When I signed up for my second trail running event, I expected it to be all about just running on the trail. I did not expect for the other, uhm, "stuff" involved.
So the second leg of the Nature's Trail Discovery Run was held last Saturday, October 12, in Pililia, Rizal. The route was set on the trails of Mt. Sembrano, which is a mountain located between Rizal and Laguna. With a maximum elevation of 745m, I expected it to be more challenging than my first trail run, but I did not expect it to be super duper insanely difficult.
I registered under the 10k category. Before the race, there was a short briefing, and we were informed that they added about two more kilometers to the 10k route. We heard the gun start and 5:30 and we were off.
The first kilometer of the route was a breeze. The trails were muddy because it rained in the area the night before (as we were told). Then I remembered crossing a small stream of water and making a right turn, following the runners in front of me, and then ended up on the stream again. So we just went in a circle! We finally saw the marker telling us to go straight after crossing the stream which led to a trail going uphill. Pure freaking uphill! So the first kilometer was a total breeze... Not!
After more than an hour, I reached the 2.5km marker. It showcased an amazing view of one of the lakes surrounding Mt. Sembrano. It was truly breathtaking. I even spent few minutes sitting down on the ground, just admiring the view.
Oh, and there's a photo-bomber!
The next couple of hours were spent enduring more uphills, and more muddy and slippery trails. I was already carrying a stick at that point so I wouldn't slide back down, which happened several times already, being the klutz that I am.
Finally, I managed to reached the so-called summit and a kid marshal instructed me to go to this downwards trail to complete the route. What came next were the longest and most gruelling two or so hours of my life. I tried my best to jog for a bit but then every now and then, I would end up slipping and I would hang on to a grass or some wild plant for dear life. At one point, I actually slid all the way down and fell, and I seriously thought I was going to die. I hit a hard surface and felt a sharp pain on my hip bones. Less than five minutes later, a man also slid and fell on the same exact spot. So it wasn't just me. It took me a few minutes to recover. When I eventually did recover, I continued the journey down which was a steep and slippery "path" of huge rocks and mud. I relied on tree branches and vines to keep me from sliding and falling again. I would have taken some photos but I was busy fearing for my life. Also, I was mentally cursing my ever-so-willing self for putting myself through it. What was I thinking? Haha!
It was such a relief I finally reached relatively flat grounds. By then, my feet were so so tired that even if I wanted to, I can no longer bring myself to run. So I just walked. I saw a small stream and I washed my face and hands, and even dipped my muddy shoes in it. A few minutes later, I reached a clearing with a small hut, and there was a lady there selling fresh buko juice. I ended up buying some because I was very thirsty and dehydrated.
After my quick buko stop, I walked and jogged alternately for about thirty more minutes, and finally reached the finish line. I wanted to cry but no tears came out. Must be the dehydration. Haha! Still, I was beaming with pride when somebody took my photo.
Overall, the event was sort of a flop. It really wasn't the organiser's fault that it rained the night before thus the muddy trails. It also wasn't their fault that the route was very challenging but they could have made it easier somehow for the participants by providing more hydration stations. There was only one water station which was located towards the end of the 10k route which was also the U-turn point for the higher categories. The marshals weren't so well-informed because I found out that the "summit" was not yet the summit, and so I really did not finish the entire route. Also, the organisers did not even wait for everyone to finish. I remember that it was around 1pm-ish when they started packing up even though a lot of the runners have not yet returned. I was repulsed.
Still, the experience was memorable and one-of-a-kind. In some ways, it was good. It give me a chance to evaluate my decision-making, uhm, "skills". LOL, kidding! But yeah, it was a good experience, being able to commune with nature and bringing out the adventure-girl in me. But it was also nightmarish in some ways. Those many times I slid, the cuts that I got from hanging on to trees and plants, the insect bites, the overall dugyot look, and the bruises on my hips... Ugh. Horrible. Would I do it again? Yes, definitely, maybe in a few month's time. :)
Thank you to Running Photographers for capturing this!