It was Saturday, 2:45 in the morning when I leave our place and go ahead to my mission. But before heading to my so-called “mission” I have to meet first my comrades in the field. The folks from PRC (PEX Running Club) arrived in the scene early and as soon as I arrived we quickly head to our bus and had our small talk along the way. We had a freezing-smooth ride early that morning because the 4th bus that we rode has only 8 passengers excluding the driver. I’m surprise that it’s warmer outside the bus when we arrived in Tagaytay Highlands. Our travel time from Taguig to Tagaytay only took an hour and half. Now what will you do when you arrived in the race venue? You probably doing the usual runners pre-race routine, like stretching, filling hydration bottle and getting hyped up for the race. In our case, what we do is take few photo ops with friends around the vicinity before we deposit our bag and then we had our pre-race routine. Souvenir first before anything else because souvenir last longer than pain, right?. After doing my pre-race routine I head to the starting area because the organizer calling the entire 24K participant to gather around because the race is about to begin. You can notice that everybody looks excited, ready for the trail and all geared up for the race. When the 10 seconds countdown started you can already feel the high energy in the air. It’s like reveling engine in drag race. After the countdown, the horn was blown as the mark of 24k event is officially started.
Runners lined up in a single file as we all reached the first trail. We passed through the outskirts, run over the fields and even run in a small residential area where people there and the young ones greeted us. What I loved in that area is that the kids feel bad when they didn’t have the chance to tag the runners who are passing through. Sometimes it comes to the point that they even chase the runners just to have that high-five! After few hours of running towards the midland we decided to take some few shots there and since it’s an uphill road we planned to walk on it. Believe me you don’t want to run that kind of road unless you’re a pro. Later on we reach the Madre de Dios chapel and then the trail started again. I thought Timberland in San Mateo, Rizal was the toughest trail but I was wrong. In my opinion Tagaytay Highlands was the toughest, so far. Imagine you have to climb it up by ropes and even climbed through rocks just to get on top. That is not, I repeat it’s NOT your ordinary trail route. But don’t worry this race is not all about pain and sorrow. Of course the fruit of your hard work lies on the peak of the mountain, in the half kilometer U-turn. There you’ll find the very scenic yet brutal view of Tagaytay Highlands. The view on top was amazing and you can also see from there the Taal volcano. You can feel the cold breeze of the air. Fresh air that you wish you could also felt in the metro. All the runners who made it to the top had their moment as everybody posed for some photo ops! After 10 minutes of sight-seeing we have to get back and get ready for another challenge. These time its downhill. Getting down was a challenge. Overtaking is not a good idea so you must be observed traffic rules. You have to let other runners pass first before your turn or vice versa. You must take precautions because some parts of the trail were bit slippery because of the rain from past day and loose soil. If you thought we’re all done in the difficult part of the race, you’re wrong. The organizers make sure that we all have to earn our medal so hard that they give us the last 4 kilometers of the race an uphill road. This high angled uphill road almost got me cramps. I felt that my calves tighten up but what I did is to walk slowly and even try walking backward so that my calves can relax for a short time. Reaching the last hydration station was a relief. We all filled up our hydration bottles, pour water on us just to release the heat in our body and finish the last downhill kilometer of the race.
I’m no stranger in this kind of situation. This is the last kilometer of the race. You have to give your remaining strength for this last stretch. You don’t think this time; you just run and don’t mind the pain that you’ve been through. As I approach the finish line you can see family, friends and fellow runners are gathered on both side of the road, cheering for the approaching runners as they crossed the finish line. Finally the race is over. All the pain and sleepless night has come to an end. It was a great feeling knowing you survive that insane trail route with all your heart and strength. Even you may not have the best time you still know in yourself you finish that race with pride and you know that you didn’t take shortcut just to have that 24k finisher’s medal.
Overall, this race was well-organized. Though I have some concerns. Since this is a trail event I hope next year there will be a first-aid station along the trail. You may never know what might happen during the race. Even a small team of medic will do. What if someone get cut or got cramps while climbing the mountain at least there’s a support team who can aid them. Here’s another one, I know this is a green event race but I think it will be nice to have a banana station on the half way mark. There will be a rule that no banana skin will be thrown along the trail and offer a basket for leftovers. Lastly, the lack of cameramen. Com’on guys you have to agree with me on this. Every runner also want to have that moment captured specially when we climbed the mountain or descending on steep slopes. But all in all it was a great running experience. The hydration, parking lot provided for those you haven’t take the bus, the food and the freebies are amazing.
This is the reason I got addicted to trail running even it’s only my second time. It’s pure adventure while you run. Surviving countless up-HELLS and down-HELLS (as my fellow survivors said). Truly the organizers made sure that the runners would have the best trail experience of their lives, the one they will never forget for the rest of their running career. Thank you Salomon Philippines for giving us this wonderful experience and see you next year!
Click here for the race result.
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