If there's one thing that I was deliberately avoiding during the past couple of years, it was trail races. Sure, I've been slowly easing my way back to trail running but not trail running events. I remember my second trail race in 2014 where I slid and fell, and ended up hitting a huge rock. It was my hip bones that hit the rock. Thankfully, they weren't broken but they were badly bruised. I felt kind of traumatized after, that it took me almost two years to get back into the trails.
Like I said, I've been easing back into it. So when coach Roel offered me a complimentary race kit for the Soleus Buddy Trail Run earlier last week, it took me a day before finally deciding that I would give trail races a try again. I gladly accepted the offer and signed up for the 16km solo category.
The event was held last Sunday with the start and finish line at Wawa Dam in Rodriguez, Rizal. The route started off with an uphill concrete road and then followed by a rough road going to the entrance of the trails. I started with a slow jog until I felt my shins aching, so I decided to slow down to a brisk walk. The trails were mostly of dirt and mud. Mud, because it rained the day before. I had to be extra careful because it was so slippery. I really had no race strategy that day, except to not slip and fall. I ran whenever I could and walked whenever it would get slippery.
Photo Credits: Running Photographers
Halfway through the route was the metal hanging bridge. From there, the trail was of huge rocks. At that part, I lengthen my strides, careful not to trip on any of the rocks. Then I was back on the dirt trail where I did more running, as it rolled uphill and downhill. I found myself having fun as I was running up and down the dirt path, with cool breeze softly blowing on my face. Eventually, I reached the river crossing marking the tenth kilometer where I shared the boat with four other runners. The sun was fully up by then. As we were crossing to get to the other side, I took that time to freshen myself up by splashing my face and legs with some water from the river. The water was cold and it relieved me from the heat. I resumed my run only to find myself on a grassy land with no shade at all. The sun was scorching hot and I did my best to run as fast as I could just so I can reach the shady parts.
For the remaining two kilometers, the rest of the route was of alternating dirt and concrete. We even passed a small local community so there were spectators, a.k.a. people going about their usual Sunday morning routines. When I saw the Wawa Dam, I had my photo taken quickly and then sprinted all the way to the finish line. I was smiling from ear to ear.
While the race was challenging because of all the mud, it was one of the most enjoyable races that I have joined this year. The sights were truly breathtaking. I couldn't resist taking some photos during the race.
a view of the Rizal mountain ranges
sights halfway in the race
Mt. Pamitinan and Mt. Binacayan marking the last 2km
I did not make it into my target time for this race, which is sub-3 hours. I know that I could have done so much better had it not rained the day before. Still, I'm thankful that I finished the race safely and injury-free. And of course slip-and-slide-free. Aaand dirt free from the knees up! Haha! I mean, with my clumsiness, I really was expecting that I would arrive at the finish line looking as if I fell in the mud. But I didn't, so I can say that it was an achievement.
I had a five-hour finish time for the last trail race that I joined, and I only ran 10km then. So it really was a big deal for me to have finished this race in a little over three hours. Now, I can't wait to do more trail running so I can join more races like this.
Thank you to all the photographers who captured my moments in the race. Of course, huge thanks to coach Roel for the free kit and more than that, for the experience.
"Look! I'm all clean!"
rank: 83rd out of 145 runners, official time: 03:14:58