This is exactly a marathon distance.
We started our run a little before 12 midnight at Miyamit. Weather was far from hospitable. It had been raining for almost two (2) days prior to our run. It did occur to us that the condition would be far from ideal which, on hindsight, is good. Simon said it aptly - the worse the condition, the better it will prepare us for UTMB. I could not agree more. Peter decided not to come due to some important reasons. We understood and figured he was better off not being around since he would not have perhaps enjoyed the weather and unnecessary waiting.
The night before our run, I had to "escape" from my Uncle Orly's 60th birthday party which was not easy since he is someone very dear to me. The cold beer he served me was just staring at me on the table for hours. Explaining to the rest of the family that I had to run for 9 hours or so in some of the inhospitable or god-forsaken terrains under such weather condition at such ungodly hours would be an exercise in utter futility. No use. It is like talking Greek to them. So I let my wife do the explanation. I was told that my escape and adventure last weekend did raise a few eyebrows. Oh well. What can I say, we all had to make some sacrifices and come UTMB, I will darn make sure they are all worthwhile.
You would not believe the condition of the terrain now after the Miyamit Falls junction. It is surreal and felt like we were on a different landscape or planet. Cracks on the ground are everywhere like it was a result of earthquake at 8-9 on a Richter scale. The thick fog, eerie silence and darkness heightened the experience. Obviously, the constant rain and other elements shaped what is now the trail. It was fun though hopping from one crack onto another. We twice saw on the trail the nocturnal cats - civets. We were startled when our headlamps hit their eyes which glowed ominously in the dark. That should explain the fresh droppings on the trail.
Good thing Simon lent me his pair of trekking poles. It immensely helped me to navigate the muddy and slippery terrain. Now my initial reluctance to use the poles has changed. I will carry them during the UTMB. 90% of the runners cannot be wrong. One of the highlights of our run is stopping at the turn-around point. Wind was howling and the rain had not stopped. The few minutes of pit stop was enough to bring our core temperature down and gave a us a chill. This is something we really have to consider seriously for UTMB where the temperature is even colder.
Well, the Falls was raging due to the volume of water coming from the hills. The picture below will show it. We finished in 9 hours plus change. Strange that we were not sleepy during the wee hours in the morning. After the run, it brought us to the realization on what will be the cut-off time for the 42k race in Miyamit. 12 hours? 15?
Next week is another 42K (at least for me) at Miyamit and a climb at Mt Arayat the next day before tapering. By the way, 42k trail marathon and 50 miler races in Miyamit are tentatively set on 12 November 2011. Tentative because I noticed that so many ultra races are being held left and right which I hope are not being conducted just for the sake of just holding them. It seems we are now being saturated with events which significance, importance, continuity and timeliness have yet to be established and considered. I will post in Facebook on these events when everything is settled.
Jon (almost ready for UTMB)