The one thing that Salomon X-Trail Philippines 2013 was able to achieve in yesterday’s event was to set itself apart from all other trail running events by ensuring that Salomon welcomes every runner and it is set to encourage more runners to hit the trails.
I did the 24k distance yesterday, missing the cutoff time by five minutes [more on that later] and I say this because I traversed the route of the 6k, 12k and of course battled my way to reach the finish line for the 24k distance. For those who are just starting off with running as a form of exercise and a way of socializing with friends and loved ones, the 6k distance was perfect as it had half of the road run experience and half of the trail experience navigating through the sand, stones and rocking hilly terrain of the beach hill and runners given an opportunity to view the amazing cove of that part of Nasugbu, Batangas. I really noticed that majority of the 6k runners were in groups or in pairs and brought out their digital cameras having their photos taken almost at every kilometer marker and seeing great smiles too.
For the 12k distance it is quite a different story because I saw that many of the runners struggled overcoming the second hill which covered after reaching the cove again coming from the first hill challenge. The 12k distance runners were greeted to their first river/water crossing where your feet will really get drenched and that I’ve heard that there are others who were not willing to have their shoes soaked in water so they took their time in taking off their shoes and socks before traversing the shallow waters. I find this really funny because seriously speaking, if you are going to take up trail running as a regular sport, getting your feet wet is part of the package.
What I did not like about the 12k distance was that so many runners still do not know proper road racing etiquette. If there’s someone in front of you and that you wish to overtake, you really ought to at least inform the person that you would wish to overtake so that the person can allow you to pass through. Two instances that really made me mad was that one runner just zoomed passed me and I tripped and got scratches from sharp dry wood and the other one I slipped by the raven on the second hill. It’s common courtesy that seems to be so uncommon these days even in race events. And for freaking out loud, I’m wearing bright sunny yellow shirt with bright yellow and grey REEBOK trail running shoes! It’s not as if you could miss me in broad daylight or even during the evenings when all the lights are out!
Now what about the 24k race distance? Let’s just say that it is a monster of a race route. Three major hills with the third hill reminding me of that song and line from the Sound of Music…. “climb every mountain…” as the last and final hills repeat gave us the most technical challenge as runners would have to use their hands to navigate their way through the trail. Going up is a challenge and going down was another story. There were lulls during the route because there are portions of the trail that can only be traversed by one person at a time. In short, the final hill is a patience game, a physical endurance test and a mental challenge. In fact, I passed by a Caucasian [foreigner] who decided to DNF [Did Not Finish] on top of the third hill prior to reaching the summit.
So what happened to me? The cutoff time was extended and I still missed it by five minutes?!?!? Well, I experienced low sugar levels on my way to the summit of the third hill. I had to lie down. In spite of the heat of sun piercing through the thick foliage of trees and running for four hours at that time covering 18 kilometers, my arms were turning ghastly white and that I was no longer sweating. Since I’ve been doing hardcore runs for nearly five years [regular runs for more than 18 years], I know that these are the signs of either hypoglycemia and dehydration. So I waited and asked for people passing me by if they have food. I took some trail mix but puked it out after awhile.
I thought I was nearly done for. The thought of a DNF [though technically speaking, I am still considered a DNF by not reaching the cutoff time] was really not on my mind since I’ve only done it once in my entire life and I do not like the feeling of a DNF. It just haunts me to no end. So thankfully, our team leader of our group TEAM UNGAS, Junar Layug passed me by and asked me if I needed anything. I told him I did need something and I am so glad he had spare GU energy gel which I devoured and got soaked in cold water and drank a few more water too. I took my time to rest because I also felt my heartbeat was running away [hmmmm…. This reminds me of another song]. The last time I felt my heartbeat during a race event was when I did the Mayon Trail Run. I only feel my heartbeat doing intervals and tempo training runs but rarely do I hear it drumming in my ears during race events. This is my body’s way of naturally signaling me that something is off the charts and also that I need to be more careful with my run. Sure, I do not feel anything in my chest, but hearing your own heartbeat in your ears is a good indication that you are close to a cardiac arrest too if you keep on straining yourself unnecessarily.
I cried at the 22k post area going down on the third hill. No, it was not tears of joy. It was tears of utter frustration that I will not make it to the cutoff time. Add to that frustration that I really slowed down and then I heard from another marshal that the cutoff time was extended. It was too late. I had 15 minutes to go, the next hydration station was a kilometer away and I was dried out from the inside out. To push it any further would really “kill” me and no race event is worth getting killed as I keep saying to people. Even elite runners sometimes decide to DNF if they know that they can’t make it at the top spot or for health reasons. For me, I just want this race over and done with and have closer that I finished the distance. I know I missed getting a medal which some of my fellow bloggers felt for me. I told them jokingly and I was serious about it that finishing the distance is far more important than the medal because I’ve given out several of my medals and ultramarathon trophies over the years to the people who inspired me and to my sponsors. Besides, I really have a small place that I am renting out and all those medals that I still have is eating up a considerable portion of the apartment.
Overall, the 24k distance can only be described as HARDCORE. And I think that this is what Salomon wants to be known for. That they welcome runners who wish for something different than road races. They welcome those who wish to challenge themselves with just enough. And they welcome those who are crazy enough to do the impossible. It’s not like TNF race events where even the shorter distances and “fun runs” are really no fun at all. I only know a few people who considers doing ten to twelve hills repeats for a 5 kilometer road race with thin mountain air as anything but fun. And that’s how TNF brands itself. You can say that Salomon is friendlier to the running community and desires itself to be a brand of choice among trail runners and nothing more proves it than their latest Philippines edition of the Salomon X-Trail 2013 event.
But now, I need to get back to get laced up for my next morning run at the UP Alumni Association Fun Run. It’s going to be my recovery run from the crazy 24 kilometers of trail and road of yesterday’s Salomon X-Trail 2013.