Posted in 25km, running, running event, running locales, Uphill Run

Go to upHELL!… 2nd Philippine Marine Corps Marathon

There comes a time when a runner realizes he got tired of the usual race routes of big running events. It’s that time when a runner tries to seek other places to run, a route that is rarely visited by runners, a faraway location with scenic views, and a different kind of challenge. That time came when I finally decided to join the 2nd Philippine Marine Corps. Marathon in Ternate, Cavite. This is definitely the farthest event location for me to join, so, I decided to invite Alvin and Aian to join me running the 25k category, and when we all had the mutual agreement to face this new challenge, we registered ASAP.

Unfortunately, come race day, Aian made the decision to drop the race due to lack of sleep and other reasons. So, it was just me and Alvin running just like the first time we ran our first half-marathon back in October 2014. We went to the Marine HQ in Taguig for the free bus ride to Ternate. It was already passed 2230 when we arrived at Magallanes and I was a bit nervous, thinking we’ll miss the bus ride. We took a tricycle ride, and because of our unfamiliarity in the area, we agreed to be dropped on the nearest gate. Unluckily, the gate was closed and the guard told us to walk straight and just stick to the sidewalk. We continued walking, I feel like we’re near the main gate, so I ask this guy who was sitting on a shed. He was acting like a weirdo when I ask him if he knew where the main gate is. He was just sitting there, holding his mobile phone, just glance at me for a second and he wasn’t responding when I asked again if it’s nearby. Dunno what he’s problem was, maybe he was high or shy, maybe a shady person, and I only asked him twice because Alvin was standing next to me. Luckily, the lead escort vehicle spotted us walking on asked if we are runners for the marathon. We said yes and he told us to board the MMDA bus. We almost missed it, the vehicles were suppose to leave at 2300 sharp, but it left minutes earlier. We’re so lucky at the time because if we’re left behind, we probably would not have ran at the event. A soldier, very nice guy, offered to find us better seats (we sat on monoblock chairs) because he warned us of the instability once we hit the curvy roads of Ternate.

We arrived at the Marine Base around 1 am and we have a lot of time to spare since our gun start was 0430. We ate and roam around the beach and the activity area. We were so excited to run and luckily, time flies fast.

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42k runners at the starting line.
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The spooky, but ambient, torch-lit starting area.
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It was 30th October, the day before Halloween.

And for a gun start they do it in the most bad-ass way, by firing a howitzer. I was taking photos of the 42k runners at the starting line and I was startled by the loud sound of the howitzer, even felt the shock wave. This event is the pioneer for a cannon start.

When it’s our time to run, Alvin and I positioned ourselves on the front, feeling like elite runners. But, we just wanted to have our photos taken and I planned to run at Alvin’s pace instead of running for a PR.

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Front Runners. Just to know how it feels like when the elites line up.
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The kid on my left is a fast runner. I overheard a conversation with his guardian behind him that he was planning to finish 2 hours 27 minutes. The kid can probably do a Sub-2 hour half-marathon.
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We’re going to upHell!

And then the race started with another powerful howitzer blast. We ran a few meters and then slowed down and let the faster runners overtake us. The first 4+ kilometers to the entrance of the Marine Base is 98% uphill and that was very tough for those who did not train for it like Alvin. It was also very dark and I was glad to have brought my Energizer 7-LED headlamp to light the way. I handled the uphills fine especially moving at Alvin’s pace, but I can sense him having a hard time. A lot of runners overtook us, even a whole squad of marines and soldiers doing their military cadence. If Alvin had good training for this run, it would’ve been fun to run alongside these strong and brave men.

It was still dark when we reached the 5th kilometer, which was already outside the Marine Base. The main route is part of the Mount Palay-Palay-Mataas na Gulod Protected Landscape. Tall trees, roaming wildlife, and scenic landscape all around us, and of course, more uphills.

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Alvin liking what he’s experiencing so far after complaining about too much upHells. Two “Likes” for that!
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Military Cadence in action. I wonder if I ran my usual pace, can I keep up with these guys?
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There are armed soldiers around this bridge and the forest area nearby. Dunno if they’re searching for something or guarding the place. But, I’m liking the race route because of the scenery.

The beautiful scenery around the route made its majestic appearance when the sun finally came up. We are enjoying the view around us, so it’s okay to slow down and walk a lot. Not much vehicles around and the road is wide. As we approach the 11th kilometer, excitement within me spiked a little bit, knowing that Kaybiang Tunnel is near and a long stretch of downhill helps speeding up our pace.

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Seeing Kaybiang Tunnel for the first time.
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Alvin and the Chipmarines!
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Coming out the other side of the tunnel.

Moving forward, I thought the 25k U-turn was just a few hundred meters after coming out the other side of the tunnel. It was actually more than a kilometer. But, it’s okay, with beautiful scenery on a fine day, the distance is worth it.

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You can see the sea.

When we finally reached the U-turn, we ate and re-hydrated a lot. Going back will be harder because of another long uphill segment after the tunnel.

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Alvin and the Chipmarines 2
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Gotta have fun when the going gets tough.
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This kind of scenic race route are usually seen in video games like Gran Turismo…
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And they look just as good in real life.
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On this rock…. I rest…
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Going back to the tunnel.
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The Kaybiang Tunnel took 4 years to finish. It is 300 meters in length (the longest tunnel in the Philippines) and is part of Mount Pico De Loro.
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The (head)Lights at the end of the tunnel.
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A usual scene when motorists and cyclists reach the tunnel, they stop and take pictures.
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Bye, Kaybiang Tunnel. See you next time when I finally decide to run the full marathon here.

Going back after the tunnel is a bit of a challenge because of another long stretch of uphill. Even running at a slower pace than my usual, I feel tired and pain on my legs.

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Beautiful. Like a race course in Forza Horizon…
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But, deadly on the knees for those who don’t train uphill runs.
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The upHell walkers.
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The road is rocky sometimes.
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It’s like a giant alien got buried and its hand or foot is sticking out and petrified.
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More twists and turns than a M. Night Shyamalan movie.
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Rock the Run!

The last 8 kilometer is where we encountered some of the wildlife living around the area. I first noticed movement and noise on the trees and saw 2 monkeys jumping around from one tree branch to another. Then I saw 2 dead snakes along the road and they look like poisonous ones. There are also wild hogs and turkey near the entrance of the Marine Base.

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Ssssome ssssnakes are nocturnal. Kinda sssscary to run at night because of the possibility of encountering them on the road. Dunno if this ssssnake was a victim of roadkill.
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I’m no snake expert, but with yellow and blue scale, could this be poisonous?
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Going back is about easier now because of the downhill.
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kilometer 69
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Monkeys, snakes, birds, hogs, turkeys, dogs. That’s what I saw. No Pokemons.
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Tall trees along the road. Perfect habitat for monkeys and birds.
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A feral pig near the entrance of the Marine Base. There are also other feral pigs nearby.

Finally reaching the Marine Base entrance and the last 4 kilometers of the race, I asked Alvin to jog all the way to the finish line since it’s all downhill from here and to get a Sub-4 finish. We had a good start, until Alvin started slowing down and walked. I kept going, wanting at least a Sub-4 finish and I paced with him for 21 kilometers anyway.

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You know the drill.
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Encountered a monkey along the way. I wanted to get close for a selfie with the monkey. But, I remembered the 1995 movie, Outbreak.
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Close Encounter with the Primate Kind.
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The only spectator at the time.

The last 2 kilometers was easy, but I felt very tired despite running slower than my usual pace. I crossed the finish line at 03:52:05 (rank 345 out of 448 runners), while Alvin finished at 04:07:07 (rank 387). It was a very hard run, the PNPA Uphill Challenge that I joined last year is a cakewalk compared to this. I enjoyed the challenge and even wondered if I could finish it with a Sub-3 if I ran my pace. But, that is another challenge next year if I joined this event again or the full marathon.

Though we crossed the finish line, the fun did not stop there. I went to the beach to take a dip whilst waiting for the boodle fight at noon time.

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A panoramic view of the beach formerly known as Boracay De Cavite (now Katungkulan Beach Resort).
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Reminds me of Kamala Beach in Phuket, Thailand.
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I felt a sting near my my armpit crotch area. Then it came to my mind, chaffing + salt water. ouch!
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Off-peak season.
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Splashed!
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One of the biggest problem in Katungkulan Beach right now is the pollution. There is a polluted portion of the beach and some of the trash seems to have come from Manila Bay.
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My Soleus GPS One tastes salt water for the first time. Rinse it while showering to remove salt.

After a refreshing time around the beach. We went around the activity area to have some photo ops with guns.

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The last time I held and fired a high-powered rifle was in 2013, when my cousin took us to a firing range to shoot with an AK-47, M4 Carbine, and more.
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“Whoever said the pen is mightier than the sword obviously never encountered automatic weapons” – Douglas MacArthur
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What we always want to have and use on a zombie apocalypse.
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“I’d never use one, but even I can appreciate the attraction of a gun. The heft. The sleekness. The cool steel. The precision. And the power. The power to change lives, history. The power of God.” – Batman: Gotham Knight
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The Marines are nice, humble men. They even let me try a ghillie suit…
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even teach you how to properly hold a sniper rifle.
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Did you know? the first ghillie suit was developed by Scottish gamekeepers as a portable hunting blind.
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Did you know? The longest sniper kill distance is 2,706 yards or 2.47 kilometers, a shot made by UK Sniper Craig Harrison in Afghanistan in November 2009.
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“The deadliest weapon in the world is a Marine and his rifle.” – General John J. Pershing
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“A ship without Marines is like a garment without buttons.” – Admiral David D. Porter, USN
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“Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world. But, the Marines don’t have that problem.” – Ronald Reagan
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The Few. The Proud. The Philippine Marines.

Then, it’s boodle fight time. We were so hungry and the meal was highly anticipated by everyone.

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For some people, after a long run, a boodle fight is the greatest fight of their lives.
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I don’t eat sardines, but the adobo topping is done right.

It was a different kind of challenge, I love going to a faraway place for a new race route and an awesome new experience. It was nice visiting Boracay De Cavite again and finally had the chance to bathe in the beach. It’s cool to see the Philippines Marines training and how nice and very friendly they are to the people. Congratulations to Frontrunner Magazine for another challenging (like their trail runs) event and the 300% increase in participants (with more than a thousand participants in all categories) is a testament to this growing event. Hoping to see you again next year.

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Definitely one of the essential freebies I got from a running event.
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A dog tag medal to join my zombie apocalypse survivor dog tags (from Outbreak Missions).
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