My final activity during the Memorial Day weekend is a hike on Mount Makiling. I always marveled at the beauty of Mt Makiling every time I see it from afar and on the horizon of South Luzon Expressway. The first time I set foot on the mountain was last year when I joined Nuun Dirt School for trail runners and I always wanted to climb the mountain again and this time at a slower and easier pace. And since it’s still summer time, the mountain is almost free from the native blood addicts, the limatiks (leeches). For this hike, I asked my college mate, Gerlie, to accompany me since she is very familiar with the mountain and climbed it five times already. We agreed to meet up at Crossing Calamba at 6 am to take the jeepney from there to UP Los Baños. I arrived 15 minutes late though (I got proper sleep, but my mind and body probably still have some left over sensation from the exhausting ASICS Relay and the easy pace Run 4 Ur Life fun run of the previous days). We started the trek a few minutes before 8 am.
It was a really fine day, still have that summer heat, but beautifully transitioning from cloudy to sunny back and forth. And since it’s a Monday, there are barely any hikers that day. We are moving at a decent pace while exchanging stories about life, the universe, and random stuff.
We arrived at Agila Base around 9 am. I wasn’t able track the distance because my Soleus GPS watch is having a hard time connecting to a satellite, but my estimate is we walked around 5 kilometers in under 1.5 hours.
We took a quick break at Agila Base, I rest whilst Gerlie went to the nearby Sari Sari store to buy a 500 ml water to add to her 2 liter water pack (1 liter already consumed) and some bananas.
When heavy rains caused a land slide last year (I think it happened on November), Mount Makiling was temporarily closed. When it was re-opened this year, a new and longer trail was created for hikers to move around the dangerous area.
We caught up with a group of hikers resting on Station 22 and we took a break when they left. By this time the 900 ml of water I brought is almost depleted. Didn’t realize that I’m gonna be consuming a lot of water on this hike. I underestimated the heat. Station 16 to 18 is challenging, but the hardest part of the hike is up ahead. Except for one that sucked the area near my shin, we did not encounter any more limatiks (or snakes) along the way. We caught up again with the group of hikers who stopped because one of their peers got cramps. They let us through because it’s taking them quite a while.
After an exhausting climb (I can see steam coming out of my body), we finally reached Peak 2 passed 11:30 am (I remember looking at my watch and it’s 11:47 am). We took a long rest, savor the rewarding feeling, and eat. Too bad there’s no view deck at Peak 2.
The group of hikers finally arrived at the peak when we were about to pack up and descend. I offered the guy who got cramps my Relispray Plus to spray on the affected area and he accepted it. I even offered to take their photos so everyone can be in the frame. When going for mountain hikes, it’s good to be nice to everyone you meet along the way, smile, greet them, and give them good vibes. Since I ran out of water, I asked Girlie for a small amount before we start descending at noon time.
Going down the mountain is easier and faster, but the ground is a bit muddy because of the drizzle earlier, so we proceeded with caution. We met another group of hikers who were ascending, a bunch of youngsters, four girls and a guy (whom Girlie told me she saw at Agila Base resting earlier). I greeted them and told them to be careful along the way.
It took us more than 40 minutes to reach Station 22 because we had to move slowly through the slippery terrain (also spotted a limatik on the ground). I slipped once, but didn’t go down all the way like I did the first time I tried running down. After passing through Station 18 to 15 (where I also slipped again) the trail gets easier again. We ran out of water, but still had a good conversation and stories to tell as we move along to make pace seem faster. When we finally reached Agila Base again, we took a long rest and refueled with soda (and I also drank buko juice). The walk back to Station 1 is easier now, but we took our time during the walk, taking photos and just enjoying the soothing sights and sounds and the beautiful day.
We reached station 1 around 4 pm. We cleaned ourselves (didn’t bring extra shorts or underwear, just a shirt because I thought I would never get too sweaty and dirty. I’m an idiot) and ate at a Jollibee outside UP Gate before heading home.
It was a great day to hike Mount Makiling and summer time is ideal if you want to avoid the friendly neighborhood limatiks (just have to tolerate the hot weather). This concludes my 3-day Memorial Day weekend activities. The ASICS Relay was exhausting, but a blast; Run 4 Ur Life was a good run (even without sleep), and Mount Makiling Day Hike is therapy and I just want to climb the mystic mountain again. Thanks to Gerlie for accompanying me and making this hike happen. Next time, I plan to visit the mud springs and flat rocks, and someday maybe we’ll do the Makiling Traverse (MakTrav).
This is article replaces my 2xxx Bests series where I take a look back and rank the best events and moments of the previous year. For this year’s article, I decided to make it shorter by limiting it to just running events and honoring only the best singlets/tech shirts, finisher shirts, medals/trophies, and then finally ranking the races. I participated in 10 running events last year and here are the goods starting with…
=== BEST SINGLET/TECH SHIRT ===
Run United Exceed Tech Shirt
The blue color and overall design of the Run United Exceed makes it the overall winner. It’s very comfortable too and quality is very similar to the 2016 Condura Skyway Marathon Tech shirt which is an honorable mention from last year.
=== BEST MEDAL/TROPHY ===
Yakult 10-miler Medal
Its minimalist design and stainless metal made it my favorite. No fancy use of colors or anything written or etched on front or back of the medal, just a simple design the looks elegant. And that Yakult pillow is a nice finisher bonus too.
=== BEST FINISHER SHIRT ===
Hero 2 Hero Rizal Day 50k Ultramarathon Finisher Shirt
This one became my instant favorite finisher shirt. I like the use of colors especially the red color tone on the right and gray on the left. And the logo is nice too with Philippine hero Jose Rizal’s face and silhouette blending with the yellow-orange color. Another good addition is the name on the back of the finisher shirt to let everyone know that it’s yours, you worked hard for it, and earned it. Gotta mention that it comes with a nice finisher trophy too.
=== 2017 Races ranked from worst to best ===
I joined 12 running events last year, but one of them, My Little Pony Run, got cancelled and rescheduled and the other one is a trail running class, I’m only ranking 10 official races that I participated in last year. So, starting from the worst experience….
Of all the races I ever participated in the more than 4 years of experience this is the worst. See that photo above? that’s the first time I (and maybe the other runners too) was stopped by highway patrol because we were running on a road where running (and cycling) is prohibited. Wait, what? then why was it part of the route anyway? what the hell was the organizer thinking? oh, and to top that, there are no finisher shirts and trophies for the runners to take home once they’ve crossed the finish line. The organizer said that the manufacturer made a mistake with the trophy design (and the finisher shirt? same manufacturer?), so all we got was the medals. The organizer said that he will ship the trophies and shirts once they’re made. So, it’s like more than 2 months of waiting now, still nothing. We’re not updated or even asked for the shipping address and contact details. Dunno if we will still get what we worked hard and paid for.
Run United Exceed seemed exciting for me at first, especially since the Run United Trilogy wasn’t announced at the time and it had all the good stuff like a nice looking medal, shirts, and the 2 1/2 time limit made it an exclusive for above average runners. I also convinced my college mate Ryan to join the event. But, when I found out that the race route is 2 loops around BGC, I was disappointed because I really hate repetitive loops. Still, it’s not that bad, I loved the tech shirt and the medal design is very good and a great addition to my collection.
Most running series don’t last more that 10 or even 5 years. Yakult 10-miler is the 2nd longest-running event in the country and that title alone is one of the reason for me to join at least once. I had a good time, it was one of my more relaxing runs and the finisher medal and finisher’s pillow are nice addition (especially with the affordable registration fee).
This is definitely one of the best family-friendly events in recent times. There’s an option to look for easter eggs along the route that you can bring to the finish line in exchange for prizes. With the affordable registration fee and lots of freebies, this is one fun run you shouldn’t miss.
This running event needs no introduction. Most people in the running community and casual runners already know the event’s reputation as a “grocery” run due to the fact that you can grab as many freebies as you can after the race. This year’s edition is as good as the previous ones and there are even better stuff you can get. What makes this race very memorable for me is that I was finally able to break the 5-hour marathon barrier, I’m now a Sub-5 marathoner. Since Condura Skyway Marathon won’t be returning for the 2nd year in a row, this is the only running event that allows you to run on the Skyway exclusively.
What I like about Resolution Run is its beautiful, but challenging route that covers Nuvali and the uphill parts of Baranggay Casile. You even pass by the famous Marcos Twin Mansion. This is my recommended January run for those who want to burn all those fats they gained from the Christmas season, this is your Resolution Run. Too bad I wan’t able to join this year’s event.
To wash off the bad taste left by my previous ultramarathon I joined this event. I’m glad that I did because it’s a good event. It’s very challenging, but finishing it feels good especially since it’s already New Year’s Eve once you’re done. I might join this event again if there’s a new route and if the trophy and finisher shirt looks as good as last year’s.
I’ve been eyeing Splendido Sunset Run since 2015 and I finally joined it last year. And I wasn’t disappointed. Set in Splendido Golf and Country Club, runners can enjoy the cool Tagaytay weather and the race route is just amazing, it’s beautiful. I love the downhill domination part and challenged by the uphill hell part. The 21k route has 2 loops and I really hate multi loops, and it rained adding more challenge, but with a route like Splendido’s, I’m not complaining. This is my highly recommended year-end race.
Before the popular obstacle course racing series Spartan Race made its presence known in our country last year, Guerilla Race has been around for more than 3 years now and has become one of the most popular obstacle course race in the country. Guerilla Race has one advantage over its competitors, it’s an obstacle run that changes its location frequently. That is Guerilla Race why is so awesome, it doesn’t feel like the same race as before. Last year was the Splash edition, taking place in Splash Island and added water-based obstacles like kayaking. The registration fee is also reasonable as you get a free pass to enjoy Splash Island after the race. Looking forward to more Guerilla Races this year.
and here it is, my favorite and best race I’ve ran last year is….
I always prefer trail running over road running and the only reason I’m not joining more trail runs is because most trail races are held in locations far from my hometown. Sandugo Pacific Coast 100 is no different, it’s even farther than most trail events because it’s set in General Nakar, Quezon. But, since I was able to convince 2 buddies to run their first trail run and kept the budget at a minimum, I finally ran my best trail race experience since Valley Trail Challenge V. We had a lot of fun and enjoyed the incredible scenery and friendly environment of General Nakar. The very friendly race marshals and staff plus the reasonable registration fee (taking into account the free ride and freebies) round up the best parts of my choice as running event of the year. I have a feeling that we might return for this year’s event. Could be the start of a new running tradition.
And that wraps up my 2017 races. For 2018 I’m not sure I can join as many running events as before, but I will still keep running and deliver more stuff about running, video games, photography, and more. Thanks for the readers who find my blogs useful and inspiring. I’m just here to share my experiences, I’m very thankful for your time to read, especially my articles that go way beyond 1,000 words. Thank you.
Ultramarathons can be intimidating to most runners especially knowing that unlike marathons in the city, the roads are not closed for the freedom and safety of the runners. There are parts of the route that don’t have street lights, forcing you to run in total darkness. Road encounters with dogs and drunk idiots can be annoying and dangerous. And aid stations are 10 kilometers (or more) apart from each other. Yes, ultramarathons have a lot of risks, but I don’t care about those, ultramarathon is an adventure. But, why have I only joined 3 ultras so far? well, it’s mostly about limited resources because the registration fee is pricey and add to that extra expenses for travel and preparation. Another thing is bad experience with my past 2 ultramarathon events, I’m starting to feel that I’m just cursed or unlucky when it comes to ultramarathons. But, they say 3rd time’s a charm and I’ve heard positive things about Hero 2 Hero 50k Ultramarathon (aka as Rizal Day Ultramarathon and Rizal 2 Rizal Ultramarathon), so I joined the event. So, is it as good as they say it is? is my ultramarathon curse broken? read on to find out.
I wasn’t able to secure a leave the day before the event and I tried my best to get some sleep after work. Unfortunately, I woke up at around 12:30 pm with only 3+ hours of sleep, and I couldn’t sleep any more because of the excitement. When I arrived at the event site, Rizal Park Calamba, I was surprised by the big crowd (it’s a big crowd compared to the other ultra events I joined) and there is an actual starting line (because the previous ultra event I joined, which also started here, doesn’t even have a proper one). The event started properly with the usual prayer, national anthem, briefing, and a raffle (which was also absent from the previous ultramarathons). We were also informed that the actual distance has an additional 3 kilometers making the total distance 53 kilometers and that there are long uphills in Nagcarlan.
The race started nicely, though it did cause some traffic at the Halang intersection due to volume of runners crossing, it was handled by the marshals (with police assistance) properly. I was running at a very efficient rate of 6+ minutes per kilometer to conserve my stamina. Surprisingly, the modest pace was able to push me running non-stop for 10 kilometers at 1 hour and 2 minutes (slower than my usual, but as planned for this race), stopping only at the sight of the first aid station (near Olivarez Mall in Los Banos) to refill my water bottle and grab a banana.
Continuing all the way to Bay (aka Bae), this is where I started doing my run-walk method. There is another water station and marshals near a splitting V-road to direct us to the main road and avoid entering Jose Rizal Ave road. The problem in this part of the route is that it’s a long dark road and I don’t know why there are no street lights here considering that it is part of the main road. It was only at that time that I noticed my head lamp’s battery is low, the light is dim so I had to turn it off for a long time to conserve energy. This is why I had to stick close to some of the runners who have bright lights. There was an encounter with a drunk guy (he was harmless) and numerous times that I slowed down and had to catch up with my guiding light. I was pacing behind a girl with a tattoo on her back. She’s a strong runner, and was 30-50 meters ahead of me as we make our way to Victoria, Laguna. There was a right turn and an aid station there. I still saw her as I drink and refill my water bottles, but once I started moving, I never saw her again.
After a brief encounter with some angry dogs (they’re annoying when they bark and follow you), the road in Victoria going to a turn to Nagcarlan is long, but there are more street lights here. There are a lot of teens still outside at the time (past midnight), there was a group of youngsters walking and one of them was forcing a high five and I gave him one at the cost of his hand getting wet with sweat. There are only 4 people ahead of me at the time and two far behind. I can see the beautiful silhouette a mountain in the distance, it’s like a big wall ahead of us, and I think it’s Mt Banahao. Then we made a turn to Calauan-Nagcarlan road and if my google maps research is right, we are entering baranggay Wakat. A spectator ask me where we’re going? I said Santa Cruz and he said that it’s too far, we are entering Nagcarlan. I said we are going this way to cover 50 kilometers. I guess he was surprised that we’re taking a long and hard route. By the time I hit the half-marathon distance or 21 kilometers, my GPS watch shows 2 hours and 15 minutes. That’s slower than the 2 hours 12 minutes 21k time from my LSD training in Nuvali the week before the event, but it still within the favorable condition. You see, I plan to finish this race with a Sub-6 PR, I chose this event because I heard that it is beginner friendly and ideal for a PRs. When it was announced earlier that there is a long uphill part of the route, it got me a bit worried, but I thought to myself that if those uphills are similar to Nuvali’s then I think I can make it.
The road in this route is pitch dark, no major uphills yet, and I can only see a few runners ahead of me to pace with. The run-walk method works just fine, I ate some fun size Snickers chocolate bars along the way to keep hunger at bay (hey, that rhymes). Then we made it to the 28th kilometer where an aid station is located. This is where the difficulty goes from medium to brutal. By kilometer 29, the road goes up, this is where the steep uphills start and because I have never been to Nagcarlan, it took me by surprise. This is where the long walk begins and I caught up with a runner, (can’t remember his name, I think it’s Alex), and had a conversation with him as we brisk walk our way up. By the time we reached kilometer 30, the time on my watch is 3 hours and 30 minutes. Though the road is in total darkness, the full moon helps in providing some illumination along the way and I saw 2 candles on the road, it didn’t help much, but it’s better than nothing. I am thankful when the support vehicles pass by and help light up the way. The night is silent, but beautiful, I can see a surrounding mountain and again, I’m not sure if it’s Mount Banahao or Mt San Cristobal I’m looking at.
Alex (again, not sure if that’s his real name, but I’ll call him that) went ahead and told me that I’ll catch up anyway, as I take the photo above. A runner passed by, but when I saw another runner running uphill, I had to take photos quickly and ran fast because I’m not sure if that was a runner or a mugger rushing to take my smartphone (sorry, it was very dark and I wasn’t so sure if I’m going to encounter friendly or hostile, so I had to go). It was a downhill and I overtook the runner who ran past me. It was at this point that I started to feel pain on my forefoot area and I also think a blister is forming on my left foot. When I caught up with Alex, he was conversing with another runner, a veteran. Now, there’s three of us walking the uphills, jogging the occasional short downhills, and trading stories. There are times when other runners caught up with us and join the conversation.
The flat roads finally came when we reached the Santa Cruz-Calumpang Road, but even then, we still feel a bit exhausted and took our time at the aid station where they have some food including Whammos. It was 5 hours and 21 minutes when we finally reached the 42nd kilometer, the marathon distance. It’s not a bad time, but my plans to finish Sub-6 is gone. It took us 1 hour and 51 minutes to cover 12 kilometers and that’s mostly brisk walking. A testament of the uphills’ difficulty. We started short bursts of jogging and walking, there are some parts of the road where we had to stop and walk because it is only one lane and the other lane is under construction. The rough roads destroyed our momentum, nevertheless, we still gave it a push. The other runner who was with as, the old man, was left behind. A new runner, Michael, joined me and Alex. We reached an aid station that offers ice cream. Best Station Ever. The tasty ice cream kinda slowed us down a bit. No fun eating ice cream while jogging, right? A lady runner who was previously pacing with Michael caught up with us and she told us that there’s only 7 kilometers left. We started jogging continuously, had a short walk break when we passed by a slightly flooded road, and then started jogging again. It’s hard to jog long especially when I started to feel a blister developing on my foot. I can feel the sting and had to short walk breaks ad get left behind. Alex and Michael are ahead of me, 2 lady runners and more overtook me. After taking a piss, I made some adjustments and managed to catch up with the others. I overtook the lady runners, and caught up with Michael and Alex. Some time later, Alex was left behind, I was slowing down again, but still right behind Michael. My GPS watch stopped at 42 kilometers because of low battery, but my Nike Run Club app was still recording and a quick glimpse showed me that we finally reached the 50th kilometer at 6 hours and 30 minutes. But, it wasn’t the finish line, it was the last aid station. There’s 3 kilometers more to cover and the marshal at the aid station confirmed it. He also told us that there are cheaters who passed by. One of them rode a support car and someone rode a jeepney. Shame on those people. What’s the point of joining an ultramarathon if you’re not prepared for it and give everything you got. It’s not just about trophies, finisher shirts, and medals, it’s about testing your limits.
The last 3 kilometers may sound easy, but after running a very long distance, running it will feel like running forever. Michael and I are just alternating jogging and walking again. He was told me to go ahead, but I don’t feel like it and too risky as I started feeling a lot of pain on my feet. We saw the runner ahead of us take a right turn. Finally, Laguna Sports Complex, the finish line. We saw a photographer and I told Michael that I’ll back off a bit so we can have good solo photos.
We entered the main gate and passed by the runner ahead of us, but the finish line is still nowhere in sight. It’s like another 600-800 meters of distance to cover. But, it’s okay, there’s another photographer up ahead…
After having our photos taken, Michael told me to just go ahead. He doesn’t seem to want one final sprint to the finish line, but he looks very satisfied. It see 7 hours and 2 minutes at the timer as I approach the finish line. The record keeper told us that I’m at Rank 40 and Michael at 41. It felt like a heroic effort finishing the race.
So, how’s my 3rd ultramarathon experience? it’s the best so far (considering I only participated in 3 events) and it’s a very good experience. I’m bewitched by the Nagcarlan uphill part of the route because of the soothing sensation of the cool weather, the relaxed feeling of walking under the full moon, and seeing the beautiful silhouette of the surrounding mountain. It was mesmerizing at night, imagine what it might feel like at daytime. Would I run in an ultramarathon event again? oh hell yeah, I just have to do research first and pick the good ones. And the Runmania-organized events are already on top of my consideration list.
On the first weekend of December, two Philippine outdoor gear brands are debuting their inaugural running events, Amihan’s 50k Ultramarathon and Sandugo’s Pacific Coast Ultra 100. The former is a road race and the latter is a trail run. Although they’re different, it’s tough to choose which one to join especially knowing that both events will be good as they want to make an impression to the running community. I really want a trail run, but since the Sandugo event is over a hundred kilometers away (in General Nakar, Quezon) I was leaning towards the Amihan event because it’s much closer to home (Paseo De Santa Rosa is just 12 kilometers from our house). Fortunately, I was able to convince running buddies, Nelson and Demet to join me in the Sandugo event and the rest is history.
This is Nelson and Demet’s first 25-kilometer trail run, so I joined this race without PR in mind, just as their guide and my year-end leisure run. Demet is no stranger to races, he already joined numerous events including half-marathons and he is an active mountain hiker. As for Nelson, this is his first running event, and he did not train for this, he smokes a lot, and he’s not a mountain hiker. But, this guy is tough and strong, he’s like that unstoppable slasher flick villain who get’s hit a lot or seemingly defeated but still comes back to terrorize people. So, I believe these two first timers can do it, I know we can finish the race.
The race started smoothly, we entered an uphill road leading to a small village. The first few kilometers were mostly road and we were able to run at a decent pace. Some parts of the route have some flood that was probably caused by rain the day before.
A lot of the villagers are on the street watching us. It kinda makes you feel like a celebrity athlete or maybe they just think were crazy for signing up for this. I think it was somewhere between 4 and 6 kilometers when we finally hit the rough road. The dirt road is where the beach resorts are located and we can see the beaches as we pass by.
The first 7 kilometers of the route was easy. The natives are very friendly, some cheer and can interact with jokes, and seeing the kids smiling and giving you high fives is a big morale boost. That’s the feel-good vibe that you don’t experience much in city races and mountain runs. Then we enter the first mountain pass were things go tougher.
We spent too much time stopping, taking photos and having fun that several runners caught up with us. We had a chat with one of the guys and he said that there were 10 of them who took a wrong turn and got lost (and they still caught up with us). It started to rain and while we’re going down hill, Demet got tripped by a vine or something, got cramps, and we had to take a long break. We let the others pass by as we rest to make sure Demet recovers properly.
It was a difficult path, but we had a lot of fun on the mountain trail. The rain stopped and things got a bit easier when we got to lower ground.
We did some short jogging, but we walked most of the time, sharing stories and the occasional random nonsense. The lady marshal from the 1st Aid station said the next one is on the 10th kilometer, but it seemed more. We finally saw Magsikap bridge and we got excited to take photos.
I have to say that the staff of aid station 2 are very accommodating. They would approach us even before we reach the station to get our bottles and they will refill it while we eat. I have not seen marshals and event staff this helpful since 2014’s Men’s Health Urbanathlon and this is a very big plus. Great job, guys.
After re-energizing ourselves, we started jogging with Nelson and Demet taking the lead for a few minutes then they slowed down and starting walking again. I paced with Ella and left them behind as we reach the part of the route with a view of the Pacific Ocean.
When Demet and Nelson finally arrived, we walked to reserve our stamina and because the sound of the waves and the cool wind creates a soothing, calming effect. Made us imagine how good it must feel resting and sleeping on a hammock. And it’s good that we took our time walking because the next part of the route contains a lot of uphills and downhills.
After the uphill and downhill jam, we reached the 2nd aid station again to refuel before we take the last 8 kilometers of the route (passing by Magsikap bridge and taking a right turn). It’s a very wide uphill dirt road and while it’s not as steep as Sungay Road it is still very challenging because of the continuous climb with no downhill segments and very little flat grounds.
The last 4 kilometers is just pure nonstop hike and it started to get hot hot hot. We experienced mud, rain, and now the heat. It’s the complete package. It was a silent walk due to exhaustion and Nelson and Demet lost the hyperactive goofiness they had earlier. We caught up with a couple runner and had a achat with the guy who said he joined the 1st Sandugo Brusko Mountain Bike Race 3 months ago and he said that the event had something better, they have buko juice in the Aid Stations and you can fill up the bladder of a hydration pack. That is definitely a big plus.
Nelson all of a sudden found the energy to run downhill in the last 2 kilometers of the route. I excused myself to Demet and the couple to run and catch him. Found him resting on a shade and we waited for Demet. I told them that we should go for a sprint to the finish in the last 500 meters and I will make way for them so they can cross the finish line first. Demet said the we should all just cross it together. So, we reached the last 500 meters and we saw some runners ahead, some are limping and another guy was very exhausted. Neither Nelson nor Demet initiated a sprint so I just stayed with them as originally planned. When Nelson started to jog on the last 100 meters, I ran by his side expecting Demet to do the same. But, he walked and I let Nelson get the medal first before I did because it’s his first trail run and he earned it. We all finished at 5 hours and 39 minutes (official race results here). Not bad for my first timer running buddies.
Sandugo Pacific Coast Ultra 100 Trail Run is a great event. I enjoyed it so much because it had all the things I like in a running event, a scenic route, a good challenge, and a reasonable registration fee. I’m a big skeptic of running event registration fees these days, the price increase (compared to the previous years) is too much even in short distance fun runs and you’re not getting your hard-earned money’s worth. That is not the case with this Sandugo event. For 1,500 php, you get an event shirt, a Basekamp trucker cap, a Mountain Series headwear, a bottle holder strap, and Sandugo socks all contained in a nice sling bag. But wait, there more than more. You also get a free shuttle ride from the Manila and South area to General Nakar, Quezon. There also a place to stay in, it’s a school manned by the school staff and they’re very friendly and helpful, and there’s a pick up truck to take the runners from the school to the event area. And their staff and marshals are the most helpful I’ve seen in awhile. So many things done right in this event.
But, it’s not perfect. There are some minor things that would be nice if improved on the next event. First is the medal, it looks good, but the only thing that indicates the distance is the lanyard. It would be better to see it on the medal itself or maybe a size difference for the distance categories to make them easily distinguishable. The lack of a finisher shirt is the biggest flaw of the race. Most people would prefer a finisher shirt over an event shirt because it’s the bragging rights that runners love to wear. This is especially important to the first timers like my running buddies. Too bad for Nelson not having a finisher shirt to wear to the office to show off to our other office mate runners. A very minor complaint would be the post race meal, some of us late finishers didn’t get much and distribution is a bit slow.
All the flaws aside, this run has most memorable experience for me this year and one of the most fun. I have 2 more running events coming up, but in my mind it’s already the best running event I joined in 2017. It’s just that good. Kudos to the event organizer and staff, you did a very good job and I hope that it stays the same (even better with improvements like the addition of a finisher shirt) in next year’s event.
Sungay 50k Ultramarathon Calamba to Tagaytay is my 2nd ultramarathon. Why only my 2nd? because with other priorities in life, joining ultra runs can be quite costly. It requires resources for travel and other necessities, and the registration fee is pricey. I picked this event because the starting line is just nearby our home in Calamba, the race route is interesting, and I have heard of Sungay road and its reputation as a difficult route for cyclists and even motor vehicles. So I signed up, trained for it, and what happened during the event is far from what I expected.
I’m very prepared and excited, not that far from feeling horny without the sexual dirtiness in mind (not that I mind getting dirty). When I arrived at the supposedly starting line at Rizal Park Calamba, I saw no one from the organizers, no starting line, it’s like there’s no running event at all. I walked around for a few minutes and was about to go to the City Hall when a participant, John Paul, approached me. He told me that the runners were here some time ago and he went back to his car to wait. We went to the City Hall and found the starting line just beside the main gate. From here on out, I’m gonna score this event with a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the default score and will subtract a point for each of the organizer’s mistake, flaw, or shortcoming. So, for the confusing starting line, it’s minus 1 already (9 points).
A veteran ultra runner approached us and had a chat about the event and the race organizer. He told us the trophy and finisher shirt are not available because of a manufacturer’s error. It was later confirmed by the race director and he showed us wrong trophy design that the manufacturer made. I was very disappointed, I felt like I lost the motivation to run my own pace. So, I decided to just make this an LSD run because that’s what it feels like and I decided to pace with first time ultramarathon runners, John Paul (the runner who approached me at Rizal Park earlier) and John (two Johns are better than one, then?). Oh, and no trophy and finisher shirt available outright means another minus 2 points (7 points now).
The race started at 12 midnight, the first part of the route was to turn left after the intersection and going to Pansol. I was pacing with John Paul and with John just behind us. After more than a kilometer, we entered the Bucal bypass Road. The road is very dark, there are no street lights and can be dangerous to navigate without a headlight. It is also an uphill road, a primer to the challenging uphills later. I was having a conversation with John Paul while moving at a relaxed pace. Then the strangest thing happened….
We were told by highway security to stop because runners are not allowed to run on that part of the road. The guards were not informed that there was a running event going on and we were on hold for a long time. I have never been stopped or put on hold in a race before and for this experience, another minus 1 (down to 6 points now). One of the runners called the race director and gave the phone to the security for them to talk. Since, we’re not allowed to continue running on that part of the road, the race director came to pick us up. John Paul invited us to ride in their car that was driven by his wife (who was there for support). The race director dropped the runners to the main road near Carmelray Industrial Park 2 and the race continued from that point (with adjustments for the lost distance to be added somewhere in Talisay).
The travel to Tanauan is just a usual jog, we were switching from jogging to walking from time to time at a pace of 7-9 minutes per kilometer. I didn’t like the road because of the vehicles and pollution.
We almost missed a turn had John not seen 2 runners near a 7-Eleven store who pointed us to the right direction. We had some time to chat with the other runners as we run the up and down road of the Talisay area. Some parts of the road are pitch dark and there’s too many dogs on the streets at night who totally disregard the law against loitering. What I hate the most is that they bark at you even if you try to avoid them and that forces us to slow down.
The road to Sungay feels so long or maybe we’re just tired and we don’t see any aid stations after the ones at Km 10 and Km 20. We passed by some runners and others passed us by. We took a quick break beside John Paul’s car and ate some bananas because we started feeling hungry. Then we finally saw the 3rd aid station at the foot of Sungay Road (aka Ligaya Drive) and they have some boiled eggs, Gatorade, and Coca Cola. After eating and drinking, we feel re-energized and ready to go up Sungay Road, but we were told that we need to go straight to the road going to Balas first and take a 2.5 kilometer U-turn back to the 3rd aid station. Alternating between jogging and walking again, we saw 6 more participants approaching the U-turn as we make our way back to the 3rd aid station. Then, finally, we enter Sungay road going up to Tagaytay.
To be honest, we can barely jog in Sungay Road, we’re very tired and with pain in different points of our bodies. Even walking up is an exhausting experience. Seeing some vehicles struggle to go up the very steep climb and a group of cyclists avoiding the road, we already know it’s gonna be a walkathon from this point on.
I was expecting a buko station as advertised on the facebook page. But, there’s nothing. For that I have to subtract another 1 point for false advertising (5 points now).
The uphills seem endless and getting steeper, it’s giving us the worst ass-whupping we experienced in a running event. We feel badly beaten and had to make multiple stops to rest for a few minutes before pushing through. It’s very much like mountain hiking… well, it is a mountain road.
At this point, I’m very glad that I paced with the Johns. The long hike uphills alone can be boring, it might even drive you slightly insane (maybe). Random conversations with buddies can make you forget about pain and exhaustion.
We finally passed Talisay and started entering the Tagaytay border. We asked some of the friendly locals if we are near People’s Park in the Sky. They said yes… if we take a jeepney. A biker riding a Harley Davidson stopped for a minute and ask us if we’re running a TBR (The Bald Runner) event. We said no, it’s Prince Multisports, and he told us that we’re near if we’re talking Ultramarathoner talk (perception of the distance). We feel like we’re near the main road and asked a guy to be sure and his response was kinda near, so we just kept on hiking. And then we finally see the main road. The last 4 kilometers to People’s Park in the Sky, so we refilled our water bottles at the last aid station, gathered every ounce of strength and stamina left, and made a run walk for it. It’s hard to run or jog and we’re playing it safe because the road to People’s Park is still uphill. At least it’s a faster 12-13 minutes per kilometer pace compared to the 13-19 minutes per kilometer pace on Sungay Road. We relaxed and made our way to a safe finish.
So, how do I rate my 2nd ultramarathon? did I like it? Well, I can say that as a running event, it’s a failure for not being able to provide the basic runners’ entitlement, the trophy and the finisher shirt. We got the medal, but we still need the other things that we worked hard for (and paid for). Without them it felt like an LSD training run because you don’t get to see, touch, and more importantly take home the objects that make the run feel complete and accomplished. I don’t understand why there was a manufacturer’s error and why the delay? there’s only 18 participants. Another problem was the lack of guidance in the route. Why are there no markers to point the runners to the right direction? Sure there are some marshals waiting for us in selected areas, but there are some that don’t. Had we not seen the 2 runners near 7-Eleven, we probably got lost. And there are 2 runners ahead of us who got lost. I don’t rate running events on a 1 -10 scale, but this one is an exception because I counted all the shortcomings of the organizer and the overall score is 5/10 which is an average score. This is just my honest opinion and I thought nothing can top one the worst organized event I participated in and that was my first ultramarathon last year. For the positive things about the event, I say the route is good, specifically Sungay Road. It’s scenic and very very challenging. I liked the challenge, but didn’t enjoy it and for me it’s a one time thing just to experience an extremely hard uphill route (dare I say harder than Nuvali, Casile, and even the Philippine Marine Corp Marathon Route in Ternate Cavite). And the race director, Joseph Prince Baltazar is a nice guy and very accommodating. The best thing about this event is that I met good people, whom I can say the ideal running buddies in an ultramarathon. I’m a solo runner most of the time and in most events (that’s why my blog is named the Rogue Rebel), but for the first time I enjoyed running with others from start to finish. It’s too bad the event didn’t turn out to be a good one and I hope that they can make it better next time because from what I’ve heard, the previous Sungay ultramarathons didn’t have any of the problems we experienced in this one. The race director said that he will contact us and have the trophy and finisher sent to us via courier. I hope it happens soon or at least before the year ends.
After more than four months of waiting, we finally got our trophies. Yes!!! Too bad we need to wait for another date to get our Finisher Shirts though.
Witness as the country’s first team-oriented run unfolds.
SPLENDIDO SUNSET RUN 2017 TRIO EDITION
December 16, 2017
3:00 pm onwards
12 Km Trio Run @ Php 999/person
21 Km Individual Run @ Php 1,199/person
5 Km Kiddie Run @ Php 599/person
Splendido Taal Country Club is giving away as much as Php 90,000 in total cash prizes.
Splendido Taal Country Club is located at Km 67 Tagaytay Nasugbu National Road Laurel Batangas.
The landmarks are Royale Tagaytay Estate & Sonyas Garden.
The highlight of the event is the 12 km TRIO run. Each team is composed of minimum of three (3) team members. All three (3) runners of the same team must cross the finish line together.
12 km Trio Run
Singlet, Race Bib, Finisher’s Shirt, Finisher’s Medal, Beverage
21 km Individual Run
Singlet, Race Bib, Finisher’s Shirt, Finisher’s Medal, Beverage
5 km Kiddie Run
Singlet, Race Bib, Beverage
1. The run is a RAIN-OR-SHINE EVENT.
2. There will be NO ON-SITE REGISTRATION.
3. LIMITED SLOTS only for all events.
4. All runners must bring their own tumbler, the organizer will not provide water cups.
5. The Splendido Terrain has been acknowledged as the toughest terrain in the country, so bring in your best running buddies..
6. All runners are required to bring in headlamps and reflectors.
7. Gunstart at
3:00 pm for 5km Kiddie Run & 21 km Individual Run
4:00 pm for 12 km TRIO RUN
8. Only 12 years old and below are eligible for the cash prize in the 5 km kiddie run.
Early Bird Registration is until October 15, 2017 only. EBR gets 10% discount.
Deadline of Registration is until November 30, 2017 only.
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.