Well I could not for the life of me run a marathon in one day, so since no one asked, I volunteered to be the mid-pack sweeper. This is a crucial role – to keep the link between the front and back of the race unbroken. Of the 100 finishers, I managed to keep the 49th and 51st runners in my sights. I also hiked about half of the route from Kopap-ey to Can-eo (approximately 21km), and since it was in my brief, I took a few photos along the way. For the rest of the course there were some photos I prepared earlier. I even prepared more photos later - after the marathon. I only ever ran here once, but I rank this event among the hardest trail runs in Mountain Province. The Tawid mountain marathon presents a challenge for runners of all abilities. The first kilometer of the race is on flat paved road but that’s as friendly as it gets. At an average gradient of nearly 10%, the section from KP1 to KP15 of the marathon (and the half-marathon) is not for the faint of heart! This is a seriously tough course with some of the steepest, narrowest and sustained sections of climbing in any foot-trail in the country. That first 15km has at least 1250m gain in elevation!
So here it is: the Tawid marathon route pictorial.
One of the most amazing sights of this event is not of the scenery. It occurs before the roosters crow at the break of dawn, halfway up the vertical trail to Chata. In the last gasps of darkness, the moving snaking linear lights of marathon runners in front of and above - or behind and below the mid-pack, is a spectacle like nothing else. That is a sight I could not capture with my camera. You just had to be there.
At Chata the runners enjoy a breather on the almost flat plateau. The left edge of the plateau is at about KP2.25. After the initial 260m arduous climbing between 1.2km to 2.2km, there is still no respite here. The route steepens again after the 400m long Chata plateau, going upwards from the pine trees on the right of photo, climbing all the way to Fato.
As in life, through carelessness comes strife. Here on the narrow ridges,
on either side is a cliff and we don't wish to come to any grief.
but my camera was not flashing fast.
My watch ticked on, my camera clicked on, but if I did not get a move on,
come the night I might hear the man click his flashlight, .
Visiting runners enjoy the Tawid over the green mountains and fields.
(Tawid is a also tagalog word meaning 'to cross over' or 'to go across').
These grassland ridges are at around 1280m elevation.