As a trail runner, I know that running off the beaten path can get you wet, wild, and dirty. But, for the first time, I experienced getting sucked… a lot… by limatiks (leeches).
I joined Nuun Dirt School Level 3 for the opportunity to finally climb Mount Makiling and to learn more about advanced trail running. And what an experience it was.
My excitement for the event is higher than the mountain itself. But, unfortunately, a day before the event, while waiting for my shift to end, I decided to browse the internet for some information about limatiks (which is known to be a regular resident of the mountain) to know what I’m up against. Big mistake, I saw images and read about limatiks getting in your eyes, ears, and nose. I was horrified, thoughts of it getting inside me (giggity) got me worried so much that I went to Decathlon to search for some protection that is not made of latex rubber (giggity giggity). I was thinking of getting earplugs and goggles, but I ended up purchasing a Kalenji leggings worth 500 pesos (because I think I can use it often).
At the day of the event, I was having both emotions of excitement and uneasiness as the thought of limatiks going down on me like ninjas was still in my mind. UP Los Banos is only 19+ kilometers away, I left home at 5:35 am and arrived before 6:30 am. I was one of the earliest to arrive, so I had some time to rest and prepare.
The session started with Ms. Carina Dayondon, one of the 3 Filipinas who traversed Mount Everest, sharing her inspirational stories. It was then followed by lessons from the meister himself, Coach Miguel “Ige” Lopez.
The actual trail run started around 8 am, beginning with a power walk to the Makiling Trail Entry Point.
The Nuun Dirt-schoolers are divided into groups in accordance to their fitness level. Four runners led the group, including Mr. Mike Baldwin, a 59-year old man who plans to run a 60k Ultramarathon for his 60th birthday. They moved real fast and were out of sight. I buddied up with Sonny, a runner I met earlier before the start of the class and we’re the 2nd placers, moving at an alternating walk pace for uphill and jogging pace for the downhill.
We slowed down and rest to wait for the others because the leading group already reached vanishing point and we’re not sure if we should head straight or take a left turn to the mud spring trail. Pace Group 3 joined us, with coach George, a seasoned trail ultramarathoner and mountain hero, leading the way.
We rested at Agila Base as we wait for the others to arrive. I don’t feel tired, but very thirsty, so I fueled up with some cold Nuun drink.
After the 16-minute break at Agila Base, we proceeded to the main event, the trail ascending to Peak 2. Sonny, Bling Runner, and I led the group.
With Sonny leading the way, we stopped in the area that have 2 branching paths. We’re not sure which path to take, so we waited for Bling to take a look. We took the left path, but Bling was unsure, so we head back and took the right. We found the Station 15 sign on a tree. We’re on the right path now. I was leading the group and running until I was pulled back and stopped by a leaf that have hidden thorns on it. It scratched my favorite Team 7-Eleven Philippines ASICS shirt and I pulled some thorns out of my right shoulder. Now knowing that the flora here is different from the other mountains I hiked and can be dangerous, I let Bling lead the way. And I’m glad I did, because she spotted a snake in the plants beside the trail. I was just a few meters away from her and I signaled Sonny to pause for a moment. I saw the plants moving as the snake slither through, moving up and away from the trail. I was having 2nd thoughts in pushing through this, but I just keep moving without looking on my left where the snake was. We finally reached Station 22, which is suppose to be a camp site, but it’s not an ideal one because it is limatik territory.
Another long rest as we wait for the others. Had my first encounter with limatiks here and I feel grossed out. George once again takes lead as we ascend the difficult part of the trail. The leading pace group was already descending as we make our way up. Stations 23-30 is really difficult, there are several times that I stop to breathe and recover.
After eating and the much needed rest and chit chat, it was time to go down. I was the last to exit because I decided to take some photos. George let me pass as he took the role of a sweeper. Another Dirt-Schooler arrived and was on his way to peak 2. He was late, but he got there fast.
Unfortunately, due to my stupidity of stopping frequently to take photos, thereby limiting my ability to stay focus on my surroundings, I slipped and fell hard to the ground. I even saw the cramp go up my left calf and a lump appeared. At first, I though it was a full grown leech, but after a few minutes, I touched it and it dissolved like a water bag losing water. Vic, one of the Dirt-schoolers, saw me go down and stayed with me as I recover. After a few minutes, I stood up and moved slowly, with my right leg initiating movement and my left leg just for support. I used trees and tree roots to help me descend to Station 22 since I feel like I’m only using one leg. When I finally arrived, some of my Dirt-School classmates helped me in cleaning and patching up a bruise on my left knee (which cut and ruined my newly-bought Kalenji legging) by providing a cleaning cloth and band aid. George and Enrique arrived and we decided to move again. Due to the painful calf, I never tried to run again and moved at hiking pace. Enrique was also suffering from cramps and the 3 of us were the last group. We shared our running stories and opinions about the running scene to make the trip feel faster and to distract ourselves from the pain. We ate and rest to replenish ourselves for a few minutes at Agila Base before continuing to the road back to Botanic Gardens.
Enrique and I decided to jog downhill for a little boost and George told us to go ahead, he’ll catch up later.
We caught up with Magzi, Bling, Sonny, and another participant at the lomi and buko juice store. We decided to stop by and drink some buko juice (thanks Enrique). Then we excused ourselves and decided to move on since we’re injured and the others may likely catch up with us on the way down.
With no one in sight, Enrique and I pushed all the way to Botanic Gardens. When we arrived, the other Dirt-schoolers already left. Somebody already won the highly sought after Suunto watch.
It was an awesome experience, I got injured but it felt hardcore (like the time I tripped and bruised my knees badly whilst avoiding zombies in Outbreak Missions). Had a down and dirty good time, and limatiks sucks!… literally. Looking forward to next year’s sessions. I might join all of them especially the first semester in Nuvali.
This is part 2 of this month’s Run It! article and this is the connecting route from Batino to Barandal and Ciudad De Calamba.
We start where we left off from the intersection area going to Barangays Barandal, Mayapa, Batino, and St Clare Convent.
There you have it, one of the best running grounds in Calamba City. Total distance is 7.9 kilometers according to Nike Run Club and if you included the Batino route you can get a total of 11-12 kilometers and even more depending on how you run the route and add more distances. The uphill and downhill segments of the route is the ideal training grounds for runners who want to build up speed and endurance. And with scenic views and wide roads, Ciudad De Calamba is one of the most beautiful places you can run around.
The last time I joined an obstacle run or Obstacle Course Racing was 2 1/2 years ago and that was Men’s Health Urbanathlon. But, I am no stranger to the Guerilla Race series, and in fact, I am one of the pioneer participants of the very first Guerilla Race. The last Guerilla Race I joined was the 10k category of the Panther edition in Filinvest City back in October 2014. After that, I wasn’t able to join the other Guerilla events because they were held far from my hometown and I have very limited resources when it comes to joining running events. Now that Guerilla Race has returned to the south with the new water edition, my anticipation is not just at an all time high, I feel ecstatic.
For this event, I was able to get an extra race kit and gave it to my officemate, Jaypee (a Guerilla Race first timer). We arrived at the venue before 4 am and took a warm-up, reconnaissance stroll around the area. For some reason, the race started late at 0530 (suppose to start at 0500).
Excitedly waiting. Photo by Tris (Active Pinas)
I was surprised when the first part of the race route is inside Splash Island and even more surprising for me is the first obstacle…
Obstacle 1: the Kayak.
To be honest, I was a bit shocked and nervous about this obstacle because I don’t know how to operate a kayak. I kept thinking that I can’t stabilize it and will likely be moving sideways or unlikely to make the U-turn back to shore. Thankfully, I was able to relax, focus, and move it straight. I did bump unto other participants and vice versa, one time four of us bump each other but was able to get free easily. The next obstacle is much easier though…
Obstacle 2: Balsa River.
This one is easier and relaxing. You just go into the looping Balsa River and you can swim, float, walk, or run. We decided to take our time and just walk this one to conserve stamina. The third obstacle does slow things down a little…
Obstacle 3: Barbed Wire Crawl
One of the regular obstacles of Guerilla Race and it will definitely get you dirty and smelly. If you don’t go low enough and crawl, your clothes will get caught (see photo above) or the barbed wires will poke you like it did to me so I got down low and dirty the non-perverted way.
4th obstacle, Handrail walk?
I don’t know the official name of this obstacle, but this is one of the most difficult as it requires some degree of upper body strength and good grip because the rails are slippery. To add difficulty, you can only do this one time. As we approach this obstacle, we already saw some of the participants doing burpees as penalty for not passing the obstacle. When we started moving, it seemed very do-able, I was already halfway through when my right hand slipped and my foot touched the ground (as seen in the photo). Jaypee also slipped and we had to do 30 burpees as penalty. Doing burpees depletes your stamina more than the obstacle, so it is better to put effort in completing the obstacles than do burpees.
Obstacle 5: Window in the Wall?
I think this is called the military wall, but I’m not sure. Designed to just break your momentum, this obstacle is one of the easiest even if you lost some stamina after doing burpees. This will only be difficult if you don’t fit in the window properly, but I’ve never seen anyone having a hard time with this obstacle.
Obstacle 6: Bamboo Crossing?
Dunno what to call this obstacle. The only challenge here is if you feel pain on your thighs or that tight feeling of your hamstrings. It can also be painful on the knees when you’re already overfatigued.
Obstacle 7: Mud Crawl
This is easier than the barbed wire crawl because of the watery mud and the cool water is refreshing and kinda soothing. But, it has a foul smell though, so you need to breathe wisely and close your mouth to avoid fresh dirty water getting in your mouth.
Obstacle 8: The Wall.
The wall isn’t exactly as hard as the 1st and 2nd time I encountered it. In fact, I got it with only 1 try. I just jumped, hanged on to the top of the wall, and slowly push myself up. Jaypee who was very worried about this obstacle earlier got it in 1 try as well.
Obstacle 9: Inclined Wall.
This obstacle is easy if you know how to position yourself and pull yourself up. Plant yourself properly, firm grip on the rope and then move your legs and pull yourself up gently and relaxed. You can also run up just gather momentum and with the right speed and it will be over faster.
Obstacles 10, 11, and 12: Sandbag Carry, Walk on Fours, and Tire Field
Before we engaged these obstacles, we took our time at the aid station to drink and wash off some of the mud on our face. Three obstacles in one go. First you grab a sandbag (grab 2 if you’re strong enough and want to show off the power of them guns) and then walk or run 100 meters (estimate) then U-turn back and drop the sandbag. After that, you run or walk another hundred meters to a point where you have to start walking on fours like an animal (I call it the catwalk). This is a bit hard on the thighs and can be tiring, so it’s better to move at an easy and steady pace. Thankfully, the distance is shorter and once you got up, you walk or run towards the field of tires. It’s better to look at your feet as you make your way through the tire field because there’s a chance that your foot will get caught by a tire and pull you down.
Obstacle 13: Tire Pull and Lift
This obstacle can be done smoothly without affecting much of your stamina. First part of the obstacle is to pull the tire. Just relax and apply just the right amount of pulling power that it won’t affect your breathing. For example, pull with the left hand then breath in, now the right hand then breathe out. It’s that easy and keep your back straight. The second part requires you to lift the tire and put it back at the starting point for the next participant’s turn.
Obstacle 14: Money Bar
This is the second obstacle that I failed to complete. I made I mistake of having my hands gripping one bar apart and it put me in the position of facing sideways to the left. I was stuck and hanging for almost 10 seconds, trying to re-position myself, but I couldn’t and fearing that I might lose my grip. So, I decided to push through and tried doing the monkey bars sideways, grabbing 1 bar apart , and it seemed to be working as I made it halfway. Then I lost my momentum (couldn’t swing anymore and my hand couldn’t reach and grab the next bar) and I fell to the ground. Unfortunately, you can only do the obstacle once, so I just accepted the penalty. Jaypee got it right and avoided the stamina-depleting burpees.
Obstacle 15: Over and Under the bars?
By the time we reached this obstacle, I still haven’t recovered some of the loss stamina from the burpees I had to do as penalty from failing the monkey bars. I allowed Jaypee to go first so I can observe how it’s done. You have to go over the first bar (you can jump if you want), then under on the 2nd (you can roll if you want), over again on the 3rd, and under again on the last one. When Jaypee did this his grip slipped and a 180 degree while still holding on to the bar, so he did not fall on his back. Same thing happened to me and it feels like a technique, just be sure to keep hanging on the bar and let your feet touch the ground to recover quickly.
Obstacle 16, Rope Crossing
We refueled with cool water at the 2nd aid station (they ran out of cups, so Jaypee and I had to share with one that we cleaned before using) before initiating this obstacle. Balance with a chance of wobbling is best to describe this one. You step on a rope line with your hands grabbing another rope above you and then move to cross all the way to the end point. It’s easy until you end up in the middle with those ahead of you already got off the rope. As seen in the photos, I paused to pose for the photographer. I took my time for the photo that I caused a bit of a traffic and I’m the front guy now. Moving from the middle without any weight applied ahead of me made the rope wobble and it kinda threw me off balance a bit that I actually switched side (now facing right and the photographer on my six) just to regain footing. Once I got my balance back, it was easier to move again and finish this obstacle.
Obstacle 17: Cargo Net
This is the one obstacle that really got me a bit of a scare and thought about doing burpees instead. This version of the cargo net is harder than the pyramid version. Once you make it to the top to cross over to the other side, that’s when the difficulty level goes up a notch. Once you look down, you have a good view of how high you are and then you realize how hard it is to put your foot to the other side. The net is wobbling when there are no participants on the other side to balance it and it makes you feel like you’re going to flip over and fall to the other side if you’re not careful. That is how I felt at the time since those on the other side already got down and there’s 3 (or maybe 4) of us left on the other side. In my mind I think I’m gonna flip over and fall and almost gave up. Until Jaypee and some other participant hold a part of the net to keep it stable and I was able to cross over. It was only until I saw the photos on facebook that there is a technique to crossover properly. Next time, I’ll be ready.
Obstacle 18: Hurdles
Fortunately, the last obstacle, the hurdles isn’t as hard as hurdling (running and jumping). You can just walk and jump over and over again. Take your time if you want, the finish line is just meters away.
The surprise of the event was the actual number of obstacles. There are 18 obstacles instead of the original (and advertised) 12. For me, 6 more obstacles is a bonus, it’s like getting more of your money’s worth. Jaypee and I finished with a minute left before the cut-off time of 1.5 hours. I know it’s slow compared to my first Guerilla Race finish time of 40 minutes and 42 seconds in Nuvali. But, the reason for this is because I wanted to pace with Jaypee to see if he enjoys this event and I really want to take my time and have fun. Also, my first Guerilla Race only had 12 obstacles and I can say that the obstacles in this event is more challenging (and fun) than what I encountered before. I probably would’ve rushed this event and finished the race faster if I ran alone. But, I probably would’ve not enjoyed it as much because in the end, the finish time didn’t matter to me, I was focused on having fun and running with a buddy, and that is both mission accomplished.
Guerilla Race Splash (as always) is an amazing, awesome, challenging, and fun event. It’s the best way to test your overall fitness level. Obstacle course racing is intimidating to some runners and fitness buffs, but Guerilla Race is the epitome of a balanced challenge. The obstacles can be hard, but they’re not impossible, and finally finishing the race feels like a big accomplishment mentally and physically.
A big thanks to the Guerilla Race Team and mam Nikka Ramos for this fresh and unique edition of the Guerilla Race. We, the fans of this wonderful race series, are so thankful that all of you keep innovating to deliver an experience like no other. You are all continuing the legacy of its founder, the late Lt. Col. Dennis Bumanglag and doing it with excellence.
Guerilla Race Splash is a strong contender for my pick of the best running event of 2017. Jaypee, a first-timer in the Guerilla Race love the experience so much that he’s looking forward to the next events. It got a lot of things right like a reasonable registration fee (which includes a day pass to Splash Island worth 499 php and discount coupons), a good venue (the right choice for the summer season), and a memorable experience (challenging, but fun obstacles). I want to see it grow with more participants and interesting locales in the future. The next Guerilla Race will be at Camp John Hay in November. Stay tuned for the complete details and updates regarding this event once the press release is officially announced.
After the event, Jaypee and I decided to take advantage of the Splash Island day pass to maximize the day (especially since it was the long weekend for us BPO employees thanks to Memorial Day). It was also my first time in Splash Island (yes, I live in the South and I’ve been to Splash Island until this running event), so I have to see and experience the best things the place has to offer. Unfortunately, Splash Island was very crowded at the time with 2 company outings (NIDEC and Villarica Pawnshop) taking place along with the usual weekend visitors. But, I still got to experience the major attractions of the water park thanks to Jaypee’s encouragement (because if I was rogue running (solo) this event, I probably would’ve stayed in the pools) and 40 to 60 minutes of waiting in line for each slide. Tausug Trails is the first slide we took and after that, we lined up for Big Bamboo. Unfortunately, I don’t have an action cam with me to record the experience and I don’t want to hold my smartphone during slides. I was able to take some photos of the slides before I took my turn. Check out some of the photos I took before taking the splash.
BEAT THE HEAT AND SPLASH YOUR WAY AT GUERILLA RACE SPLASH – THE WATER EDITION
Summer is all about having fun and creating extraordinary memories. This year, Guerilla Race, the first, premier and only obstacle race in the Philippines, will turn your summer moments into something offbeat as it takes an exciting yet audacious route, daring to infuse water adventure into the race.
Aptly titled as “Guerilla Race Splash –The Water Edition”, the race is a fusion of land and water obstacles. Aldenver Marketing, Inc., the organizer of Guerilla Race, in partnership with Splash Island will hold a never before seen event, enticing both pro and neophyte runners and fitness buffs in the country.
This unconventional race will happen on May 28, 2017 in Binan, Laguna. It will not only provide extraordinary challenges but also exceptional enjoyment, as racers are expected to plunge into the water and get drenched in several water activities to test one’s versatility, strength and stamina. Fun is an understatement.
The Sprint Category will have the 5km run and 12 obstacles. It will be a combination of water and land obstacles. You can enter as an individual or as a team which has a minimum of four members to ten members. The cut off time is 1.5 hours.
The racekit costs Php 1,250 which includes a singlet, finisher shirt, finisher medal and giveaways from sponsors.
Like any of the Guerilla Race series, part of the proceeds of this upcoming race will go to Armed Forces of the Philippines Educational Benefit System Office (AFPEBSO), an organization that supports education of the soldiers’ orphans. Therefore, your summer will be filled with precious memory because you have helped less privileged people through this race.
The race will not be possible without our generous sponsors : Dermplus, Regroe, Lifesaber, Atmost Fit Elite, 100 Plus, Black Mamba, Mega Fiber, Cranuti, Blackwater, Deuter, Grand Encore International, Iolytes, Curves, Anytime Fitness Fairview, Sta Rosa, Iron den Crossfit, Crossfit Mad Minute, Fitness Unlimited and support from our Media partners – Manila Bulletin, Business Mirror, Malaya Business Insight, ANC News Channel, Philippine Graphic, Pilipino Mirror, Health and Fitness Magazine, Travel Life, Food Health and Scined Magazine, Vanity Life, Pinoy Fitness.com, wheninmanila.com, V81 Radio and ABS CBN Sports and Action.
Haven’t joined a Guerilla Race before? why? I can tell you as one of the pioneer participants of the very first Guerilla Race in Nuvali, it’s a challenging, but fun race. It tests you physically and mentally. And to preview the awesomeness of the Guerilla Race events, read my race report of GUERILLA RACE PANTHER in Filinvest City. So, if you have the guts to get off the couch and take on the challenge, see you on May 28.
It has been more than 3 years since I started joining the running scene. Some events never change, some got better, and some end their series run (pun intended). The most important thing for me last year is that I evolved and ran to the next level, by joining my first marathon and ultramarathon. Aside from running, I started blogging about the other things that I love to do like photography, video games, and traveling. I started this blog in late 2014 as a journal of my fitness journey, the chronicles of my running adventure. 2016 thought me that blogging can be a tool for even more experiences and can even be a source of awesome benefits. I received invitations from organizers to attend their events or press conference to write an article or cover the event and in return, I got backstage pass, some nice tokens, and even won prizes from raffles. So, I revamped the design of my page, new look for 2017, and will try to run, travel, and do more interesting stuff and activities worthy of blogging. For now, here’s the best of 2016.
====== BEST MOMENT ======
Finishing my first Marathon (Condura Skyway Marathon 2016)
Though the event itself was just average, it’s the moment of crossing the finish line of your first marathon that makes it one of the most memorable and best feeling of your life. Running the marathon distance (42.195 kilometers) is the ultimate goal for serious runners. It’s like the last level of a video game, the last round in boxing, the grand finale of a concert, it’s the culmination of your fitness and running journey. And the bonus for me is that I became the first marathoner in the family (both father and mother side). I started it and hopefully, the future generations of the family tree will follow.
Running my first international run (11th Laguna Phuket International Marathon)
Never saw it coming, never expected it to happen, it was a surprise that I ran my first out-of-country run in 2016. A surprise delivered by 7-Eleven Philippines. It was my blog article/race report that got me the ticket for an all-expense paid trip to Phuket, Thailand for the 11th Laguna Phuket International Marathon to cover the event as our country’s representatives give their best performances to win the race. I was also given the opportunity to run the 10.5 category of the race (my first international run and first out-of-country trip) and we all had a rewarding tour around Phuket. We returned home victorious and had a great time, and that is the reason why this is so memorable to me.
Canyoneering in Cebu (Thanksgiving vacation in Cebu)
To set foot in Cebu for the first time is memorable enough, jumping 40+ feet off a cliff is just epic and unforgettable. It’s all about conquering your fear (especially if you have some degree of acrophobia and can’t swim) and the adrenaline rush that made it one of the best things I’ve done in 2016.
Finishing my first Ultramarathon (Altra Speed50 Tagaytay)
For all its shortcomings or failures, the event is below average (I love the first half of the race route though and the trophy and medal is good), but finishing a race that goes beyond the marathon distance is another milestone in my running life. Ultramarathons don’t have the flair of a marathon event nor does it focus on elite-level speed, it’s the experience and the validation that your body can endure and go the longer distance that makes it a special experience.
====== BEST MEDAL ======
40th Milo Marathon Medal
It’s gold in color, well-designed, big, and heavy. Should there be any other reason why this isn’t the best?
Batman V Superman Run Medal
The only way that a Batman v Superman medal could be better is if it was designed like a batarang with the S symbol in the middle instead of a round medal. But, this still looks very good, I like the cut of the BvS symbol and there was also an option to have your finishing time engraved behind the medal for a small fee.
Valley Trail Challenge VI Medal
It’s a cute medal and it’s not made of metal, so it’s one of the lightest medal I earned. I like the cow head design, it fits the theme of the trail run and it really looks unique compared to my metal medals.
====== BEST EVENT SHIRT/SINGLET ======
Batman v Superman singlet
This singlet is so good it makes you look like you have Batman’s abs. Color and design is modeled after the Batffleck costume, and I like it so much that I used it in 2 running events.
Team 7-Eleven ASICS Motion Dry
I got this from 7-Eleven Philippines as our official team shirt at the 11th Laguna Phuket Marathon. I like it because of the nice design, the fabric, the light weight, and skin tight feel. Also worn this on my first ultramarathon.
Condura SkyWay Marathon 2016 Tech Shirt
With ASICS as one of the major sponsors, this is just as light and comfortable as the Team 7-Eleven ASICS Motion Dry shirt (doesn’t have the skin tight feeling though). No wonder the registration fee of Condura Skyway Marathon is expensive, the quality of the tech shirt and finisher shirt is very good.
====== BEST FINISHER SHIRT ======
Condura Skyway Marathon 2016 Finisher Shirt
It’s quite clever that the finisher shirt of the 2016 Condura Skyway Marathon is blue in contrast with the red tech shirt. It’s like fire and ice or the yin and the yang. Like the tech shirt, the fabric is nice and comfortable. The back of the shirt also illustrates the race route, the map of the Skyway.
Financial Fitness Run 2016 Finisher Shirt
The shirt has the right mix of colors, white on the body with purple on the sides and lime green on the back. And that running man on the front completes a visually appealing design.
40th Milo Marathon Finisher Shirt
This finisher shirt is very similar to the Condura Skyway Marathon finisher shirt. The fabric feels the same and it also has the route map printed at the back.
====== BEST FREEBIES ======
All the stuff I got from 7-Eleven Philippines
Aside from all the free stuff (or should I say, grocery) that I grabbed from 7-Eleven Run 2016, 7-Eleven Philippines gave us a team jacket and ASICS Motion Dry shirt for the Phuket trip. Nothing can top that.
Saucony Kinvara 7
Not a freebie from a running event, I got this by joining a Saucony facebook contest. a free pair of running shoes means I was able to save money this year.
Stuff I got from the Special Force Online Press Conference
I was invited by PlayPark to attend the press conference of the returning Special Force Online. So glad that I did. PlayPark is a very generous company, they provided us with good food, fun games, and a preview of Special Force Online before the closed beta test. I though the good stuff ended their, until they’ve given us the loot bags that included a Special Force T-shirt, mouse pad, and a Starbucks card loaded with 500 php. And I also got lucky and won a Razer ‘Network’ Hoodie. It was an awesome night, so awesome.
====== RUNNING EVENTS RANKING ======
This is it, the running events as ranked from worst to best. I joined 11 running events this year and this is how I rate them based on the experience and how the organizers handled their events.
11. Altra Speed 50 Ultramarathon Tagaytay
I joined this event because I really wanted to complete my objective of finishing my first ultramarathon this year and as the substitute for not being able to join the 50k category of Valley Trail Challenge. It was the ideal run for me because of the race route in Tagaytay, and the trophy and medal looks good. But, the event itself is below average because of the organizer’s shortcomings. The failure of the organizer to arrive early (before the participants) and prepare the event on time is their biggest mistake. The messy bib number (and the lack of it) distribution, the scarce supplies of the Palace in the Sky aid station, the absence of marshals and lighting/guide on the pitch dark part of the route going to Nasugbu, and the lack of trophies and finisher shirts for those who crossed the finish line at a later time (but still made it to the cutoff) all adds up to this disappointing event.
10. Manila Great Run Duo Road Race Challenge
The concept of Manila Great Run Duo Road Race is unique. It is a 15k run, but your first run is a 10-kilometer race. After finishing the 10k, there’s a 1-hour break before you start the 2nd round, the 5k run. Sounds simple, right? but it confused a lot of the participants resulting to an organized event with messy results. Some of the 5k runners started to run with the 15k runners because they were not reminded of their respective gunstart. A lot of the participants thought that they only signed up for a 10k run, unaware of the 5k run on the 2nd round. Some runners didn’t want to run the 5k run (because it was already hot at 7 am), so they just claimed their medal even without participating in the 2nd round (think about it, you got a medal for running just half of the race). Despite the mistakes of both organizer and participants, the event is at least well-organized with a lot of freebies and nice activities.
09. Eggciting Family Adventure Fun Run
I was very interested about joining this event, but I was a bit low on resources (funding again) at the time (after joining Valley Trail Challenge and registering for Philippine Marine Corp Marathon 2). Luckily, I got a free race kit from the organizer for attending their media and bloggers conference and blogging their event. This is one of the most fun, family-oriented event I joined with lots of activities for the kids and giveaways for everyone. And the concept of searching for easter eggs along the race route for a prize is a nice addition to the fun of just running.
08. 40th Milo Marathon
Running the Milo Marathon is a must for most serious and seasoned runners. It is the longest running (pun intended) marathon event in the country. The best runners of the country run the Milo Marathon every year. It is a very special event and I want to be a part of it. Though my performance was quite disappointing compared to my first marathon, I enjoyed the experience of finally running in the biggest marathon event of the country.
07. Financial Fitness Run 2016
I was able to join this event because to of my office mates finally decided to join and the registration fee is reasonable. I like the plaque for 21k finishers and the finisher shirt looks festive and good enough to be included in my best list this year. And another bonus is finally running on Bonifacio Global City grounds for the first time (because BGC is one of the most popular running event venues, so finally).
06. Batman v Superman Run
I only joined this run because of the singlet and medal. Little did I know that there’s so much more in store. It was fun to see cosplayers and runners wearing symbols of their favorite DC superheroes. This run is also memorable for my super delayed start (more than 20 minutes had passed when I started running) because I got caught in traffic and cramped like a sardine in a bus full of passengers at 5 am on a Saturday morning (first time experience).
05. Condura Skyway Marathon 2016
Last year’s Condura Skyway Marathon is so much better (except for the tech shirt and finisher shirt), they have better presentation, more photographers, more runners (even creating a record for the highest number of participants in 42k category), and better medal. But, I joined this for the experience of running a marathon for the first time. It was the culmination of everything since the day I started running, when I become serious about it, and when I finally decided that it’s time. I planned it for a year and it finally happened, I’m a marathoner now. It feels so good to finally reach this level, to finally run the benchmark distance for runners, and to finally say that I have done it rather than just thinking about doing it or just ponder if I could have done it.
04. 11th Laguna Phuket International Marathon
This run I never saw coming, it’s a big surprise. Because of my race report of the 7-Eleven Runs, I got an invitation to join Team 7-Eleven Philippines as the blogger (and photographer). The winners of the 7-Eleven Run will compete at the 11th Laguna Phuket International Marathon and I was also given the opportunity to run the 10.5k category to experience the event as a runner. This is my first international run and I really liked it. It was a sunset run, but the weather at the time was very hot (kinda like summer in the Philippines). I like the race route is scenic and the event is so good there’s a lot of foreign runners (even pinoys) joining this race every year. The event is better organized than some of our local events, there’s even a buffet at the activity area. It’s a good thing my first international run was fun, because it’s memorable in a good way (compared to the other events I joined this year).
03. 7-Eleven Run 2016
Anyone who read my previous 7-Eleven race report/review already knows why the 7-Eleven Run series is one of the best in the country. The freebies alone speak for itself. But, it is worth noting the uniqueness of the race, it’s the only race where you can hydrate with the best brands of drinks in the market. Tired of drinking just Gatorade or water? don’t worry, there’s also Pocari Sweat, Powerade, Summit, and along the way. And after the race, why not help yourself with the overload of freebies at the activity area, supplements, food, hygiene products, just go and grab stuff. There’s even free unlimited ice cream at the Selecta booth, so I didn’t bother going to the nearest fast food restaurant to eat. That’s how good 7-Eleven Run, it’s very rewarding to get so much stuff after a run and with all the freebies, it feels like you just got your registration money back. Let’s see if 7-Eleven can even do better this year, they don’t have to improve because their event it already great, but it would be awesome if they have some surprises under wraps.
02. Valley Trail Challenge 6
Trail Running is my favorite genre of running, so it’s a no-brainer that Valley Trail Challenge will always place high on my list. The original plan was to join this event as my first ultramarathon by running the 50k category. Unfortunately, due to budget constraints, I had do pick the 25k category. It was the same route as last year but more than 4 kilometers shorter and with some difference on parts of the trail because of the current landscaping in Nuvali. What made it feel different from last year is that this time it rained hard and that added challenge as the trail became muddy and slippery. I enjoyed the experience of running the trail while raining, it’s challenging and refreshing. This year, I’ll try to join the 50k category and to finally explore the whole Nuvali trail.
01. Philippine Marine Corp. Marathon 2
I wanted to join the inaugural Philippine Marine Corp Marathon last year becuase of the interesting venue. But, I don’t wanna join it alone because it’s too far away from home. This year, I finally convinced 2 office mates to join, and it’s finally a reality. Unfortunately, one of us wasn’t able to join because of some circumstance we don’t know and it was only Alvin and I who pushed through (feels like the first time I joined a half-marathon, Alvin is my first running buddy and it’s the two of us again). The race starts and ends at the Marine Base in Ternate, Cavite and the race route is around the part of Mounts Palay-Palay–Mataas-na-Gulod Protected Landscape. And the event did not disappoint, I love the race route, it’s the best running grounds for me this year. Sure, there’s like kilometers of uphills, but the beautiful scenery made the run enjoyable even if we just walk or jog slowly. We passed by the famous Kaybiang Tunnel, saw the wildlife (snakes, monkeys, hogs roaming free) and scenic side of Ternate, and it feels good to visit Boracay De Cavite again and finally take a dip at the beach. We only joined the 25k category, the full marathon is probably even more awesome and joining that category is already on my mind. Let’s wait and see if I can finally join again this year.
The year 2016 has been a great year for me. So many surprises and got a lot of free stuff. I also had my first time for a lot of things. I ran my first marathon, first time to run on BGC, my first out-of-country trip, my first international run, first time to run in Ternate, first time to set foot in Cebu, and ran my first ultramarathon. Also had a few non-running, blogging activities that I enjoyed a lot. As for my view of the running scene, I feel like there has been a drop in participation compared to last year. Some running series that had 3 or more seasons like Energizer Night Run, Salomon City Trail, Rexona Run, Men’s Health Urbanathlon, Greenfield City Run, and Outbreak Manila did not have an event this year. For this year, I look forward to new running events, the first in a series like the highly anticipated arrival of the Spartan Race series in the Philippines as well as continue joining the events that I love as my yearly tradition. I will also try to renew my interest in photography, my first serious hobby, and join other activities that is related to the things interest me and like to do.
Save the best for last, the last day in Cebu is the best closing for our vacation. We stayed at the lavish and beautiful Plantation Bay. We arrived before sun down and the resort does not look impressive outside. But, once you get inside, it’s utopia in the real world.
A brief preview of the place en route to our suite (guests ride an electric-powered transport vehicle) was enough to make us feel excited. It’s just unfortunate that it was getting dark already and exploring the place is best done at daytime to see the grandeur scenery. But, it didn’t stop us to go out for a walk and a night swim. And before we get to that, let’s have a walk-through of our suite that got the girls ecstatic and the guys feel classy.
The night scene in Plantation Bay is great, ambient and festive lights surround the area, there are diners and bars open, and there’s a place you can hang out near the shore with live bossa nova music.
After the night swim, we had a drinking session during dinner and we went to Alien Abduction Bar (sans Raph who decided to stay and rest) afterwards to consume our complimentary drinks (your choice of tequila, beer, whiskey, etc.) and some nuts. We left the bar around midnight. Jay and Lei decided to go for a night walk (2 girls walking at night, that’s a good idea, it’s just too bad there are no vampires, werewolves, or sea monsters nearby to spice up your life), me and the rest of the guys went back to the suite. I laid down on the sofa and passed out. When I woke up, it was already passed 1 am, everybody’s sleeping (just glad no one drew a penis on my face), and I went to the bedroom to sleep. Raph, Jheryl, and Alex have an early flight and will be leaving the group first. Too bad they didn’t get the chance to enjoy Plantation Bay at daytime. I took them to the airport where we also had to deliver our travel car back to kuya Neil of NGH Tourist Transport.
Tsong and I (using GrabCar for the first time) went back to Plantation Bay to enjoy the last few hours of living like kings. Our flight is scheduled at 12:30, we originally planned to leave at 10:30 am (for the free transport service to the airport), but Jay and Tsong wanted to maximize our stay, so it has been decided to leave at 11 am. So, after a quick break fast, I went out for a barefoot run around Plantation bay to deliver the sights of Plantation Bay. Here’s my run-through.
And that wraps up the Cebucation Chronicles. I highly recommend Plantation Bay to anyone who plans to visit Cebu. The place is wonderful and the service is top-notch. Some of our colleagues from TravelCorp. stopped by to check out the place and the superiority of our accommodations. Tsong, Jay and I was going to leave at 11 am, but they couldn’t secure a GrabCar, so we decided to wait for the next free transport service to the airport at 11:30 am. The staff of Plantation Bay also took care of our check-in (service excellency right there) whilst waiting. I was a little nervous that we might miss our 12:30 flight because of the traffic. We arrived passed 12 at the airport and had to move hastily. Luckily, our flight was delayed again (first time I was glad about a plane being late) and we made it back to Manila and at home safe and sound. And unfortunately, we still have to go to work that day, so we only had a few hours of rest. But, it was worth it.
It was a memorable Thanksgiving vacation, we had a lot of fun, and i didn’t get to spend too much money (just being thrifty). I’d like to thank the people who made this vacation possible. Raph for making it easier for me to join. The man is a good samaritan in wolf’s clothing, he took care of some of my budget shortcomings, food, and provided me with the energy drinks to help me drive the long distance even without sleep. Princess for all the things that made this vacation happen, you’re a saint for giving so much and making sure that people enjoy the blessings you have given them. Thank you for everything. And for the rest of Team Bahala Na or DIY Travel, thanks for the good and fun times, I really enjoyed my first time in Cebu.
After packing up, it was another long drive from Oslob and back to the city. It was easier and faster going back, especially without the bad weather and a good night rest. We stopped by at the market to shop for some pasalubong (bought dried fruits, squid, and fish, and some refrigerator magnets).
As requested by our fashionista/queen of darkness planner, Jay, we headed to another mountain region to visit the Sirao Flower Farm. Jay wanted to have a photo shoot in that place and for the first time I actually used my Sony NEX-5n camera (it was so convenient to use smartphones and action cam during the trip that I almost forgot that I brought this). The guys decided to stay in the car and play Mobile Legends (and because it’s a flower farm), I was dragged along as the photographer (might as well maximize the experience, right? and they’re paying for my entrance fee). I don’t have a lot to say about this activity, there’s a lot of flowers, it’s colorful all around you, and it’s very girly. I’ll just let you see the photos instead. Since part 3 of the series has too many photos (especially Plantation Bay), I decided to do this article as part 3.1, focusing on the photo shoot in Sirao Flower Garden. Part 3.2, the real last part of the Cebucation series will focus on Plantation Bay. So, here we go, Jay and Lei’s photo shoot by the Rogue Rebel Photographer.
That’s all, folks! Seriously, the whole experience made me feel like a photographer again. 6 years ago, photography is my first serious hobby, but when I started focusing on a more physically-demanding hobby like running and mountain hiking, I forgot how much I enjoyed photo shoots in the past. This experience reminded me of the joy of photography and I might do it again, a comeback to my first hobby. Jay and Lei are good models and Sirao Flower Garden is a great place for photo shoots. In fact, there was a prenup photo shoot at the time. But, it’s hard to get to the good spots of the location because of the place was crowded (and the parking lot is so small that traffic occurs within the vicinity pf the farm).
The last part of the Cebucation Chronicles is coming up real soon, it will be packed so much photos it will look like a walk through of Plantation Bay.