My hosting job with Runnerspeak has its perks, not least of which is gaining (free) entry to the biggest races. Yesterday, my job took me to Nuvali, Laguna to participate in the Men’s Health All-Terrain Race. This was a trail run and bike event, offering 6K, 10K, and 16K distances for the run, and 20K and 40K for the bike. For those crazy people who wanted an offroad duathlon experience, there was a combined 10K run/20K bike category.
6K vs. 16K
I met up with some people from Takbo.ph who were running the 16K trail. I was only doing 6K because I was still traumatized from my first trail run, where a 3K turned into a 9K when I got lost. Haha.
While their 16K would take them on plenty of river crossings, my 6K only wound through wide, dusty trails cutting through swathes of tall grass. The only respite from this were short stretches of concrete pavement. For all their trouble, though, they’d all get finisher’s medals. I would have to fight for a medal of my own.
Running on Trails with Boys
I felt a little ridiculous wearing a hydration belt at a 6K, particularly when everyone else was running light. I clung to my belt stubbornly though; what if I got lost again? Praning.
At the 6:01am gun start, people started off strong. I was wearing Kiko again but didn’t look. Instead, I was focused on keeping a comfortable pace that would keep the lead pack in sight. I would make my attack later on, when I knew people’s speeds would drop off. (Post-race, I was still surprised to see I hit a 3+min/km pace during my first kilometer. Tsk, tsk.)
And then I realized I was running with the boys — ahem, I mean men. The last woman I had seen on the 6K trail I had overtaken early in the race. Could it be? Was I going to come in first?
I couldn’t allow myself to celebrate too early, since that was what had happened shortly before I got lost during the Merrell Run. Instead, I focused on keeping the runners ahead of me in sight. They were two teenage boys who would take walk breaks, but as soon as they heard me coming in behind them they’d blast off like a shot from a rifle. I didn’t manage to overtake them, but they did pull me towards the finish line faster.
As I passed the last few water stations while swigging from my hydration bottles, the marshals told me I was the first female. I didn’t celebrate until after I’d passed the finish line marshals, though. When I met up again with the Takbo peeps, they remarked at how clean my shoes were. LOL!
Race in Review
- Route: I was told that during the test run for this race, the comment was the path was too narrow. In response, the Nuvali team swept the route, making it wider. This also cleared the path of much of the rocky obstacles. It almost felt like a very, very dusty road instead of a trail.What I missed from this 6K route was variety — perhaps if I’d gone on the 10K I might have appreciated the river crossing and other sights. The 6K was probably too short to include more of the sights in Nuvali.
- Hydration: There were plenty of water stations on the route, but they used plastic cups. When I came to the first one, I remarked, “Ay, ang kalat.” The runners ahead of me had tossed their cups off to the sides of the trail instead of draining them at the station and dropping them in trash bags. For about 200 meters past the station I still encountered cups littering the trail. The people manning the station said that they’d clean up afterwards, but hopefully next time there could be more effort on the runners’ part in keeping the trails trash-free.
- Package and Freebies: The race kit included a 25% discount coupon for Keen products, a copy of the Men’s Health March 2010 issue, bib, singlet, and route and vicinity maps. After the race, there was a free boxed breakfast from Pupa. Also, since this was held in Nuvali, there were nearby restaurants for hearty post-race breakfasts. I would say this was a very cushy trail race.
The Men’s Health All-Terrain Race made me give trail running another chance. Next time, I’ll bump up the mileage (on purpose, mind you!) and get to take in the sights, smells, and sensations I missed on my first two trail races. I give this race FOUR KIKAY PINKIE FINGERS out of FIVE.
(First two photos courtesy of Que Sullano-Gavan.)