Adventure indeed

The Merrell Adventure Run took place and concluded yesterday morning at the Wawa Dam in Montalban, Rizal. Everyone went home with souvenirs: medals and prizes for the top finishers, sling-bags for all participants, as well as bumps and bruises, as this wasn’t your ordinary “run”.

I went with my Uncle this time. My cousin wasn’t able to join us as he was too tired from his session at Jim Saret’s SAQ camp the day before. We reached the Wawa Dam at around 4:30. A few warm-ups and stretching sessions later, the 15k runners were off. We, the 5k participants, started shortly after.

Uncle Gene posing for the camera a few minutes before gun start.

We were off to a good start. The cold breeze greeted all the runners as we approached the dirt roads. Encountering the first of many hills of the route, however, the “run” stopped and was turned into a “hike”.

Not a candid shot. That’s me posing for the cam.

It was all good. We were feeling the heat and the “adventure” part of this adventure run. However, trouble started when the lead runners stopped and went back with route markers and race marshals nowhere in sight. Confused, and obviously raring to finish the race inside the cut-off time of 1 hr 10 min, we continued to run the trails, but only to end up at the same place. Not only that, the absence of a water station nearby slowed everyone down and we had no choice but to walk while going up and down the treacherous trails.

With the thought of finishing within the designated cut-off time fizzled out of our minds, we finally found the correct 5k route. But not without countless slips and near-accidents, as well as bruises to boot. After an hour or so of that unfortunate trek, the final 2k of the race proved to be a real treat for the runners, as it featured the breathtaking sights of the Wawa Dam.

As soon as we found the first river crossing, Uncle Gene couldn’t help but embrace the waters.

And so did my running shoes.

The funny part was when I was approaching what I thought was THE finish line. The marshal guided us out of that way, telling us that there is one more kilometer to finish. That 1k consists of huge (and sometimes slippery) boulders. Very dangerous, man.

I just had to take a break.

Moments after, we finally crossed the finish line. We clocked in at a time of… well, I didn’t bother checking my watch.  Can’t believe we finished a 5k in almost (if not exactly) 2 hours. Actually, since we all got lost for a good 30-45 minutes, I can say that it was about an 8-10k hike for us.

Imagine, a 5k in 2 friggin hours, right? But check this out: Ronald Salgado, who won the 5k event for the men’s category, clocked in at 1:00:49, while Genevieve Dela Pena won despite finishing in 1:25:16 for the women’s category. A heck of a 5k indeed.

Once again, I fell victim to the “first time” syndrome. First race for a first-time race organizer, that’s what I mean. I did get their push for a more adventurous route, something that’s way different than the other trail runs. However, I think they should have taken more time in using this route, as this was very dangerous even for the marshals themselves (maybe that explains why they were MIA at the most dangerous part of the area).

And the water stations. Again, the most basic necessity in every race. Someone could have passed out in the middle of the hill-hiking as there were no water stations in sight. Good thing there were no serious injuries reported from the race.

I hate to say this, but if Merrell wants to make a case for a better race compared to that of the likes of The North Face etc., they would have to look at so many details regarding this recently-concluded race.

That said, I was happy to be a part of this. I was really happy that my outdoor-junkie of an uncle achieved a runner’s high. Runner’s high is, indeed, awesome. I’m still thinking about running another trail race this year (given the mishaps from yesterday), but looking at the gashes at my wrist, elbow and legs, I was given my money’s worth.

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