I have always wanted to give trailrunning a try. Even if I had the experience of hiking on the trails years back, I have never tried running it. I mean, how could you when you’re carrying a 20 kilo or so backpack on your back, right? Plus, as mountaineers, we were taught that we shouldn’t run on trails as it tends to ruin the trails faster with the impact especially if you’re doing it all wrong.
Late last year, I was supposed to do a trailrun as my last hoo-rah for my 2015 running. Unfortunately, the organizer advised me to try joining other trailruns first as theirs wasn’t for trail runner newbies like me. 😦
Okay, like as if there was a trailrun organizer who’d ever cater to such a crowd?
Well, what do you know?
There was! 🙂
Browsing through the net, I came across a trail run meant for newbies. It was short and newbie-friendly they claimed. I was a bit unsure on joining it, but when I saw comments from numerous interested runners asking if someone with no trail experience could manage it to which the organizers said yes, I signed up.
I headed out to the meeting area for the shuttle service pick-up where I was joined with other familiar runners at 2a.m. Almost everyone took advantage of the long trip going to the Rizal as we all dozed off only to be awoken at around 4a.m. when the driver kept going in and out the van. We were a convoy of lost vans on a rough road and in complete darkness. After backtracking, we finally found the place that had a small unnoticeable banner of the event.
Many more familiar faces were seen when everyone stepped off the vans and prepared for the event. Registration started and personalized race bibs and scarves were handed out.
It was nice knowing that many were really newbies. Almost everyone wanted to try something new from triathletes, mountaineers, ultramarathoners and runners.
We were briefed, a group picture was taken and were sent off.
3.5 hours cut-off.
“Be ready for the surprise!”, the organizers yelled. (Oh, great! I’ve heard that familiar line in Corregidor Marathon.)
It was a slight uphill at the start. Everyone was still running. A little further, it was a steeper incline and many had started to walk. Uphill, uphill and more uphill. It never seemed to end.
This little tip posted on the organizers page was what I kept in mind all throughout the loooooooong uphill as I put one foot right after the other convincing myself it was an optical illusion. 😀
Enjoying the Route
Finally, we were done with the surprise and it was rolling from there on. We reached the aide station that had Fit and Right juice, water, jellies and cupcakes. That was the time I decided to bring out my cam and enjoy the run and take pictures… excuses! 😀 Hey! It could be my 1st and last trail if I end up hating it, so might as well take souvenirs of it, right? 😀
I planned on doing a 3:1 interval from the start, but that got replaced with just run if it was “runnable” and walk if the trail was technical. We ran on a variety of running surfaces —from soil with rocks, through high grass, through really steep downhills with roots bulging from the ground.
It was on the really steep downhills that I s-l-o-w-e-d down. I was such a slow poke! Everytime I’d hear a runner behind me, I’d step to the side (if there was enough space) and say “Go ahead!” I lost count to how many I let pass me by.
I just couldn’t do what they doing. They ran it down and almost looked like they were gliding! 😮 Such daredevils!
I, on the other hand was a scaredy cat taking much care with every step.
Descending r-e-a-l-l-y steep slopes has never been my thing.
It’s my weakness.
It brought me back to my mountaineering days when I’d usually sit on my butt to go down safely. During my mountain biking days on the other hand, I’d be wearing out the brake pads while descending steep slopes.
Huhuhu... I guess my legs were only meant for hiking on the trails and running on the road, but not running on the trails. 😦
I let out a big sigh of relief when the steep slopes were over and I was back on the road. I took time to greet the locals and even managed to take a picture with a group.
I was then back to the starting line and it didn’t quite end there yet, as we had to go up a steep inclined road and through more trail that led to the falls. It was 4km more we were told.
We went down some cement stairs, passed by a small wooden bridge and went around a little stream with boulders and rocks of all sizes. We were excited to see the falls as we expected something majestic, only to see a rocky stream.
It was a good experience, though. A little taste of every kind of trail.
After that, it was the descent back to the finish line.
Yey! We survived our 1st trail run!
Medals were hung around our necks, finish line pictures taken and we lined up for our loot as a raffle took place.
There was a comfort room where runners could bathe in or even a pool to take a dip in (if you’re willing to bathe in the green water).
Loving Out of Town Races More and More
I love these out of town races.
This is where you get to mingle with other runners from all over… runners you’ve raced with in past events, TBR siblings and runners you’ve only just met. You can really feel the running camaraderie as we ended up chatting non-stop.
1st Trailrun, Achieved!
Heading back home, despite being all really hungry, we had these huge smiles on our faces for our accomplishment of having been able to survive our 1st trail run.
My smile turned even wider once I had eaten. 😀
MGM Productions did a great job. They had enough trail signs, no runner would get lost in the trails. They had marshals too, in certain areas. Distribution of racekits, loots, even the photo line picture was well-organized. Food at the aide station was enough.
It was also great that Amihan got to sell their race vests before the race. Many runners I knew got to test run their new vests at once.
Oliver (my shuttlemate), suggested that it would probably be nice if the organizer had gotten the locals involved by asking them to sell food at the finish line, even just native delicacies to help them out. There were no nearby stores in the race event area. He had a point as we were r-e-a-l-l-y hungry already as we waited for others to finish the race and that would’ve been a big help.
Will I Ever Run The Trails Again?
When I had just walked past the finish line and received my medal, I told my other runner friends that I would rather run on the road, even do an ultra than do another trail.
That was yesterday.
Today, as I sit in front of my laptop and blog about my first trail run experience, I’m itching to search for other trail run events. 😮
Oh well, we’ll see.
We’ll have to wait and see. 🙂
Distance: 10.61km (Kulang! I demand a refund! Chos!)