. However, my speed did not improve but I was able to bring back my endurance without thinking of my recurring knee problem/injury.

A few days before Race Day, I told my Coach that my knees are holding up and ready to take the beating from the incoming race. He advised me to take it easy and slow on the first half with my pace. And most importantly, take in my nutrition as early within the race and maintain my hydration strategy. The “real race” on this course will start from AS4 back to the Finish Line.

Race Proper

Having been a “repeater” in this race, I knew the “drill” on what to prepare and do on Race Day. My nutrition was the key for me to finish this race and I concentrated much on it. I had PB & J sandwiches, a can of Tuna Paella, Stingers, Gels, MILO Packs, Candies, and Vespa. I’ve been consistently using these nutrition items in my weekend runs and I was confident that they will give me the much-needed energy to finish the race.

I had my mandatory gears checked by the RD before I was able to get my Race Bib. After I wore my running attire and shoes, I was ready for the race. I took a meal of rice and corned beef 30 minutes before the race started, took one Gel, and drank one pack of Vespa. I went to the starting area and wished my friends “good luck”.

CM50 & CM60K Start @ 1:00 AM of Sunday November 23, 2014 (Photo Courtesy Of AVAquino Photography)
CM50 & CM60K Start @ 1:00 AM of Sunday November 23, 2014 (Photo Courtesy Of AVAquino Photography)

The race started at exactly 1:00 AM of Sunday, November 23 from the Clark Parade Ground and the runners were off towards the direction on the Main Road going to the Southern Portion of the Camp/Facility which was a former US Air Force Base. The first 3 Kilometers is along a paved wide road with a rolling profile elevation where one would be pulled by the other faster runners. I was able to maintain a slower pace on this part of the course. It was too early to be racing with the other runners. As I looked around, I would see familiar faces but I did not know whether they are with me in the distance category where I was competing. I guess, at this point, I was almost on the tail-end of the runners of the 50-milers and 60K runners.

CM50 Course Map & Location of Aid Stations
CM50 Course Map & Location of Aid Stations

After 3 kilometers, I started to reach the trailhead with a single-track downhill trail leading to the bank of a river. The bank of the river was a dry bed of lahar-sand and after a few meters, my feet had their first taste of the flowing water of the river which is mixed with lahar-sand. I could feel that my shoes had been absorbing a lot of sand through its upper mesh while I was crossing the river. The flowing water was very shallow but the current was very fast! The river is called Sacobia River and I will be coming back on this wide river on my way back to the Finish Line.

I was using the same headlight that I used last year and it gave me the much needed illumination and it served me well during the race. The Icon Polar Headlight from Black Diamond is a heavy one on the head because it has 4 Double A Batteries as source of power. I don’t complain much on this because this lighting system is very reliable and long-lasting on its power.

The running period for a 4-kilometer of river-lahar with flowing water was so fast that I was seeing myself to be nearing the First Aid Station (Km #7) which was located before an ascending paved road towards a Spa & Wellness Resort. I did not stop at the 1st Aid Station! Once I reached the peak of the paved road by power walking/hiking, it was all downhill on a wide dirt road until it became another road with loose lahar-sand. It was so hard to run on the lahar-sand even if I was following the tracks of wheeled vehicles passing along this road. Because it was still dark, my sight was concentrated on the whitish-color of the lahar-sand as it was illuminated by my powerful headlight. It started to be boring and running to an endless sand!

The loose lahar-sand ultimately led us to a hardened wide dirt road with a high-walled fence on the right side of the road. Because it was still too dark to look around, I could sense that this is a populated village where 4 X 4 jeeps would park and where I would see children play along the road when I was on my way to the finish line in last year’s edition. I knew that after a few meters, I would be turning on a sharp right towards an uphill climb on a cemented stairs! Once I climbed on those stairs, I knew that after a few meters of winding trail, the next challenge will be a steep descent towards some trails of loose lahar-sand (again!).

CM 50-Mile Run Elevation Profile
CM 50-Mile Run Elevation Profile

Once I reached the steep descending trail, I saw a rope with some runners clinging on it while they were on their way down to the foot of the trail. It was my turn to use the rope in going down the trail and it was too easy for me to grasp the rope as I was using a cycling gloves. There were three (3) parts/portions of the rope towards the lowest level of the ground where each part is about 10 meters. I knew that after this descending part, another flowing river with lahar will be the next part of the course.

If there are parts with no marshals on this vast lahar-covered river, there are blinking lights and reflectorized strips that would indicate the correct direction of the course. It is very clear and easy to see those reflectorized strips on the right side of the trail on the first half of the course. There is no reason why a runner should be lost along the course. I guess, my headlight might have a very strong illumination that those reflectorized strips on the trail could be easily seen from afar. Last year, aside from my headlight, I was also using a handheld light which gave me more illumination to a specific direction/location while on the move.

Running on the river with lahar is a big problem for runners whether it is during the day or night. The first problem is that lahar-sand would enter ones shoes most specially when crossing the flowing river whether a runner is wearing a gaiter. The lahar-sand would accumulate in-between the insole and the socks and later on the space between the tips of the toes and the front tip of the inside part of the shoes. The second problem is for the runner to be careful in avoiding the rocks or if they choose to step on the rocks, they should land their foot lightly on them and avoid being “tripped” by them. The third problem, is the “heat” that comes out from the sand when the sun is hot. One should remember that these river-lahar crossing along the course are not covered and every runner is exposed to the heat of the sun, most specially on their way back to the Finish Line. Running on a lahar-sand environment should be a part of ones training if a runner would like to have a good finish time in this event.

After crossing the second river I knew I would be towards an uphill climb and starts running on the ridges of hills and edges of cultivated fields where most of them are sugar plantations. These part of the course is also exposed to the heat of the sun and the trail is loose and dusty! Since I was not particular with the exact time as to how long I’ve been running, I was surprised to see the Second Aid Station/AS2 (Km #16/17) before me! I passed the Aid Station without stopping and I knew I was about to reach the first “mini-tunnel” or “big culvert” of the SCTEX.

AS #2 @ Km #16/17 (Photo Taken From CM50 Facebook Page)
AS #2 @ Km #16/17 (Photo Taken From CM50 Facebook Page)

I was still using my headlight when I reached the second “mini-tunnel” which leads to the Security Checkpoint before reaching the steel bridge. As I reached the third Aid Station/AS3 (Km #23), the RD was there cheering the runners. The RD suggested us to drop by and I answered him that I will drop by on my way back to the Finish Line. I think I had to cover another 3-4 kilometers after passing the AS3 before I finally put off my headlight.

Two kilometers away from the Fourth Aid Station/AS4 (Km #32), I met the first runner of the CM 60K race and it was followed by the 2nd runner. Before reaching the AS4, I was able to meet the third runner of the CM 60K race. I have a “wild guess” that I could be at AS4 after running for the past five (5+) hours. The sun was about to rise from the east horizon!

So far, so good!

To be continued.

Race Report: 2014 Clark-Miyamit 50-Mile Trail Run (Part 1)


In the history of this event on its 4th year, I am the ONLY Senior Citizen and OLDEST Finisher for TWO consecutive years within the prescribed cut-off time eighteen (18) hours.

At The Mt Miyamit Peak (Turn-Around Point)
At The Mt Miyamit Peak (Turn-Around Point)

Last year, I finished the race in 15:30:20 hours and placed among the top 30 runners with 120+ starters. I prepared for five months in order to finish this race with more favorable weather during race day. I was then 61 years old.

Near The Finish Line!
Near The Finish Line!

This year, I made it again to the Finish Line with only 10 minutes to spare before the prescribed cut-off time of 18 hours. This time, I prepared for four (4) months with lesser mileage in order to lessen the return of my recurring knee injury. The weather was so brutal and challenging to all the runners. I am now 62 years & 6 months old.

I was able to tame and defeat this “beast” for two consecutive years and I feel I am still strong enough to fight this “monster”.

My personal record in this event is intact and hopefully, someone within my age bracket will take the challenge to break my personal record.

My trail running adventure continues.

To be continued.

Official Result: 5th Mt Pinatubo 50K Trail Challenge


5th Mt Pinatubo 50K Trail Challenge

5:00 AM – 5:00 PM November 9, 2014

Start & Finish Area: Barangay Hall, Barangay Sta. Juliana, Capas, Tarlac

Cut-Off Time: 12 Hours/6 Hours @ Mt Pinatubo’s Crater Lake

Number Of Starters: 28 Runners

Number Of Finishers: 28 Runners

Group Picture Before Start Time
Group Picture Before Start Time
...3.....2.....1......GO!!!!!!!!!!
…3…..2…..1……GO!!!!!!!!!!
They Are Off!!!!
They Are Off!!!!

RANK                       NAME                                        TIME (Hours)

1.  Edwin Fernandez (Champion, Overall)——-6:45:07

2.  Aaron Laron (1st Runner-Up, Overall)——-6:45:11

3.  Jay Pagcu (2nd Runner-Up, Overall)———6:45:14

4.  Alain Vincent ———————————–6:48:51

5.  Almar Danguilan ——————————-6:56:28

6.  Kenneth Manibo ——————————-7:10:45

7.  Roy Garcia—————————————7:16:53

8.  Joey Neil Canaya——————————-7:27:05

9.  Levi Bitangcul———————————-7:34:54

10. Bong Alindada———————————8:00:20

11.  Melan Ku Marquez (Champion, Female)—8:29:15

12.  Elmer Caballes ——————————–8:33:52

13.  Henry Laron ———————————–8:36:57

14.  Imelda Laron (1st Runner-Up, Female)—–8:38:52

15.  Arlene Agulto (2nd Runner-Up, Female)—8:38:53

16.  Ceejay De Leon ——————————–8:42:22

17.  Christian Pabatao —————————–8:47:31

18.  Darryl Panado ———————————8:47:51

19.  Dennis Uy————————————8:47:52

20.  Werner Cruz ————————— ———-8:47:53

21.  Chips Dayrit ————————————9:11:12

22.  Gay Baniwas (Female) ————————9:25:00

23.  Joey San Diego ——————————–9:26:39

24.  Bong Anastacio ——————————-9:52:38

25.  Randy Miranda ——————————-9:57:38

26.  Christopher Estacio ————————-10:15:56

27.  Reese Rogel (Female) ———————–10:40:58

28.  Tom Baniwas ——————————–10:40:59

Overall Champion Edwin Fernandez
Overall Champion Edwin Fernandez
Female Champion Melan Ku Marquez
Female Champion Melan Ku Marquez

Congratulations To All The Finishers!

 

Cut-Off Times (Part 2)


I made a post about the cut-off times of running events in my post in this blog on May 17, 2011. Until this time, I don’t see any reason why Race Organizers/Directors had to impose cut-off times in their events. For the Marathon Races where most of the city roads are closed from vehicular traffic, six (6) hours is a decent time as a cut-off time in order to relieve the riding public of the inconvenience it would bring if the race is extended up to nine or ten or twelve hours. But on second thought, the cut-off time being imposed is not for the safety of the runners of the event but for the convenience of everybody.

In my post, I made mention of some of the popular ultra races in the world with their prescribed cut-off times.  It is obvious that Road Ultras have a shorter cut-off times than those mountain trail races, except for the Badwater Ultra Marathon Race. UTMB’s 166K has a cut-off time of 46 hours; Hardrock 100 which is dubbed as the hardest mountain trail ultra in the USA has a cut-off time of 48 hours; Barkley Marathon has a cut-off time of 60 hours where each loop of 20 miles has a cut-off time of 12 hours; and the most prestigious Western States 100-Mile Endurance Race has a cut-off time of 30 hours.

Each of these ultra races has their reason why the Race Organizer/RD have to impose cut-off times. Moreover, there are intermediate cut-off time in every checkpoint along the route which forces the runner to meet such times, or else, he/she would be disqualified. Such intermediate cut-off times are being strictly enforced as race marshals would strip each runner of their race bib or tag and advised not to be allowed to continue the race.

I would surmise also that such cut-off times are being imposed by the Bureau of Parks and Wildlife which manages or administers safety in these wilderness parks as one of the conditions for the issuance of event permits.

Without any reference on these cut-off times, I would conclude that the Race Directors, who are former ultra runners during their prime age, would be able to “test run” the course by themselves and come up with an arbitrary cut-off time based from their personal capability or finish time results. Or maybe, they invited some of their ultra friends to “test run” the course and get the “mean/average” time of the finishers.

When I thought of organizing the Bataan Death March 102 Ultra Marathon Race, it was a challenge for me to come up with a decent cut-off time for the whole race. After conducting some “50K test runs” with my ultra running friends, I was able to come up with the 18-hour cut-off time, where an average well-trained marathon runner would be able to finish a distance of 50K in 9 hours, which way beyond the 6-hour cut-off time for a marathon (42K) race. This is the reason why one of the qualifications of a BDM 102 participant is a Marathon Finisher.

As for the BDM 160, I just added another 9 hours and another 3 hours for the remaining distance of 58 kilometers where I considered the heat and humidity in the country as the main challenge to finish this event.

When I thought of coming with the first trail ultra marathon race in the country, I would conduct by myself a “test run” on the course by dividing the whole distance of 162 kilometers into two parts. Thus, I came up with 32 hours as the cut-off time for the 1st Taklang Damulag 100-Mile Endurance Race which was maintained for the past 3 years/editions.

As I ran through roads and trails in the country, I made sure that I would “test run” any course/route that I would like to be transformed into an ultra running event for the runners.

I never changed on how I would come up with the “cut-off” time for my races. I would “test run” the course and whatever time I would register as my finish time, such time will be considered as the official cut-off time for the ultra event. Considering my present age to run through the course, I think it would be fair that my finish time will be the target time for the younger runners.

It should be noted that Intermediate Cut-Off Time is the time that a runner would leave the Checkpoint.

So, what is my message in this post? It simply means that a well-trained ultra runner could easily finish my ultra races within the prescribed cut-off times. These cut-off times (intermediate and whole course) will be one’s measurement or gauge if proper training and preparation had been made prior to the event. If one could not meet such cut-off times, it simply means that one lacks the proper training for the event.

At The Finish Line: "Test Run" For The 1st ANTELOOP 100K Trail Run
At The Finish Line: “Test Run” For The 1st ANTELOOP 100K Trail Run

Let us stop bragging ourselves to have finished a race even if you have finished way beyond the cut-off time. Let us stop giving any “finisher’s loot” for these kind of finishers. A TRUE & OFFICIAL FINISHER is one who finishes the race within the prescribed cut-off time for the event.

Good luck and see you in my future ultra races.