It has been seven long months since I participated a trail run. My last official trail competition was on November 2016 during the Datu Salumay Run in Marilog District, Davao City where I completed the 32-kilometer course in roughly seven hours given with the technicality of the route. After which, I have not been able to pound the trail anymore.
Last June 25 I saw myself hammering the trails of Mt. Hamiguitan once again in San Isidro, Davao Oriental. This is the very first trail event held in the area after its official inscription as UNESCO’s World Heritage Site. Mt. Hamiguitan is an important piece of Mindanao’s natural heritage because of its rich biodiversity, and racing within this beautiful mountain connotes incredible experience other trail runs could not emulate or even equal.
Another good thing about the race is the loads of international accreditation it got from different organizations all over the world. I salute the initiative of the race director of this run Mr. Doi Calbes, a good friend of mine who used to work short stint with me in Mt. Apo, for the patience and courage to have the event accredited to International Trail Running Association (ITRA), Asia Trail Master, UTMB Mont-Blanc and Go Run Asia. It was also co-presented by the Department of Tourism XI and Local Government of San Isidro, Davao Oriental.
I took the 25-kilometer category considering the very short training I had prior to the race. Four new faces of trail running from St. Joseph Runners joined me in the race. Mountaineer Ronnie Torlao was adjudged 3rd Strong Finisher behind monster racers Juanito Mahinay and Jonathan Pido, while Jeffrey Mil and Romeo Brace won the 5th and 6th place, respectively. I was at far 26th place among the sixty runners who competed with a time of 6 hours and 3 minutes.
The race route was practically unusual for a trail run. It was composed of 10% pavement, 40% river crossing/trekking and 50% single track with the highest elevation reaching 735 meters above sea level. The turning point was at Siete Alteres summit, which also happened to be the highest point. Almost half of the run was interrupted by slight downpour, giving us another factor to endure. Prior to reaching Siete Alteres, we passed through several landmarks of Mt. Hamiguitan such as the site where Philippine Eagle Pamana was released last year and the Mt. Hamiguitan World Heritage Park Museum.
The river-crossing stage reminds me of my first climb to this mountain in 2008 as we took the same trail to the summit. We crossed it like 12 times before hitting the 7-kilometer mark. The crystal-clear water of the river was an instant power bar for me. Natural potable water sources along the way were visible and I obtained my hydration from it instead of the usual ration from Aid Stations. The single track were all surrounded with lush and green vegetation.
My Mt. Hamiguitan experience has reconnected me to my auxiliary hub – MOTHER NATURE. All ingredients of my love to trail running were presented to me by God in this race and I am proud to have called it a success. Personally I surmounted it at a given time favourable with my short preparation but the most challenging part of it goes to the local government of San Isidro and other agencies involve in the protection of Mt. Hamiguitan. While talking to some friends there I learned that this heritage mountain lured the attention of illegal loggers, miners and even owners of banana plantations.