Tarak Ridge has been my most favorite mountaintop to find solitude in, whether it was with the two mountaineering groups I’ve tried out for before, or our “solo” climb with wifee two years ago (we had the entire mountain to ourselves that time!), thus when Conquer announced its 2nd edition of the Tarak Ridge 25k trail run, I did not hesitate to register for this race.
This time, it will be a solo run for me as wifee needed time to rest her knees. It will be my first solo run again, without my partner in crime! 😦
Anyway, we decided to head straight to Alas-Asin, Mariveles, Bataan the night before the race to have a good night’s rest instead of leaving Manila early during the morning of the run. We claimed my race kit first at the Alas-Asin Elementary School, I, being assigned as Runner #41.
After claiming, we had dinner at one of the nearby carinderias, and went to Dudice Travellers Inn for our reservation. Instead of camping at the school grounds, we decided to book a room here to be able to rest for the gruelling day before us. After all, I also needed proper rest as we just ended a a four-hour drive all the way from Manila.
We got a room good for 2 pax. Rates are Php 800 for a 12-hour stay, and Php 1400 for a 24-hour stay, with Php 100 sucharge per hour if you exceed your reservation. It would be a wise decision to book in advance as they have a lot of guests especially during times like these when the number of visitors in Mariveles tend to spike up.
A few hours later and I was up and about. After a quick breakfast inside our room and some last minute preparations, and wifee and I just walked back towards the starting line at Alas-Asin Elementary School.
Gun start was 5:30 am. 144 runners crossed the starting line, braving the cold winds of Mariveles, with the trails being lighted by their headlamps. As it was still too dark during those wee hours of the morning, I was not able to take pictures while in the trails.
We crossed Nanay Cording’s hut after about three kilometers, and after the (I call it) Corregidor Viewpoint (aptly named because one could have their first view of Corregidor Island along the trail here), the marshall now directed us to the left, towards the trail leading to Pasiquian Falls.
See, this is the first time I will be trekking Tarak Ridge via this new trail. Excited as I was, I was holding myself from exerting too much effort as it was just five kilometers since we started running; I do not want to tire myself out too early along the race. The trail consisted of numerous ups and downs, and it was pretty much like the traditional Tarak Ridge trail going up the grasslands. The only difference it had was the boulders leading to Pasiquian Falls. It was here when Tatay Ceasar Lledo, a fellow runner wifee and I met at Conquer’s past Sandari-Batulao 21 trail run, caught up with me. Having joined the reconnaissance run the week before, he led me towards the correct direction, with proper footing on the correct rocks and boulders to step on. At last, after about three hours, we finally reached the famed Pasiquian Falls!
After a quick five-minute rest stop of Mountain Dew and kakanin, off we went again to continue the race. The next part would be the hardest as we had to grapple the vines and rocks with our hands. This trail run actually looked like more of a rock-climbing galore as we had to exert both upper and lower body strength to move up.
Furthermore, this is the part when I joined Team Ligaw. Try to guess why? 🙂 Several runners, including myself, got lost along the trail for about 30-40 minutes as there was a lack of trail markers at this part. One part of the ascent that actually had rocks and soil so loose that everyone kept shouting “bato!” just to warn the other runners below of falling dangers. One REALLY big rock (about the size of a small box) which tumbled down was so massive that we heard a loud thud every time it bounced. Unfortunately, it hit one of the female runners down below. Fortunately, from what I heard, it was only a minor injury (and I think she even finished even before the other runners who assisted her in her injury!).
We were able to get back on track after that segment, and finally, after about four hours of running, trekking, walking, and scrambling, we have reached the fabled tree atop the peak!
Our TR25 bagtags were given at this point. It was just quite frustrating that there was no hydration station of any kind here at the peak, when everyone, after huffing and puffing and panting, were already wanting to refill their bottles. Alas, only bagtags were present here.
I rested for about 10 minutes here, again, as usual, amazed by the marvelous views of Manila Bay and Mt. Mariveles around me. After which I began the long trek going back to the finish line.
After the ridge, the woodlands followed, followed by the last aid station at the Papaya River after about an hour. Here, one could refill his water bottles with cool, clean water. And you could also dip yourselves in it as well! 🙂
Finally, what lied before me was the last stretch of the race. A couple of hours of more running, trekking, and walking, and I was done! I finished the race in 6:40:10 as the 89th finisher!
Complete race results can viewed here at the TR25 website. Here is my running elevation profile as per my Strava recording:
Personally, I think that this race was a good way for me to start my 2016 running year. After a few weeks without serious running, this race perked the running blood in me to get back to serious training. The magnificent views coupled with my personal bias as Tarak Ridge as my favorite mountain made the experience all the more memorable, and something that will rejuvenate the running desire in me.
Thanks to Sir Jigger Meneses and the rest of the Conquer team for another race! Looking forward for more this 2016! Pictures can be found at the Active Pinas Facebook Page and Conquer Absolute Mountaineering Club Facebook Page.