I needed a break. The constant monotony of city life needed a change. I cringed at having to do another weekend long run on the same streets; and then from nowhere CM42 event page appeared! The allure of the trail, the country side, the fresh scent of nature jolted me into signing for it in a jiffy. Perfect distance, 22km of trail run instead of 23km Long Street run scheduled for that weekend. Made calls, got a hotel in Angeles city and off we were for the long drive to the event place.
Little did we know that the inclemental weather would make this trail event one of a kind. It will be the most memorable trail race for years to come. The gun start was moved an hour ahead, and it was for good reason. The pregnant clouds made the dawn look like night. Even in that damp weather with gushes of rain and wind now and then, one could sense the anticipation and sheer excitement among the participants. We were about to experience something unique.
Since it was my first trail run with no idea what was ahead, I wasn’t too sure of what I should wear or carry. The strong winds forced me to change from a singlet to a jersey. From the lessons learned in the T2N race, which had a similar topology but less steep, I came in double layered socks to prevent blisters. For shoes, I chose Merrell’s line of minimalist shoes designed for trails. This would help for better grip and better ground feel. For hydration, I chose a hydration belt. This would free my hands for better hand foot coordination in that treacherous terrain.
The first two kilometers were a mixture of gravel and concrete roads, giving way to steep climbing slopes with profiles ranging from big rocks, mud, and ground socked with rain sometimes calf high. With some places gnashed away with flowing torrents of water due to the falling rain, it was a spectacle to behold. Interspersed with occasional traditional Aeta huts, banana fields and steep side slopes, the howling winds and constant rain were perfect background vocals for our heavy breathing.
As we approached the final turn to the falls, the climb down was a mixture of algae induced slimy green rocks, overgrown paths, rivulets with only tree branches as bridges and finally a broken stair case to the Miyamit falls. The falls did not disappoint. The rains that had been pounding the area had turned the meek Miyamit falls into a majestic sight thundering down the rocks far below. A misstep and you could be crushed to your death in those big boulders beneath it. Indeed the climax of the whole 26km of trail run. This is something that should never be missed and made this trail so nostalgic.
Going back wasn’t any easy. If the climbs were steep, tasking the lungs, calves and hamstrings, naturally the run down the slopes would be worse. This time the quads and knees would be bearing the weight. A slip would easily break ones legs, hip, back or shoulder bones. One had to be extra careful. I did mention 26km of trail run. The original 22 turned out to be 26 because of the change in start line. This change in distance had its complications. 26km of trail run through that torturous terrain and bad weather is like doing a 32-35km road race. A real danger of running out of stored energy and hitting the wall among other things. Well that is trail run for you.
Trudging along towards the finish line, with the villages along the route now coming alive in the morning, I couldn’t help but admire and regal at the opportunity of doing this race. There were instances, I just wished the trail would go on and on due to its raw beauty, the simplicity of life around it and the once in a lifetime weather experience to support it. As I approached the finish line, I took a look at my legs and couldn’t differentiate the colour of my legs, white socks and red shoes. They were all covered in dark brown mud. A testament of an experience that lets one wonder if conspiracy theories actually have a way into ordinary people’s lives.
I could go on and on, but I must say many thanks to the indefatigable race director, Sir Jonnifer M. Lacanlale, his super supportive crew of volunteers, my Team Powerpuff friends and new friends I made for making this race a must do race for anyone who wants to try out real trail running. Argh! I just can’t get the hang of it…