Never underestimate the distance. That’s one of the few lessons I learned running the 11k trail run at the recently held The North Face 100 PH in Benguet. After running the 12k trail at the Salomon Xtrail in Subic a couple of weeks before, I thought it would be easier for me to get a better time here. My goal for this 11k run was to finish strong, at least on the upper half on the overall ranking. I never thought that this shorter would challenge me that much though.
The North Face 100 PH 2016
The North Face 100 PH trail run was held on the labor day weekend of April 30 and May 1, 2016. The endurance ultra-runners for 50km and 100km runners started on a rainy day April 30, Saturday while the shorter distance runners of 22km and 11km started on May 1 Sunday. There are participants from all over the globe in this run with 20 nationalities represented among the 1366 runners, from Korea, Norway and Indonesia to mention a few. And impressively on the first day, the first 50km runner crossed the line with a record breaking time of 5:34:18 hours by Korean,Jisub KIM.
The jump-off at the basecamp located in Camp John Hay felt festive the whole weekend despite the rain showers on Saturday. The commentators did and the event committee did a good job on keeping the energy up at the venue with pocket events like crossfit challenges and showcasing images from the social media wall. I was running on the 11km category and was already imagining a few mud and slippery trails. The 22km runners were the first to start. The North Face 100 PH did a slight adjustment on time allowing a little light on the trail. They launched at 5:15am. Looking at the trail route there were a part where the 11km and 22km runner would meet.
The 11km Trail Run
Our run started at 6:15am. There were 320 runners in our category. and I’m sure the trail could get crowded. So when the run started, my strategy was to start fast which is contrary to my style on the road of starting slow and picking up pace midway. The good thing of starting fast is to avoid any bottle neck on the trail. So on the first 4km I sprinted as fast as I can. It was a nice moderate trail past the butterfly garden at Camp John Hay with moderate elevation and turning back before the main road and returning near the area of the basecamp.
The second part of the trail was where the challenge is. First part was going through a muddy and slippery trail where horses obviously pass through. Then it was a wide forest trail where we could see some of the 22km runners already. The trail goes narrow as it gets deeper and the elevation steeply gains. First part was a tough climb that really challenged people. There was a water station when we reached the ground level then entered a trail that looks familiar to me. It was my favorite trail from the previous Columbia Trail Run. A really scenic narrow trail on a sharp angle slope on the side of the mountain filled with pine trees. The difference with the The North Face 100 PH trail was the added difficulty of a gruelling descend to the U-turn point which in turn is another tough ascend before we got back on the trail to the finish line.
I never expected this 11km trail run to be this tough that I felt more proud of myself to have a finisher’s medal hanging on my neck. I finished with a time of 1:53:34 within the 3 hours cut-off time. It’s longer than my time for my 12km Salomon race which is a testament on the level of difficulty on this trail. I did finish ranking 44th out of the 320 runners in our category. Another personal record and accomplishment for finishing on the upper half of the group, in fact part of the upper 1/4th group.
They Broke Boundaries
I think I’m ready again for a longer trail in the future as long as I continue training. I’m not aiming for the top spot but to challenge myself in every run I join. If I do reach the top 10 like I did before, that would be an extra. Trail runs are tough and requires dedication that why my full respect goes to the podium finishers of each category.
100km Top Finishers
- Jan Nilsen (Norway), 13:40:09
- Ho Chung WONG, 13:52.:29
- James Tellias 14:36:22
50km Top Finishers
- Jisub KIM (Korea), 5:38:14
- Robert Arellano, 5:25:47
- Marcelino Sana-oy, 6:12:50
22km Top Finishers
- Cesar Casteñeto Jr, 1:44:52
- Michael Tolac, 1:44:53
- Jeffrey Aligan, 1:46:50
11km Top Finishers
- Melvin Madongit, 00:57:53
- Jay Lomyog, 00:57:54
- Hussein Loraña 1:07:42
For more detail of the The North Face 100 PH 2016 visit www.thrillofthetrail.ph