Posted in 6km, fun run, running event

Running for Heroes and the Unexpected 6K PR… The Condura Skyway Marathon 2015

On October 2014 the registration for 2015 edition of Condura Skyway Marathon was opened. It was a highly anticipated annual running event (especially since the 2014 edition was cancelled) and the slots and registration period was very limited. The registration fee was quite expensive and after signing up to join Men’s Health Urbanathlon 2015 at the same time period, I was on a really tight budget. Luckily, a friend and running buddy, Erl, was kind enough to let me borrow money and I chose to join the 6k category because it was the cheapest at 900php. Even with the short distance, I was happy to be a part of such a big event and the beneficiaries of the event was The Hero Foundation, a charitable organization that supports the families of fallen and incapacitated soldiers. The unfortunate event of the Mamasapano clash that took place on the 25th of January 2015 shocked the nation and the event turned into a tribute to the Fallen 44 soldiers of the PNP Special Action Force. The event became one of the most memorable for most runners and as a sign of respect, runners can salute the pictures of the fallen heroes held by soldiers lined up along the route. It was an emotional moment of the race, some runners cried, some even stopped and touch the pictures of the heroes, and some runners even went beyond the 42 km distance, adding 2 more kilometers to create a 44 km tribute run. What we, the runners, did was create the kind of powerful emotional response that can make even the skeptics of today’s society restore even a small amount of faith in humanity.

Now, about the race, I arrived at the activity area around 5am. Some runners, mostly the strong finishers of the 42k category are already all over the place, resting or just enjoying whatever the event and sponsors’ offer like freebies and photobooths.

Live bands playing music to entertain the resting runners and guests.
Live bands playing music to entertain the resting runners and guests.
I had a lot of time to kill, so I lined up at the Nizoral photobooth to have a pre-race photo before heading to the starting line area.
I had a lot of time to kill, so I lined up at the Nizoral photobooth to have a pre-race photo before heading to the starting line area.

Gunstart was 6:30am for Wave A of the 6k category. I went to the starting line around 6am and easily found Erl. After an intro, there was a pre-race tribute for the Fallen 44 with the release of 44 white balloons, and then the stretching and warm-up exercises.

Starting line pose!
Starting line pose!
And another one...
And another one…
44 white balloons for the 44 heroes...
44 white balloons for the 44 heroes…

Erl told me to go ahead and run my pace, but I gave her the headstart. After crossing the starting line and activating my Nike+ Running app, I was trying to put my Sony XPERIA V inside my Fitletic racing belt and I accidentally dropped it when it was unexpectedly ejected by the belt (because it was new and very tight, I was trying to getting used to it). It hit the ground hard and was even hit by some of the runners, until a kind runner noticed it bouncing on the ground and picked it up for me (thank you, good sir). After successfully securing my phone inside the belt, we passed by the photos of the fallen 44 heroes, saluting them as we run.

A salute to the heroes... Photo credit: Fely Araojo (Lakwatserang Pinay)
A salute to the heroes… Photo credit: Fely Araojo (Lakwatserang Pinay).

After passing the Skyway Uphill, I may have already been hundreds of meters away from Erl and running a smooth pace. Running on the Skyway feels soothing, it was a cold, sunny morning, but it feels relaxing and the elevation probably gives that effect. I planned this race to be a slow and calm run to enjoy the short distance until I caught up with strong runners.

Relaxed, but running a bit speedy pace. Photo credit: Running Photographers.
Relaxed, but running a bit speedy pace. Photo credit: Running Photographers.

I didn’t notice that I was speeding up until the road became less congested and I was running with only 5-7 people ahead of me. I have overtaken some of them, including a guy in a blue shirt with a sling bag (let’s call him the ‘blue-shirt-sling-bag’ guy). Then I caught up with 2 teenagers and an adult running side by side, the teens sped up and left the adult, I caught up with the teens and I was pacing with them midway. They were fast, sometimes they’re ahead of me, sometimes I’m ahead of them. The only thing slowing us down was the congestion of the route going to the finish line, but we were overtaking joggers and walkers. We were in swerving motion most of the time, I was just pacing with them and sometimes following their lead as they swerve left and right. What was originally a planned slow and relaxation run turned into a race and for the first time, I was actually pushed to run and was actually running against runners, not joggers. It was fun, I feel exhausted because I have never ran like this in a fun run before, but I kept pushing myself to keep up because in my mind, I don’t wanna be outclassed by kids. Some time between the 4th and 5th kilometer, ‘blue-shirt-sling-bag’ guy caught up and was running really fast, overtaking us. He was reserving his stamina after all and ran strong towards the finish line. I was very tired, but I still tried to keep up with the teens. The laces of my new Adidas ClimaCool Fresh (thanks to my brother, Aris, for the new shoes) loosen up for the 2nd time and I slowed down to the toll booth to tie it up, but before that, the other teen runner (call him teen runner #2) was right behind me and we accidentally bumped each other. I said sorry, he said ‘okey lang’ and blitz passed me as I stopped by the toll booth and tie the shoe lace. That’s it, they were hundreds of meters ahead of me, I was exhausted, and I never bothered speeding up to catch up with them, I just ran my pace. I never saw the other teen, dunno if he was behind or ahead of me, ‘blue-shirt-sling-bag’ guy probably reached the finish line, but I still spotted Teen Runner #2. He slowed down in the small uphill intersection near Wilcon Depot and I was able to close the gap a bit. A fast runner blitz pass me after the uphill, Teen Runner #2 slowed down a bit, he was momentarily distracted by the runner who also blitz passed him on his left and he wasn’t aware that I was very close on his right. I sped up, propelling with my right foot, and by the time he turned his head to the right and saw me about to overtake him, he accelerated, but it was too late, I had momentum and reached the finished line a few seconds faster. I finished at 33mins 03secs(chip time) and rank 35 out of 1381 runners in the official results and I was happy with it. It was an unexpected 6k PR, it was my fastest continuous run, and it was the most fun I had because for the first time, even though it was not an official duel with another runner, I was pushed to run better than before.

Since the run had a very high volume of runners (15,000+ participants), the medals were given near the finishers claiming area instead of having representatives waiting for you at the finish line to hang it on your neck. I grabbed my bag, my hydration freebies (Summit drinking water and Gatorade) and waited for Erl at the activity area.

Found Erl at the Nizoral Photobooth. She finished at 54min 19secs, Rank 621 out of 1381 6k Runners.
Found Erl at the Nizoral Photobooth. She finished at 54min 19secs, Rank 621 out of 1381 6k Runners.
My post race photo...
My post-race photo with the medal…

As with all RunRio events, it was another well-organized run, but I feel like it did lack sponsor freebies, I didn’t get any supplements or any other freebies other than drink samples. The tech shirt is very good, the fabric feels soft and the black color doesn’t make it feel like it is absorbing the heat of the morning sun. It does look more like a finisher shirt than a running shirt though. The medal design was very good, looks like a dog tag and the 42k medal is even better, it’s as big as a phablet. I have no major complaints, it was a very memorable event and one the my best runs this year.

Just a side note, the run marks the debut of my new running equipment. The Adidas ClimaCool Fresh shoes that my brother gave me not only looks good, I felt good running with it (probably the reason how I manage to maintain a very good pace). My new Circuit travelling bag has enough storage and pockets for all my running stuff and I got it for a good price (450php at SM Department Store). And finally, the Fitletic Racing Belt with bib holder is totally worth the hefty price tag of 1120php because it’s very durable and flexible, and more importantly, no bounce while running. The reason I bought this belt was to lessen the pissed off sensation I had because the registration slots for Run United 1 21km was sold out and I went all the way from Calamba City to RUNNR Bonifacio Global City just to be disappointed. At least I finally got the Fitletic Belt I always wanted, but always avoided because of the expensive price tag (Thanks a lot, scalpers of Run United).

Adidas ClimaCool Fresh, Circuit bag, and Fitletic Racing Belt with pouch and bib holder.
My new running equipment: Adidas ClimaCool Fresh, Circuit bag, and Fitletic Racing Belt with pouch and bib holder.
The race route via google maps/Nike+ Running
The race route via google maps/Nike+ Running

For the official race results of the Condura Skyway Marathon 6k, go here: http://conduramarathon.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/6km-Condura-Skyway-Marathon-2015-Overall-6k.pdf

Posted in adventure, hiking, mountain trekking

Twin Peaks? Mt. Buntis and Mt. Nagpatong Day Hike…

My quest to prepare myself for running and finishing a full marathon has led me to try other outdoor activities like mountain trekking to strengthen my body, more specifically, my legs. So, 2 weeks ago (25th January, 2015) I joined a day hike of 2 least popular (to trekkers) mountains in the vicinity of Maragondon, Mt. Buntis and Mt. Nagpatong.

The first scenic view I've seen en route to the mountains and before crossing the bridge.
The first scenic view I’ve seen en route to the mountains and before crossing the bridge.

The 2 mountains has a historical importance as the execution site of the Philippine Revolutionary leader and hero, Andres Bonifacio. The exact site or mountain where Bonifacio died is still up to debate and can just be accepted as within the vicinity of the 2 mountains.

Group photo at the Municipal Hall
Group photo at the Municipal Hall. Photo by Koko Paps.

Now, about the journey, from Alabang, Muntinlupa City we traveled to Maragondon, Cavite via bus from the Baclaran Bus Terminal located within the old Coastal Mall. We left the terminal at around 6am and arrived at Maragondon some time between 7:30-8 am. After registration at the municipal hall and securing a guide, we started walking to the bridge that leads to the other side of town and the mountain trails.

Middle of the bridge...
Because it’s just a day hike, I only brought my Hawk Belt bag containing snacks, chocolates, swiss army knife, extra t-shirt, LED headlamp, and a 600ml hydration pack.
scenery from the middle of the bridge
scenery from the middle of the bridge
On the other side of the bridge...
On the other side of the bridge…
Group photo at the other side of the bridge.
Group photo at the other side of the bridge. Photo by Koko Paps.

After a quick briefing by the Team leads of Team Kumandok, we head out to the trails towards the 1st mountain, Mt. Buntis (The word “Buntis” translates as ‘Pregnant’ in English, the mountain is said to be shaped like a pregnant woman).

Group photo after the briefing. This is my 1st time joining a trek organized by Team Kumandok.
Group photo after the briefing. This is my 1st time joining a trek organized by Team Kumandok. Photo from Team Kumandok FB page.

The first section of the trail is very similar to the Nuvali trails, there are grassy areas with cows all over the place.

We had a quick pit stop at a nearby house with a sari-sari store.
We had a quick pit stop at a nearby house with a sari-sari store.

The second section is more of a small forest with trees and riverbeds. It’s still an easy path that even kids can easily and safely walk through.

More rocks and riverbeds on the route.
More rocks and riverbeds on the route.

The third section is a bit harder with some uphills of medium difficulty, but there’s no need to use too much effort in climbing. This continues all the way to the summit. According to Google My Tracks, starting from the bridge to the summit, the total time of the trek was 1hr and 46 mins, and the total distance was 4.46 km.

The route from Maragondon bridge to Mt. Buntis summit.
The route from Maragondon bridge to Mt. Buntis summit as recorded by Google My Tracks.
Relaxing at the summit.
Relaxing at the summit.
A look at what's below the summit via GoPro. Photo from Team Kumandok FB page.
A look at what’s below the summit via GoPro. Photo from Team Kumandok FB page.
Koko Paps in action.
Koko Paps in action.
Panoramic view from the summit.
Panoramic view from the summit.
Even more panoramic view from the summit.
Even more panoramic view from the summit.
One last look at the surroundings before we go go.
One last look at the surroundings before we go go.

After nearly an hour of rest at the summit, we head back down for the 2nd destination, Mt. Nagpatong.

This is probably the most interesting sight along the route. A cave-like opening on the side of a hill. Looks like the Bat Cave from Nolan's Batman Begins and The Dark Knight Rises.
This is probably the most interesting sight along the route. A cave-like opening on the side of a hill. Looks like the Bat Cave from Nolan’s Batman Begins and The Dark Knight Rises.
Going back to that nearby house for another quick pit stop.
Going back to that nearby house for another quick pit stop.
More rocks. More riverbeds.
More rocks. More riverbeds.

After a short pit stop, we head to the trail leading to Mt. Nagpatong. It’s just as easy as the Mt. Buntis trail, the only obstacle was that river that rises up and down depending on the time of day.

According to our guide, this river can rise above knee level. Luckily, it was shallow at the time.
According to our guide, this river can rise above knee level. Luckily, it was shallow at the time. Photo by Koko Paps.
Groupfie at the New Zealand-ish part of the route. Photo by koko Paps.
Groupfie at the New Zealand-ish part of the route. Photo by koko Paps.
This part of the route offers a nice, relaxing environment. Grass and bamboo around the place, wide space, and some cows. It's quite similar to the New Zealand trail of Nuvali.
This part of the route offers a nice, relaxing environment. Grass and bamboo around the place, wide space, and some cows. It’s quite similar to the New Zealand trail of Nuvali.

While some wanted to rest for awhile at the scenic part of the Mt. Nagpatong route (see photo above), some of us, including yours truly, wanted to reach the Bonifacio Shrine/Monument to rest and take our lunch, so we went ahead.

The entrance to the Bonifacio Monument. Careful with the steps though, the road was littered with cow dung.
The entrance to the Bonifacio Monument. Careful with the steps though, the road was littered with cow dung.

From the Summit of Mt. Buntis to the pit stop to the Bonifacio Shrine in Mt. Nagpatong, the total travel time was 2 hrs and 21 mins with a distance of 6.2km. The Bonifacio Shrine/Monument is like a rest house, this where we shared (Special thanks to the participants for sharing food, I didn’t bring any packed lunch because I know that I can get through the day with just water and some chocolates) and took our lunch and rest. After regaining energy, we had some photo op around the area.

It does look like a rest house in the mountains.
It does look like a rest house in the mountains.
After lunch rest. Photo from Team Kumandok FB page.
After lunch rest. Photo from Team Kumandok FB page.
The execution site of the Bonifacio brothers?
The execution site of the Bonifacio brothers?
The statues of the Bonifacio brothers.
The statues of the Bonifacio brothers.
Katipunan (abbrev. KKK). Photo by Koko Paps.
Katipunan (abbrev. KKK). Photo by Koko Paps.
Kataas-taasan, Kagalang-galangang Katipunan (KKK) ng mga Anak ng Bayan.
Kataas-taasan, Kagalang-galangang Katipunan (KKK) ng mga Anak ng Bayan.
"Bayani" (Hero).
“Bayani” (Hero).
One last group pic. Photo from Team Kumandok FB page.
One last group pic. Photo from Team Kumandok FB page.
With some of my officemates.
With some of my officemates. Photo from Team Kumandok FB page.
Photo by Jeremi Naval.
Photo by Jeremi Naval.

We head back to town, we took the same path as before, but the route to town was an easier one as we hit the pavement instead of the previous trail. We crossed a different bridge, one that has the tendency to sway and may induce dizziness to some people. We visited a museum dedicated to Andres Bonifacio. It was very similar to Jose Rizal’s house at my hometown in Calamba City, but it’s much more high-tech with air-conditioning, film showing, and an electronic-voice narration of the Bonifacio trial and execution. The place also offers comfort rooms to people who want to take a bath or change clothes. The total trekking time from the Bonificio Shrine in Mt. Nagpatong to the Bonifacio Museum and town was 1 hr and 6 mins with a 3.02 km distance.

The Katipunan flag inside the Bonifacio Museum.
The Katipunan flag inside the Bonifacio Museum.

Overall, it was a good hike. As my 2nd mountain trek adventure, it was an easy one, a relaxing nature trip, and a good preparation for my Condura Skyway Marathon run that happened a week later. I’m really enjoying mountain trekking, next to running, this is my favorite outdoor activity and I look forward to doing it more often this year.