Sunday, October 9, 2011

Summit Trail Ultra 60 Challenge

Ardua Non Timeo, Fear No Hardships. This sums up the challenge that was Summit Ultra Trail 60. It was truly the best that there is since ultra marathons came to Cebu. Honestly, I had my reservations to this event particularly because they had a short notice of about a month, not something pleasing to hear when you hear the other's announced as far as six months beforehand and when you would have wanted to train specific for the event, a trail for that matter and a first for an ultra marathon here in the island.. But a have to give in to the experience knowing that I have trained and have loved trail running for about a year already. This was to be my litmus test.

Friends at the starting line, Art, Jan and Siobe.

The route starts from lowlands of Talisay passing through the chaotic neighborhood of the city before passing through the mountains passes and trails of Campo4-7, then to the Sinsin, Loay, Campinsa before going down. All in all, we ran a total of 60% trails and 40% paved much of which was mostly uphill and downhills. I've never tried running in these places even though I have lived half my life in Talisay City. But that was before the running came to me though. I've trained now on places nearer to my place in Consolacion-Liloan where mountains are not as high as those in the central portions of the island but still offers a unique and great degree of difficulty like a trail should be.

Team effort-Team YYKredit

There were only a handful that joined, 61 individual and 7 relay teams. Its not exactly plenty for an ultra which could reach up to 200 participants for a race yet I could sense these runners were perhaps brave enough to face the challenge of the trail and the mountains or foolish enough to do so. Except for the chaotic Tabunok road, running the flats conservatively on a 7/1 run walk pace for the first 15k was enjoyable with the SRP being half closed and people cheering us up. There was a even a impromptu beer station by the roadside by some bystanders on a drinking session! The Mananga River showed its presence by the unending sound of the crashing water below us, a perfect way to cool our bodies for the road ahead. Here I was just getting the run slowly, not trying to push to hard, to conserve I guess for the mountains beyond and play safe with my knees which has been acting lately on the last marathon and ultra. It was a relief it never showed up the whole race. Maybe the glucosamine dosages works.

Km 16. Campo 4.Mananga River 

Km21, after passing the scenic Jaculpan Bridge, it was all uphill for the next 7k, not as terrible as the one in Cansomoroy but a little longer. Except for the not so average runner, most walked this part. There was beauty everywhere with waterfalls, rivers and nice town folks. Its easy to imagine that these roads where dreaded by motorist before for its sheer fall on the other side. I pretty enjoyed the time spent here.

Scenic Jaculpan Bridge with Mananga River-Mountain

Just enjoying the view with Raj

By the time we reach the small mountain town of Campo 7, the sun was high but the heat melted by the cool mountain breeze, we were greeted by the festive mood of the Summit-Ungo support station. This is the first transition phase for the ones running the relay and for us the start of the trails. I have considered the trails as my forte so after a quick respite, off I went on a faster pace leaving my group behind except for some members who went ahead of me. The roads seems to be all mud at first, dreaded by many days before as it rained heavily throughout the week. Fortunately it was not as bad as it was and I don't think anyone had problems with it.

Trail Running at Km 29.Off to Malubog Lake

Through Sinsin we passed through several villages, again punctuated by seesaw elevation until we turned on a fork towards Malubog lake which has all downhills. It was small but pristine and untouched. I would have loved to swim if we had pass by the side which was a bummer.

Malubog Lake. Two Thumbs Up!

After the lake, we turned towards the mines of Atlas Mining Corp. We passed by on the edges of the Biga Pit, one of the largest open pit copper mines in the world! It was 10am and it was hot! With so little vegetation, I started using my cap. Salt caps were taken though since the 1st hour. That was some place really, since there were a few of us, our spacing were longer and looking back while running you could see the road where you came from it seems for miles and miles beyond, you were the only one left. So lonely here except that for me I had Art tagging along who seems to be contended enjoying the scenery after getting lost for about 9k in the first part of the race. He was really game and we enjoyed our time taking photos with my brother on his MTB who also I presume had a great time too having been to the place for the first time despite having these areas as his training grounds for his biking skills. 

Lonely walk with Art. Hot!

We were greeted though by a huge man made lake from the entrails of the copper mine. That kept me from keeping my mind of from thinking too much about the race. We took some time taking photos of the scenery. 

Man Made Lake from Biga Mine Pit
Most areas here where again uphill, rocky and dry bone, difficult to run and had to contend walking. The support again was evident from the organizers by placing two wheeled vehicles to ferry water and supplies to us.  We reached the second summit, the highest of the route at km40. 

KM 40. The Summit with Art.

The scenery was to behold so their were more picture taking before resuming our run downhills this time, the steepest in the race. A quick stop over 2 bottles of coke rejuvenated me. It was around +6hours so we were calculating to arrive within 8 1/2 hours at best and 10 hours the max.  We reached the foothills of the mountain with the Loay Forest Reserve greeting us. Huge mahogany trees where there totally imposing. It was one of the most rave parts of the route.

Loay Forest Reserve

We reached the second transition point at km45 refueling again our supplies. Most though really that it was all downhills from here as advertised. It was not to be. We were told to follow another trail which by judging from what I saw was another uphill climb to another mountain peak. Whooah! Are you kidding me! But I guess they save the best for last. Here, we passed through forest upon forest, with great fauna and vegetation that it seems you were not in Cebu but somewhere in the Amazons. This was the Campinsa Forest Reserve. This had mostly uphills again but who could complain. I was able to catch up on 2 of my younger and faster staff runners here.

Bamboo Forest-Campinsa Forest Reserve

It was only in km55 that the paved roads of Maghaway beckons and it was all downhill from here to the finish line. Pick up the pace for good measure on the downhills and but ended up walking the last 2kms. to the finish line.

Downhills. Last 6km

Art was able to catch up with us after having problems with cramps in the transition area and we finish together with 2 of my staff. We finish the course at 9 hours and 25 minutes and placed 30th among the finishers. This was a most organized ultra marathon that I've participated so far. A huge success was only possible by the hard working organization headed by Bro. Carlo Bacalla, SDB, the race director, Joel Juarez, the technical director, TCRC, SURE, Ungo and the Government of Talisay City.

Happy Faces at the Finish Line. 9hr25mins. 30th Place with Art, Ellizar and Annirose

This was the toughest ultra marathon race so far that I've joined. Even Rick Gaston, the US based ultra marathoner and a veteran of 100 miles race including the Western States 100 who ran with us last Sunday calls it "hard and impressive route". Kudos to all finishers!

Last Sunday, I truly found my peace in the mountains. As Steve Jobs (who died a few days before the race) puts it, "You've got to find what you love." On that day I found one.    


1 comment:

Marc V said...

Trails like these and Dahilayan bring out our inner zen. Excellent write up, pre!

Shoot and Run

Rumblings of a Cebuano on a pair of running shoes and a Nikon on one hand.

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Photography is my hobby, a long distance runner and an avid blogger, I consider traveling a dream and my family as my number one inspiration.