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Repost: Top 3 Hot Takes From The 2019 UTMB, CCC, & TDS Races By Jason Koop

4 09 2019

The following article is a repost from what Jason Koop, Head Coach of CTS Ultrarunning, had published in their CTS website and shared in the Social Media outlets. I have received a copy of this article in my e-mail as one of the CTS Athletes for the past two years. (Note: I am on rest and recovery up to the end of this year). I hope this article will be of help to future trail ultra runners who have plans of joining this iconic race.

Repost: Top 3 Hot Takes from the 2019 UTMB, CCC and TDS Races

By Jason KoopHead Coach of CTS Ultrarunning

As has been the case for the last few years, I spent the better part of a weekend following athletes around the (newly revamped) Sur les Traces des Ducs de Savoie (TDS), Courmayeur – Champex – Chamonix (CCC), and Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB) races. The races were packed with drama, success, failure and everything in between. From the front of the field through the final finishers, the mountain teaches us common lessons – sometimes the hard way – about how to prepare for and execute a great race.

Lesson #1- To win the race, you can be reasonably bold or just grind it out.

UTMB winners Pau Capel and Courtney Dauwalter days played out in seemingly opposing fashion, yet both ended up taking the top step of the podium. Pau took the lead early and never relinquished it, looking spry and springy all the way around the 170-kilometer course. Courtney on the other hand, quite frankly looked terrible the whole way. Normally a smiling and happy runner, she muddled, grunted and grinded her way to a 24 hour and 34 min winning time (which from a historical perspective is quite good).

As a quick comparison, go take a quick look at Update #8 and Update #9 from the final climb to Tête Aux Vents here- https://utmbmontblanc.com/en/live/utmb. It’s an easy compare and contrast of the styles from the winners of both races on the exact same climb.

What all runners can learn from this: There are several different pathways to the exact same result. If you are having a good day, take it and roll. Don’t get greedy with your race plan, but at the same time, if you are having a good day enjoy it and ride out the goodness, hopefully all the way to the finish line. On the other hand, if you are not having the best day and you have built up enough good fitness (as Courtney had), you should have enough resources to simply grind and tough it out. The day might not be all you hoped of, but you can still reach the finish line (and maybe surprise yourself along the way).

Lesson #2- Everyone has a bad day. The harder the race, the more the bad day is exacerbated.

Many of the top runners in the UTMB, CCC and TDS races did not have their days go to plan. Some of these runners ended up dropping out, while some ended up forging on for a respectable finish. Similarly, many of the mid- and back-of-the-pack runners we work with, and several I witnessed out on the course, were simply not having their best days. Although there is no easy ultra, the UTMB race in particular presents a wider variety of issues to contend with. The difficulty is compounded by the event’s length, starting at 6:00PM, running through the entire night right from the get go, copious amount of elevation gain, and the sheer energy of the Chamonix valley that drains the runners in advance of the starting gun. Generally speaking, athletes who got themselves into trouble in this race simply had a harder time bouncing back than those in the shorter (but still ridiculously hard) TDS and CCC.

What all runners can learn from this: If you are in a ridiculously hard race, do yourself a favor and play some defense early on. Aside from entering the race fit and ready, runners can do themselves a favor by running conservatively, taking some additional time at aid stations, having a good attitude, and – if there are any weather conditions ­– making sure you have enough gear to stay comfortable. All of these will give you a bit of downside protection for races where the penalty for failure is high!

Lesson #3- Multiple mistakes have compounding effects

Every runner wants to have a perfect race. Sorry to tell you, but those are rare. In a lifetime of running if you are able to scrape together a small handful of perfect races, consider yourself lucky. More often, ultramarathons are a series of problem solving exercises. Encounter some bad weather, move through it. Then, you will have a big, quad thrashing descent. After the descent, maybe your legs are giving you trouble. Your legs feel a bit better, then you have a monster climb ahead of you. Most runners can take each individual battle head-on in sequence by solving one problem and then moving to the next.

When issues pile on top of issues, the effect is greater than the sum of all the individual parts. I saw this unfold at the Beaufort (91.7 K) aid station during TDS. Nearly every runner from the front to the back of the field was tired at this point. CTS coach and eventual 2nd place finisher Hillary Allen (coached by Adam St. Pierre) even had the 1000-yard stare as she entered the aid station. As the day transpired, the runners arriving at the aid station complaining of one singular thing (I can’t eat, for example) would move in and move out quickly to tackle the next climb. The runners with a laundry list of issues (I can’t eat and my feet hurt and my quads are shot) took at least four times longer in the aid station and were moving at half the speed, regardless of where they were in the field. In this way, the runner who can’t eat but deals with it, then has their feet hurting and deals with that, and then has shot quads and deals with that, will finish far faster than the runner dealing with all three issues at once.

What all runners can learn from this: Dealing with issues during ultrarunning is inevitable. They are long and hard enough to present a host of problem solving opportunities. When these ‘opportunities’ creep up, don’t compound the problem by creating another one or not addressing the first. Address each issue as it comes up, when it comes up. ADAPT when necessary and slow down if you need to. It is far better to take a bit more time as issues creep up than continue to plow forward and create compounding issues.

I have always relished the opportunity to attend races as a coach, fan and support crew. These opportunities have always been ‘learning by observing’. The UTMB, CCC and TDS races were no exception. If you are reading, I hope you enjoyed the wonderful coverage of the event and some of these on the ground takeaways.

Carmichael Training System

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Official Result: 2018 Taklang Damulag 100-Mile Endurance Run

17 12 2018

8th Taklang Damulag 100-Mile Endurance Run (2018)

SOCOM Headquarters, Philippine Army, Fort Magsaysay, Palayan City

5:00 AM December 15 To 3:00 PM December 16, 2018

Cut-Off Time: 34 Hours

Number of Starters: 8 Runners

Number of Finishers: 5 Runners

Percentage of Finish: 62.5%

Starters Of The Race

RANK      NAME                TIME (Hrs)

  1. Jovencio Luspian (Overall Champion)—28:52:25
  2. Gibo Malvar (1st Runner-Up, Overall)—32:42:51
  3. Graciano Santos, Jr (2nd Runner-Up, Overall)—32:42:53
  4. Edwin Fernandez — 33:00:21
  5. Carlito Don Rodas — 33:14:32

Overall Champion Jovencio Luspian

2018 Talking Damulag 100-Mile Run Finishers

Congratulations To All The Finishers!

See you next year!





Race Report: 8th Clark-Miyamit 50-Mile Ultra Trail Run (CM50)

28 11 2018

Race Report: 8th Clark-Miyamit 50-Mile Ultra Trail Run (CM50)

The score is now 3-2! For the past six years since 2012, I finished successfully the Clark Miyamit 50-Mile Race for three consecutive years, starting when I just turned 60 years old. I was lost on the last 3 kilometers to the Finish Line in the 2016 edition missing the cut-off time where I could had finished it easily. And then I volunteered as the Aid Station Marshal at AS3 in last year’s edition as my way of giving back to the trail running community in the country.

In my past Race Reports of this event, I made sure my story to be detailed as I can remember so that future trail runners who would like to join and challenge themselves with this event had some background on what to expect along the route and get some lessons and tips about my training/preparation; nutrition and hydration strategy; and those detailed things on what to do if things would go wrong. Until this time, I would re-read and review all my previous posts about my Race Reports whenever I have plans of joining this event. The RD, Atty Jonnifer Lacanlale is a very good friend who would readily accepts me to run his event in a short notice.

As everybody knows, I posted on Facebook that I finished the race but beyond the cut-off time of 9+minutes and I am considered as an Official DNF of the event. Out of 205 starters, I could had been the last finisher at #162 ranking and would had defended my self-imposed title as the Oldest Finisher of this Badass Event. And I was devastated and frustrated once I crossed the finish line for not being able to implement on my Race Plan—reach the turn-around point/Peak before 9:00AM; leave AS 4 after coming from the Miyamit Falls on or before 12 Noon; reach AS3 at 1:30PM; and a “go-for-broke” and “survival” mode on the last 4:30 hours for a distance of 22+kilometers to the Finish Line.

Cut-Off-Times

I failed “big time” on the last section of the plan where I had 4:30 hours of time to run a distance of 22+kilometers. If I finished the race within the prescribed cut-off time of 18 hours, I would not be here explaining those things that went wrong during the run. I would have easily said that everything went right and mentioned some “glitches” that challenged me to endure in order to reach the finish line. The runners who were with me on our descent from AS4 and AS3 towards the Finish Line were surprised that I faltered on the last 19 kilometers (AS2) up to the last last 8 kilometers (AS1). With those who were with me “fighting for the last golden minutes” (I think there were 5-6 of them whom I passed on the last kilometers, who are younger), I am sorry for giving them a false expectation or hope of telling them that we could still make it before 6:00PM. What I was trying to instill in them was to fight for their last strength and breathe in order to cross the finish line….they should have the “do or die” attitude to reach and cross the finish line, end their suffering, and of course, collect their deposit of P500.00!

You might say that I am “sour-graping” or looking for some excuses for not being able to finish this race as what I had planned for. But this is me, I had been a runner throughout my life and a fighter and passionate in this sport. It is in my brain, blood, and my body system. Whether I fail or succeed, I will still be a runner. And this is what really happened…..

  1. My Coach prepared a Training Schedule for me after finishing the Salomon Cappadocia 63K Medium Race (in the middle of October) in preparation for the MILO Finals Marathon which will be held on December 9, 2018 in Laoag City. I told him that I would like to finish my BQ time of 4:10 or faster for my age of 66 years old in the said race. So, since then, everything on my workout was for a Marathon distance. However, two weeks ago, I told him that I will be joining a 50-miler trail run and just be able to finish the event as an LSD. I lied on the reason! Actually, I was trying to earn my UTMB/ITRA Points in this event and maybe, improve on my ITRA Performance Index. He told me not to join the event but I could have the option to choose a lesser distance and I told him that I could downgrade to the 60K event. He replied that 60K was too much for me and he was against it. So, the only choice I had was for the 10-miler event which I did not mention to my Coach. For the past days, I just kept silent and followed my prescribed training every day but on two weekends before the CM50, I would increase the number of hours of hiking in the mountains with my trekking poles in the company of one of my ultra running friends who joined and successfully finished the 60K course. My Coach silently knew that I was “hard-headed” and he would see my posts on Facebook that I am going for the CM50. This was my first mistake…not following the advise of the Coach whom I am paying for his services. Lesson learned: Let the experts do their work and strictly follow their advise!

@ AS3 Going To The Finish Line (Photo By Trail Ready)

2. For the first time, I decided to use a HOKA One One Speedgoat2 for this race, instead of my New Balance or ASICS Racing Flats or my Salomon Speedcross 4 which I’ve been using before. At Kilometer #8, while approaching PUNING’s RESORT my left foot hit a small rock imbedded on the road and I tripped, making my left knee hit the ground first, and then my right knee, and then followed with my two hands which acted as my brace to protect my face from hitting the ground! It was a hard fall as the ground was hard and solid, not a sandy ground! Shit! This tripping/falling to the ground was happening again early in the race with a pair of HOKAs on my feet. This thing happens to me all the time whenever I wear these HOKAS! I knew it was going to happen because I am natural “shuffler” when I run! Even if I was wearing the brightest headlamp available in the market, Lupine Lighting System, at that time, a sloppy “shuffler” runner like me should not wear HOKAS in a trail race. The impact of the fall on my knees would bring back havoc and pain as I descended from the peak down to Barangay Sapang Uwak. Lesson learned: I should have used my Salomon Speedcross 4 or Speedcross PRO or my new NB Racing Flats!

3. I bought the most expensive Trekking Poles in the market——GIPRON Trekking Poles and they are the lightest! I used them once or twice in my short runs and they were fine. But during my ascent and descent to and from the Peak (during the race), they gave me some “pain in the ass” as the string would loosen its hold on the different segments of the pole. Instead of the usual 3 segments in the Black Diamond and Leki Poles, GIPRON are folded in 4 segments. I would stop whenever the segments would loosen as both poles create a weird sound as they hit the ground. I would tighten the string only to find it loosen again after a few meters. It was stop and go for me fixing on this problem. Because of this problem, it slowed me down and just distracted my focus to maintain my speed/pace. A lot of runners had passed me on my way down from the Peak to the Falls because of this predicament. After a day since the race, I sent a message to an ultra running friend in Hongkong and sent him a picture of the locking system of the GIPRON Trekking Pole and told him my experience during the race. He told me that the trekking poles were not LOCKED when I used them during the race. He instructed me to pull the string harder until I could see a small knot on the string and let that knot to be anchored on the slot at the top end part of the handle! Another SHIT again!!! I saw the small knot as I pulled the string harder away from the handle! I was cursing and laughing when my friend told me that “I was not the FIRST one who experienced this SHIT on these trekking poles!” Lesson learned: Ask the manufacturer of this expensive trekking poles to enclose some written instructions on the package whenever they ship out to their buyer! Not even the video on YouTube would tell you about the presence of this small knot (on the string) on these trekking poles!

UNLOCKED Without The Appearance Of the Small Knot

4. Whether I apply Anti-Chafing Stick or “thing” on my Red Salomon S-LAB Sense Shorts or not, they still give me chafing on my groin areas! Yes, I have my chafing already as early when I was at Km 19 and it became worst when I was on my way back from the Peak. After the race, I could see the chafed areas as big as the size of a 10-Peso Coin on my left and right groin areas. When I finished the Salomon Cappadocia Ultra, I had the same chafed areas but they were not as deep and big; and did not give me so much pain during the race. Lesson learned: I should always bring an Anti-Chafing Stick as part of my Mandatory Gear for 50K and up races.

Last 22K To The Finish Line (Photo By Elle Alvarez)

I did not have any problems with my nutrition and hydration strategy during the race. I had enough water, electrolytes, and “solid” foods with me stashed in my hydration vest’s pockets and inside the pockets of my AMIHAN GoLite Belt. My Ice Bandana was always full of ice whenever I stopped at the Aid Station. I don’t think I stayed so long in the Aid Stations as I would eat the prepared solid foods most specially at AS4 and 3 (on my way back to the Finish Line) which were manned by special friends in the ultra running community.

The Race Organization; Trail Markings; Aid Station Services; and the prevailing Weather during the race were the BEST, so far, in the history of this race. Thanks to Atty Jonnifer Lacanlale for this International Standard Badass Event and for his Outstanding Leadership to make this yet another successful event.

Congratulations to all the Runners! Hopefully, I will be strong enough to join in next year’s edition!

Miyamit Falls (Photo By Dhan Punzalan)





2018 TNF Lavaredo 120K Experience (Part 4)

30 06 2018

2018 TNF Lavaredo 120K Experience (Part 4)

@ Federavecchia (Km 33.5)/First Cut-Off Time Checkpoint

Reaching this First Cut-Off Time Checkpoint at Federavecchia within 6:30 hours was my primary concern and target just to redeem myself from my frustration on my previous performance at the MIUT in Madeira, Portugal on the last week of April this year. I was happy and excited that I was able to build-up a buffer time of 32 minutes. With my age of 66 years old, I could be the happiest person among the runners that reached the said Aid Station.

1st Cut-Off Time Checkpoint @ Km 33.5 in 6.5 Hours/Average Speed: 6.26 KPH

I immediately brought out my almost empty Salomon Bottle, drank the remaining liquid and had it filled up with water, dropped one tablet of NUUN, and placed it back on the vest. Brought out an empty Ziplock bag from my vest and immediately filled it with apple bite cuts and dried apricot and immediately left the Aid Station. It took me less than 2 minutes to do all these things. But as soon as I left the Aid Station, I was facing a straight steep uphill climb.

I started to eat what I took from the Aid Station while I was hiking up the uphill climb which is an asphalted road that can accommodate three runners abreast with each other. The uphill climb consisted of more switchbacks and it lasted for about 2.5 kilometers. It took me two times to eat the fruit bites from the ziplock and they provided me the much needed energy to reach the peak of the third climb of the course and was able to reach Plan Maccetto which is almost Km 39 from the Start. From this point, I started to run on a single track trail which was a soft ground with with lots of small grass around. Even if this place is still considered in a higher elevation, my “running nose” and numbing hands had stopped and the temperature was becoming warmer to my body. After about 3 kilometers of running downhill, I finally reached the edge of a body of water which is called the Lake Misurina!

Tip: You can master the art of filling the Aid Station’s food with an empty Ziplock Bag. It will save you some time, instead of standing while eating your food at the Aid Station. Keep moving while you are eating and hydrating.

Lake Misurina

Lake Misurina is a beautiful lake with very clear water. I was tempted to take a “selfie” and picture of the lake & the surrounding mountains but I promised myself not to bring out my cellphone during the course of my run. The three of us Pinoy runners had talked about not having pictures along the course since it will delay our run/hike from Aid Station/Checkpoint to the next one. Knowing that there are Professional Photographers along the course in different strategic locations, there was no need for “selfies” or picture-taking on the scenery. It was another 1.2 to 2 kilometers run on a wide dirt road surrounding the Lake before I reached a Lady Marshal who was holding a Time Scanner. She tagged me and I asked her how far was the next Cut-Off Time Checkpoint and she replied “10 kilometers”. But looking on the map/elevation profile on my Race Bib, it indicates a distance of only 7 kilometers! I wonder which is one telling the truth, the Lady Marshal or the Map printed on the Race Bib?

@Lake Misurina/Average Speed: 3.81 KPH

After I exited from the periphery of Lake Misurina, I was now following an asphalted road that was going up to the mountain but the runners were directed to run along the dirt path/trail beside the paved road as shown and depicted by the trail markings. It was doing an alternate hike on the paved road and then going back to the dirt track beside the road and back again to the paved road at this point using my trekking poles. I was able to pass by an Asian guy and I started to have a conversation with him. He told me that he is from Hongkong and he was busy looking at his cellphone. Thinking that he was checking on our route through his cellphone, I asked him about the actual distance (while hiking uphill) to the next Aid Station and he answered “I don’t know!” That’s it! That stopped my conversation with him and I just tread on with my fast hiking.

Tip: The main reason why a cellphone is an important mandatory gear is that for communication purposes to the Race Organizer in cases of emergency and not for photography!

Rifuego Di Auronzo

From the paved road, I veered right from the highway and followed a single-track trail that seemed to be going flat and downhill but it was a short one. Looking up ahead of me, I could see from the distance, the iconic Rifuego Di Auronzo where the famous 3-rock mountain formation is located! The Tri Cime mountain formation is the LOGO of the TNF Lavaredo! By looking at the next Aid Station at the Tri Cime, I had a mixed feeling of delight and sadness as I need a lot of strength to reach the highest point of the course. The single track trail was a relentless uphill climb which is about 2-3 kilometers of steep winding uphill assault. As I was about to crest the last “false” peak, I stopped and ate two packs of Skyflakes Condensada and followed it with a Clif Power Gel. I was able to regain my strength after that and I was able to reach the Aid Station and Cut-Off Time Checkpoint at Rifugio Di Auronzo in 10:23 hours! I was able to accumulate a buffer time of almost one hour at this point.

It was an awesome sight to see the Tri Cime in Lavaredo, Dolomites and I became in love with the place! But before I could absorb what I was seeing and feeling at that moment in a place so beautiful to be at, I need to refill my bottles and ate some pasta soup with powdered cheese at the Aid Station. I was seated beside an Indonesian runner and we had a short conversation. The Indonesian happened to be in the same hotel where I was staying and he arrived later than me in Cortina. He is 54 years old and he looks like he is from their uniformed services. I think I was able to spend at least 15-20 minutes in this Aid Station. Finally, The Indonesian and I left the Aid Station at the same time. However, he was stronger and faster than me in hiking with his trekking poles.

Tip: Never, never, never stay at the Aid Station for more than 5 minutes if you need to eat and rest thereat.Never have the temptation to sit!

It was a flat downhill wide dirt road from the Aid Station which is about one and half kilometer and we had at least 3 kilometers more of uphill climb to reach the peak of the Lavaredo Mountain which is the highest point of the course. I could still keep in step with the Indonesian guy on the first 1.5 kilometers but when we turned left for the steep uphill climb, he made a considerable distance from me but I could still see him from afar. I think I was able to reach the highest point in almost one hour from the Aid Station. I think it was at this point where I was able to meet the Official Photographers of the Event. It was also at this point that at least 3 local runners, coming from behind me, tapped my shoulders and cheered me & congratulated me for reaching the said place!

Peak of Lavaredo Mountain

Finally, I reached the peak of the Lavaredo Mountain where I could see the North side face of the Tri Cime! As I hiked the first few meters going downhill, I was excited and happy to have reached at this point. Since my Garmin GPS Watch had been connected with my USB Charger, I could not see what was my actual distance at this point but on the Map/Elevation Profile as reference, it could be at Km 51.

@Rifugio Di Auronzo/Average Speed: 3.13 KPH

After hiking downhill for about 250 meters, I started to feel dizzy. The feeling was like I was drunk with Irish Whiskey and became sleepy! It was almost 10:00 AM (actual day time) and the weather was mild (but I was still wearing my Patagonia Windbreaker with the hood on my head). I panicked and I had to rest and lean on right side of the trail/dirt road. The left edge of the road is deep ravine. While resting and taking in some deep breath, I was tempted to bring out my cellphone and took the picture of the Tri Cime. After taking the picture and drinking some sip of my electrolytes, I resumed my hiking! However, after another 100 meters, I felt some dizziness again! Instead of stopping, I reduced my pace and went nearer to the right side of the trail just to anticipate that if I fell to the ground or pass out due to dizziness, I will not fall to the ravine. I became nervous as I hiked with the thought that I might pass out at this place and be air-lifted with a helicopter or just pass out to die while I am on this place of the earth. All of these things were in my mind, trying to figure out what could be the best to do in this kind of situation. I guess, a simple prayer did the trick and more deep breathing to remove the feeling of dizziness while I was hiking slowly towards the first switchback of the downhill course!

Tri Cime Of The Dolomites

Tip: If you think something is wrong with your body, STOP, take a rest, relax, take a deep breath, and enjoy the scenery. Re-assess yourself, PRAY and resume slowly.

The first switchback along this downhill course from the Tri Cime/Peak of Lavaredo is being guarded by Park Ranger or Polize (?) who were in Red Uniform. From this switchback, it was a steep, rocky and very technical single-track trail which is about 2-3 kilometers of more switchbacks. As I hiked and jogged this portion, I started to feel some pain on my left knee and my quads were already feeling to had been trashed. As I crossed a dry river bed on the bottom part of this trail, I could hardly lift my legs and my left knee pain became more painful. I tried to hike on the flatter section with my trekking poles to relieve the pain on my knees and rest my trashed quads.

My ONLY “Selfie” During The Event

I could feel already the warm air on the lower elevation of the course and I started to have some sweat/perspiration and tried to lessen my thoughts about my left knee pain. I did not remove my Patagonia Windbreaker and instead, just removed the hood from my head and I could still feel the cold breeze passing on my head.

Landro To Cimabanche

Finally, I was on the last 3 kilometers before the Aid Station/Cut-Off Time Checkpoint at Cimabanche (Km 66.9) and I started to do whatever “speed drills” and “strides” I did in my training in order to speed up my pace. The wide dirt road seemed to be flat but in reality, it is a gradual uphill climb up to the Checkpoint. I tried to do all my best to reach the Aid Station within the cut-off time in 12:30 hours but I was thinking already that my race was done once I reach at this point. My aching left knee could no longer withstand the next 53 kilometers of more challenging climbs and steep descents, thus, I could no longer accumulate some buffer time in every Checkpoint. I was envious of those local Italians who were cycling on this road with their nice jerseys and expensive Mountain Bikes, as they would pass or meet me along this road. I just entertained myself on looking on these young men and ladies biking on the said road.

The “sweepers” were able to reach and catch me on the last 50 meters before the Aid Station. One of the sweepers started a conversation with me after he saw on my Race Bib that I came from the Philippines. He told me that his wife is a Filipino and she is from Digos City, Davao Del Sur and they have some children (I forgot how many) and he showed me the pictures of his wife and children in his cellphone while we were jogging. He even asked with a “selfie” with me! Wow! These Italians are like Filipinos and they like/love Filipinos!

Cimabanche: The End Of The Line/Average Speed: 4.07 KPH

I missed the cut-off time by almost 13 minutes!

Tip: Listen to your body…always! Determine your limits and gracefully surrender in defeat. There will always be next time to redeem yourself. You can not fight against nature if you are already weak and injured. You will never win!

While we were in the bus going back to the Ice Olympic Stadium in Cortina, I counted the number of runners who DNFd in the Aid Station and I was able to count to 12 and I was the oldest, I think. I just smiled and one the ladies (from Croatia or Poland?) in the bus (who smiled and winked at me in one of the previous Aid Stations, I guess, in Rifugio Di Auronzo) was also there and she smiled at me, too before I was able to sleep during the ride!

To be continued…





2018 TNF Lavaredo 120K Experience (Part 3)

30 06 2018

2018 TNF Lavaredo 120K Experience (Part 3)

Past Pinoy Finishers Of TNF Lavaredo 120K

  1. Simon Sandoval: He is based in the Philippines. Finished the race in 2014 with a time of 23:33:35 hours, the first Pinoy to finish this race with the best time so far.
  2. Mark Fernandez: Finished the race in 2016 with a time of 29:44:46 hours. He is a Registered Nurse based in Europe, presently in Germany.
  3. Jerome Bautista: Finished the race in 2017 with a time of 26:13:37 hours. Jerome is based in Metro Manila, Philippines.
  4. Ramoncito “Mon” Beleno: Finished the race in 2017 with a time of 27:10:58 hours. Mon is based in Hongkong.

All of these four past finishers don’t have a blog or detailed story about their finish on the said event, except for the Facebook “status” posted by Jerome and Mon after they finished the event last year. However, I was able to contact them through Personal Messenger and asked them about their Travel Arrangements and Accommodation but I did not ask about the details of the route and things to anticipate during the race. However, I am not sure if they will share to me the details of the course/event even if I asked them. Oh, well, I think they were not generous enough to share their stories of pain, hardships, problems, concerns, and tips for victory (?) to overcome this very challenging ultra trail running event. This is the reason why I am doing this blog with a lot of details and be able to share my experience with the other runners, whether I was in pain/frustration and in happy mood!

TNF Lavaredo 120K Elevation Profile

Race Proper

Arwin, Rodel, and I started at the lower one-third of the runners and we initially walked for a few seconds and started to jog along the paved road of Cortina as we cleared the Start/Finish arc of the event. All of the runners were heading to the north direction, passed by the commercial establishments with people and audience cheering on us. We ran along the main highway until we veered off to the left on a short descent and started to climb up to the trailhead. The jog became an easy run for me but I could no longer see the backs of Arwin and Rodel as they were faster than me.

Before The Gun Start

My trekking poles were stashed with my Salomon Pulse Belt and I was running on an easy pace along the seemingly flat highway but I could feel that it was gradually going uphill because I can feel the tightness of my breath and I slowed down but I was happy that I can keep up with my planned speed of 6 kilometers per hour. I brought out my trekking poles as we approached the trailhead. The runners in front of me suddenly stopped and found out that the entry to the trailhead was packed with runners that I had to wait for my turn to enter it in about 2 minutes as only two runners abreast could fit into the entry of the trail. However, as we climbed along the trail, the width widened and each of the runners had some space to hike and jog the uphill. At this point, I had my own space and relentlessly used my trekking poles to reach the higher elevation of the trail. The trail was wide and not technical in nature and some are asphalted at the start but later became as soft soil trail.

Tip: For the faster runners, they can sprint the first 2.5 kilometers of paved road up to the trailhead to avoid the “bottleneck or traffic” of runners preventing them for some wasted time of waiting. For the back of the runner, if you ran the 2.5 kilometers from the start, the “bottleneck or traffic” is a good way to force one to rest and stabilize ones heart rate and breathing.

The following photo grab of my start on the “liveultra trail” shows that I was able to clear the starting timing mat after 4 minutes, reckoned from 11:00 PM and with 3 minutes of delay from the start, I was able to cross the start timing mat in one minute from the place I was positioned.

@ The Start Of The Race

There are 1,700 runners but only 1,650+ actually started the race.

The uphill climb from the trailhead was a regular switchback that continuous to climb some sort of a peak but it was hard to determine the overall surrounding since it was still dark. What I knew was that we were in a forest. I was using my Lupine Headlamp and had it adjusted at its lowest lumen-adjustment which is about 70-80 lumens and was just enough to illuminate 2-3 meters ahead of me. I intended to use this headlight for entire the course after I have tested that its maximum light adjustment (which is 750 lumens) can last for about 12 hours and its low light adjustment can last for 60 hours. Arwin, Rodel, and I discussed that nighttime in the Cortina mountains would come at 9:30 PM (recommended time to put on the headlight) and the early light in the morning at 4:30 AM (recommended time to put off the headlight). So, in summary, we need 5.5 hours for the 1st night and then another full 7 hours for the 2nd night, totaling to 12.5 hours of burning time for our headlight for the entire course. However, in order to anticipate some problems with my Lupine lighting system, I brought with me my Silva Headlamp (70 lumens) with 6 AAA Batteries (3 inside the lamp and 3 as reserve) in my pack which is very light.

Tip: Find time to test the burning time of your Headlight, whether on its “low and high” mode. From the burning time, you can now adjust to the period from of the event’s course “early evening and early morning” times in order to compute, at least, the number of burning time needed to finish the course.

As we reached the first peak (Km 7), I was surprised to see some people cheering us and some flashing of camera. Every time I saw people cheering us along the trail, I would always say “Thank you” and they would reply, “Bravo” or “Ciao”. Wow! They are still awake at 12 Midnight just to cheer us going up to the mountains! I really like the Italians!

As compared to MIUT, I was happy that I could see more headlights behind me, which means that there are more runners behind me, rather than I was one of the few ones at the tail end of the runners. I did not purposely look behind my back to see the runners behind me but in a switchback, as I turn in at the curve uphill, I could glance from my peripheral vision the lights below me! And there are lots of moving lights below me!

First 7K Of The Course (This Photo will be bought soon!)

At the start of the first downhill of the course, I remembered what happened to me at MIUT that I have to wait and stop for the slower runners in front of me to move to resume my running which cost me the extra 5-minute time to be cut-off very early at the first checkpoint @ Km 14. At this time, I was a “bad-ass” to the other runners that I had to pass or overtake them without a word, instead, switching the “maximum brightness” of my Lupine Headlamp to warn the runner in front of me that somebody is very close behind them. I really did not know how many runners I overtook at this point. There was also a group of 7-8 runners in front of me that I overtook where the lady heading this group was shouting after I passed them. What the heck? I really didn’t care what the Italian lady was saying. I was focused not to be cut-off at the first Cut-Off Checkpoint at Km 33.5!

At the bottom of the first descent, my Race Bib was tagged by a Marshal holding a timing scanner and he pointed the direction going to the trail. I think the place is called Plan De Ra Spines which is Km 12. I knew that from the trail the Marshal pointed to me was the start of another ascent. After about 3 kilometers of ascent on switchbacks, it leveled off and I was able to run and I knew I was getting nearer to the First Aid Station, Ospitale!

@Ospitale, First Aid Station @ Km 17.5/Average Speed: 5.94 KPH

From the Hotel, my two Salomon Flask Bottles (500ml each) were filled with my NUUN mix but as I was walking to the Start Line, I was already sipping and hydrating my body from one of the flask bottles. Before the start, the other bottle was already one-half filled with my liquid mix. I thought of myself that I would be lighter during the early part of the course with less water/liquid in my pack. I was surprised that I have few more drops of liquid from the bottle where I’ve been drinking from the start.

The cold weather in the night and early morning prevented me from perspiring profusely. Since I am a “heavy sweater”, to the point that I could lost 1.5 pound of water from my body in my one hour trail run workouts in my Playground (even if I have ingested one liter of water/mix during the run), I was surprised that I have only ingested almost 1/4 of liter before reaching the first Aid Station in Ospitale (Km 17.5) and that is a duration of 2.5 hours running time from the start!

Tip: If you want to be light and fast on the first 15 kilometers, you can carry only one bottle (500 ml) filled with water or liquid mix.

Few meters before Ospitale, I finally saw the back of Rodel and I called his attention and we greeted each other. Since I don’t have the intention of staying long in the Aid Station as it was filled with a lot of runners. I just refilled my empty Salomon Flask Bottle with water and put one tablet of NUUN and I was back on the trail. The timing mat for the Aid Station was some few meters after the table of food and water. I continued with my hike as I knew I was headed for the 2nd peak of the course. I was not sure if Rodel went ahead of me or he was left behind at the Aid Station. What I knew was that, I did not spend one minute in that Aid Station.

I could no longer remember or recall the nature of the trail from this point as I was focused to beat the cut-off time at Federavecchia, the 1st Cut-Off Time Checkpoint at Km 33.5. I must be able to clear the 1st Cut-Off Time Checkpoint in 6.5 hours. But what I recalled was that I started to have some “running nose” which I could not control by sniffing back to my nose! So, I just let them flow from my nose while purposely hiking relentlessly to the peak of the mountain. From time to time, I would use the BUFF that I wrapped around my right wrist to wipe my nose. It started to get cold that my ears were becoming numb and I put on the hood of my Patagonia Windbreaker over my head and pulled down my Compressport Headband lower to cover my ears, this gave some warmth to my face and head. But the worst feeling that I remembered was my hands getting numbed due to the cold weather. As per weather forecast, we would feel freezing temperature of ZERO Celsius from 3-5 AM and I think that was what I was feeling at that time with the rest of the runners. I was wearing a thick cycling gloves with my trekking poles and I could feel my fingers to be bloating and numb due to the cold air and higher elevation. I have a full gloves in my pack and I did not want to waste time of pulling them out and thus, maintained using what I was wearing already with my hands.

Tip: Use your BUFF to cover your nose and mouth when you think the air you are breathing is too cold for you. You can also cover your mouth ONLY in order to let your “running nose” fluid to be absorbed by the cloth.

Tip: Your collection of BUFF or neck gaiters is very useful in mountain trail running, they are effective also in wiping your fluids from your “running nose” if they are “looped” on your wrist. Bring, at least, 3 pieces of Buff.

I thought of eating solid food to generate heat for my body and I was able to ingest one of my KIND Bars with Nuts and shredded coconut. I was able to ingest the whole bar while hiking but after a few seconds, I started to cough heavily! Shit! Some of the shredded coconut were stucked to my throat that were causing to the irritation. I have to drink one half of my bottle flask content just to flush down those coconut flakes in my throat. It relieved me but as I went higher to the peak of the mountain, I still have some coughing but I knew it was no longer due to what I have eaten but I was already experiencing the effect of higher altitude. Finally, I was able to reach the 2nd peak at Son Forca. It’s time to run again!

Tip: Every time you swallow your food, make sure they are chewed to pieces and follow it up with water. Eat your food while you are hiking.

@Passo Tre Croci (Km 28)/Average Speed: 5:03 KPH

I was surprised to see the runners ahead of me after clearing the peak that they were hiking/walking. What is happening to these runners? The road was wide, non-technical, and flat and they are walking? So, I started to run without using my trekking poles and it was an easy run that I was able to pass more runners! After a few kilometers, it was now another downhill switchbacks until we reached a narrow asphalted road on a flat area which looks like a farm with lots of big horses. I was behind a white guy who avoided the trail as the horses were on the trail and I just went pass through those horses as I tried to drive them away from the trail. The guy said that he will not risk doing what I’ve done since he might be kicked by one of the horses. I smiled and I started to talk to him. I found out that the guy is from Auburn, California, USA and I told him that he is supposed to be at the Western States 100 Endurance Run, either as a runner or a cheerer! He said that he has some running friends who are joining this year’s edition and I said I have also two of my friends who are Filipinos who are also joining the event. I asked him to run with me up to the timing mat of the 1st Cut-Off Time Checkpoint but he prefered to just hike.

I was happy I was able to cross the 1st Cut-Off Checkpoint with a buffer time of 32 minutes!

1st Cut-Off Time Checkpoint @ Km 33.5 in 6.5 Hours/Average Speed: 6.26 KPH

To be continued….





TNF Lavaredo 120K Experience (Part 2)

29 06 2018

2018 TNF Lavaredo 120K Experience (Part 2)

Hotel Accommodation In Cortina D’ Ampezzo

Whenever I look for hotel reservation in my international races, I always ask Mr Trip Advisor or Mr booking.com. I am not that type of a runner that contacts the Race Organizer or Race Director and send inquiry or questions about what and where I can be accommodated or where I would dine/eat and buy some groceries. And worse, when a runner ask for what transport arrangement or trip schedule one would take to reach the place of the event. This is the very reason why I would not answer queries of international runners if they are interested to join my races or PAU Races. Mr Google is more efficient than me, period!

Once I paid the registration fee of 120 Euros for the TNF Lavaredo 120K Ultra, I tried to scout my possible choice of hotel or accommodation in Cortina.I was initially booked at Hotel Natale for 6 days for 990 Euros and a Free Charge for the reservation. However, after one month, I found out that the Dependance Hotel Corona which I think nearer to the Start/Finish and to the Ice Olympic Stadium (Venue for Race Packet-Pick-Up & General Headquarters of the Event), was cheaper than Hotel Natale. Before I booked for my Hotel accommodation, I asked Mon Beleno where he stayed during his previous year’s participation in the event. I tried to book at the said Hotel but all the rooms were already reserved. Knowing that Hotel Corona was cheaper, I cancelled my reservation at Hotel Natale and confirmed my reservation with Dependance Hotel Corona with a reduced price of 660 Euros plus Community Tax of about 30 Euros for my 6-day stay.

I did not bother to contact or send e-mail to the staff of the Hotel on how I would be able to reach the place after I arrived at the Bus Terminal in Cortina. It is always my practice to look for a Taxi at the Bus Terminal and ask the Taxi Driver to bring me to the Hotel by giving him the printed address of the said place.

During my bus ride from Marco Polo International Airport to Cortina, I was seated with a Lady who is a local in Cortina but does not have the description as a runner. After Arwin Sta Clara and Rodel Castillo alighted from the bus, 20 kilometers from Cortina, I could see beautiful formation of rocky mountains on the horizon. The lady started a conversation and told me that the mountains I was seeing will be those mountains that the runners will reach or pass by. After some time during our conversation, I asked her where is the location of the Dependance Hotel Corona from the Bus Terminal and if there are Taxis around to ride to bring me to the Hotel. She said to me not to worry as she would point to me the direction and streets to take as the distance could be hiked in 5 minutes. The lady, Sandra, happens to be the owner of a Gelato Store across the street from the Bus Terminal and her store is closed from June to October because this period is considered as their “lean months” for tourists and visitors. Basically, Cortina is a skiing location and visitors would flock to the area starting in November up to April/May.

As we approached the Bus Terminal of Cortina, Sandra was waving to a man standing beside a car at the Parking Area and I thought the guy is a Taxi Driver. After we alighted and got my luggage from the Cortina Express Bus, he talked to the guy and I found out that the guy is her husband and she asked to drive the car to bring me to Hotel Corona as Sandra left us to proceed to her Gelato Store across the street. I thanked Sandra for the hospitality which I did not expect. In less than 2 minutes aboard the car of Sandra, I was already in front of the door of Hotel Corona. It was already 9:00 PM of Tuesday when I arrived in Cortina but it was still daytime. The days are longer than nighttime in this part of the world and it is summer time in Italy.

At The Porch Of My Hotel Room (Upon My Arrival)

My room was nice and it has a porch with beautiful scenery around. There is also a Bus Stop for the local Dolomiti Bus in front of the Hotel. It has a Free Wi-Fi and Free Daily Breakfast Buffet from 7:30 AM to 10:00 AM. The room is being cleaned and supplied with fresh towels every day! Though the Daily Breakfast had been the same throughout the 6 days that I have stayed, I really enjoyed the food and a chance to meet and speak with some of the guests of the Hotel during breakfast. I will reserve a separate blog or story on the persons that I met while I was staying in the said hotel.

First Meal and Stroll In Cortina @ 9:30 PM, Tuesday

It is really a 5-minute leisurely walk from the Hotel to the center of the town of Cortina when I tried to look for an open convenience store to buy some bottled water and groceries; and to find a place where to eat for dinner. There was no convenience store opened and I learned later on the following day that there is only ONE Grocery Store in town! It’s the La Cooperativa De Cortina which is multi-story modern building with all the things that a department store should have. First Floor is the Grocery Store/Bakery/Pasta & Salad Bar; 2nd Floor is where Signature Brands of Clothes are located; 3rd Floor is Household and Kitchen Needs; and the 4th Floor is an Outdoor Sports Store.

There was only one open Pub and Restaurant place at that time of the night where I was able to order the Best Hamburger I’ve tasted in Cortina! Before midnight, I was already in my bed and slept soundly till the following day.

First Run & Recon of Cortina on Wednesday

After breakfast, I went to the center of the town of Cortina and I was able to see and have my picture taken at the Start/Finish Arc of the TNF Lavaredo. I went to the Cooperative Store where I bought some groceries and browsed some of the running gears at the Sports Section of the Building. I was able to buy a Salomon Pulse Belt where I could stow my trekking poles at the back of my waist. It is worth 30 Euros and I was glad that there was only one stock left for my size, Small.

TNF Lavaredo/Cortina/Skyrace Start & Finish Arc

I had my lunch at Hacker which serves the best and cheapest Panini in town. I was not able to finish the whole order and I had the remaining portion as “take away” for my dinner.

In the late afternoon at 5:30 PM, I went out of the hotel to run for one hour and tried to trace the first 8 kilometers of the course. It was an easy run but I think I got lost after running for about 1.5 kilometers from my Hotel and went to a different trailhead but I had a taste of the surface texture and nature of the trail of Cortina. My plan for an hour of easy run became almost two hours because of more time appreciating the beauty of the mountains all around me. I got nearer to the walls of the mountains and I was able to see the true color of the rocks and hear the rushing of water coming from the sides of the mountains where I passed. I though the trail is flat but as I uploaded the data from my Garmin GPS watch, I found out that I was able to gain at least 1,000 feet for a 7-kilometer one-way run. This 2-hour run made me adjust and acclimatize with the surroundings in the area. I knew that I was in an altitude of almost 5,000 feet above sea level and I observed my breathing and how my body would react to the altitude. It appeared that my body was able to adjust to the altitude for the past day since I arrived in town.

Typical Lavaredo/Cortina Trail

Race Packet Pick-Up @ Ice Olympic Stadium (Thursday AM)

After breakfast at the Hotel, I went to the Ice Olympic Stadium in Cortina (Cortina hosted the Winter Olympics sometime in January-February 1956) for the Race Packet Pick-Up which is 650-meter walk from my hotel. After my mandatory gear check with the Staff of the Race Organizer, I was given my Race Bib, RFID Tag, Commemorative Event’s Shirt, and Event’s Bracelet Ribbon. I had my picture taken with my Race Bib in front of the Events’ Logo Tarp. From there, I went around the Expo and I was able to buy a Salomon Bonatti Waterproof Pants which is very much lighter than the one that I have. The Salomon Pants goes in pair with the Salomon Bonatti Waterproof Jacket that I have already. These are reliable mandatory gears that I must have if I intend to run more European Mountain Trail Races in the future.

Winter Olympic 1956 In Cortina

I was able to meet the Sales Representative/Manager of Buff in Italy, Maurizia Grosso, who was able to give some discounts of their TNF Lavaredo products and other items. She was very friendly and impressed that I was the only one among the runners who was NOT dressed with a running attire. It was a nice compliment when she told me that I dressed elegantly even if I am old already. Oh, well, I might have over reacted by her comment that I was able to buy more of her BUFF items from what I’ve had planned to buy. After my sales transaction with Maurizia, I immediately left the Ice Stadium and proceeded back to the Hotel.

Cortina’s Olympic Ice Stadium

I changed to my running gear and went out for a one-hour hike on the last 3-4 kilometers of the course which passes in front where my Hotel is located. It was sunny when I had my hike and I observed that the Race Organizer had really made sure that the trail is even and clean. They widened and scraped the trail and if there is uneven patches, they placed some soil or crushed rocks on them. There were ribbon markings already along the route and they are very visible. In less than one hour, I was back at the Hotel.

Hike On The Last 3 Kilometers Of The Course

Meeting With Team Philippines

Arwin Santa Clara and Rodel Castillo contacted me and we communicated with each other to meet at my Hotel after my hike. I gave them PAU Shirt each as gift and Arwin gave me a RP Flag Bluff which I intend to bring with me during the race. We met and talked with each other; exchange and shared our Race Strategy with one another; and running experiences. We extended our conversation with an early Dinner at Hacker Restaurant in the center of Cortina. We separated after dinner as they have to catch up with their Dolomiti Bus back to their accommodation place. We agreed with each other that we will see each other at the Starting Area before the start time at 11:00 PM of Friday. In summary, I told them that I would try my best to pass through the first Cut-Off Time Checkpoint at Km 33 and if I can build some buffer time, I will slugged it out to the finish line if I will not incur any injury. Rodel was seemingly the most silent among the three of us and he told us that he will just try to finish the race. Arwin, on the other hand, was very confident to finish race without any concern of being cut-off on the Checkpoints along the course. We wished each other good luck!

Team PINOY: Arwin, Me, and Rodel

Sleep, Eat, Rest on Friday

It was a complete “rest/sleep and eat” ritual during the day on Friday for me and during my awake period, I would prepare my running kit and nutrition needs. At 9:00 PM, I was already changing to my running attire while eating whatever food that was available in my room. At 10:15 PM, I was already on my way out of the Hotel and in 5 minutes, I was already at the Town Center trying to squeeze myself to reach my place at the Starting Area. 15 minutes before the start time, I was able to locate Arwin and Rodel and we talked and wished each of us for a safe run and strong finish. Arwin and I would still have time to go to the Toilet to pee which is few meters from the Start Area. Just imagine almost 1,700 runners packed along the main narrow street of Cortina and with the presence of supporters, relatives, friends and locals in the area, Cortina was on a festive mood and it was noisy. The EMCEE was talking in Italian and the RD delivered the final briefing and what I did understand was his explanation that there will be “No Raining Forecast” during Race Day!

Start Of The Race

The rendition of the Musical Score of the movie “The Good, the Bad, and The Ugly” entitled “The Ecstasy Of Gold” was played and it was the signal that race was about to start. Arwin and I were surprised that the race has not started at exactly 11:00 PM and after 3 minutes, we finally heard the countdown from 10 to Go in Italian! Diece…Nove…Otto..Sette…Sei…Cinque…Quattro…Tre…Due…Uno…Go!

To be continued…





Race Report: 2018 Old Spanish Trail (OST) 50K Trail Run

23 02 2018

I was registered to join the Four Lakes 100K Ultra Trail Race and I was ready and trained to finish this race within the cut-off time of 30 hours. I did finish this race two years ago with a time of 26+hours when the cut-off time was then 28 hours. Mentally and physically, I was prepared to finish this race as this was considered as one of my training races in preparation for the 2018 Madeira Island Ultra Trail (MIUT) Race in Madeira, Portugal to be held in April 28, 2018.

In addition to finishing the BDM 102 Ultra in 15:20+hours three weeks earlier, the Four Lakes 100 Race would be a follow-up training race for me leading to the MIUT Race. In between these two races, I had my daily recovery runs and a Mountain Repeats workout in my favorite Mt Roosevelt’s Loop #3 in my Playground two weeks before race day.

Halfway towards Kayapa, Nueva Vizcaya, I received an information from one of my nieces that my Father died from his sleep in the morning of Friday, few hours before the start of the race. As I travel to the venue of the race, I called my brother and sisters and made some suggestion about the schedule of Viewing and Funeral for our Father as most of our plan, in case of his untimely death, had been finalized long before while he was still alive. The plan was immediately implemented hours after our Dad’s death and I just kept peace and silence to myself and focused mentally to finish race where I had registered.

The race promptly started at 3:00 AM of Saturday and I started the race at the back of the pack. Knowing that 100K is a very long race and that Four Lakes 100’s race route is new to myself and everybody, I thought of being conservative on the first half of the race with the intention/objective of arriving each Checkpoint/Aid Station within the prescribed cut-off time. My smart strategy for the first half is to conserve my legs’ energy by using my Trekking Poles on the first ascent of the course with the hope that I could still run on the descents of the 2nd half of the course.

I was happy to have reached the summit/peak of Mt Ugo earlier than the first time I joined this race. I would start to run on the descent from the peak of Mt Ugo and alternately, hike and jog until I reached the Domolpos Aid Station. I ate two pieces of local “Suman” and refilled my Hydration Bottles with water and electrolyte powdered mix which was enough to provide me the much energy to reach the first Checkpoint at Kayapa East Market. I took my time to eat some food and refill my bottles even if I still have 25 minutes of buffer time from the cut-off time of 8 hours.

I was not in a hurry to reach the dreaded ascent at Amelong Labeng as I made up my mind not to stop or take a very long rest in one of the 3 waiting sheds along the said route. On my first finish in this race, I had a lot of rests and stops along this route that I had to engage in a very long conversation with some of the runners then, not knowing that they are participants in the shorter Old Spanish 50K Trail Run. For this year, I had to maintain my slow trek on this route using my trekking poles with some 5-10-second rests to catch up my breath. On the last waiting shed, I had to sit and ate some rice balls stashed in my Race Belt but I did not stay long as more runners were seen coming up to my direction.

Digging Deep @ Amelong Labeng (Photo By GlairoldRecella Photography)

Finally, I reached the Elementary School where I had to refill my bottles and make my Electrolyte Mix drink. As the heat of the sun was too hot when I was in this area, I had to douse my head, neck, arms and upper body with the cold flowing water coming from the faucet and it was refreshing and invigorating. I had to leave the place immediately as most of the runners were approaching my position. It was a repeat of my first finish when going up to the Tower Antenna at Amelong Labeng with the intense heat coming from the sun. I had to persevere and trust my training at this point where I would “power hike” with the aid of my trekking poles until I reached the peak of the mountain where the Tower Antennas are located. I started to run and jog on my way down to the Highway but along the way, I would here some mysterious sounds behind me as if somebody was trying to pass me but I could not see anybody. As I ran faster on the descents, such sound would never leave and then suddenly, I hear somebody calling my name “Ben” as the wind blows behind my back. I could not believe experiencing this as I don’t believe in “ghosts” or paranormal activity throughout my life. I knew I was neither dehydrated nor “bonking” on my nutrition needs at this moment. As I continued my running, I remember those stories we shared each other with my brother about our Father on the early portions of the race. We were both laughing about these stories while were were running. (Note: My brother was one of the runners of the OST 50K Trail Run). I felt guilty that here I was in the mountains running a race while my Dad was being prepared for viewing. At this point, I started to think and decide to shorten my race and be with my Dad.

Having Fun @ The Old Spanish Trail (Photo By GlairoldRecella Photography)

Two kilometers before reaching the 2nd Checkpoint in Castillo, I called the RD and requested him that I am going to downgrade to the OST 50K Race because of the “paramdam” I’ve experienced on top of Amelong Labeng. The RD approved my request. I reached Castillo in 12:15 hours which is almost 2 hours ahead of the cut-off time in this Checkpoint for the Four Lakes 100 Trail Run. From Castillo, the route is all descending 4+kilometers to the finish line.

I finished the OST 50K Trail Run in 13:08+hours without any pain in my legs and body.








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