It became the joke of the day. Jerry, our host, was kind enough to cushion our collective fear of more intimidating hills ahead (angle as high as 50 degrees?) after we reached the junction leading to Miyamit Falls (left) and Pinatubo crater (right). When asked what would be the condition of the rest of the trail, he merely answered "Oh it is hard-packed and flat". This is in contrast to the thick powdery and dusty hilly course from the start to Miyamit junction. I am sure everyone heard him said that. So we proceeded with renewed interest to check out the rest of the trail leading to crater only to find out that we'd be "eating" more hills for breakfast. Never-ending hills to be precise. We descended just to ascend again. Rinse and repeat. No such thing as "flat" in this course which made it really challenging (to put it mildly). I could not help but be reminded of GNW100 again.
For instance, there was a portion where Jael ("Wency") and I were running a descending blind curve. We were enjoying the gravity to rest our calves and barely a few minutes into it, we were greeted by an intimidating hill ... again. We could not help but utter some expletives. There were countless times I heard sighs of resignation and complaints from my companions everytime they were confronted by uphills so steep it made our calves burned.
What consoled us are the serenity, purity and breathtaking 360' view of the trail. A rare place which is still detached from civilization. Amazing place with cool morning breeze which made our run enjoyable... and bearable. Add to that was being in the company of some of the friendliest and accomplished ultrarunners around.
When we reached a few meters down the trail leading to the crater, we finally called it a day and decided to visit it some other time. We rode in Jerry's 4x4 on our way back. Most of us were pressed for time because of family affairs. Also tired from the run. I am sure 3 runners (Don, Pioq and Philip) joining TNF Camsur met their mileage for the day. It is almost 19K from our start leading to the drop-off point to the crater which took us more than 4 hours to reach. Another 2k more or less to the crater. Unfortunately, no trail yet connecting the drop-off point to Sta. Juliana. It appears we approached the other side of Pinatubo. Highest point is around 1,300 masl. This height, however, is not the same as elevation loss or gain.
I am sure my fellow runners - Albert with his son Pot Pot, Boss Red, Boni, Gene, Jael, Chito, Don, Philip, Pioq and Jerry have their own stories to tell. Fast and/or strong runners for the day were Gene, Jael, Pioq, Philip, Don, Chito and Boni. The rest of us were slow :) Again, a huge shout out to Jerry for his generosity and kindness and to the first group of runners who have successfully conquered this trail! Awesome effort. Congratulations and thank you for the wonderful time (as simple as the conversation during the run, the post-run breakfast, etc.). Enjoy the pictures below.
Jon (still slow and heavy)
Early morning start
Can you see the snake?
Before sunrise ... (from left) Chito, Jael, Gene, Boni, Pot pot, Albert, Don, Jerry. Boss Red & Pioq
One of those "breakfast" uphills
Junction - to the left is Miyamit Falls and to the right is the Gazebo (view deck) one of the highest peaks
Don, Boni. Albert and Chito
See the white lines on top of the mountains? They call it Great Walls which is the paved trail leading to the drop off point.
Trail over the horizon
At the drop off point. Behind is the crater.
Descending the trail leading to the crater
Before going back