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Sunday, 4 May 2014

the north face philippines 2014 trail run - 50km

Last May 2014, I got to run up Kabuyao and Sto Tomas once more. Next time they might be charging me a fortune and a half just to see 'em. They paved that mountain paradise -
'Oi Polichay, this is about running a lot, it's not about a parking lot.'
Oh right sorry. Captions and suggestions are most welcome, yes even interruptions.

I have to pay tribute to all the volunteers, marshals, officials, police and everyone involved in running the event.
(*Disclaimer: Removed)
The disclaimer notwithstanding, the race was truly memorable, not just for the pain and suffering, but for the wonderful gestures and acts by all. This hiker thought a 4:00 am start was quite early, but how about all these selfless people getting to their posts the day and/or night before? I cannot say thank you enough, but thank you!!!

The aid stations were strategically placed and I do believe I stopped at all of them at least once. But my favorite is at Kabuyao where I had freshly brewed coffee on the out- and then again on the return leg. Not to mention partaking of the bananas breads lugao and everything else they had in store.
The best cheering crew I heard was also at Kabuyao. They were all there including the best dressed. In concrete.

I wanted to take photos of all the support crews and aid stations but my camera ran out of film, and it was quite dark during the first couple of hours of the race, and my camera broke down, and my hands were shaky, and my legs were wobbly pounding the concrete, and the camera was shoddy... Yep, I could offer all sorts of excuses.

Actually the camera battery went dead. The mandatory gear did not specify spare camera battery so... I did snap some shots of the top elite bestest runners-
I was intending to shoot all the runners too but the camera did break down.


A marshal at Kabuyao coming to the aid of a runner. Wyatt Earp who?
The guys here are not just marshals, they are field marshals. Rommel who? Montgomery who?


I looked down at what's pounding at my feet.
Just concrete.

A visiting runner from Kenya shows a motorbike rider how it's done.
I think her name's Kemgal. Go girl.
The fastest trucks were no match for these lads.

These runners are so quick that in the sunlight they gleam.
There's only a mountain between us but it's not what it seems.

The trails are made of concrete and concrete.

I caught- no hold on I didn't catch them. Even though I tried running like I stole something, these law and order guys were way too quick. I did spy them. Yes. I saw quite a few cops speeding out there.
Good onya boys. Way to go.


Some of the top female runners.
If you see them coming, you better run.
It won't do you any good though.
I tried hiding behind my camera.
But on the concrete, Anna flexed her muscles and scared me off.
 I turned around and went the other way.
Where I found more sedate company.
Down by the concrete trails.
I think I found my company here- the plod company.
In threes.
And in no trees.
A photographer standing on the concrete, was getting warm in the mid-morning sun. But it looks like he heard of the secret giant fans that perpetually kept Baguio cool all year long, and was waiting for them to come on.
Well mate, in Kabuyao, you don't need fans, you need thick sweaters.
The rain water is not trickling down to the streams and rivers. It was sitting in dirty muddy puddles. Evaporating. Set in concrete.
These runners were probably wondering if those giant fans they call 'ra-dar' have broken down.
It was certainly getting steamy towards noon.

Question: What do many of the pictures above have in common? Tip: This is supposed to be a trail event. Another tip: not runners. And a third tip: not pretty female runners...

Front runners, or average Joes and Janes, or plodding backmarkers like me, we're all one, and we all won. But that's just speaking strictly for myself.


Fabulous! A top female at the finish.
Gee Anna, hope I got your name right. Well done.

We started in the dark - in the violets of dawn.
By the time I got to see a bird's eye-view of Camp 6, the sun was already up and a-warming.

After a full day out on the trails, I got back to meet the gloom as night came a-falling.



Two years ago I saw a bandit run around here. I wonder if he's around again this time. I found him! This guy is from Bunyaville, or Brisbane or Chonglian.
The 50km route here:
My gps watch shows a 3000m elevation gain over the 50km route.  It felt way more than that.
I did want to do the 100km race, but I don't have a hundred years to train for it, let alone finish it. Also by the time I get to Philex, the sun will be rising. And I had to go.

So what did many of the pictures above have in common? The answer is another question: "How many roads can a mountain resist before it is washed to the sea?" In Kabuyao, it's blowin' in the wind...
Did you note all that concrete roads at Mt Kabuyao/Mt Sto Tomas? Also some of the construction machinery that the runners had to contend with? The trucks and other machinery are just a tiny part of a bigger more sinister machinery that is causing the destruction of the twin peaks of Kabuyao and Sto Tomas. 
Adios to all this concreteGonna get me some dirt road back street
Politicians and bureaucrats are all posturing and trading media releases in the name of the environment, while Baguio and the surrounding towns run out of water. Charges have been laid in relation to the destruction of the mountains. And call me a cynic but I doubt anything will come out of these charges. Many of those involved in the case at all levels of governance, and in all branches of government, are complicit in one way or other. Every day is born a fool and every day is born a clown in the homeland. The joker is the deus ex machina that will decide the outcome of the Mount Kabuyao trajedy. Just another comedy washed to the sea.
The joke is on all of us. And the mountains cry yet shed no more tears. I weep with them. I weep for them. There will be no more mountain trails, no more forests in Kabuyao and Sto Tomas. No matter how hard the rains fall. Now's the time for our tears.

Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws. – Plato (427 BC-347 BC)