My Northface Trail Run 22K Experience in Camarines Sur

| Posted in , , , , | Posted on 5/03/2011 10:21:00 AM

I just got back from a trip to my province of origin, Camarines Sur. A friend/school mate from nursing school gave me his race kit for the Northface Trail run since he’s injured and have other things to attend to. I was hesitant at first since my last visit to Cam Sur was just a week ago (Holy Week), but I was glad I decided to run and not put to waste an experience I’ll never forget. 

My first and last trail run was last September 2010 Tour de Trail in MacRitchie Reservoir in Singapore. It was just a 3KM trail run that I participated in together with my 2 siblings during our eldest sister’s birthday. That trail run was nothing compared to the Northface Trail Run, both in distance and the trail itself. 

Starting Line. Too bad, I only have my camera phone with me.
Mt. Mayon hidden partially.


The 22KM category of TNF Run was held last May 1 2011. We gathered around 4:00 AM in Camarines Sur Watersports Complex (CWC) where we were picked up and transported by Military Trucks to the starting point which was situated in the 9th Infantry Division of Philippine Army in Pili, Camsur. The race started with a short talk and pictorials at the Starting Line and a helicopter hovering around us for a video shoot that the speaker claimed will be shown at the Nat Geo TV. A loud bang signalled the start of the race at 5:30 AM. The sun was already up that time and we race forward, not really fully knowing what is ahead of us. The cold breeze, beautiful scenery, plus the wind by the helicopter that followed us til the first 2KM of the run was something I was not accustomed to when running in Metro Manila. 

We started running on concrete and dirt road in between of rice fields until we reached the first water station after 6KM at the foot of Mount Isarog. Trees covered the sun and runners started to bottle neck because of the narrow and muddy trail. The only way we can tell we’re on the right path is the little markers stapled in the trees. My back started to hurt because of the steep ascent on the muddy and rocky trail which I thought was never ending until we reached a steep downhill. I was glad I did not use my VFF Bikila since I’m sure it’ll be a torture to my feet running with very minimal support on rough terrain. I did stumbled upon someone running with a Vibram Five Fingers KSO, when I said stumbled I mean it literally since I lose balance when I stepped on the muddy trail and end up hitting him and both of us sliding down. I did lose my balance many times after that and saw others “butt sliding” too. But we manage to laugh out every incident and show concern to others by saying “ingat” and “sige lang, kaya mo yan”. My old Adidas Adizero provide very minimal grip and I was very cautious of my footholds. Ropes and bamboo supports were strategically placed to give support and avoid falling down cliffs and muddy slopes. I use some rappelling skills for faster descent but did not get any faster because one simply cannot overtake another racer because of the narrow trail.

We passed a waterfall while crossing a river. I got my shoes wet while crossing that river but good thing is it did not give me any discomfort. We nearly got lost when a couple of runners ahead of us go forward and did not realized they have to go left and climb up, good for them is they backtracked when they realized there were no more markers in that area. Adding to our confusion is the markers going left are facing the opposite direction. We use our whistles to wait for a race marshal and confirm which the right way is. Good thing is someone did arrive after a span of 5 – 10 minutes and told us to go straight up instead of going the direction of the 2 runners. The runners who ran in the wrong direction managed to catch up with us after a few minutes. 

After 12KM (that is what the map said), I reached the open and was overjoyed to see the flat land again. My next problem was the extreme heat of the sun and my fluids running low. I did have with me 2 energy gels and more than a liter of Pocari. The hydration stops provided us with Summit drinking water, I use most of it splashing on my head and body to fight the heat. The next 10KM with the blistering heat felt like double the distance. I saw runners slowing down and almost giving up. When my water and energy gel was out, I stopped at a sari-sari store for a drink and some biscuits. Some locals whom we passed by shouted words of encouragement, some just smiled. Motorists tempted me to just hop on and ride with them but I just smiled at them and said I will finish what I started. Other runners showed both exhaustion and determination to finish the race and like them I move forward to the finish line. I end up walking – running - walking up to the finish line with a time that is good for an average full marathon runner in flat land. I end up, like most of the runners, not making it to the cut off time of 4 hours. But I don’t care about the time, what mattered most is the experience, the scenery, the people and living up to the theme of the race which is “breaking the boundaries”. 

To the Northface Trail Run Organizers and marshals, a job well done! Looking for another trail run next year and I hope I’ll be able to run a 50KM by that time. And I promise to register personally.:) 

Race results of TNF Trail Run is posted at this link.

Comments (2)

I enjoyed reading this blog! I hope next time, I will be TRAIL running with you. Good job! And good luck to your next run! =)

@Diorelle: Lessgow!

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