23 April 2013

2013 TNF100 Race Report

Nice medal this time!
So I finally managed my 5th TNF100k for the series of 6 races. Whew, what a race it was last weekend! 
My quads are shot the day after the race (DOMS) and still now. Sunburned too! I feel stupid for not training for the toughest 100km trail race on this side of the planet (given the small number of finishers. Last year+   was merely 33% and this year could be 50% only) . I  always remind myself and have been guided by the principle - Respect the distance. This time I did not heed it. Oh well, I did finish the race but my time is far from ideal. Overshot by more than 1 hour compared to my time last year (did not train also. Go figure) to finish in 23:11. What did I expect? Duh. I should be grateful to have finished the race in one piece.
My last race was Hardcore 100 miles (H1) last February. So Don was probably right when he said that there was still some fitness from H1. I did run and climb prior to TNF100 but it was more of maintenance than the structured and specific types. Frankly, I just did have the morbid challenge to myself whether I could survive TNF100 with minimal training and no mileage volume. Longest mileage could be 30K per week. Some runners like James Roldan and others invited me for training runs on the TNF course but I never got around to join them. Can you run 100k trail from the get go? 
This year I did not leave a drop bag at Aid Station 5 (AS5) since I did not see any need for it. All the stuff I needed were all in my back pack. Everyone thought it would most likely rain during the race day given the uncooperative weather during the pre-race briefing the day before. So a quick check of my gear revealed that I merely brought a TNF windbreaker (yes, circa TNF 2008) than the Mountain Hardwear I used for H1. Oh oh. Last year, it was damn cold up in Sto. Thomas given I was under dressed then. Well as it turned out, the weather was like a furnace. More on this later.
Another thing is I have decided to pace someone. Eric from Davao whom I have mentioned in the past blog entry did run with me for the first 20k until he sent me off on my own. I had not seen him since then although he said he would catch up with us (meaning his friend Andoy and moi). Also, I only wore 1 pair of shoes (Inov8 Roclite 245) but I did change socks at AS5. 
Runing with Eric and his friends Andoy and Jinky was a welcome change. We did enjoy the cool weather at 3AM and it felt good to be in the back pack for a change (things are not in a rush!). Just strolling and taking it easy for the first 20kms until Eric started to feel the climb when we were approaching AS3 or Ampucao. He said "Sige attorney mauna ka na. Habol ako. Pahinga muna ako dito" (Go ahead and will catch up. Will rest here for a while). I knew it was a bad sign so early in the race.

Sun was already up and everything around us started to get warm for our liking. There were patches of clouds here and there. It was only when I was on my way to AS5 that the sun started to play its little hot tricks on the runners just like last year. It was like being in an oven! Darn it. I wondered whether "Nasa Baguio ba tayo?!" (Are we in Baguio City?! - supposedly with cool weather). Well you just have to suck it up and whining will not get you any closer to the finish line, right? Strangely, I was enjoying the hot weather and the suffering in general. Go figure.

When I reached AS5, I seem to have surprised some runners at the station who were drinking, eating and whatnot. Some expected me to be in front and it came as a surprise to them they came in ahead of me. I don't know but some races are training runs and some you take seriously to race. For me, TNF100 was a (painful) training run :) After changing socks, I headed out leaving some runners who came ahead of me but not after drinking the COLDEST Pepsi from the store nearby (which during ordinary days I normally don't drink). It was soooo good! At least, the race organizer this time have managed to put in one place everything the runners needed unlike last year where the drop bags were left under the sun and runners had to cross the bridge to drink the basic cold water. My brief race report here:


At this point in the race, I made a mental note of the vital importance of proper intake of fluids, electrolytes and fuel since I knew the weather would get worse later. Peed only once during the entire 50k stretch and that was after 8 hours ... normal for me. Oh there was a male runner who shot his quads. He said it was not cramps. Based on his description, most likely muscle tear. I advised him to grab a pair of wooden sticks along the way to serve as trekking poles. We saw some marshals ahead and informed them of the situation. I hope he is okay now.

KM50 TO KM75

This is the part of the route I call "SLOW AGONIZING PROCESSION" or SAP for short. That is because it SAPs you of energy. Just check out the map below. It is almost all climb. We call it UPHELLS. On top of that, one has to manage the heat of the sun on exposed mountain tops. This year was also humid and you could actually hear your heartbeat pounding in your head during SAP to reach Sto Tomas. I made a point to avoid that because it is a sign of being on the redline. Not good. Remember this was just a little past halfway into the race. On this stretch, I was mostly trading places with the No. 3 female podium winner.

The trick here is to get heat acclimated before the race and then just find a way to relax and climb gingerly up without taxing your heart rate. That takes some training and basically just suck it up. No whining please. Enjoy it. I sometimes closed my eyes and pretended I was in an oasis. It worked momentarily though as it lowered your heart rate. Try it for yourself. Of course, it is different when you are racing.

Due to lack of training, I was feeling the fatigue and thus sleepy. For Pete's sake, it is only 3PM! Okay so I made it a point to nap for 12-15 minutes max at AS7. In the meantime, I was enjoying the SAP. No choice anyway.

Seeing how close I was to Sto. Thomas was a relief already. It seemed it was taking me forever to reach that darn place. Upon reaching AS7, I knew exactly what to do - check in, eat, drink, electrolytes and then nap in that order. I removed my watch and set the alarm for 12 minutes and placed the same close to my right ear. The reasons for the nap are the night ahead and to lower drastically my heart rate. I think more than 15 minutes of sleep for me will only make me even more sleepy or groggy. As soon as the alarm went off, I packed my bag and hit the trail. Thank you to the race staff for being kind enough to allow me to sleep in their tent.

KM76 TO KM90 (Loakan Airport)

The nap made me feel way better than I expected. Running now when it was downhill and flat and power walking uphills. Chanced upon Kian Vicera of Philippine Skyrunners Association (PSA) who is doing UTMB this year with Cheryl Bihag and Simon Sandoval. Alex Yap and Peter Rivera for the TDS. Anyway, it was a welcome relief to be running with someone. So Kian and I were talking about UTMB and some stuff. I even managed to offer to sell my extra pair of SealSkinz gloves to him if Simon has decided not to buy them :) Kian slowed down because of his ITB was not cooperating. Told him you cannot have that during UTMB.

On our way down on the steep portion (so friggin humid even at night!) to AS8, guess who came flying down like a mountain goat? Mark Bryan "Koi" Grey. Darn it. He made us (Kian and I) felt like two senior citizens given how slow going our pace was. Well mostly it was me given my age. He slowed down to join us but I admonished him to get going for his personal best (PR) for his first 100K. He did just that and made us eat his dust. Of course, Kian and I did not mind it. We run our own races.

At AS8, Kian and I chanced upon him again. Koi was seating and enjoying whatever he was eating.  Koi joined us until AS9 where Kian excused himself due to his ITBS. Kian eventually managed to reach Camp John Hay after a few minutes Koi and I crossed the finish line. Cool.


Koi and I managed to cover this portion together. I told him intermittently to go ahead  and there was no reason for him to hang on with me. As I wont to say, we get to the finish line on our own power. I did not mind also if he crossed the finish line way ahead of me. I mean this is a friggin race after all. Just the same, he hanged on saying he was also tired. This is the last 11K and it seems it was also taking us forever to cover it. So near yet so far to the finish line. We asked a marshal stationed in Camp John Hay how many kilometers to go and he annoyingly said 8K! Geez, that guy did not know his distance. We were told later on by another knowledgeable marshal only 30 minutes to the finish line. Next time, all marshals must be informed/trained on how to answer queries of runners or just say near even though it is still far or simply keep quite.

Koi said he trained on this part of the course prior to the race with Mark Carlo Villafuerte. So it was nice to be with someone to guide you. I remember having my secondwind and running this portion of the course last year hoping to make it under 22 hours but that did not pan out. No worries.

Funny thing is Koi and I made a bet to sprint ... say 400 meters to the finish line since we could not agree who among us should cross first. Now, that was just it. All words or bet and no action :) If it was any consolation, I did allow Koi to cross the finish line first (25th place) but joked to race staff to make a mere 2-second difference on our time :) Our time was 23:11 I think. Well, it was all in the spirit of fun, competition and camaraderie. After another runner, Kian eventually clocked in at around 23:30 something. Whew, we were all just glad it was over! As usual, the finish line was like a graveyard. So quite and people were just sleepy or sleeping but that is understandable given it was ungodly hour. Koi and I had to howl just to signal our approach :)

Moi, Koi and Kian



Based on the initial results, it seems more and more runners are now drawn to ultrarunning. Good sign. This is also the phenomenon in other countries like USA and Europe. For instance, Atty. Aldean Philip Lim placed in the top 10. 4th I think. He was also No. 4 in CM50. Impressive given he is new to the sports like Koi in contrast to some of us who are considered "dinosaurs" already :) The winner is a surprise to most of us. Of course, strong runners will always be drawn to TNF100 given the purse money involved and other prizes.  

I think I won't eat sweet potatoes, boiled bananas and chocolate and drink Summit mineral water for the next few weeks. Those were the food and drink (aside from sports drinks) in all the aid stations. Nakakaumay after the race. So the aid stations have not improved a bit except the AS8 where they served coffee and chicken soup. Both were great!

Location of the Start/Finish line was a great choice. More space. Official shirt for 100k was good just like last year except the 50k.

So TNF100 is the hardest 100k trail race on this side of the planet because of elevation and heat. There is another 100k by RD Jonel - The Four Lakes but I have not done that race yet. So I have limited data to compare it with but perhaps, if I managed to join his race this coming May then I could do so. I had wondered if TNF100 race organizer would consider moving the date of the race during the cold months in the Philippines to lure more foreign runners. But given TNF100 Philippines is part of the so called "Asia Pacific Series" it may not be wise to do so. No worries.

Next year, I'll make TNF100 a goal race and will train accordingly. It is nice to race in a deep field of good runners. Of course, it'll be a huge advantage if you live and breath in Baguio and train on the same course. So Baguio runners will always have an advantage. Anyway, I have Miyamit and Arayat as playground


To ROX for the race packets and the surprise official ROX jersey. Race organizer, medic, race staff, volunteers and marshals, you guys did a good job. Keep it up.  Those who ran with me during the race, thank you for your company. Cheers!

Above all, my wife Melanie who brought me to and from the venue at such ungodly hour and my kids who came with me to Baguio for a short vacation.

Jon (addicted to trail running)
      (loving his blue TNF Better Than Naked Shorts and neon green Mountain Hardwear Hat) 


  1. When's the CM50 2013, Ultra Idol Atty Jon?

    - Retzel

  2. When's the CM50 2013, Ultra Idol Atty Jon?

    - Retzel

  3. Hey there. 24 November 2013 Sunday. Check and click CM50 logo on the right panel of this blog for more info. Cheers.

  4. Congratulations Atty! So envy and proud!!!

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Congrats Atty Jon on your TNF 100K conquest! Nice race report. You made us inspire to keep running. . .