A gush of cool breeze was blowing around Katipunan area that Sunday wee hours of the morning when May and I met Ella and Jeremy (I hope I got his name correct!) at 7-Eleven that 2 in the morning. After hurriedly jumping into Kahel, my car (whose name is tantamount to its color), we drove to Caltex Boni Serrano to meet JJ, another co-teacher. After a quick roll call of the participants, our convoy was now complete! For the next two hours, we travelled to the unknown barangay of Talipusngo in Maragondon, Cavite. The most remote I’ve been to in Cavite was the Maragondon town plaza itself where May and I participated in Conquer’s Pico de Loro 42km trail run last March. This time, we were in the same vicinity, but different venue.
Since we were in the trail running community for quite some time already, a lot familiar faces whose names we did not know (uso naman yun sa running eh! Hehe!) were also present in today’s event. One of them was Sir Adel Oabel, running the event with his sister and 15-year old daughter:
When I was 15, I was still busy watching Dragonball Z and not into running yet! Good job influencing your daughter, Sir Adel!
500 astounding runners registered for the 21km category! Not really sure if this is a good sign or not, but I guess the organizers already took into account this big number who will be treading across the trails of Mt. Marami. True enough, from our experience, I personally think that the trails could handle everyone, and not leave that much impact to the environment.
We were supposed to be part of Wave B starters, but due to the long line for the female restroom, May and I were forced to join Wave C instead. I think that got Ella and JJ into thinking where were we. Along with other Wave C runners, we started our run by 5:20 am, and it was a good thing that Mr. Sun was already starting to peek behind the mountains as we forgot to bring our headlamps!
The FB Event Page gave us a heads-up how wet and wild the run would be that weekend, but I was not expecting that it would be that muddy!
Fortunately, the several river crossings we encountered throughout the trail gave each of us a quick respite from the exhaustive task of pulling our legs from ankle-deep mud.
The wide, muddy parts of the trail gradually became single track ascents and assaults around three kilometers away from the summit. One would now need to rely on his or her sense of balance, agility, and courtesy (to advance ahead of slow runners
like me) to be able to manage these, especially in places where bottleneck occurs.
The last hundred meters or so before the summit now requires an even more technical set of skills as these parts are not run-able anymore; we really had to grapple the rocks and even use the rope provided to be able to lift ourselves up all the way to the summit.
Finally, we were able to reach Silyang Bato, Mt. Marami’s summit! Unfortunately, it was still raining very hard when we reach it so I was not able to take pictures of it. Nonetheless, I congratulate my trail running friends who were able to make it and have good pictures of it there. (Oo na, naiinggit ako sa inyo dahil may pictures kayo!)
May and I started our descent after just staying a few minutes at the peak. After all, there was no view to wonder in awe at as we were surround by thick fog and rain clouds. The descent was not as easy as it was. With the continuous rain making the trails even more muddy as before, we kept on slipping and slipping as if may forever! I even had the lucky chance to slip and fall flat on my butt on the mud thrice!
May was not as lucky as I was. As she had been mostly busy with work for the past months, she had only little time to train for this grueling 21km trail run. Even before reaching the summit, she had already trouble breathing at one point of the run that we had to stop for a few minutes every now and then for her to regain her breathe. The stress on her legs was even much worse, making us stop a few times for her to rest her legs which had been cramping every now and then. Ultimately, her legs gave up in that steep descent just before the last river crossing where everyone took a dip to cool themselves and wash away some mud.
She was almost crying in pain as both of her upper thighs were tightening due to fatigue, plus her toes on her left foot cramping up every now and then. I advised her to dip here legs in the river to cool it while I stretch her legs to alleviate the cramps.
She could barely walk anymore. Just crossing that last river was so much of an effort for her, and the two marshalls stationed there could actually feel her pain themselves. Another runner generously gave us salt sticks and GU energy gel for her, hoping that it could somehow ease her pain, but to no avail. One of the marshalls gave us Omega pain killer to rub on her legs, but the results were the same. I decided that we should not continue anymore so as to avoid her from putting into more pain than she was already in. I asked help from the marshalls and other runners around us to look for ways on how to transport her from that point all the way back to the finish line.
Fortunately, Tatay Sosing and his trusty horse Neneth was stationed somewhere near. The marshalls laborously lifted her up that short but steep ascent, and we transferred May to the horse. Much to her disappointment, she had to face the reality that this trail run would be a DNF for her. Tatay Sosing expertly guided Neneth, who is carrying May, across the last seven kilometers of the trail back to the finish line, while I followed behind them. Looking on the bright side, the trail that we took transporting May back was still the same route we had to take, thus, I was still looking forward to finishing the race.
The trail run was quite tough due to the rain and mud, and it was not actually surprising that injuries could be expected. In our experience, we have so many people to humbly thank for, and as such, our gratitude is clearly shown in May’s recent FB status:
“Just had my third DNF for the year and my first for 21k! The last thing I would ever thought I’ll DNF. Unfortunately, I did in today’s run!
We were going well, maintaining a 10-12 min per kilometer split time for the first half of the race despite the muddy trail. However, it rained as we descend making it even harder to get through each slippery slope. Just right when we only have 7km left, my legs gave up! The first time I experienced cramps on my outer hamstring making it so painful bending my legs. At that time, I already foresee I’m not going to make it as I cannot even walk without assistance anymore. 😦
To the two good samaritan marshalls (sorry, I recall you telling us your names but I could no longer remember them) near that Aid Station for the last 7km mark, I cannot thank you enough for your full assistance. I could say you have gone beyond your call of duty by carrying me through that slippery ascent. I know it was really difficult for you having to carry me but you really made sure you get me through that ordeal so I may get the needed assistance I need.
To my fellow runners, who took time to stop and offered some help either in words or in kind (omega pain killer, salt stick, GU energy gel). You are one of my reasons why I love doing what I am doing – running. You never fail to show me the true essence of camaraderie despite being strangers. I get to personally experience that today, a big thank you!
To tatay Susing (?) and his ever reliable horse, Neneth. I owe you and your horse big time! Thank you, Tatay for your help in taking me back to the start/finish line!
Lastly of course to you, Irone for walking with me on that last 7km stretch while I took that most painful horse ride! You could have chosen to go ahead to make a strong finish but you chose to stay with me and never left me behind! For that, super duper thank you!!!
While yes, it must have been a fun experience riding a horse, but believe me I would not exchange running through until the finish line than take that almost 1.5 hour horse ride with an intolerable pain! It’s not really fun at all!”
Know that this is just one of the many adventures that we will go through in our life together soon. The medal may be important, coveted by many. It is the testament of accomplishing such challenging feat. But YOU are much more important than any medal, any trophy, anything else, and I would not hesitate to DNF myself as well just to be with you in your times of need. 🙂
PS Congratulations to everyone for running this tough race!
PPS Natapos ko! Di ako DNF! May finishers medal din ako! 🙂