Friday, March 29

Shopping List of Races Part 2

This time I thought, why not make it a goal to run at least a full marathon or longer distance on the  countries of the world. I already started with few races on few countries, so all I can do is just continue it.

Bring it on.

Bagan Temple Marathon - Myanmar

Mongolia Sunrise to Sunset Marathon

Jungle Marathon - Vietnam

International Tour de Taiwan Ultramarathion - Taiwan 

Sultan Marathon Des Sables - Southern Moroccan Sahara

Jakarta Marathon - Indonesia

Ocean Floor Race - Western Egypt

Da Nang International Marathon - Vietmen

SN 250 (North to South) - Philippines  

The Badwater Ultramarathon through Death Valley in the USA

thanks to a friend who ignited my interest of joining this race.

at first it was all a dream of being able to be in the place and see how the elite runners  will do it, just being able to support one runner will be more than enough for me. but because I guess that alone will not be possible anymore, i think to myself why not aim to join the race instead. train for it, qualify for the race, save for the expenses and do it. thinking this ambition until now gives me goosebumps.

unthinkable but doable 

one of my dream race - badwater

Crewing for Badwater 

Running on the Sun

No Failure in Trying

Wednesday, March 27

Cesar Guarin’s Sets For Global Run

Posted on by jazzrunner

Cesar Guarin has been an old fixture in the local running scene as he first emerged during the first running boom of the late 70s. When i started to take up running during the early 80s, he was already in the limelight, running in various local races until he set to run his first of many ultra running feats starting with the Trans-Pilipinas Ultramarathon, covering a total of 2, 251 kms from Zamboanga City to Baguio City which he did in 37 days.

Considered the “Father of Ultramarathon”  in the Philippines, he is now set to conquer another 30,000 kilometers across the world in the Global Run: Takbong Alay sa Pilipino at sa Buong Mundo.  Guarin is undertaking this near-impossible feat to pay personal tribute to Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW).

Likewise, Guarin is dedicating his global run to Filipino street children, raising funds to help them through his group’s “Batang Pangarap” program. Guarin’s group teamed up with Overseas Filipino communities and various agencies to get underprivileged kids into running, and provide them with their basic needs and social development programs.

Backing Guarin on his worthwhile quest is the Philippines’ leading low-cost carrier, Cebu Pacific. In a special event held recently at the Xin Tian Di of the Crowne Plaza Hotel, the airline expressed its full support to the man known as the “father of ultra-marathon” in the country.

“Cesar Guarin is very inspirational. He is trying to do something that no Filipino has ever done before, which is to run around the world, the equivalent of a thousand marathons,” said Alex Reyes, general manager of the Cebu Pacific Long Haul Division. “He’s also reaching out to all the OFW communities in the countries that he’s visiting, reaching out and bringing a little bit of home to them.”

Reyes also expressed that not only is Guarin’s cause a worthy endeavor to support, his global run is aligned with Cebu Pacific’s core mission, which is to serve the Filipino overseas communities. “Today there is no Filipino carrier that flies to the Middle East.  We’ve chosen Dubai as our first long-haul destination to cater to Filipinos based there,” he said. “By making fares so much more affordable, OFWs can come home much more often or their families can visit them there.”

“Through Cebu Pacific’s low-fare, great-value service, we hope that there will be more frequent reunions for overseas Pinoys and their families,” Reyes added.

Guarin’s goal to circumnavigate the world on foot started with a dream: he wanted to be the first Filipino to bring home the Olympic gold marathon medal. After failing to qualify for the 1980 Moscow Olympics because of an injury, he channeled his frustrations to completing the Trans Pilipinas Run, covering 2,251 kilometers from Zamboanga to Baguio in 1983.

Guarin followed this achievement with the Trans USA Run in 1985, running across 14 states in 48 days non-stop, from Mondays to Sundays, literally from the east to the west coast.

These ultra-distance runs gave him the training he wanted, and improved his strength and endurance. He joined the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games, but was again thwarted by an injury. Rather than feel defeated, Guarin persisted on and was back on his feet by 1992.

Cesar talking about his upcoming global run during the launching of his Global Pinoy Run at Crowne Plaza Hotel last week
 He set out for the Trans Europe Run, covering a distance of 3,756 kilometers from Barcelona to Rome in 67 days. His Europe run was filled with challenges. Their corporate sponsor backed out at the last minute and they had to improvise using a mountain bike instead of a support vehicle. His long-time friend George Tan had to carry 50 kilos of supplies across 6 mountainous European countries for two months on bike.

Now 57 years old, Guarin continues to challenge himself and is determined to conquer the rest of the world. His next stop, the Middle East, is seventh of his 15-stage worldwide run. While the tough weather conditions and rough terrains may intimidate regular runners, Guarin considers them part of the challenge and is looking forward to the adventure that awaits him.

Next Challenge: 1,265-km Solo Run in the Middle East this 2013
Guarin will now embark on his Middle East Run challenge, referred to as “the toughest extreme distance run” among Cesar’s 16 stages of his global run. To finish this ultra-marathon  Cesar will have to complete the total distance in 6 countries in the Middle East (UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait).

Next stop, the Middle East

Finished (1983 to 2011) –
Stage 1: Trans Pilipinas Run                             2,251 km   37 days   1983
Stage 2: Trans USA Run                                    4,960 km   87 days   1985
Stage 3: Trans Europe Run (6)                         3,756 km   67 days   1992
Stage 4: US–Canada Run                                 1,272 km   29 days   2009
Stage 5: Trans Australia Run                            2,053 km   36 days   2011
Stage 6:  Finland–England Run II (7)              1,820 km   45 days   2012
In Progress (2012 to 2017) –
Stage 7: Middle East Run (4)                            1,265 km   31 days   2013
Stage 8: USA – Alaska Run (2)                         3,134 km   74 days   2013
Stage 9: Japan–Korea-China Run (3)             2,857 km   68 days   2014
Stage 10:  Austria–Greece Run (3)                  3,065 km   60 days   2014
Stage 11: Russia–Hungary Run (6)                 2,539 km   60 days   2015
Stage 12: Egypt–Jordan Run (3)                      2,290 km   50 days   2015
Stage 13: Brazil–Argentina Run (3)                 3,144 km   75 days   2016
Stage 14: India–Nepal–Bhutan                        2,223 km   48 days   2016
Stage 15: Myanmar–Singapore Run (3)         3,766 km   90 days   2017
Stage 16: Brunei–Philippines Run                   2,067 km   50 days   2017

The runs will be on desert roads and around an oval course in regions or areas where road running is prohibited or illegal. At 1,265 kilometers, it’s going to be a challenging run, which may take 40 or more days to complete.

Global Run Middle East will surely be one of the most memorable and exciting global run stage that Cesar and his team will venture. For Cesar Guarin, global running is an incredible life changing experience where he challenges himself against some of the most rugged and beautiful landscapes in the world. Once he finished this run he will be the first person to have run an ultramarathon of this magnitude in the Middle East.

At the launch with fellow bloggers

Yours truly with the man himself
“I’m happy that Cebu Pacific is backing this global run. This started as a very personal project, so I’m really delighted that we’re getting more support,” said Guarin. “Choosing Dubai as one of their first long-haul destinations and offering low fares show that Cebu Pacific, like me, is a supporter of Global Filipinos,” he added.

Tuesday, March 19

Top 6 Toughest Adventure Races in the World

As posted in Wenger's Writers by Sarah Esterman and with my personal thoughts about each race.

For most of us, completing a marathon in itself is an accomplishment to feel pretty proud of. But there are some who aren’t’ satisfied with the 26.2-mile feat, no matter how rough the conditions. These are the “freak” athletes who compete in some of the most physically taxing endurance races on the planet: adventure races. Through all kinds of extreme weather, these athletes trek across rocky terrain, summit mountains, wade through deep jungle swamps and more, testing their physical and mental strength just because they can.

 If you’re feeling up to the challenge, here are the six toughest: 
Marathon des SablesSahara Desert
Translating to “Marathon of the Sands,” the Marathon des Sables bills itself as one of the toughest footraces on Earth. And chances are they’re not wrong: this 6-day trek through some of the most inhospitable conditions on the planet is not for the weak of heart. Besides the 100-degree heat keeping even your sweat from cooling you (since it evaporates immediately in the intense heat) and the added difficulty of running through sand, the landscape does little to help with your mental anguish since you will see nothing but rolling sand dunes for miles. A total distance of 156 miles, you basically have to run a full marathon each day of the race. Reading the description of the race, it sounds exciting. My personal thoughts, why not. I have several friends whom I raced with especially that of my Cambodia multi staged race has done this race in the past and others will be doing this year. They said it is worth joining. I think to myself , why not. I will make this part of my list of future races. 

Badwater Ultramarathon
Death Valley, California
Imagine running 135 miles nonstop on pavement from Death Valley to Mt. Whitney, California in temperatures reaching up to 130 degrees. Oh, and don’t forget the elevation climb of over 8,500 feet. Sound miserable? That’s why the Badwater Ultramarathon is also widely recognized as one of the world’s hardest footraces. And be sure to pack an extra pair of shoes (or two), because it is not uncommon to completely burn through your shoes during the race in the grueling mid-July heat. With the initial excitement brought by supposedly being one of a support crew in one of the participant of this race but did not push, a dream was formed. Never this race drawn interest in me, but reading the qualifications and the toughness of the race course and most especially watch two movie about this race in the past year's event, it ignites my curiosity, and belief that I too can do this race. I hope to be part of this race in the future. Will work on the qualifying races in the next 12 months. 

Jungle Marathon
Manaus, Amazonia, Brazil
Here’s a few questions organizers of the Jungle Marathon suggest you ask yourself before even thinking of attempting the race: 1) Can you handle 104-degree heat in 99 percent humidity? 2) In Primary Jungle with a dense canopy and not even a peek of sunlight? 3) Anaconda-infested swamp crossings? 4) River crossing with caiman and piranhas? 5) Huge elevation gains on muddy, often slippery, slopes? 6) The only sleep you get is accompanied by the sounds of howler monkeys and jaguars? 7) All of this for 150+ miles? If you answered yes to all of these questions you may very well be insane, but you might also be able to manage completing the Jungle Marathon. Well done, you. Un-imagineable for me at this very moment. I cannot think of a way how on earth will I be able to survive this kind of race and return home one piece and breathing. So a no no at this time. Who knows in the future.
Coastal Challenge
Costa Rica
Organizers of the Coastal Challenge race up Costa Rica suggest racers “be ready for anything.” That’s pretty good advice, considering racers—either solo or in teams of up to four—will likely encounter reptiles, getting completely lost in the jungle and huge cliff drop-offs. The 6-day race covers up to 155 miles includes rainforest and mountain trails, single track across ridgelines, coastal ranges, beach reefs, rocky outcroppings and more. Oh, and be prepared to run into a few crocodiles. This race draw my interest last year. A multi staged race but will only carry hydration for the day, with stations of food and hydration in between. But running with crocodiles could be very challenging. But despite that, I thought of doing this race in the future.
Godzone Adventure Race
Queenstown, New Zealand
In the Godzone Adventure Race, teams of four navigate, trek, mountain bike and canoe across a 310-mile route over the course of 6–7 days. Oh, and the race is unsupported, meaning each team has to fend for themselves and there are no daily check-ins with food, water or other provisions. Which means there’s no designated time for sleep, forcing teams to choose whether it’s more important to push forward and attempt a win, or get some sleep to sustain energy—a tough call. Adventure race has never been in my list for I am weak on bike and swim and most especially on land navigation. May be in the future when I will be able to hone my skills on those discipline.

Patagonia Expedition Race

Chilean Patagonia
Known by some as the “Race to the End of the World,” the Patagonia Expedition Race has also been called, “The Last Wild Race” because of its challenging terrain and is unofficially considered the Ironman of adventure races. Both a physical and mental challenge, the 10-day race involves trekking, mountain biking, kayaking, climbing, roping and more across more than 300 miles of Southern Patagonia territory including glaciers, rivers, swampland, mountains and more. Basically, if your team of four finishes this race you can say you’ve completed the toughest adventure race on the planet. And you’ll have supported a great message while doing so, since one of the reasons the organizers started the Patagonia Expedition Race was to help raise awareness and conserve the fragile environment in the region. Patagonia is always a place I love to go and visit, but doing an adventure race on this part of the world is unthinkable for me. The mountain bike could be very challenging but  think is possible. It will entail so much land navigation but being with the team I think it is something manageable. I am not closing my door on this race. Who knows in the future I can hone my skills on the other discipline. 

Three out of six that draw my interest of doing in the future. But more than the physical strength that is much needed on this races, the cost are just really head over heels. All of it are just really expensive, basically multi staged races are just really expensive but worth joining. So will save for it, as I always believe, the universe will conspire for as long as I will it badly. 

If it's meant to be its up to me. Bring on.

Sunday, March 3

Hardcore100 (H1) 2013 - How Hard Can It Get

February 27, 2013, exactly three days after my second attempt for a hundred mile race, I received this very comforting message from a trail runner friend from Baguio, Alexander Canilao Cenzon:

You did a good job on your H1 Che - No Shame!!!
 - many more mountains to climb
- i wish you well

and not only the comforting message but an inspiring quote too. So sweet of him to take time to think of me. Honestly, reading this post really gave me a teary eye that day. I was too quite in facebook and on my blog after the race, I was occupied with lots of things, I had to make sure my runner friends from Malaysia and Singapore were well taken cared off, able to go back to their respective countries safe though I cannot offer the best of accommodation for them on their very short stay in Metro Manila. And aside from that I had to insert two main events at work leaving my lady runner friend to my sisters while I was at work. Two days after Amy left, another dear friend from Malaysia  also arrived for another race the coming weekend. That really kept me so busy that I did not have the chance to write my race report nor post the very few pictures that I had until Sir Jonel texted me to please post some pictures taken on the race.

But honestly, I really do not know what to write and how to start my race report.  I ended my year 2012 with a DNF on a hundred mile trail run covering 134km as my longest. And here I am on my second attempt to finish the same distance yet seems like finishing such course is just really too difficult to attain. I encounter a different concern at this time compared to my TD race last December.

Pre Race
I know the race course will be tough, it will not be given 4 points as a qualifying race for UTMB for nothing.  The additional 60km from that of what I did on last year's KOTM race I know will be a big challenge, the hundred kilometer alone last year was already tough. How else can I prepare to that, run as long as I can. As much as I wanted to join the recon scheduled few days after christmas, I just cannot, had to choose between going home or spend the christmas in the city.

So months prior to the race, I had been running like hell, run on all the times that I can, on roads, rough roads, trails,  technical trails, short distance, long distance. I do not follow any specific training calendar in preparation  to all my races, I just run and do the distance that I feel like running.

Travel to Kayapa
Though we left Manila Wednesday evening really hot and humid, the weather forecast on the days to come on the mountain slope of the Cordilleras has been wet and rainy. Our travel of 8 hours by private car has been smooth with few stops in between, Alen needs to take a rest from driving. Thanks to him for his tenacity to drive back and forth despite the agonizing race that we all go through. Early morning of February 21, few kilometers before reaching the quiet town of  Kayapa, it already started to drizzle. We settled on our lodge that Ate Tess happily opened her house to us, it's just few steps away from the starting line (which is the Municipality Hall of Kapaya) and her home cooking really makes us all so at home.

Race Briefing
At around 10:00am few hours after we settled at our lodge the briefing started. All familiar faces, same ultra runners gathered from different parts of the country with few foreign runner friends,  with one goal in mind, to finish the race. Distribution of race bib numbers and freebies followed by the Race Director's instructions especially that of the trail signs and markers while the fried sweet potato has been passed around with a cup of local coffee, kapeng barako. An early carbo loading for all of us.  The race is going to be wet and rainy, uttered the RD. In fact it has been discussed the possibility of not being able to go to the summit of Mt. Pulag and just go through the Grassland area due to below freezing temperature. Oh no, am I really prepared for the cold weather, but as what my dear friend told me through his sms message to me "it's going to be cold, but surely this will be better than hot race'. All I thought as well.

After we prepared our drop bags, it was a time to relax, take more sleep and rest, few hours later it started to rain, and the wind is blowing. Indeed this is going to be a wet and cold race.

Race Proper
An hour before the start of the race, we already checked in. It was cold and few more minutes it started to drizzle. I am caught between bringing out my jacket but the coolness was still bearable. I thought this will just be at the start for once we will be released  the first few meters of uphill will already warm up my body.

Standing at the starting line with the rest of the 42 brave runners was a mix emotions, I am really excited to be running again on this familiar playground yet I am anxious how things will go especially on this cold and wet weather. Hoping for the best yet preparing for the worst, I run side by side with my friends as soon as we were released at exactly 12:00 midnight of February 21.

Indeed as I move further my body started to warm up and feel the heat despite the coolness of the place. The drizzle that started more than an hour ago did not stop but rather it continue its slow down pour. With my headlamp on, it is evident that it has been raining the past days. Some parts of the trail were really wet and muddy. But I was just running with a heart like a child. I reached the first check point with an hour to spare but I noticed I was already wet from the rain and the sweat. After I replenish my water and food, I decided to bring out my red TNF gortex jacket. I do not know if it was such a good idea not putting on my jacket early on but what I know at that point I need to put it on.

I proceed with my run to the next check point, I arrived with 30 minutes to spare, ate whatever food available and drink any hot drink the marshal can offer. I was already drenched in the rain, cold and wet all over.  I saw the rice and chicken soup which was suppose to be the food of the marshals, I ate it and bringing a hot choco as I proceed to the next station already wet all over including my shoes. Anything inside of me is already wet.

As the day breaks on this cold rainy foggy Friday, one can still see  the beautiful terrain, the pine trees that carved on the mountain slopes on the area are just really magnificent, the mountain range on the horizon as far as my eyes can see are just awesome. I already have my share of being lost even before the day breaks and almost another one even on a broad day light, after an uphill intersection where trail sign was put few steps before reaching the intersection, wishing for a follow up trail sign I tried to trace both direction and decided to proceed to the left with the hope that my instinct will serve me right again  this time. Thank God it did. Until I reach on the water irrigation, I was with other runners at first until I was all alone following the trail on the irrigation. At a junction, a spray paint was marked on the rock up above the junction followed by a yellow ribbon few more steps further hanged on a bush at the middle of the trail. I proceed straight on the trail. Trekking further, it's just impossible to run on a a soft trail beside the water irrigation, I am  too afraid to fall in the water. Until as I went farther, I met Doc Toto and Pat, they said its a wrong trail. We traced backwards, until we met other runners as well. Until there were more than 10 runners all wet and cold met at the same place,  on the water irrigation junction not knowing where to proceed. Other runners arrived from the direction where we come from, they said they reached up to the water falls and it was dead end, no more trail further. Since there was no mobile signal, the group decided that others will trace the trail  backwards and hoping that they can get assistance from the locals while others trace the trail down that some runners already did earlier. So us left were like wet chicks waiting at the junction helpless. I know for sure my estimate time of 3 hours to the next check point is already put into vain.

Until the other runners who traced the trail backwards finally came back with local kids that will lead us the way. It was the trail down that was the right one. We rushed with speed with the hope of catching the time that has been lost. I arrived the next station with so many time lost but still hopeful that I will be able to catch up. Soaked from rain, I just grab noodles, egg, boiled banana, pee and proceed to the uphill part to the summit of Mt. Pulag. The trail is an uphill terrain, first part is an open  trail,  I just take my slow yet steady pace of going up, until I reach the mossy forest area. The terrain looks familiar, the same as  how it looks like on the other side of the mountain. This part is just a very gradual and slow ascend around the mountain side. Hoping to see the Telecommunications Tower that has been mentioned on the map after several hours of running inside the forest, that did not happen at all. All I thought is probably because the weather is just too bad, the rain and wind get stronger and the fog just engulf the scenery that I know could have been beautiful on a nice weather condition. Starting to shiver as I am already running on small freezing pond of water on the trail, I just hope to see the grassland area. I know that will be a sign of hope for us but that did not happen too soon. I was with the Baguio runner Jojo which will be his first time on this mountain.

True enough when we reach the open grassland, it was just too cold, the wind was still blowing though the rain is just a steady slow drops. All the more I encountered small ponds of water on the trail on freezing cold temperature. I started to chill and shiver which I guess is an early on set of hypothermia. One thing I know I just have to keep moving to Ranger Station to have something hot and warm and my dry clothes are there too and the shelter for sure will give me so much comfort.

Having been to this mountain for more than 5 times, I know exactly how the trail down goes. It will be a more relaxed and easy downhill terrain but honestly not a short one too. It has been evident that this part of the course has no trail sign for the race anymore. It has been discussed by the RD on the race briefing that in order to lessen and not to add up to the garbage of the place, he decided not to put any trail sign anymore, the trail is established anyway. Which was really a good intention.

As I traversed down, Doc Toto and Pat catch up with me again, we run down together. We reached the next checkpoint 3 hours behind my target time but with almost 2 hours to spare to the official cut of time. I was cold and I was chilling like no other. Thanks to the help of the marshals on this area, they guide us to the open fire with boiling chicken soup and hot rice, they prepared big plastic bags for us as an addition to our insulation to keep us warm. After taking off almost everything on me that was wet, including socks but not my shoes though, replenishing everything, at exactly 6:00pm we left the station to the next with 12km distance to traverse. Pat, Doc Toto, and one more runner target to reach this place in an hour and a half.  Even if they said this part will all be down hill terrain still my estimate is a conservative of 3 hours. I know I just cannot run that fast. A lot of runners already DNF somewhere and others did not make it to the cut off at the grassland and some even at the Ranger Station.  I was the 3rd and the last female who left and continue on this race.

It was cold and the wind just continue to blow now even stronger. So even with our big blue plastic bag that is way below my knee, I can still feel that it is cold. The strategy of the group, to run fast on the downhill road with lots of gravels and stones to warm up our body. Doing this in the dark is a challenge with very cautious of looking for the trail signs on the side of the road as well. At some point the group has to back track to the junction where we almost started for we did not see any trail sign anymore and ask the only house near the road if we are indeed on the right trail to the next station, Balete. Indeed it was the right trail, there was just no trail sign to be seen. As soon as the direction got confirmed my 3 friends just rush their way down leaving me and Jojo on the trail. I just take my sweet time, I cannot run any faster on this downhill uneven terrain. It was a long way down, an hour passed until another hour did until almost another hour passed again, Balete Station is still nowhere to be seen. Until we see lights coming to our direction, our 3 friends looking for the station too. All the while I thought they just zoom to the next station, here they are just like us still at the middle of nowhere looking for the station. We entered a community with houses but since it's already past 8:00 in the evening, locals are already on their deep sleep. Few trail signs are visible but not followed by few more which leaving us to where we will go next. Until one house opened for us and the station we are looking for has to be 10 more minutes from where we are. We rushed to that direction until finally we found the place. My estimate time was just right, 3 hours from the last station. Two more foreign runners from Singapore DNF on this station. Forcing to eat something for few minutes despite a noticeable minor acidity again on my stomach, we left to the next station, at this time back to Banao. We already go as a group with one goal in mind, to reach the next station on the fastest possible pace. With Pat leading the group, we  just run. But alas even on the first few steps after we left the station, our group got divided, 3 went up the mountain slope, while Jojo and myself went down with the same goal,  look for the trail sign that leads to the next station. I went further down first but for almost half a kilometer I still cannot see any trail sign at all. The same thing goes with our friends who are up on the mountain slopes now above us. We decided to go up again while 3 of our friends decided to go down. Until we agreed, we will take our chances of tracing the trail that I first tried to look for trail sign. True enough after more than half a kilometer of running,  we finally see the trail sign.

Pat decided to go ahead of the group, there are 4 of us left. The three of the guys just run to their fasted stride. I am the last on the pack, I told them to just go ahead and I will follow them. This is not an easy one, running on my full stride on a total darkness wet, cold, windy with my headlamp as my only light. The downhill part is fun the uphill terrain I had to push hard while mindful where the rest of the group are now leading. The three runners ahead of me are the ones looking for the trail signs making sure that we are on the right track. We crossed several  treacherous hanging bridges that is wet following the direction of crossing it one at a time, until we seemed to be lost and cannot figure out where will the next trail be. Another hour passed until another hour passed until we come across with another runner George sleeping all alone on the waiting shed with wet clothes on with out any dry cover from the freezing cold environment and slowly eaten by the small blood sucking leeches. We tried to convince him to join us but he said he is done for the day and decided to stop. In my case,  I am still hopeful that we will have enough time to reach the next station. As I always mentioned to them, for as long as we have the time, we will proceed and not give up.

It seems like we are going round and round on this two mountain slopes for several hours now without having the chance to reach the next station. The one that leading us is no where to be seen while Jojo tried to move ahead and hope to see the right trail while I was left with Doc Toto. We did not stop the search for trail signs, the spray paints when wet and foggy and dark and the visibility is almost down to zero is just not too visible. The combination of 3 trail signs, yellow, blue and reflectorized gray becomes confusing when already at the middle of nowhere. With no mobile signal, we tried to trace back wards, forward, cross again the bridges with the hope that we will be out of this place but to no avail. Until almost 6:00am when we were just too tired, Doc Toto and myself just decided to sit down at a small clear area in the middle of the small rice terraces, exposed to the strong cold winds, the continues droplets of rain and the many blood sucking leeches, the ground is wet and muddy. Been on the trail for almost 30 hours now, we were just too tired to move further and just decided to take a power nap. We know too well that the cut off time to the two more station is by 6:00am. And I just have to surrender and give up the thought of finishing the race and accept the fact that this is another 100 mile DNF for me. But at least I know that I did a good fight. It took us another 5 more hours to reach back the race headquarters after trekking further to Banao, take more than an hour of motorcycle ride on a slippery muddy road and finally fetched by the organizing car back to the basecamp. It was one big race and I learned a lot from it.

After Thoughts
I will have almost a year to train for this race, work on my speed and do more trail runs the coming months. I promised myself to do this race again, I will never get tired of running on the mountain slopes of this area and will always run with tenacity and  a heart like a child whenever I can with the following lessons in mind:

1. If the weather started to drizzle, I should never hesitate to put on a light jacket or a plastic trash bag so as not to be totally wet early part of the race.

2. Maximize the day light, run further and faster so that one can get out of the area where it is less populated and treacherous. The only way is to run faster.

3. Have one spare good trail running shoes at the first drop bag station. You might need it very badly when you arrive there.

4. Have one good spare headlamp too. When the weather gets too wet and the headlamp that you have been using for several hours gets wet and busted, it's  reassuring that you still have one good left to use.

5. Never hesitate to get a pacer. When the going gets tough having someone that will keep your sanity while finishing the remaining kilometers of the race is always comforting.

6. Practice and practice more.

My two cents of thoughts about the race:
On Trail Signs 
The trail itself is already tough, that is given and that is what runners are there for, to test it's limits beyond one can imagine. My not being able to finish this race the  first attempt does not mean that I will give up, I still try my luck again next time. I do not know if others will view my thoughts as  whining,  but I'd like to think I wish there could be more trail signs available on the route, a more clearer one, that which is strategically placed especially on the junctions, that which is more visible especially on the night when it rains and gets so foggy. I always believe that in trekking and/or trail running, a trail sign is the lifeline of a trekker/runner. When the going already gets so tough, seeing a trail sign is an assurance that I am on the right track. And why not put more, after a junction follow it up with few more trail signs. An arrow signage is also a good assurance that we are going on the right direction. When the trail is used twice (on going to and coming back) the direction is just too confusing where to go even
with trail signs tied on the bushes and hanged on the trunk of the trees.

Spray paints are useful but not visible anymore on nighttime when it rains and foggy and every thing is wet.  An x mark is very useful for runners not to proceed to the wrong direction, put more of this one.

For the benefit of the foreign runners, it is still best to put a trail sign on the trail from the grassland to the ranger station. For a runner like me who has been to the area several times, it is all fine but for first timers it is confusing for them where to go after seeing several minor trails that leads to different directions.

On Safety Measures
For a hundred mile race on a remote area where mobile signal is not accessible,  how else can one put safety measures on the race. As observed in the past few ultra races, this has not been a practice here but while I was trudging the mountain left with Doc Toto to rely my life on if something will happen to me, I thought to myself, what if George will suffer of hypothermia while deciding to stop from the race and just sleep on an area exposed to extreme cold, or what if something happens to me while crossing the slippery hanging bridge and I will fall to the river with big boulders, this might be too extreme but something like this is bound to happen be it sooner or later, be it on the this race or on another long race in the future. What measures has been set to address such.

A sub mini stations in between station could be a help probably, or a roving marshal in between station especially on the critical parts could be a help? Just a wild thought, an idea that come out.

Do I sound like I whine over a race that I did not finish? Or sound bitter for others were able to cross the finish line while I did not? Or sound frustrated over a race that is another DNF on my list?  - I don't want to think it that way. I just thought if there is something that can be improved on the thing that I love most doing, why not. I am just voicing my cents of opinion on what I thought is for the benefit of everyone. 

Overall, the organizer did a great and fantastic  job. The stations are well stocked with variety of food to choose from. Hot drinks and noodles are available, marshals on the stations know how to comfort the needs of the runners. The freebies are overflowing, the warm welcome is overwhelming. There are just few things needs to be improved and fine tuned on minor yet major parts of the race.

I congratulate all the finishers for being so tough and strong,  I salute all the starters for being so brave and  courageous  to start the race, I thank the organizer for doing their best and I am always grateful to all the station marshals for enduring the cold weather and sleepless nights just to be able to serve each one of us.

Til the next ultra adventure.

Facts about the race:
100 mile race (160kilometer)
30,000 feet elevation gain
6 degree Celsius temperature
2 days of non stop rain
46 hours race cut off time
43 starters/believers
4 lady runners started
 12 finishers/warriors
1 lady runner finished