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I am a Bicolano by birth and choice. By any standards, I am a slow runner but I like it that way. I look at running as a healthy and exciting way to make a difference. Together with my fellow runners from our family, school, office and the community, we use running to give back..

June 13, 2014

INDEPENDENCE DAY ULTRA: Recon Run in Ternate-Maragondon

EmoticonYet again, Run Mania has come up with an ultra that is rich in history. 

This is the Independence Day Ultra Marathon which takes running fanatics from the Philippine Independence cradle that is Kawit to the mountains of Maragondon  with graphic names such as Mt. Buntis, Mt. Nagpatong, Mt. Pico de Loro and Mt. Palay-palay. History aficionados would no doubt identify one of these mountains (Mt. Nagpatong) as witness to the  execution of the Bonifacio brothers – Andres & Procopio in May 10, 1897.  

Fast forward to June 9, 2014 and fellow 83neans Bob, Ed, Ernie and the Bicolano Penguin found themselves on a recon run of the uphill portion of this 50-km ultra.  Based on the map provided in Run Mania’s website, the first 35 kms of the June 15 ultra are mostly on a flat road.  Not withstanding the many errant jeepneys and swerving motorbikes active on that stretch even in the early bewitching morning hours, 2/3 of this ultra  will be a cake walk for many of the ultra fanatics. 

83neans and row5runners:  Ernie, Ed, BP and Bob


It is the last 15 kms that we are most interested.  It is uphill territory and we are curious if this would be kind of like the first 15 kms of the Rizal to Laguna Ultra (October 2013), one straight uphill and then one straight downhill on the national road connecting  Pililla to Siniloan. 

At 5am, we were at the bridge in Ternate leading to the Mt. Palay-palay National Park, having motored from Paranaque via Carmona Exit and then to Naic-Ternate.  This was our starting point. After giving instructions to Orly our driver to stop every 3 kms, all 4 of us went off on a walk. After passing the village of Sapang which seemed to be a hotspot for rural religiosity with 3 churches from a different Christian denomination each, the 83neans went on a run. 

Turning left, we found ourselves starting our ascent to the said national park. The upgrade was something both Bob and Ernie could tackle with a run. The BP tried valiantly to keep up with the pair but after 200 meters of uphill running, slowed down to a walk.  Ed being the wiser, power walked from the start of the uphill. Good thing, after 500 meters of uphill, the road seemed to have plateaued which allowed me to do transition from walk to run. And my run got faster as the plateau gave way to a downhill.


At the start, BP was leading by a hundred meters ...

...which Bob and Ernie easily gobbled...


...leaving the BP to eat their uphill dust.


Ed power walked most of the way.
This terrain is ideal for visual Galloway run-walk. This pattern of uphill, plateau and downhill, and then uphill again was to be repeated in our 15-km recon run at least 4 times by my count, which could be off by a repeat or 2 as I got distracted with  my count by the sheer greenness of the place.


We love...

...the downhill.

We struggle and get stronger... 

...in the uphill.
You see, the last remaining lowland evergreen rainforest in the province of Cavite is on Mt. Palay-palay. This lush habitat is reported to cover 60% of the park. As our recon run progressed beyond the 5-km mark, the abundant frondescence became more evident.  Hardwood and fruit-bearing trees  abounded on both sides of the road.  A handful of fire trees were in full bloom adding a dash of red to the greenscape.


Green everywhere...

...inside Mt. Palay-palay National Park
Not just the flora but the fauna did its part to make us feel we were in a forest. Approaching a tree with branches hanging on the road, I could see the foliage moving and some live things making some sound. At first, I was a bit concerned as  I was by my lone run-walk self as Ernie and Bob were in full throttle a couple of  kms away while Ed was a km back with his power walking. What if those sound and branch movements are from a troop of monkeys of the Subic variety. These simians could get nasty on a walking penguin. Good thing, upon a closer look, the sound and movement were coming from a flock of Rufous hornbill, known locally as kalaw.

Such is the beauty of nature in the hilly portions of the Independence Day Ultra that in my opinion, the people behind Run Mania should be given the proverbial  pat on the back. Moreover, it is not only nature’s wonder that is showcased in the June 15 ultra but also man-made marvels. At roughly the Km 12 mark of our recon run (in the ultra route, this should be somewhere at Km 47+), we turned left on a short uphill. This marks our entrance to the newly-built road that connects Cavite to the Batangas town of Nasugbu. And a centrepiece of this public transport infra project is the 300-meter long Caybiang Tunnel.


Ed turning left on the road going thru Caybiang Tunnel

Downhill as we near the tunnel

Entering the Caybiang Tunnel
Entering the wide tunnel, I felt puny. It was not as dark as that of the Malinta Tunnel in Corregidor but the sound that is generated by one’s foot strike gets magnified by the acoustic-like characteristics of the tunnel. Ironically, the puny in me was capable of creating giant-like steps.


Going...

...out the tunnel...

...still in one piece!

Group picture at Caybiang Tunnel
Venturing out of the tunnel, one is greeted by a breath-taking view of the cliffs and the blue waters below. We were actually looking at the mouth of Manila bay where the island of Corregidor resides. Even the industrial park across the seas in Mariveles, Bataan can be seen by the naked eye.


A view of the sea.  Mariveles in the background
No doubt, at this point where the ultra runners exit Caybiang Tunnel,   the spirit is that of euphoria already as the finish line is just a kilometer away. But a word of caution given that it is the start of the rainy season already. To the runner’s left would be slopes that could be considered as landslide prone. Perhaps in the dry summer months, they are not. But now that it has rained for a few days already, it could be a different picture.



The slope is very close to the road.
Thus, the runner could be at a dilemma. Ultra runners are trained, even mandated, to run against the traffic. This means the runners will be running on the left lane which is the one closest to the slopes. Given the landslide factor, would the ultra runner now cross to the right lane where it is a bit farther from the slopes? It is a food for thought. 

But I have no doubt that given the Pinoy’s ingenuity in this sort of thing, all runners will be jumping with joy as they reach the finish line which is a small outcrop (600 square meters tops) of dry land jutting out to the sea. It is a small piece of land but the ultra runners will be big with their pride  and joy.

The finish line

Come June 15, it will be a colorful fiesta all over again.   



                                                 Penguins graphics                       

2 comments:

  1. I COMMENTED A LONG ONE ON THIS BUT I DONT SEE IT ... WHEW! BUT JUST WANT TO LET YOU KNOW WHAT A GREAT JOB!!! THIS IS AMAZING HOW
    YOU PUT EVERYTHING
    TOGETHER....MY EXPECTATION HAS
    ALWAYS BEEN THE SAME WITH YOU...
    A VERY SMART , KIND AND ENERGETIC
    PERSON WHO KEEPS UP A VERY GOOD
    STANDARD AND YOU MAKE US VERY
    PROUD OF YOU... KEEP IT UP! STAY AS
    GOOD AS YOU ARE , ALWAYS DO THE
    RIGHT THING AND ALWAYS BELIEVE THAT GOD IS ALWAYS NEXT TO YOU. . REMEMBER THAT ..

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  2. I COMMENTED TWICE AND LONG ON THIS ONE... GEEEEZ... I DONT SEE IT.. ITDID NOT GO THROUGH BUT ANYWAY JUST TO MAKE IT SHORT, WHAT A GREAT JOB! KEEP UP YOYR ENERGETIC ATTITUDE AND STAY HUMBLE AS ALWAYS. MOST IMPORTANTLY, STAY CLOSE TO GOD BECAUSE BELIEVING IS THE.MOST POWERFUL THERE CAN EVER BE! SO PROUD OF YOU... !!! YOU GOT ME MOTIVATED TO TRAIN FOR A 5 K RUN WITH MY BROTHER JEFF NEXT YEAR... EXPECT US TO RUN TO YOU COZ BY THAT TIME I MIGHT BE SO GOOD AT IT THAT I WILL NEVER GET TO STOP. Hahaha!

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