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)

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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.

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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

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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…





Race Report: 2017 Tarawera 102K Ultramarathon Race (Part 1)

16 02 2017

Race Report: 2017 Tarawera 102K Ultramarathon Race (Part 1)

Introduction

Nine years ago when I was planning to conduct the first edition of the Bataan Death March 102K Ultramarathon Race (BDM 102), I found a list of Ultramarathon Races that was published in the Internet and one of them was the Tarawera 100 which was described to be an ultramarathon event on the beach and in the forests of Rotorua, New Zealand. Little did I realize that the said event was born on the same year that the BDM 102 had its first edition with the same distance, except for the fact that it was purely done on the trails and on the scenic spots of New Zealand.

I have read a few blogs and Race Reports about the event from international trail running elites since then and I was amazed how fast these runners would finish the race. Every year, I would also see pictures on Facebook of Pinoy Runners based in New Zealand finishing the event. And last year, I found out that some runners who joined my BDM Races and PAU trail races (Arlene Agulto and Jose Mina, Jr) have finished the race and I’ve read their respective Race Report on Facebook and on their blogs.

After I’ve read their blogs and posts on Facebook, I started to research more about the said Ultramarathon Event. Finally, in the month of July last year, I have decided to join the event. (The event usually starts to accept the registration of runners in the month of June).

While I was on vacation in the US in August 2016, I registered for the race and paid 320 New Zealand Dollars. My daily runs since then were geared towards finishing this race event even if it was six (6) months away which I think was the ideal length of period to train and prepare for this event.

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Hiking With Ultra Running Friends

Training & Preparation

I have started running on the paved roads for almost one month and going to the mountains for some hikes during weekends. I would work on a faster leg turn-over and tempo runs on my Tuesday to Friday runs with an average distance of 8-10 miles a day. After I have the confidence of building-up my endurance, I started to run on the trails which are runnable and made sure that I would gain at least 1,500 feet every 6-7 miles of distance. But on weekends, I would go on long hikes in the mountains for a period of 5-6 hours. These hikes would give me at least 5,000 to 6,000 feet of elevation per workout and this was where I would practice my hydration and nutrition strategy. On those long hikes, I would use my trekking poles to lessen the pain on my knees, most specially on the downhill hikes or runs.

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Over Acting (#OA)/The Most Abused Hashtag During My Training

These two months (July-August 2016) of training resulted to my satisfactory performance to finish the Zamboanga City 50K Mountain Run last September 2016 and the DBB Rockstar 50K Run which was held in the mountains of Doña Remedios Trinidad, Bulacan in October 2016. After these two 50K runs, I continued my training and concentrated my daily running more in my Playground (mountains of Bataan). This was where I have increased my Vertical Gains in my daily as well as weekend LSD runs. I would typically run a distance of 14 miles with a vertical gain/loss of about 4,500 feet, by doing a “double-traverse” to a 2,000-foot high mountain (Mt Roosevelt) with very technical and steep trails. In every week, I would do 2-3 times of “double-traverse” workouts, in the middle of the day! I would start at 9:00 or 10:00AM and finish at 2:00 or 3:00PM. These “double-traverse” workouts prepared me for the Clark-Miyamit 50-Mile Trail Run. I would consider myself to have finished the race within the cut-off time of 18 hours even if I was lost on the last 2 miles of the course. As per my endurance; nutrition and hydration strategy on these three ultra trail events (Zamboanga City 50K Mountain Run; DBB Rockstar 50K; & CM50), I was confident that I was on the right track of my training as I finished these three “evaluation races” without using any trekking poles.

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Wide Dirt Road @ Playground “Alpha”

Last December 2016, my training was not consistent because of the PAU Races that I’ve have to prepare and conduct on the said month. I was planning to run multi-loops of Taklang Damulag with the runners for the duration of two days as my “back-to-back” weekend runs but I was able to run only one loop with a distance of 12.5 kilometers. However, during the Christmas break (two weeks), I started to consistently do some intense stationary cycling and biking workouts on paved roads just to be able build some strength on my quadriceps. I guess, those cycling workouts developed some unused muscles during my runs and my quads started to appear more pronounced and distinct. On the last week of December, I made my first-ever “quadruple traverse” hike and run in my Playround which would take me 7-8 hours of hiking with an elevation gain of almost 8,000 feet and I would repeat the said workout again after a week. I was happy that my body would withstand those “torture and painful” workout and stress just for me to prepare for the Tarawera Ultramarathon. For the month of January, I put more mileage, vertical gains, more “mountain repeats”, and downhill running to my training plus a couple of workouts on longer rides on my MTB and more “heat” training on my daytime runs! I would no longer keep track or record the data/numbers of my daily workouts as long as I would comply and run the number of miles that is scheduled in my weekly training program.

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“Train Heavy, Race Light”

On these two months/8 weeks prior to the event, I practiced my training principle of “Train Heavy, Race Light” by wearing a Hydration Vest with 2 Liters of Bladder filled with water and with my nutrition stashed on the front pockets. On my tempo runs, I would only bring one or two Simple Hydration Bottles tucked on the back of my shorts and carry a number of Coffee Candies on the pockets of running shorts which would served as my source of sugar/nutrition for the workout. I would also do my hikes and runs without using my trekking poles to make sure that my legs and knees are holding up with those very technical steep ascents and descents in my playground. It was part of my race strategy not to bring my trekking poles for the race.

My last evaluation race for the Tarawera Ultramarathon was the Tarak Ridge 25K Trail Run. This is where I’ve proven that I was quick in climbing steep inclines due to my reduce weight and leg strength due to my “double-traverse” and “quadruple traverse” workouts in my Playground

For the months of December 2016 and January 2017, I limited my intake of carbohydrate (on mostly rice and sweet/cola drinks) for me to reduce my weight from 142 lbs to 132 lbs which I consider as my ideal racing weight for ultra distances. Before I left for New Zealand from Manila, I was 133 lbs but a day before the race (when the Volunteers were taking my Body Weight as I was about to receive my Race Packet) I registered a weight of 140 lbs! I was surprised that I was able to put some weight while I was on my way to New Zealand and for a few days of stay already in Rotorua. But I was not worried, I knew I needed those newly-accumulated body fats/weight because of the weather forecast on the day of the event. It will be hot and humid and it was playing in my mind that those not used to the heat will be on a “carnage”.

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Trekking Poles For My Recovery Hikes

In summary, I was consistently logging 55-65 miles per week for the months of December and January done on the mountains of my Playground. I was confident that for doing those “double-traverse” and “quadruple traverse” workouts at Playground “Charlie”/Mt Roosevelt would prepare my body for the challenge at Tarawera 102K, the same preparation I made for my successful finishes at the TransLantau 100K (Hongkong) for two successive years in 2015 & 2016.

Trip & Transportation To Rotorua, New Zealand

Last September 2016, I have already canvassed and asked for quotation for the possible flight and purchase of plane ticket to New Zealand from Manila. And also for the available land transportation from the Auckland International Airport to Rotorua. This is also to include for my accommodation or place to stay in Rotorua. I did not bother to contact the Race Organizer or the Race Director of the Event asking questions about directions, places to stay, and schedule for the event. One of the runners who joined the 2016 UTMB brought home a Souvenir Program of the 2016 Tarawera Ultramarathon Race with some posters given by my friend, Jason Schlarb and I reviewed all the things that are written about the said event. All the details, suggestions, and advice on how to reach Rotorua from Auckland International Airport are already there.

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NZ Multiple Entry Visa Valid For One Year

It was a choice of a cheaper ticket with more stop-overs along the way which means more days of travel (3-4 days) or buying a more expensive ticket fare with less than 30 hours of travel. I got the more expensive one but the mileage I will get from my trip is added to my Frequent Flyer Privilege and a shorter trip would mean more time to visit more places in the place of my destination. In short, I bought the ticket way before I was issued a NZ Visa which was processed for only 3 working days. Being a Frequent Flyer of Korean Air, my trip has to pass first to Incheon International Airport and then transfer to the flight from Incheon to Auckland International Airport after 12 hours of layover. What is good was that I was given a Free Voucher to stay at the Incheon International Airport’s Transit Hotel with Free Meals. So, after 3.5 hours of flight from Manila to Incheon, I was able to rest/sleep until the scheduled boarding time for my connecting flight to Auckland. So, my total time of travel was only 26 hours!

Initially, I planned to get the services of a Rent-A-Car once I land in Auckland but few days before my departure I cancelled my reservation/booking because of not being confident to drive a different traffic or road driving protocol from what I am used to. Right hand drive vehicles are new to my driving habit! I don’t want that “Shit Happens” before the running event which I prepared for the past 6 months and invested so much resources/money for it only to be distracted or would not push through because of a “stupid” vehicular accident on my part.

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Transit Hotel @ Incheon International Airport

My “host” for my accommodation provided me the necessary option for my land trip from Auckland to Rotorua. She advised me to take the Bus Service (for long distance trips) where she gave the names of the Bus Companies to choose from.There are 3 Bus Companies catering to long distance trips in New Zealand and they are: InterCity Bus, Naked Bus, and the Mana Bus. I selected the InterCity Bus and made my bookings through their Website and it was very easy using my “loaded” E-Card through Mastercard! (Next time, I will avail of the Mana Bus because they have toilet in their Coaches and they are “two-deckers” with cheaper price!)

As soon as I landed in Auckland, I had some time to walk-through the Airport, ate some meal, and sit, patiently waiting for my scheduled bus trip. Whether you are going to the North or South of the North Island of New Zealand, you have to take the Transporter 360 Bus to Manukau which is about 40-45 minutes drive. At Manukau City, you have to wait for the scheduled bus to Rotorua at the Bus Stop across the Westfield Mall. At the Westfield Mall, I would go around again to see the stores inside and then ate a good Burrito at the Food Court. From Manukau to Rotorua was a 3-hour drive with never-ending sight of farms and ranch full of lambs and cattles and vast fields planted with corn. The scenery was simply amazing as totally different as what one would see on a bus trip from Manila to Laoag or to the Bicol Provinces! New Zealand is a Paradise!!!

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Bus Stop @ Auckland International Airport

It was 7:00 PM when I arrived in Rotorua and there was still sunlight. A Taxi would be available at the Town Center’s Bus Drop-Off Area and the house where I would stay was only 3 kilometers from the Bus Station and 2 kilometers from the Redwoods Parks which is Starting Place of the Tarawera 102K Ultramarathon.

The Taxi ride from the Town Center to the House where I stayed was only a short 10-minute ride. I was met by my Host/Owner of the house and she showed my room. She gave me a tour of the house and told me what to use in my cooking while I will be in their house. She gave me additional information about the Bus/Commute System from the house to the Town Center and vice-versa and briefed me on the location of the Redwoods Park; the Holiday Inn; and the grocery stores in Downtown.

To be continued.





Official Results: 6th Taklang Damulag 100-Mile/50-Mile Endurance Runs (2016)

13 12 2016

2016 (6th) Taklang Damulag 100-Mile Endurance Run

5:00 AM December 10, 2016 To 3:00 PM December 11, 2016

Start & Finish Area: SOCOM Headquarters, Fort Magsaysay, Palayan City, Philippines

Course Cut-Off Time: 34 Hours

Number Of Starters: 10 Runners

Number Of Finishers: 2 Runners

Percentage Of Finish: 20%

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Starters Of Taklang Damulag 100 & 50-Mile Endurance Runs

RANK                           NAME                                    TIME (Hours)

  1. Gibo Malvar (Champion, Overall) ———–33:51:20
  2. Graciano Santos (1st Runner-Up, Overall)—-33:51:23
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Overall Champion Gibo Malvar

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Overall 1st Runner-Up Graciano Santos

——————————————————————–

2016 (6th) Taklang Damulag 50-Mile Endurance Run

Start & Finish Area: SOCOM Headquarters, Fort Magsaysay, Palayan City, Philippines

Number Of Starters: 6 Runners

Number Of Finishers: 4 Runners

Percentage Of Finish: 66.66%

RANK                 NAME                                      TIME (Hours)

  1. Thomas Combisen (Champion, Overall) ——–12:57:59
  2. Alfredo Peralta (1st Runner-Up, Overall)——–16:42:10
  3. Tess Leono (Champion, Female) —————16:43:20
  4. Kathleen Piñero (1st Runner-Up, Female) ——-17:52:47
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Overall Champion Thomas Combisen

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Female Champion Tess Leono

Congratulations To All The Finishers!

Note: Photos Courtesy Of Dhan Punzalan 

Pictures: https://www.facebook.com/dhae.punzalan/media_set?set=a.10154034637236975.1073742096.655141974&type=3&pnref=story





Race Report: 2016 Clark-Miyamit 50-Mile Ultra Trail Run (CM50)

4 12 2016

Race Report: 2016 Clark-Miyamit 50-Mile Ultra Trail Run

The goal to attain for this race is simply to finish my fourth (4th) consecutive finish in this race. I admit I did not train well/properly for this race as compared to my previous editions. I considered this race as part of my training for next year’s Tarawera 100K in Rotuora, New Zealand where most of my training runs on the previous months were on the paved roads except for those trails runs I had in Dona Remedios Trinidad, Bulacan last Octoder. My longest run for this race was the “back-to-back” Subic Marathon 42K on a Saturday and then a 10K run the following day which was held two weeks before this race. And since that weekend, I never had a chance to run/hike the necessary vertical distance needed for this event. In short, I did not have “consistency” in my training.

As usual, I only appear at the starting area two-three hours before the Start/Gun Start for my Race Packet Pick-Up and Mandatory Gear Check-Up. I don’t usually go to the usual Race Briefing and scheduled Race Packet Pick-Up. After my Mandatory Gear-Check-Up, I was back to my vehicle and tried to sleep for the remaining hours before the Gun Start. One hour before the Gun Start, I ate my last meal before the race with my extra “Jason Koop’s Rice Balls” with a CarboPro Drinks. I knew that this meal will last me for the next 2 hours after the race had started.

Fifteen minutes before the race started, I was at the Starting Arc and it was time to see some of the international runners and the “usual suspects” in trail running in the country. I could see new faces and younger runners among the crowd. Some would greet me and ask for group picture with me and I would also greet those runners whom I would see in other running events. After the usual “Start Briefing” of the RD, it was time to switch on my headlamp and GPS Watch!

Pak!!! The Gun Start had sounded and I was at the upper one-third of the runners. It was a fast start on the first mile and I think I was having a speed of 5.5 miles per hour and I tried to slow down! It is always the case in my previous two editions that I ended gasping for breath by the time I reached the trailhead towards the river. It was good it was a downhill that I was able to recover and slowed down with my pace.

Running along the river full of lahar was effortless as there were no water to wet our shoes for the first 5 kilometres. But on the first chance that my shoes was immersed on the river for the first time, I could sense that not much of the lahar went inside my shoes. The shoe gaiter that I was wearing was preventing those powdery lahar sand from entering my shoes! I was using a New Balance RC1400V4 which is a Racing Flat and I was happy that my shoes was very light even if it was wet and I could also feel that it would dry up quicker than my usual trail shoes. The only drawback is that if the trail is muddy and sticky, I need to be careful and slow with my footing!

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With George Dolores At The Peak Of Mt Miyamit (Turn-Around Point)

At the Aid Station #1 (Km #7), I had my water refilled in my handheld bottle. By the way, I was using two handheld water bottles, one bottle is half-filled with water and the other one on my right was empty with only CarboPro Powder Mix in it. I knew that I could survive a half-filled water bottle in between Aid Stations except for the distance between AS4 and to the Peak of Mt Miyamit and back to AS4 which has a total distance of 20 kilometres. This is where I would start to fill up my bottle with a CarboPro mix and carry two bottles filled with water and powder mix. If I still lack the necessary water along this segment, I brought my Life Straw and “hope and pray” that a stream of water is still present flowing along this segment of the route where I can refill my water bottle. Every year, I would do this ritual along this segment of the route!

From Aid Station #1, I knew already what to expect——more sand/lahar filled dirt roads/trails; cemented stair; lots of steep descents and ascents; flat trails at the edge of sugar cane plantation; crossing the wide Pasig-Potrero River; the tunnel at the SCTEX; and then to Barangay Sapang Uwak. At the Pasig-Potrero River, there was not much of the flowing water but there was a very short river crossing where the depth is almost to my waist and the current was too strong that one has to grab a rope that was tied across the said river. Before reaching the Aid Station #2, I brought out a pack of my “Jason Koop’s” Rice Ball where one plastic pack container is filled with at least 3-piece equivalent of such balls and I had to eat it all for my first food intake on the race. I finished the water on my handheld bottle on my left palm as I approached the next Aid Station. It was still dark and did not spend much time in the Aid Station.

Since it was downhill from the AS2, I tried to run and maintain my pace all the way up to the center of Barangay Sapang Uwak. I did not have any problems with my Headlight as I have programmed the illumination rate or burning time to reach up to 15 hours of continuous lighting. Finally, a marshal signalled me to enter a detour part of the course which the first time it was introduced in this year’s edition. Instead of running uphill towards the Barangay Hall where the next Aid Station was located along a paved road, the RD deemed it necessary to avoid the cemented road. It was a good move to maintain the name of the event as an ultra trail run but….it made the course harder this time!

I call this “detour” as the “Stairway To Heaven” because after you pass this section, your curses and calls for all the Saints to help you while trekking on this trail, you will finally say that the Aid Station #3 as “Heaven” once you reach it. In the darkness of the night, I could feel that the distance of the detour is about 3-4 miles but in reality, it is only 2 kilometres of rolling terrain and with steep ascents that look like you are already “kissing” the ground. It was good there were diggings on the ground that resemble as stairs on this steep slope of the mountain. On the way back, one has to be very careful in going down on this slope that a misstep might bring you rolling down out of the newly built trail. I have to roll down the straps of my handheld bottles to my wrists and make use of my hands to grab anything on the ground for stability and balance.

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New Balance Racing Flats

From AS3, I hiked and tried to recover from the exhaustion I felt after reaching this part of the route. I just covered a distance of 24 kilometres and I felt that my energy was completely zapped at this point. How could it be? I still have 63 kilometers to go and I felt like I was about to quit. It was good it was still dark and cold. The breeze of the air; fresh air to breath and the presence of the fog gave me the strength to push myself. While hiking, I did a lot of deep-breathing and I just thought that with the fresh air that I was breathing, I would regain my strength! That was what I did until I met the first runner from 60K race! I was amazed by these runners who were about to go back to where we started and it was still dark as compared to the previous editions that I could comfortably and clearly see the faces of those leading runners. I would have thought that there will be course record to be broken again.

Finally, I reached Aid Station #4 and knowing the names of the Volunteers and being ultrarunning friends, I was treated like a “king” where they would serve me everything that I needed. After making sure I mixed my CarboPro with water on my right handheld bottle, I was on my way to the peak/turn-around point which is 10K distance and then back to this AS4 for a total of 20 kilometres. I slowly hiked from the AS4 as it is uphill and then tried to jog on the descents and flat portions of this segment.

As I was passing on a sharp-curved and narrow single track trail, I outbalance myself and my leading foot landed on a cliff and my whole body just fell off the cliff. I was quick to make my handheld bottles as my anchor to whatever or thing that would prevent me from falling to the bottom of the cliff. I was able to stop my body from falling but I need to lift my body to a distance of about 4 feet to reach the level of the trail. Knowing that a runner was trailing me behind for about 10-15 meters, I just rested myself with my body flat on the cliff and tried to observe if there was any pain in my body (making sure I did not incur any wounds or fractures!) while waiting for the next runner to see me on the cliff. The runner stopped and he asked, “Sir, what happened?”. And I said. “I fell!!!” He immediately pointed the tips of his trekking poles to the direction of my hands and I was able to grab them. I was able to reach the level of the trail with the runner pulling his trekking poles towards him and I was okey. I thanked the runner and asked him to just go ahead of me as I would hike and try to feel if my body was okey to finish the race. I felt some numb pain on my right quads and my groin muscles were starting to have cramps! I slowed down and took some time to drink my CarboPro and take in some salt tablets while walking towards the turn-around point.

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LifeStraw a.k.a. Life Saver

It took me 3 hours to reach the peak after I left AS4 with all the fall, slow pace & cramping after the fall and a brief rest at the Peak. From here, I have 8 hours to reach and cross the Finish Line. I knew I could make it with more time to spare as long as I keep on moving. Halfway before reaching AS4, I was already in need of water as I usually drink a lot on this portion of the course plus the fact that the heat of the sun was starting to be felt inside the forested areas. I had to reach that stream of water and scoop some water into my handheld water bottle. Once I reached the stream, I have to walk upstream for about 3 meters and got some from the flowing water. It was time to use the Life Straw that was tucked inside one of my shorts’ pockets. I have to use the Life Straw twice to sip the water inside my hydration bottle. The said water gave me the necessary strength to bring my body to the AS4.

At the AS4, I took some time to rest; eat my rice balls and have my bottles refilled with water before going down to the Miyamit Falls. As compared to my previous finishes, I usually go down directly to the Falls once I reach the AS4. Not this time due to exhaustion and my accidental fall on a cliff. I usually calculate at least one hour to be spent in going down; resting at the Falls; and going back to AS4…and that has happened again in this year’s edition.

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Optional Pose At The Miyamit Falls

The volunteers manning the AS4 were kind enough help every runner passing or dropping by their station and they even go to the extent of giving more what was served on the table. Those “reserved” Coconut Water Drinks did wonders to my tired body that I was able to drink almost half of the bottle-pack! Thank you, guys!

From AS4, it was all downhill but the heat of the sun was on us, thus, preventing us to have a continuous run. It was a jog-walk-jog routine from this point and maintain a relentless forward motion making sure I would be able to cross the finish line within the prescribed cut-off time of 18 hours! It was a matter of time before we could reach AS3 which I call “Heaven”! At this point I joined 3 runners ( one male & two female) and I had a lengthy conversation with an ultra friend, Ariel Tuto Aquino who is also gunning for his 4th successive finish. In our calculation, we would be able to finish the race in 17 hours and some spare minutes.

At AS3, I just refilled my hydration bottles and drank some soda offered by a friend and then left the AS3 alone. It was a very deliberate hike in going down along the “Stairway To Heaven” and I was glad my NB Racing Flats had enough traction to hold me from sliding on those steep parts of the trail. However, I felt the sole portion of my feet were starting to cramp (first time to experience!) due to the very thin support on my forefoot. Once the cramps would appear, I would slow down with my pace and simply walk until the pain disappeared. Finally, I was at the cemented road inside Barangay Sapang Uwak and I continued to battle the exhaustion and pain until I saw some of the runners ahead of me having a rest/drinking ice cold drinks in one of the sari-sari stores in the barangay. I just continued with my jog as I knew I had a little “buffer” time for this race as I was thinking of those steep climbs before AS1 where I usually weaken in previous editions.

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Approaching AS2 Towards The Finish Line (Km #70)

Patience to alternately jog, run and hike was the smartest things to do from AS3 to AS2 even with the heat of the sun was upon us. It was just a matter of time before we ( I was trying to catch-up with two runners in front of me) would reach the AS2 which is actually 17 kilometers away from the Finish Line. In my estimate, I had only 30 minutes as a “buffer time” which I knew would be enough for me to cross the finish line. I did not spend much time at the AS2 after I refilled my bottles. It is time to attack those steep descents and ascents before reaching AS1. I really slowed down on these portions because my hike was too deliberate using my hands as anchor to prevent me from sliding and use them too in propelling myself to go up on the steep ascents. I guess, I lacked some training on these situations during those weeks and months before this event. I hope to be smarter next time.

Upon reaching the AS1, which is 7 kilometres to the finish line, I still have 1:15 minutes to tackle such distance and I was confident to cross the finish line before the 18th hour knowing that there is only one easy ascent at the trailhead before reaching the paved roads of Clark. Unfortunately, on the last one mile with 15 minutes to go, I sped up my pace and went straight on the intersection where I should have turned RIGHT. It was too late to realise that I was lost at this point. So, I simply finished (beyond the cut-off time) and reported to the staff at the Finish Line that I got lost. I was still awarded the Finisher’s Medal and the Finisher’s Trucker Cap without the Finisher’s Shirt.

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Approaching AS1 Towards The Finish Line (Looking worried!)

For sure, I will be back for my “graduation rites” next year in this event.

To be continued…

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Finisher’s Trucker Cap & 4th CM 50 Finisher’s Medal





Trekking Poles (2016)

30 08 2016

I have discovered the use of trekking poles in my readings in the Internet about 5 years ago where it was used to aid older people in their walking and hiking on the road and on the trails. As we know, these trekking poles or first popularly known as ski poles which were always being seen in every event in the Winter Olympics and other skiing sports in temperate countries. Some writers would say that the origin of these trekking poles came from the European countries where trekkers, hikers, and trail runners (during the Summer Season and drier months) would use them for balance as well as to preserve their leg strengths for the long haul and also aid them in steep ascents and descents.

For the past few years, almost in all the European Trail Running Events as well as Ultra Trail Running Events you would see almost all the participants carrying with them trekking poles during the race. I would have the impression that the routes of these events have very steep ascents and descents that one would need these trekking poles.

When I first used these trekking poles on the paved road, I received some laughs and negative comments from cyclists who would pass me along the road to the point that they would ask me where is the SNOW and my SKI? But a few months after such incident, I would see Marshall Ullrich using these trekking poles on his successful USA Trans-Continental Run few years ago. If only these cyclists would see the video and read the book of this famous ultra runner, they would be convinced that trekking poles are also used in ultra running.

Trekking Poles Adventure Runs

Using Trekking Poles In My Adventure Runs

Lately, I’ve seen that some of the Ultra Trail Running Events in the United States have already allowed the use of these trekking poles as compared when it was then a “no-no” for runners to use these poles. Some would say that one is having an undue advantage from the other runners who would not use these poles. Some would say that it is a form of cheating in ultra trail races. But whatever it is worth, I have a personal experience in using these trekking poles on the road and on the trails.

Let me first give some suggestions on the use of trekking poles with the following enumerated observations:

1. Do not use trekking poles for the first time in a trail running race without having used them extensively in your training. It follows the over-used advice in racing of not using something new during race day.

2. If the trail running event is a marathon distance or 50K, do not bother to bring or use these trekking poles if the total elevation gain is less than 3,000 feet or in a relatively flat course.

3. If the number of runners is more than 300 runners where the course is 100% single-track trail with less than a marathon distance (42K), don’t bother to use trekking poles as it will slow you down, slow down the runners behind you, or you might hurt somebody else in front or behind you. Use good judgement in using trekking poles on a single-trail trail, most specially in a most populated trail running event.

4. It is highly recommended to buy those trekking poles which could be folded in 3 parts as they could be easily stashed and held by the hands as if one is holding a baton while running. Since they are light, their weight is insignificant and they could be easily brought back to their intended lengths in a few seconds. There are hydration packs that have strings or elastic bands that could hold these poles or stashed/held by the pack while they are folded. Make some practice in removing or stashing the poles to and from the hydration pack during your training runs.

5. If you carry the trekking poles with your hands, while running, on its expanded length, make sure that there is no one behind you as you might poke the tip of the trekking pole to the runner while swinging your arms. If there is somebody behind you, make sure you don’t excessively swing your arms to the point that you might hit the runner behind you. You can have the option to carry the trekking poles with only one hand and be able to control that arm from excessive swinging or you can simply fold the poles and stashed them in your hydration pack or hold them with your hands.

Michael Wardian Trekking Poles

Michael Wardian At San Diego 100 Carrying Trekking Poles

6. If you intend to use the trekking poles with their extended length and if you are a slow runner or if you intend to power hike the first half of a 100K or 100-mile run, I suggest you start behind the runners and not mingle with the faster runners behind the starting line. However, if you are a fast runner and intend to be in the podium finish, you can have you folded trekking poles stashed with your hydration pack or just simply hold them with your hands.

7. In my experience of using trekking poles and seeing the faster runners using effectively these poles, I highly recommended buying a longer length from the suggested size or length that is based on your height. Three years ago, I bought a Black Diamond Ultra Distance Z-Poles with the length of 120 cms and I found it to be useful in my training runs as well as in my races. Last year, I bought another Black Diamond Ultra Distance Carbon Z-Poles with the length of 110 cms thinking that they are lighter and which are specifically recommended for my height. But I would find them to be the same weight with my 120-cm poles and I found them a little short for my height. In my ultra races in Hongkong, I found out that most of the trail runners have longer trekking poles than what their recommended size for their height and I tried one of my friends’ trekking poles which are 130-cm in size and I found them to be more adapted to my hiking/running style. Hopefully, I would be able to buy them soon!

Having stated my experiences and observation in the use trekking poles in running events, the following are their advantages and disadvantages:

Advantages:

1. If used in 50-milers, 100Ks and 100-milers and other longer trail runs, these poles will preserve ones leg power and strength for the long haul.
In a technical route and with lots of stream/water crossings, the poles with provide an extra “leg” for balance and stability for the body, instead, of falling or injuring oneself along the route.
2. For safety and protection from wild animals and “creatures” along the route. The poles can be used to ward off snakes and other creatures in the forest/mountain that have the tendency to attack you. I once used my poles to “whack” or strike on the head of an attacking and barking dog in one of the populated areas in the mountains. My swing with the poles to the dog was so strong that it tumbled down as if the dog was knocked out by a baseball bat!
3. For contigency purposes, the poles can be used as a support to ease the pain or body imbalance just in case one has rolled an ankle, or in cases when a runner is injured. In cases of extreme accidents where there is fracture to the runner, I guess, these poles could be used as emergency splints!
4. I’ve seen a runner during the Translantau 100K where he was holding a very long trekking pole and I’ve seen him using the poles as “pole vault” as he jumped along the sides of a single-track trail while overtaking a group six runners on a single file! He did it while we were descending on the said trail. The runner was so fast that I was not able to see his back even if I was able to pass these six runners after him.
5. In this year’s Translantau 100, the winds on the second night was too strong that my body would not be able to stand on my own. But having my trekking poles as extra “anchor” to the ground as I was ascending on the last two mountains of the course, I would have stopped or crawled along the slope up to the peak of the mountain avoiding to be knocked down by the strong winds with almost zero visibility due to thick fog. I was glad that I had my trekking poles with me while trying to keep my sight on the couple of runner in front of me.

Translantau 100 Trekking Pole

2016 TransLantau 100K With Trekking Poles

6. One time when I first joined the TNF Philippines 100, the trail was blocked by two water buffalos/carabaos and I with the rest of the runners behind me could hardly drive them away from the trail. By using the trekking poles as extension of my arms and raising them into the air, the carabaos thought that I was a BIG figure to contend with and slowly I was able to drive them away from the trail. But that incident and delay wasted a lot of my time and I eventually DNFd after one kilometre away from the place of incident. The trail was supposed to be the start of an ascending trail route towards Mt Santo Tomas which considered as the most challenging part of the course.

Disadvantages:

1. Obviously, it is an additional gear to be carried by the runner which means additional weight. Even if the trekking poles has a total weight of 280 grams, carrying it or holding it on a 50-mile, 100K or 100-mile or within a duration of 30 hours would be taxing to the body and you may end up carrying a total of about ten kilos or 5 pounds on the course. Additionally, it will delay you for some seconds in unfolding and folding them while you are running. If you add these few seconds within the distance of 100 miles, they will add up to minutes of maybe half an hour! Without proper training and technique on how to effectively use these trekking poles would mean a delay in finishing ones race.
2. In my three-year successive finishes of the Clark Miyamit 50-Mile Run (CM50), I have never used my trekking poles. I was then 61 years old when I had my first finish in this race and I would outpace and pass younger and stronger runners on my way up to the highest elevation of the course which happens to be the turning point of the race back to the Start/Finish Line. Simply put, if you have the proper training and preparation, there is no need to use those trekking poles in a 50-mile race. If you are less than 50 years old and I see you using a trekking pole while we are competing in the same race, my smile to you would mean that you are a “weak & newbie” trail runner!
3. In some of the international races, they allow runners to carry trekking poles but if the route is a “single-track” trail, they advise you not to use them, most specially if you have runners in front or behind you who are one or two steps away from you. There are also ultra races that require the runners not to use their trekking poles at the first 20-25 miles as most of the runners are running near to each other. Make sure that to ask from the Race Organizer/Face Director if the use of trekking poles are allowed in the race if their use is not stated in its rules and regulations.
4. Do not use trekking poles for the first time in a race you are going to compete. You will be saving the strength of your legs but your shoulder and arms muscles will take a lot of beating that you might no longer move your arms during the later part of the race or after the race.

At my present age of 64 years old, the trekking poles are my “necessities” and mandatory gear in my training and future races. I will be using them more often as I have already bought the proper size for me.

Trekking Poles

Training With Trekking Poles Has Started

I have one year to train with them in preparation for my plan to join the @CCC in Chamonix, France next year, hoping that I will be in the race after the lottery.

Go out and run!





Why I Hate “Selfies” In Running Events

17 08 2016

In my early years of joining running events, which is about 40 years ago, runners then were not particular with their pictures before, during, and after finishing a race. What was important to them was to finish the race, get their Certificate of Finish and hoping that the race result will be published in the daily newspapers. It was only the Top Male & Female picture that would be featured in the next day’s newspapers, if the race is a Marathon distance. It was only the Marathon Races that award Finisher’s Medal to the runners!

Now that we are in the Age of the Internet and Social Media, the tendency is that you need an evidence that you are participating in a running event by posting a picture of yourself in the Internet/Social Media showing that you are really in the said event. Added to this is a “bragging right” to your friends that you are really a legitimate endurance athlete. No evidence, no “bragging rights”! And the more your pictures is being SHARED and have LIKES, the better for you that your feat is being recognized.

Let me define what I mean by “selfies” or a “selfie” picture. “Selfies” are those pictures taken by ones digital camera or cellphone’s camera where you click the shutter button by yourself with your face or body and the surroundings as a product/result in the said picture. Sometimes, I can consider “selfie” pictures when I see runners stopping by the trail or road to take a picture of the scenery or the surroundings. I don’t consider “selfie” pictures taken by official photographers as well as pictures taken by the support crew or pacer of a runner.

Let me then tell you the reasons why I hate “selfies” in running events and they are the following:

  1. Runners taking “selfies” with another runner on the background or taking a “selfie” behind another runner don’t ask permission to take a picture of you as the background. Most of the time on these “selfies”, they would show that I was walking or having some “low/down moments” when these pictures are taken while the one taking the “selfie” is smiling or laughing happily behind my back or in front of me. Just imagine what the picture would depict if it is posted in the social media.
  2. It slows me and breaks my racing momentum in races. Ok, I admit that I am a very positive person and I don’t say “No” to the requests of other runners to have a “selfie” during a race. But for God’s sake, please don’t ask for a “selfie” with me at the peak of a mountain in a trail race if I am about to continue my run to proceed on the descending/downhill part of the course. As a rule, never ask another runner for a “selfie” during the race. Every runner has their goal to finish the race as fast as they can and that is the simple essence of race!
  3. “Selfies” or pictures taken at the Turn-Around Points in trail runs are also annoying as it delays the momentum of a runner. Simply have the Race Marshal on these points/locations to take note or write the Bib Number and time of arrival of the runner and don’t delay the runner from finishing the race. Just imagine if you are in a group of 4-6 runners in that turn-around point and each runner would wait for his/her turn for him to pose a picture showing that he/she actually reached or passed the said place!
  4. In the Aid Stations, Race Marshals and Volunteers should not take “selfies” with the runners while they are being helped with their food and while refilling their hydration bottles or packs. These requests for “selfies” would alter or disturb the runner’s focus on what he decides to do in the Aid Station at the fastest time possible. Once a runner’s focus is unnecessarily disturbed, his or her temper would spike most specially if his target time to reach that Aid Station/Checkpoint is not met. To be safe, never ask a “selfie” to those who are fast and runners who are focused to improve their finish time/s in a race. Moreso, if they are elite international runners or “good-looking” lady international runners.
  5. Let it be known that even if I am already 64 years old, I am still a competitive runner. Having said this, I have target pace, speed, and finish time in all the races that I join. I would be happy and contented to race with the younger runners in road and in trail races, whether they are non-ultra or ultra distance events. So, a simple delay for a “selfie” would be a reason for my targets to be altered, resulting to slow performance or sometimes, bad temper!
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I am already tired!

So, what is my advise on “selfies” or taking of pictures during the race?

  1. If you want to improve your PR in a certain race, leave your cellphone/camera behind. Aside from being a distraction (of taking selfies/pictures), carrying a cellphone or camera adds weight to your body.
  2. If you have a blog or planning to document your races and need to have some pictures of scenery or places along the race route, do a recon run along the route and you can have all the time to take pictures along the route. On race day, your only goal is to focus to finish the race without any distractions.
  3. If you are a fast runner, you have all the time to take your pictures but do not distract or interrupt other runners and request them to take your picture or ask them to have “selfies” with you. In one of my trail races, a runner in front of me suddenly stopped along a single-track descending part of the route and requested me to take a picture of him that I wanted to deny his request. But I just smiled and did the favour to take a picture of him…not once but three times!
  4. In international races, don’t be stoked to world-class/elite runners by asking them to have “selfies” with them during the race. You can have “selfies” with them during the Race Briefing (a day before the race) or after the Race. These international elite ultra runners are kind and easy to talk with as they would accommodate a “photo-ops” with them once you request them to have one. I never had any problem talking to these people before and after the race.
  5. In races where one of the mandatory gears is a cellphone, the cellphone is a gear that is very vital for your survival just in case of any emergency/accident or serious injury that will happen to you. Bringing out ones cellphone to take pictures of the scenery and “selfies” adds up to the extra time spent in the course, most specially if you are “cut-off time beater” like me. If you successfully finished the race within the prescribed cut-off time, you can register again for the next year’s edition if you intend to run it faster and have a chance to take selfies during the race.
  6. You must be warned also with runners who intentionally request you to have “selfie” with them must specially if you running ahead of them. This kind of runner will destroy or impede your momentum in the race and after taking a “selfie” and making some time to pack or stow your cellphone or camera in your pocket, the one who requested you to have a “selfie” with your will just leave you without even saying “thank you”. Just when you realised that you have been tricked by this runner for stopping, you would see him almost one hundred yards ahead of you with a blistering pace.

“Selfies” are already a “norm” in most of the Social Media outlets and platforms and they are already part of being a runner and as an avid outdoor adventurer. But if you don’t have any time to beat, it is fun and self-satisfying because it creates memories to your activities or events.

With or without “selfies” running is still fun but don’t do it to me when I am racing.

Go out and run!

H1 Recon 02

Smiling But Actually Tired





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

21 03 2016

Training & Preparation:

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

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

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

Trekking Poles

Using My Trekking Poles In My Playground

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

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

Nutrition & Hydration

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peeing During The Race

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

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

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

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

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

On Apparel and Running Kit

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

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

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

Lantau Cable Car Trail Ngong Ping

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

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

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

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

Medication & Drugs

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

To be continued…








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