March 6, 2016
I guess I can officially call myself a trail marathoner. The second leg of Conquer’s Trail Adventure series took place in the little city of Maragondon, Cavite. There, I had the most difficult run of my life (as of now).
I arrived at the event venue (Maragondon Elementary School) at around 23:00 of the night before. There, I rested on my sleeping bag and waited for a few familiar faces until the race kit claiming. I was nervous and kept on estimating my finish time. So if I get to the halfway point in 5 hours, I can reach blah blah blah by this time blah blah. Since it’ll be my first time running this far on a trail, my only goal was to not DNF.
I met up with Del, a friend I met in the first leg of the series, and he helped me calm my nerves as the race approached. At 01:00 in the morning, we got our race kits and started gearing up. 02:00 came and we had a quick word from the Maragondon Tourism department, the Pico de Loro park also gave a short lecture on LNT, and finally a race briefing from sir Jigs Meneses, the race director.
At 03:00, the race finally started. I jogged at the back of the pack, having attended the recon run, most parts of the trail were already familiar. But trail-running in the dark was always an experience for me. As we left the city and entered the quarry trails, the runners started to separate from each other. Holding tightly to my torch (a bike light), I jogged along as the other runners slipped out of view.
One of the more memorable moments was in the dark, I was running with a new-found buddy when out of nowhere, this black mass moved beside us. It was a carabao and once it moved towards us, my adrenaline pumped and we immediately bolted away from the beast. It sounds funny looking back, but I was legitimately scared during the time.
There were also parts in the run where there was no one in front of me and behind me in the trail. Just me, my torch, and the beam of light illuminating about 4 feet of trail ahead of me. Now I have a very wild imagination and I have to say that fear was a huge motivation in me completing the first part of the race. Every sound that wasn’t made by me sent me running as fast as I can along the trail.
Once I got to the DENR station at the base of Mt. Palay-palay, I felt more at home. But halfway up the climb, I was already drained and every step was making me feel heavier. There was a point where I slumped on a fallen tree and was getting ready to lie down. Fortunately, a couple of experienced runners urged me to keep climbing and I reached the campsite with them.
Having reached the turning point before the cut-off time, I was already happy. Descending is where I enjoy, so I think my pace was a bit quicker until we returned to the quarry area where the morning sun hit us.
The heat was draining more of my energy than the trail, but along with the loose rocks at the quarry, I was getting slower and slower. At the aid station, I sat down for a while and got cramped up. Good thing there was a marshal with some Efficascent oil (yay) who massaged me and help me recover.
Right before the home stretch, there was still another climb. Mt. Nagpatong, where Andres Bonifacio was killed, was the last challenge for me. Concrete stairs made my legs ache more and the final trail ascent was also excruciating. I have never been so glad to descend it. Once that was done, it was the familiar route back to Maragondon and finally, the finish line.
Of all the races, this was the most fulfilling. Only natural because this was the most challenging race I’ve run. Once the medal was hung around my neck, all the hardships became just memories. As I’m writing this, I’m still a bit sore, but that’s nothing compared to having finished this trail run.
So there I was, looking down on my race bib with the number 42 on it, coincidentally the distance in kilometers I just ran. From doubting if I can finish, to the pride and joy of having completed the distance. After resting a bit, I hung around with some new trail friends and waited for the other runners, as well as eating the well-deserved post-race meal of tinolang manok.
I have found excitement in doing things that I never thought I would be able to do. When I started running, I never thought I’d end up running forty-two kilometers up and down a mountain. It’s a pleasant surprise, how things have escalated, and I don’t think I’m done yet. I think I can still prove myself wrong a bit more. This is my way of breaking down mental barriers and improving myself as a person. I’m not at a skill level where I can compete with others yet, but being able to compete with myself is always rewarding. Especially if I win.
This run (and all my feelings) wouldn’t have been possible without the efforts of a lot of people. So in no particular order, here are the people I wish to thank.
To the Big Guy/Papa Jesus/JC, for the most wonderful weather and all the external forces that accumulated to a wonderful run.
To Mama and Papa, for making me. Also for the love and concern as well as letting me go to these kinda events.
To Sir Jigs and Team Conquer, for being consistently great race organizers and for the challenging route as well as collaborating with other groups (search and rescue, Maragondon government, etc.) for the runners’ aid and safety.
To my trail running friends, old and new, for the kind welcome and support. Sir Del, Sir Io, Sir James, Sir Bong, Sir Tim, Mam Daphne (1st place, women’s category), Mam Lady (2nd place, women’s category), Mam Nerissa (3rd place, women’s category), Mam There, Kap Omeng, Mam Asia Agacoili ;).
And the rest of those who greeted me along the trail, thank you!
What a great experience, I think I’m ready to swear off road runs for good! I have found my people! Chos.
Race: Conquer Ascend Mt. Palay-Palay Trail Marathon (PDL42)
Finish: 06:41:59 (Rank 17/75)
Food: [Self] Gatorade, H2O, Fitbar x6, Cloud 9 Choco Fudge x2
[Aid Stations] H2O, Softdrinks, Chocolate Milk, Cassava Cake, Pastries, other kakanin
Gear: Lagalag Lagok 1 Hydration Bag (with Basekamp 2L Bladder), Vamos Socks, Salomon X-Scream Citytrail Shoes
See you on the road and trails!