The North Face Thrill of the Trail | January 18, 2009 | Evercrest Golf Club, Nasugbu, Batangas

 

 

I am still on a high for having joined the TNF 10K/20K Thrill of the Trail Run at Evercrest Gold Club, Nasugbu Batangas. I enjoyed, I savored and I felt the thrill of running the trail. It is a one-of-a-kind running experience for me. The kind of experience I had not imagined doing but ended up thirsting for more. 
I'm Runner 013 for the 10K category

I'm Runner 013 for the 10K category

What makes this more memorable was the fact that I almost did not make it to this event. I registered as early as December 2008 but something came up 1 week before the TNF trail run. All of a sudden, there was an announcement in the office that the badminton tournament is pushing through (it was supposed to be held last October 2008 but it got postponed). The leveling would have been on the 17th and practice was being scheduled on the 18th for the tournament proper on the 24th. I had actually cancelled my reservation at Evercrest and gave up hope of joining. Fortunately, good news came my way on the 16th as leveling was being postponed again. This paved the way for my participation to the TNF Trail Run.

I joined my officemates, Mitch and Dennis (Running Pinoy), at Evercrest at around 7:30 pm. It was very cold (winter-like cold) as I walked towards the clubhouse. I checked-in and we went to the restaurant for dinner. Our orders took longer than usual to arrive, but it was all okay. We all had a good chat about running (of course!) and some other stuff. We also noticed that it was getting colder and windier, giving us some dose of what to expect the following morning. We finished our food, headed back to the room and dosed off by 10:30 pm.

Race Day

We all had a good sleep. We made our way and got to the start-finish area with about 5 minutes before the start. It was festive and it was very cold. With the dark skies hovering above us, with the cold chill and with the gusty wind blowing, the race started on-time with the 10K runners (us included) going first.

We were greeted by a short uphill run at the Evercrest Driveway. This is an easy 500-meter run on a concrete road leading to the first station (MP01). This short run was the perfect warm-up to counter the cold breeze and the blowing wind. 

17 seconds to start

17 seconds to start

 We made our way to Evercrest Junction (MP01), the first stretch of the trail. This is a 2.1-km. narrow dirt road before the next station (MP02). This part of the trail is relatively flat. No uphills or downhills. I was very mindful of where I was running. It was still quite dark and the uneven and rocky surface could easily cause a newbie like me to slip. As the skies slowly cleared, we were greeted with an amazing view of the mountains and farms. The fresh air was invigorating; a welcome reprieve from the air we inhale in the city. 
Still dark when we started

Still dark when we started

We then approached the next station (MP02), Caylaway Elementary School. This stretch of the trail bends sharply to the right and slowly descends until the next station. With the trail becoming more visible and with the descending slope, we found ourselves running a bit faster in this stretch. We coasted along (even taking pictures) and reached the next station without any hassles. 

Fantastic View

Fantastic View

The next stop is the aid station situated in a basketball court. We got our bottled water and stopped for a while to take pictures. Departing from the aid station, we headed towards a narrow trail cutting across corn fields. This is about a 1.3-km. trail where overtaking is quite impossible. Faster runners would have to advice (even shout if needed) slower runners (me included) that they are either passing on the left or right side. Everyone was courteous and made way for faster runners to pass.

Water break

Water break

We then approached the next station (MP03), Bridge-taas. Upon reaching the station marker, the marshal advised us to be very careful as we are about to go down a deep slope. A few meters from the marker, you can see runners in single file preparing to go down the deep slope leading to the bridge. We all had to wait for the runners ahead of us to go down so as not to cause any accidents. It was slippery going down and I felt nervous because I was worried that my shoe wouldn’t hold up (I was not wearing trail shoes). Fortunately, there was a rope that we can hold on to. We carefully and slowly made our way down to the bridge and stopped for some more pictures. 

At the bridge after the steep descend

However, it does not stop there. After the bridge comes a steep uphill climb. We slowly climbed up and held on to the branches and rocks for support. There were also stairs/steps carved from the soil that made it easier for us to climb.

Fortunately, we survived that stretch of the trail run. That was the hardest stretch for me. It felt like my heart rate elevated way over its maximum. At the same time, it was encouraging to have gotten over it. 

After that short but difficult stretch, we made our way to the next station (MP04), the 10-Km. Junction/Loop. This is about a 1-km. narrow trail with a combination of uphills, downhills and flats. We also did a combination of running and walking, even taking pictures at some points.

We easily made our way to the last station (MP05), the Summit Junction. This is about a 2.3-km. run leading to the caleruega church. After a few kilometers, we were back on the concrete road past the church. At this point, we were basically cruising (read: walking) and taking pictures. Some 20K runners were passing us, including Coach Rio (he was even encouraging us: “Let’s go!, Let’s go!” he said). 

An old house near caleruega

An old house near Caleruega

My friends, Mitch & Running Pinoy

My friends-Mitch & Running Pinoy

We eventually ran again when we saw the MP01 station as it indicated that we were near the finish. As we were running to the finish, I got another surprise as a fly made its way to my mouth. It felt like the force of the wind blew the fly in mouth and I eventually swallowed it. A yucky moment indeed! A bitter shot of protein, I suppose. That episode was soon forgotten as we crossed the finish line with the encouragement of having endured the TNF Thrill of the Trail. 

Run to the Finish!

Run to the Finish!

Yay! I'm a Finisher!

Yay! I'm a Finisher!

After the race, we took some more pictures and ate breakfast and we waited until the awarding ceremonies finished. I was salivating at the prizes being given away – TNF Jackets, bags, trail shoes and Timex watches. Wow! 

Kudos to TNF!

Kudos to TNF!

Posing at the stage

Posing at the stage

Beef Tapa for Breakfast

Reward: Beef Tapa for Breakfast

 

Ending Credits

Hats off to The North Face for coming up with this event and for tapping Pinoy Ultra Runners as trail run organizer. The event was well-organized and the marshals were very helpful. Thanks as well to the other sponsors who made the event possible and for giving away discounts and freebies namely, Timex, Men’s Health, Evercrest and Maynilad.

I had a wonderful and memorable experience from this trail run. Like my very first 10K run last year, it was more of overcoming the anxiety of what to expect and that I might not able to finish it. At the end of the day, this experience boosted my confidence. Like many other firsts, what matters is that I tried it, I started with it and I finished it…and that’s about the sure ways to overcome the fear and the jitters.

Question now is…when’s the next trail run?

Happy Running!

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2 Responses

  1. Hope you weren’t bored with our “cruising.” Next time we must do at least 20K to enjoy the bridge twice, maybe even 50K if there’s one in TNF100. Glad you made it!

    No, not boring at all. Just perfect for first-time trail runners like us. Better to be conservative than sorry. Hehe. Besides, you were right, I really need to get one of those trail running shoes. ‘Til our next trail run. Cheers!

  2. I so understand about that climbing up with roots and rocks. In the mountain 50 miler that I did, somewhere around 17 miles I think it got so steep that there were actually stairs up the mountain. That was crazy I thought to myself at the time.

    Great job and I am happy that you enjoyed yourself so much. Keep up the good work.

    Thanks! A 50-miler (80Km), Wow! That’s one of our long-term goals. For now, we’re looking at 31.2 miles (50Km). Happy Running.

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