1. Race Route
I am no stranger to running trails around NUVALI. In fact, I’ve lost count how many times I’ve been there. But when I heard that this will be the first trail ultramarathon, I didn’t think twice and just signed up for it. And so how was the route? One, I was surprised by the different trails. There was dirt. Then there was mud. There was a little river crossing with more mud and murky water. And then there was sand, gravel and stones. In short, this is one trail run where I encountered ALL aspects and types of trails. Normally, there would only be a combination of two or three types of trails. This race incorporated ALL the types of trails and I think runners would agree that they actually looked forward to running on cemented roads as a way to run faster and get a better time for this race. Otherwise, one had to move through tough terrain. The route itself is not as elevated nor as steep in terms of uphills and downhills. And yet, as an ultramarathoner having done 10 marathons and 10 ultras prior to this, I was amazed and equally challenged by the race route. I love the fact that the race organizers decided to move the gunstart a little late so that runners do not need to use flashlights to run around the trails. And judging from the runners that I saw, I do believe that about 30% or 40% of the runners did their first trail ultramarathon here. I base this from the fact that nearly half of the runners I do not know by name and throughout the entire course, I kept introducing myself as — “Hi I’m B, but you can also call me Titanium Runner.” Out of which, I get three reactions —  “Oh, so you’re Titanium Runner… I heard about you.” or  “Oh, you are the one who was with my friend during the Salomon Trail Run last November”; or “Nice to meet you, so how many ultramarathons have you finished?” These were the three most common things that I encountered during walking conversations with runners.
It was a joy to see so many runners and so many newbies into ultrarunning! The Philippine ultrarunning community is indeed growing! And I hope that it continues to gather steam and momentum so that more runners will treat marathons as long training runs for ultramarathons. 🙂
I was only able to take one picture of the entire race course, but here’s the link to Running Pinoy’s account of the race event. His pictures are fantastic and I still can’t believe that it just took a simple point and shoot digital camera! http://runningpinoy.wordpress.com/2011/06/21/the-tales-from-the-valley-trail-challenge/
There’s something about running around the countryside that just makes me feel better afterwards. This is how I felt after finishing the entire race course. Of course, I felt physically exhausted. And yet, I also felt joy.
2. Having Fun
Okay, so this is not about the race route nor about the race itself — but I cannot help say it here that I had so much fun in this race! Why? Well, during the entire course, I saw three fellow BDMers who had the Bataan Death March kilometer marker tattoed on their right calf. So whenever a runner with said tattoo would pass by and depending on present company; I would then shout out — “Hey, look at that! There’s a walking kilometer marker of the Bataan Death March! I thought this race were are doing is in Laguna? Am I lost somehow? [Filipino Translation: Uy, may naglalakad na BDM kilometer marker! Akala ko ba nasa Laguna tayo?] Then there was the healthy competition between fellow TEAM UNGAS runners as we tried to outrun each other! To think that at the start of the difficult trail, I always ask myself that question that a lot of ultrarunners ask themselves — “Why the hell am I doing this to myself? Why am I so addicted to ultrarunning?”
3. Aid Stations
I regretted bringing my 3 litter Nathan Sports hydration pack. Why? Because even with all the heat and humidity; there were enough aid stations and enough water for everyone running the 28k and the 57k [or is it 58k?] distance. Still, I just chalked it up to training because I am preparing for the Cagayan de Oro to Dahilayan trail ultramarathon which will be next month. So it’s okay. Another thing that I liked about the aid stations was that almost all the water that I encountered were ICE COLD! Now that was indeed a big achievement for Jonel’s team, considering that this is his first trail ultramarathon that he organized. I am even tempted to say that the entire race event is PERFECT. Still, there are areas that can be improved on like any other race. Most of which are really just add-ons and not so much the basic things that should be in the race.
Thanks for the photos, Jojo! Seriously speaking, the trail looked deceptively easy but overall it proved to be challenging even for seasoned runners!
If you have read the blog entries of Vicky Ras and also that of Running Pinoy, you will see that the entire race route was indeed a fantastic tour! There were lots and lots of grassland and there were areas that were also covered with trees. In short, I felt at peace just running and walking along the trails. True, it was a tough course but overall, it was a course that was worth every penny of it.
5. Medical Support
It saddens me that I saw some runners who got injured. Overall, I am glad that there was ample medical aid and that runners who could not run anymore were given aid immediately. I saw fellow runner Vicky, who was really in pain at the end of the race route and as such, she was not able to finish it.
6. Medal and Souvenir Shirt
It’s the first time that I received a finisher’s medal made of wood. This is truly unique and I believe it is the FIRST in Philippine running history. It’s also perfect since the race is an ultramarathon going up and around the entire valley of NUVALI. There were plenty of vistas, greenery that soothes the senses and enough challenges that make even the most veteran runner question his abilities on the trail. I also LOVE the finishers’ shirt! It’s a shirt which one will not giveaway! It’s made of top-of-the-line dryfit fabric and it can even be worn for running!
Overall, I can’t wait till Jonel comes up with what he calls the Nigthmare Ultramarathon. Now that would indeed be an interesting course to take. Some suggestions though — I was looking forward to more river crossings and getting in the mud, Jonel. That was the only thing that disappointed me in this race. Overall though, I really enjoyed this run. Btw, I am sorry that this is a short race review. I know I still owe you articles! 🙂