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Thursday, April 26, 2012

1st Mt. Ugo Trail Marathon

Official Race Logo (c/o Atty. Jon's blog)

This was one of my most awaited trail run for 2012. Based on the post from Papi Jonel's blog, it will offer a challenge and a "cool" change to the usual trail runs that we had in the past. Also I joined the race to see if the 100 km King of the Mountain Trail in May is really doable within the 30 hours cut-off. Did it meet my expectations? Here's a recap of my experience.


We went to Kayapa (March 31, 2012) from Baguio. Sir Ron invited us for breakfast and "test" run in his playground in PMA which will serve as our warm-up and conditioning run before the event on Sunday. We left Baguio at around 1:30 pm on a "bullet-van" (i wonder how they train to drive that fast even with the tight turns on the hi-way).

We reached Kayapa town proper at around 4:30 pm. It was really a peaceful town with only minimal stores and almost 0 city luxury at the center (very weak Globe signal, no internet, no Jollibee :))). We were late for the briefing but we were able to get our racekits from Papi as soon as we arrived at the municipal center. The usual suspects were there as well meaning this will be one hell of a trail run :).

We checked in at Boulevard Inn which is a stone-throw away from the starting line. It also has a resto where we had our late lunch. It offers cooked meals for a very affordable price (pansit for 3-4 person @ P85?!) which filled us up to gut. The innkeeper was quite irrate probably because of the sudden rush of guests which kept on asking her about the rooms + the volume of orders from the eatery (we understood her position :))).

The rooms were simple - Bed and Mirror. No TV, No Hot water, No fuzz from a city inn. We're very fine with this as we were there to race and enjoy the peace and quiet for the weekend. Since there were nothing to do, we decided to sleep early that night at around 8 pm (I think that was the earliest sleep I had in years!).

RACE DAY (Km 0-10)

We went to the starting line at around 3:30 am. We checked-in our stuff, stretched, had a short talk, did some photo-ops and waited for the gunstart. Sir Jovie (BaldRunner) led the Philippine national anthem while Papi Jonel did the prayer. After the short program, the horn sounded at exactly 430 am and we were off to start the race.

The first few kms was thru a highway leading to the trail entrance. It was all uphill! I considered saving off my strength for the later climb and decided to do a jog-walk strategy. My body still needs to warm-up so whenever the path becomes a bit flat, I tried to run. It was really dark and I was thankful that there were no vehicles speeding up that time. We practically own the highway :D.

After 5 kms, we reached the entry point to the first barangay. The calve-eating slope doesn't stop there; the inclines were very steep and slippery due to the rain! It was also muddy, so I guess there will be no running for me in this part of the course :)

At km 7, dawn has already broken and I've reached the mossy forest. It was like running in the middle of the jungle with only the birds and bugs as your background music. It was purely green with a one-lane track which is adjacent to a ravine. I can't see the bottom because of the fog and I never want to find out what will happen if I fall to it. Running thru this part of the route requires caution as well because some of the path are mossy and slippery, one wrong move and you might end up in the bottomless pit! :D

Also at this point, I realized that my hands were already freezing. I can't move them (it seems that blood was no longer circulating) and they were already pale! I stretched and rubbed them to recover their color. Good thing I brought the gloves with me so I wore them to keep my hands warm. Talk about fashion statement wtf :))

Km 11-23 (Summit)

I reached the end of the mossy forest and reached the Andupit junction at around 1:15 mins. The area was full of fog and I thought I was inside the time space warp of Shaider! I'm just waiting for a monster to come out of nowhere :)) From there, I did a leisure jog going to the first aid station at the Bundao waiting shed where I had a few bite from a granola bar and gulp down some Mountain Dew.

From the aid station, I traveled 5 km going to the next pit stop. The path leaving the aid station was like a man-made japanese garden with plants guiding the path. I thought we were entering someone else garden; who would have thought that such a place exists in the mountain. Also, it was quite windy here plus the road has a lot of ascend and really slippery. The wind here was so strong that there was an instance that it almost blew my cap off! This caused me to accidentally slip from the rocks and stumble knee-first on the hard surface! I thought I was going to roll-over, thankfully I was able to prevent it. I assessed my knees (I can't see if I was wounded during that time because I wore tights) as it was painful; I decided to continue on the race and ignore the pain since I still have a lot of trail to cover.

I've passed thru the Ansipsip waiting shed and went thru the trail going to the Domolpos village. I passed by Philippe and his companion here while climbing over a fence along the trail. James Telias was already on his way back when I met him and advised me that there will be an intersection where I need to look to my left to see the yellow flag marker. From here, I passed by a fence which were covered by strange colored moss (big ones!) which I thought was pretty cool.

I reached the 2nd aid station at the Domolpos waiting shed. Here, I met sir Romy Doctolero changing his outfit for the ascend to the summit. I popped an anti-fatigue pill here and load up some carbs before I continued my journey to the summit. It was a looongggg walk/run from the aid station to the base of the summit. I was expecting a lot of uphill but surprisingly, the route was rolling with of course majority uphill! Here I meet Jael who was lost in the Domolpos intersection. He's strong as he was lost by around 5 km and yet he had already reached me. He almost fell to the ravine while overtaking me; good thing that I was able to catch him! I let him pass thru as he was breezing thru the trails.

At the base of the summit, BoyP has already reached me. It was damn hard! The ascent was indeed a killer (plus the thin air and fatigue) which caused me to stop often and catch my breath. It was around 2 km of pure killer uphill passing thru a few fences and a small forest where the notorious limatiks are abundant. I didn't experience any but I hate it when I do. I also met Jones Mortega here who had some massive cramp attacks.

After 30-40 minutes of cursing and walking, a familiar voice greeted me at the summit. It was Isko Lapira who designed the route for the race. I was really cursing him for the challenging trail :)). Too bad it was foggy at the summit, I didn't get to see the wonderful view of the surrounding mountain area :(. After taking our pictures at the peak marker, we started our long journey back to where we came from.

@#$#$@$@# ascent to the peak!!! (c/o Jake Manzano)

Very Nice View!!! (c/o Mam Trace)


Km 23 - 32 (Back to Bundao)

The trail back to the Domolpos aid station was shorter. We took the shorter but quad-killing route. There was a time when the fog cleared up a little and finally we had a short peek of the wonderful view of Pangasinan from the summit. It was so surreal and beautiful even though it was short. But I realized that time was still ticking so I decided to speed up on the descend.

Back at the Domolpos waiting shed, I passed by a few other runners who are still on their way to the peak. I ate some granola, chocolate and drank some gatorade as the road back would be a long one. The pain on the knees was gone so I was able to regain my speed. On the way back, I passed by the village of Domolpos where I met some of the local wild pigs and dogs. And I thought that all the uphills were already done but no, the road from Domolpos going back to the intersection is far from a walk in the park! Again I was cursing as we were climbing the trail, good thing I was able to recharge or I'll have a hard time.

When we were back at the intersection, we had a short confusion and debate. There were multiple markers! I know that one of them will bring us back to the Domolpos waiting shed while the other to the finish line. Trusting my instinct, I told my companions that we take the left road as the other one will only make us lost. We did the right decision and after one hour, I was back at the Bundao waiting shed!

Km 32 - Finish Line

Run to the finish line! (c/o Ysmael Ilagan)

Looking at the Garmin, the distance was already around 32 km. If we are going to use the old path, it will be another 12 km thus the total race distance would be 44 km! I thought Jonel would give us a bonus 2 km but upon reaching the Ansipsip junction, the marker led us to another route away from the mossy forest. The trail here was pure descending. Sharp downhills with muddy/slippery trail! I have to control my pace here because I might tumble down to the "bottomless" ravine :)). There were fences again along the route which I climbed to continue.

The last aid station was positioned in the last 5 km mark. Finally, there was gatorade! The marshall told me that I'm almost near the finish line and majority of the remaining trail are all downhill. Downhill with a lot of mud! :))

As I near the village, I was building my pace for a strong finish. I passed by some kids to which I left my remaining trail food (to lighten up my load). There was a waterfall but I decided to go thru the hanging bridge as I don't want to get my feet wet (it was freezing cold!). Sped up the last km only to have my pace broken by a ##$@#$@#$ uphill road :)). At last, after 7 hours and 28 minutes I crossed the finish line strong!

After the race I ate my food and ordered some beers to socialize with my fellow finishers. We were exchanging our own stories about the race and had a common point: It's the most beautiful trail marathon that we had ever joined in! :D

Kagat Medal moment (c/o Rocket Bong)

Post-Race Eklat

I was a beautiful race. Despite the hard weather and difficult route, the experience and scenery would make it a bang for your buck race anytime! I really had a good time travelling with the rest of the ultra adiks to join such a trail race. Also, I believe that I made history by merely being part of the pioneer edition.

Although the story doesn't end here yet. There is an ultra edition of this race this coming May (66k and 100K) which will extend the route to the 4 lakes and beyond Ugo. I've already signed up as I know it will be another challenging yet amazing race along the beautiful route in the mountains.

Congrats Papi Jonel for a very successful race! Again, you made the adiks fulfilled with their craving for pain :D

Unfortunately, I didn't bring a camera during the race so I'm sharing the pictures from my fellow runners (Thanks Jake Manzano, Trace Abella-Pineda, Sir Jovie and Bong Alindada for the pics!)

The fence with a lot of strange moss! (c/o mam trace)
After Bundao? (c/o mam trace)
Runners ascending the summit (c/o RocketBong)
Wild Pigs! (c/o RocketBong)

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