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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…

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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.





Best Running Performance Of Pinoys For The Year 2017

20 01 2018

For the first time in this blog I will be featuring an article (based from my own view and opinion) on Pinoys who excelled in running or those who have shown the true spirit of an outstanding runner, whether they are based locally or abroad for the year 2017. I will limit my story for the Marathon and Ultra Marathon distances.

Marathon Distance:

Top Award For Best Performance: Mary Joy Tabal was our First Gold Medalist in the 2017 Southeast Asian Games held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in the Marathon event with a finish time of 2:48:26 hours beating the second runner by seven (7) minutes. Her personal best time in the Marathon distance was 2:43:31 hours at the Ottawa Marathon Race in 2016, which qualified her to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. In the local races, Mary Joy Tabal has in her name a record in the history of running as the First Female Champion of the MILO Marathon for five (5) successive years. Last December, she won the MILO Marathon in Cebu City with a time of 2:58:01 hours, the day after his father died.

Mary Joy Tabal

Mary Joy Tabal From Cebu City (Photo From Facebook)

Ultra Marathon Distance (Road)

Top Award For Best Performance: Rolando Espina is now the Filipino Record Holder for the 24-Hour Run finishing a distance of 210.798 kilometers (130.99 miles) in the July 2017 IAU Belfast 24-Hour World Championship held in Belfast, Ireland. He is also the Overall Champion in the 9th Edition (2017) of the Bataan Death March 102K Ultra Marathon Race with a time of 9:26:39 hours, the second best time finish in the history of the event. He is the first and only Filipino who have finished the Spartathlon in Greece in two consecutive years, 2016 & 2017, with finish times of 33:19:33 hours and 32:30:03 hours, respectively. He is also the Overall Champion and New Course Record Holder in this year’s PAU’s West Coast 200K Ultra Marathon Race with a time of 26:45:18 hours.

Rolando Espina

Rolando Espina From Bacolod City & Based In Ireland (Photo From Facebook)

Ultra Marathon Distance (Trail)

Top Award For Best Performance (Male): Hermogines “Gene” Olvis outstanding performance at the 2017 UTMB Race makes him as the Best Male Performer in Ultra Trail Running for 2017 for finishing the race with a record finish time (among the local runners) of 35:33:54 hours. He also finished Overall 2nd Runner-Up in the 2017 edition of the KOTM’s Hardcore 100-Mile Trail Run with a time of 30:17:29 hours.

Gene Olvis

Gene Olvis (Photo from Facebook/Jajaferrer.com)

Top Award For Best Performance (Female): Sandi Menchi Abahan outstanding performance at the 2017 TDS Race (118K) @ UTMB makes her as the Best Female Performer in Ultra Trail Running for 2017 for finishing 21st Overall in the Female Category and 9th Overall in her Age Category with a record finish time (First Female Local Finisher in the TDS & Record Holder) of 23:27:16 hours. Being a member of the Philippine Skyrunning Association Elite Team, she won as the Female Champion for two successive years, 2016 & 2017, in the Mt Kinabalu International Climbathon Race with these finish times, 2:58:48 hours and 3:04:30 hours, respectively.

Sandi Menchi Mar Yoo

Sandi Menchi Abahan @ TDS Finish Line (Photo from Facebook)

Congratulations For Your Outstanding Performance!

 

 





Official Results: 2017 Taklang Damulag 100-Mile & 50-Mile Endurance Races

12 12 2017

7th Edition: Taklang Damulag 100-Mile Endurance Ultra Race

5:00 AM December 9, 2017 to 3:00 PM December 10, 2017

SOCOM Headquarters, Fort Magsaysay, Palayan City (Nueva Ecija)

Course Cut-Off Time: 34 Hours

Number of Starters: 17 Runners

Number of Finishers: 5 Runners

Percentage of Finish: 29.4%

2017 Takla Starters

17 Runners Started For The 100-Mile Race & 3 Runners For The 50-Mile Race

RANK            NAME                  TIME (Hrs)

  1. Thomas Combisen (Overall Champion) —30:22:45
  2. Gibo Malvar (1st Runner-Up, Overall) —33:40:37
  3. Graciáno Santos (2nd Runner-Up, Overall) —33:40:38
  4. Elmar Bob Tolete ———33:41:35
  5. Badong Sietereales ——33:50:25

***Unofficial Finisher: Jovencio Luspian — 34:17:25

2017 Takla Champ

Overall Champion Thomas Combisen

2017 Takla 1st RunnerUp

Overall 1st Runner-Up Gibo Malvar

2017 Takla 2nd RunnerUp

Overall 2nd Runner-Up Graciano Santos

2017 Takla Finishers

Taklang Damulag 100-Mile Race Finishers


 

7th Edition: Taklang Damulag 50-Mile Endurance Ultra Race

5:00 AM to 9:00 PM December 9, 2017

SOCOM Headquarters, Fort Magsaysay, Palayan City (Nueva Ecija)

Course Cut-Off Time: 16 Hours

Number of Starters: 3 Runners

Number of Finishers: 3 Runners

Percentage of Finish: 100%

RANK     NAME                 TIME (Hrs)

  1. Joey Odhuno (Overall Champion) — 13:33:45
  2. JC Igos (1st Runner-Up, Overall) — 15:06:30
  3. Frederick Espinosa (2nd Runner-Up, Overall) — 15:31:54
2017 Takla 50Milers

Taklang Damulag 50-Mile Podium & Finishers

Congratulations To All The Finishers!

 





Race Report Tarawera 102K Ultra Marathon Race (Part 3)

15 03 2017

The Day Before The Race (Friday)

If it is your first time to visit New Zealand, three days before the Race Day is a nice period of time to tour around the City of Rotorua to buy some groceries and souvenirs; look and try some places to eat; and have a brief recon of the place of the event. However, if I will go back to join this race again, I would prefer to arrive on Thursday, join the Welcome Ceremony and Race Briefing on Friday, and be ready for the Race on Saturday.

On the day before Race Day (Friday), I decided not to join the Powhiri Welcome Ceremony in Te Puia (about 300+meters from Rotorua Holiday Inn) which was scheduled at 8:30 in the morning and instead joined the Race Briefing at 11:00 AM at the Rotorua Holiday Inn. After taking the Bus at Route 10 from the house, I have to transfer to another Bus for Route 11 from the Town Center and then alighted at a street corner about 100 meters to the Holiday Inn. I was late for a few minutes as Tim Day, the Race Director has already started the Race Briefing. Once I’ve settled on the edge of the Hall, I was able to see the Pinoy Runners among the audience and saw some familiar faces whom I saw while on tour at the Town Center for the past days.

Tarawera Briefing

Tarawera 102K Briefing By Tim Day, Race Director

The weather forecast for the weekend was perfect and there was no rain. I was happy and maybe, most of the runners too, that there was NO Mandatory Gear for the race. It will be hot and humid but I was confident that my heat training in my Playground would never compare with the heat to be expected during the race. A sample of the ribbons as trail markers was shown to us and they would stand-out in the forest even if it is nighttime because it has a reflectorized ribbon. All the other details of the race route and their rules and regulations are clearly stated on the PDF file that anybody could read on the event’s website. The RD had mentioned that the Aid Stations would strictly implement the Cut-Off times. The Race Briefing did not take long and it was followed by a Question & Answer Interview Among the Elite Athletes.

Tarawera Numbers

Tarawera 102 Ultra Marathon In Numbers

Tarawera Cut-Off Times

Tarawera 102K Checkpoints & Cut-Off Times (Saved On My IPhone)

After the Q & A Session, the Emcee encouraged the Audience to have a “Selfie” with the Elite Athletes. I have only 3 “selfies” on my iPhone and they are from: Jim Walmsley; Yassine Diboun; Camille Herron; and Meghan Hicks.

Since the Race Registration was scheduled at 3:00 PM, I decided to have my lunch at the Restaurant inside the Rotorua Holiday Inn. Before 3:00 PM, I was already on a line for the Race Registration. Every runner for the 102K & 82K were weighted from a scale before getting his/her Race Packet which consist of the Race Bib and Souvenir Programme. The Race Organizer Paul Charteris made an apology that the Commemorative Shirt for all the Registered Runners would not be available not until the following day because the Main Event Sponsor, Compressport, made a mistake in sending the cargo to the South Island. So, up to this time, I am still waiting for the arrival of my Commemorative Shirt through the mail as promised by the Race Organizer.

After I received my Race Packet, I went home but had to drop by the Town Center for a “Take-Out” Dinner. At 6:00 PM, I was already in the house ready to eat my dinner; prepare my running kit and go to bed at exactly 9:00 PM.

On Race Day

The main goal is to finish the 102K distance and be able to earn some UTMB points (even if I am no longer interested with the UTMB races).

The race strategy is to start slow; maintain my hydration and nutrition needs every mile or every hour; and be able to maintain a “buffer time” of at least 2 hours from the cut-off time in every checkpoint. If I still have the strength, I would finish strong!

On my running kit, I decided to use my old Patagonia Shorts, Compressport “On/Off” Trail Shirt with Uniqlo “Heat Tech” as Baselayer, Salomon Cap, FitBelt, Drymax Socks, Mission Buff, Two Simple Hydration Bottles, New Balance Vazee Summit Trail Shoes, Adidas Gloves, Oakley Sunglasses, AMG Headphone with an iPod Shuffle, Petzl Headlamp, and Patagonia Houdini Jacket tucked inside one of shorts’ pockets.

I decided not to have any Drop Bags for my additional food and clothes to change along the route as I would no longer have the time to pick them up the following day because of my trip to Wellington the following day. On hindsight, I should have those Drop Bags for my “comfort” food and extra headlight. Maybe, I will have to use “disposable” drop bags in my next race if I intend to just leave them for the Race Organizers to dispose.

I woke up at 3:30 AM, took a shower, drank a hot coffee and ate some hot noodles. And after one hour, I was already on the road to the starting area by walking but I was carrying a plastic bag with two cuts of Pizza, a Nutella sandwich and one piece of Banana. I could feel the coldness outside to be tolerable even if I have my Patagonia light jacket tucked in one of the pockets of my Patagonia Shorts. I just thought that the mild cold of the day will be advantageous to my body as I tend to sweat too much during races. At 5:00 AM, I was already at the Redwoods Park Visitors Center. While waiting, I started to eat the food inside the plastic bag that I carried from the house.

Tarawera 100 Map Elevation Profile

Course Map & Elevation Profile

I had enough time to relax and observe the arrival of the other runners. I even had the chance to meet the brother & sister Pinoy staff members of the Park; had a picture with Chris; and meet with the whole Pinoy group of runners.

15 Minutes before the Gun Start, I was already about 10-15 meters behind the Starting Arc and just waited there until I heard the announcement of the Emcee telling to the runners to just pee on the trees around and not go to the Toilets to fall in line! He said that the trees need everyone’s pee! And the usual Maori Ritual started at the front of the Starting Arc. I could not see the ritual but I could hear the chants and some music. And after the ritual, it was time for the countdown…

Tarawera Start

100 Feet Behind The Start Arc (Right Side With Red Cap)

TUM_2017_020279

Starting To Jog From The Starting Line

At exactly 6:00 AM the race started and I began to move forward. I could feel that I was very light and comfortable with my slow pace with only one Simple Hydration Bottle filled with water and the other empty bottle as my cup/glass if I intend to drink sodas in the Aid Stations. I had one Clif Gel inserted in each of my hand gloves and 4 pieces of Fuel Bar in my Flip Belt. The race started with an asphalted road for about one kilometre and the road became a wide track of dirt road as the runners thinned up along the road. I controlled myself and preserved my strength even if I was confident that I can run the moderate ascents on the early part of the course. After running for about 40 minutes going up to a higher elevation, the sunlight started to shine but I opted to let my headlight on as it became too dark to be running inside the forest with roots exposed covering those single track trail. The ascent was not too difficult as I was entertained by the number of runners ahead of me and those faster runners who would overtake me along the wider part of the route.

TUM_2017_000144

1st Kilometer

The first Aid Station is 16.7 kilometers from the Starting Line and once I came out from the forest, I could see a big Water Tank where beside it was a group of Marshal/volunteers asking if I would like to leave my headlight behind. I opted not to give me headlight as I know I will be needing it during nighttime. Once I passed the volunteers, it was another moderate uphill until we reached a wide road with lots of gravel and crushed rocks. You could see the blinding light of the sunrise ahead of you while you could see the dust coming from the road as a result of pounding on the ground by those faster runners ahead of you. More people would cheer us on this part of the route.

Tarawera Kilometer 2

First Climb Inside The Forest

TUM_2017_002078

Inside The Forest

Even if we were running inside the forest, the trail was wide in most of the parts before the first Aid Station. I kept my headlight switched to On as it was hard to distinguish the roots from the black colour of the surface of the trail. I have observed that the single trail trail inside the forest are too soft and with cushion as I pound my feet on them. I could feel that there are piles of dry leaves mixed with the dirt on the trail. I was neither fast nor aggressive in my pace because I was too careful not to trip or fall down on my knees due to small protruding roots. I have read so many blogs from faster runners who joined the past editions and almost all of them had mentioned for having some wounds and scratches on their knees, legs and palms because they haphazardly fell down on the trail. It was time to be careful and deliberate in my steps on those single-track trail.

Tarawera Headlight Drop Off

Water Tank Where Headlights Can Be Dropped

Tarawera After Water Tank

Downhill & Uphill Climbs After The Water Tank

Tarawera Dirt Road

Wide Dirt Road Before Sunrise

Tarawera Dirt Dusty Road

Very Dusty Dirt Road With Runner In Front

Tarawera Blue Lake Aid Station

Approaching Blue Lake

The first Aid Station is at the shore of Blue Lake. The lake looks like blue in color from afar but you can see how clean the water is as you approached it. I refilled my hydration bottle with water and the other empty bottle was used as my cup where I could drink water as much as I could because I was feeling early on that the water I drank on those 16 kilometers were not enough. I had to arrest the seemingly start of being dehydrated because it was already hot at 8:00 AM, after 2 hours+ of continuous running and fast hiking. I grabbed some slices of watermelon and oranges and ingested some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I guess, I only stayed at the Aid Station in less than 3 minutes and I was back on the trail. I grabbed another two or three slices of watermelon bites and carried them with my hand as I waked away from the Aid Station.

TUM_2017_010510

Still Running To The Next Aid Station

From the Lake we go back again to the Forest and it was becoming hotter. I realised that the temperature inside the forest is higher than the temperature once you get out from the forest. Even if the trail was shaded with trees and tall shrubs, the temperature feels like you are exposed directly to the sunlight. I was feeling okey as I trained in my Playground with this kind of situation. I was regularly taking my Salt Tablets every hour and drinking water, and always maintaining to have some candies (Coffee Candies) inside my mouth.

The cut-off time at Blue Lake Aid Station is 10:00 AM which means that I have a maximum time of 4 hours to reach and leave this place. However, I was able to reach this place in 2:14+ hours with a buffer time of 1:45+ hours. This distance to the 2nd Aid Station/Checkpoint would be almost 7 kilometres!

TUM_2017_011593

Having Fun & Meeting New Friends

After a few minutes, I reached Miller Road, where the 65K runners had started one hour after we started. I could see the tire tracks of the Buses on a wide dirt road that transported the runners from the Greenwoods Park to the said place. There is no Aid Station or Marshal on this part of the route as the road would continue to be uphill. The next Aid Station would be almost 10 kilometres to the next one and there is an imposed cut-off time in it. On my time splits, it appeared that it took me to reach this place from Blue Lake in 59+ minutes which means that I was able to cover the distance of 23.5K in 3:14+ hours which I think not bad as I was gaining some buffer time.

TUM_2017_021239

The Day Is Getting Hotter But I Need To Smile

The 2nd Aid Station is Okaitana which is Km 40 from the Start. This Aid Station is also a Checkpoint where the Cut-Off time is 1:50 PM or 7 hours & 50 minutes had elapsed from the Start. My Garmin Watch would register a time of 5:52+ hours and I became worried that I was able to decrease my buffer time to 1:08+ minutes. It was supposed to happen that way since I had more and more hiking as this section had the highest peak of the course. It was becoming hotter that I had to fill my two Simple Hydration Bottles with water in between Aid Stations. I started to eat Potato Chips at the Aid Station to include sandwiches and watermelon/orange bites. The watermelon and orange bites were very refreshing to my mouth. In terms of elevation gain, this section (Miller Road to Okaitana), is perceived to be the hardest part of the route where almost everybody had to hike the ascending portion. I power hiked the steeper sections and jogged the flatter portions of the route along this section but by the nature of the trail which is wide and clean, clearing or passing this section seemed to be easy on me as compared to my Playground. As I reached the highest peak of the course, it was all downhill up to the Okaitana Aid Station. However, the heat of the sun and the forest took a toll on most of the runners who are not used to hot condition.

To be continued…








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