Sometime in May, I registered my husband and I for the 25KM Valley Trail Challenge of the frontRUNNER Magazine. I was excited to join this event because of two reasons. First, I look forward to running in Nuvali again and second, I want to experience how to run in a race organized by Mr. Jonel Mendoza. He is known to be a hardcore runner and an ultramarathoner himself.
I tried to prepare and even had heat training a week before the race because this Valley Trail Challenge will be my longest trail run. With that, I was confident that I can finish the race. I also conditioned myself that I can finish strong, not with PR but with joy and personal satisfaction of conquering the trails.
When the big day came, as we gathered in the Evoliving Clubhouse, it was announced that 25 KM runners were given freebies in the form of additional miles or an additional 3.5KM to be exact. Our cut-off time of 4 hours will likewise be extended to 5 hours, meaning to be considered official finisher, I have to finish the course up to 11am only. There was no complaint heard from the crowd instead the runners accepted it with cheers and clapping. I whispered a prayer to God for our safety and protection.
At the starting line, I looked around and saw familiar faces. When Jonel asked how many were first timers, almost half of the crowd raised their hands. Enthusiasm and eagerness filled the air. The weather cooperated as there was no drop of rain unlike in Las Pinas where it was raining hard when we left our place. Typhoon Egay spared Nuvali for us.
The race started on time. It was just a simple countdown led by Jonel and participated by all. At the onset of the race, we were made to climb the hills before entering the path with newly cut “talahib”. I found it quite hard starting and my husband even asked me “what’s wrong with you? I told him I can’t run fast climbing hills. He asked me to improve otherwise, he will no longer proceed to run with me. I told him to go ahead and run his pace. But he stayed and ran with me. As we went farther into the trails, some “talahib” touched my face and arms. Good thing, a day before, my brother advised me to wear long sleeves shirt to prepare for the sun. So I used this as protection for “talahib” too. In this trail, we experienced running in the long, rough and varied roads. It was a combination of grasslands, open fields, outskirts of subdivisions, remote sitio, desert,construction area, canals, bridges, solar dryers, and small river. There were instances we were made to run for more than 3 KM in the middle of an open field with direct sunlight above us. I now realized how hard it is for the farmers, cows and carabaos to work in the field.
The hydration stations were set every 5 KM only but we were treated well whenever we reached them. Some boy scouts assisted and gave us glasses of water and Pocari Sweat. They also gave encouraging remarks and sweet smiles. We were also provided with pails of cold water for pouring and cooling our bodies. I found relief in such provisions especially after running for several hours in the extreme heat of the sun in a very challenging route.
My brother, in his bike, followed us after the Canlubang Elementary School to give us some energy bars and chocolates. Our friend Dennis, also in his bike, followed us to take our pictures. Their kindness encouraged us to go on until we reach our goal. Thank you gentlemen for your selflessness and service.
It was a very challenging and fulfilling experience considering my age and background. I was fortunate that my husband was with me and supported me in this run. However, as I crossed the finish line, I felt guilty because I went ahead of him. I thought all along that he will be able to catch up because I knew him too well to be strong and faster than I am. I never considered that his delay could be triggered by cramps since I was very much concentrated on reaching the 28.5 KM finish mark as soon as possible as I can feel burning sensation in my neck. At any rate, we both finished within cut-off time.
This trail run was superb. The route was simple but very challenging. Runners were taken cared of. There were plenty of security guards and mashals monitoring our safety. Thank you, Mr. Jonel Menoza. You did a great job. Congratulations and we look forward to our next races with you! More power to frontRUNNER!
After the race, I was able to wear my party shoes to proceed to Manila Hotel for baptismal lunch, then in the afternoon I was able to preside a meeting in our church. Now, I am wondering…how did I do that …was it due to runner’s high? Maybe, but I want to acknowledge the Giver of all blessings – our Lord.
Thank you Lord for the gift of life, good health and strength. Thank you for the gift of nature and trails too!