HO CHI MINH
Last weekend when my wife announced that she had a business meeting in Vietnam, I hastily decided to come along for several reasons (in order of importance) - I have not been there, pho, people, food and tourist attraction.
I mean their pho (noodle soup) is one of the tastiest and healtiest around. Cheap too and of course, the best way to get the gustatory experience is in Vietnam itself. So after a couple beers (Tiger and Heineken) during our first few days, I decided to lace up my shoes and go for a 10 miler although on a road. For runners, I think the best way to see a city or new place is on foot. The experience is never quite the same as when one is riding a car or taxi. My only regret is when we went to Europe in 2008, I failed to run in Germany, France and Italy because we were underdressed. Too cold. I think it is a good investment (experience wise) to go around the cities by running. Right now, I plan my vacation around running and vice-versa. Anyway, here are the pictures in Ho Chi Minh with my wife:
Vietnam Zoo area
I think this is the opera house
Looks like the Notre Dame in France
One of the street markets
Relatively clean unlike Pasig River
CLARK-PORAC Run (leg 1)
It was a local holiday here last Wednesday (Pinatubo Day) and as soon as I found out about it, I decided to call Jerry Guiao. Our plan to check out the trail connecting Clark-Porac-Miyamit-Subic-Zambales and back (I know but 100 miler is literally long) was originally scheduled the weekend after Valley Trail Challenge of Jonel at Nuvali. Despite running Donggwang hills the day before, I decided to give it a shot. Jerry and I met a little past 5AM in Clark and saw our way out of Clark through Sapang Bato (Stone Creek) and mountain ranges covering Sacobia all the way to Porac bridge near SLEX where we stopped and u-turned. We would have to cross the Sacobia River just to get to the other side, Sapang Uwak (Crow Creek) which will lead to Miyamit. We decided not to as we already covered 10K and we still had to go back. Route is mostly on a 4WD track. Please note that we took a different route on the way back which is more runner-friendly but longer though. This one will virtually avoid the sandy area due to lahar.
My impression on this initial part of the course (for 50 and 100-mile races) is a "warm up". Route is relatively easy. No major climbs although Jerry and I had to manage a few steep hills. Area is at around 300 feet ASL at least that is what my Garmin said. Next time, I will check if there is trail via Donggwang which I assume there is since I have seen single footpaths leading outside down the area. The real challenge is Miyamit (where the fun begins) and God knows what else once we have checked Pinatubo-Subic-Zambales area which if one Googles it is a mountainous region as well. So for a quick calculation - Clark to Porac is already 14K (once we cross Sacobia) plus 20K (Crow Creek-Miyamit-Pinatubo [view deck only]) = 34 kilomoters already. So we just need 46 kilometers to get to 80K. Then the route gives us the equi-distance going back to Clark as the finish line.
This is really exciting for us as the possibility of the first 100-mile trail race is no longer remote (or another depending who holds it first and who cares). This is my dream race for my fellow runners. If there is one race I am going to hold dear and nourish for the years to come, this is it perhaps. Please check this blog every now and then for further details on our journey. The goal is to survey the entire 80K before UTMB. Also, hold a trail marathon before the 50 and 100 miles races. We will also post invites to those who want to run with us during our ocular inspection. Here are some of the pictures. Enjoy.
Clark Parade Ground covered with fog. Nice.
Lahar-covered 4WD track. We will not go through this area
during the race. This is just the short-cut.
One of the hills
Mt. Arayat on the background
Farmer Allan Ayson readily posed for a picture.
We were asking for direction
Route is almost like this all the way.
This is SLEX and our u-turn point. We have to go down and cross the riverbed
just to make it to Crow Creek which should add a few more kilometers.
Although, Jerry said there is another way to avoid crossing. Longer though but
that should not be a concern. If we do decide to cross, I will most
likely put up an aid station at the other side just so runners can change shoes, etc.
VALLEY TRAIL CHALLENGE
The 55K race this Saturday is just part of my training runs. So no crazy racing as I plan to run 2 days after that. There will be one coaster-load of us runners coming all the way from Clark. Yaz who is not running has volunteered to be our official photographer. Even my sister Fe has decided to run her first half-marathon trail race. So this weekend will a be a lot of fun and to add another level excitement is that Monday is a holiday! So more time to rest and recuperate.
See some of you at Nuvali this Saturday!
Jon (needing another pair of trail shoes)
Anyone who knows if the Merrel Trail Glove is locally available already? If so, please let me know where to buy a pair. Thanks.