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Saturday, June 07, 2014

An Unexpected Argao Highlands Endurance Run



I did not plan for this trail run properly, I just heard from an office mate that the views are to die for and I was really resisting the urge to join since if I were to join, this will be my 2nd time to do trail runs and the highest distance is 20K which I have never done before.

Hooray for Eco-Tourism!!!

To make the long story short, I joined because I was curious to see a different part of Argao and at the same time help the LGU who organized this in promoting Argao's eco-tourism and beauty! This run is a joint project for ENVIRONMENTAL AWARENESS by: CTU Argao, Argao Tourism, Argao Coal Miners Multi-purpose Cooperative with the support of Coal Mountain Resort, Runnr, Habagat and SMART.

CTU Argao
Woke up at 3AM to proceed to the CTU Teachers' warm-up, trail, route & safety orientation #YesMaam
No other than the Vice Mayor of Argao himself greeted us in the morning for final safety reminders and to inform us that the trail is actually 25Km (though its common practice in runs, in his own words "Bahala na masobraan kaysa makuwangan - aron sulit inyung pag bayad og anhi!")

The first obstacle or challenge for this run is the travel to Argao itself. Being a "Tihik-person" I opted to travel from Minglanilla to Abellana, where the free ride was stationed to tavel to Argao. The bus was full and for 2.5 hours-ish I was just standing there (Talk about an early warm-up for my legs!), making random conversation with strangers until arriving in CTU-Argao where the runners have the option to stay the night (all night, my LSS was "Are you gonna stay the night").

And so the race begins with paved road in the town proper and into the dirt trails of Argao!


There is a castle (Riverstone Castle resort) that greets the 4K mark - finishers
The 1st obstacle you had to either go above or below this fallen trees which I thought was caused by the organizers
Thankfully it wasn't, it was uprooted by strong typhoon winds as mentioned by one of the road marshals.
At certain points, there are no marshals in sight and you have to find and follow these directions (in case you are really alone and without the company of other runners)

Based from the advertisement alone (21 River crossings, log obstacles, Balay sa Agta Cave, Bugasok falls, narrow trails, a hanging bridge and a underground tunnel), I was a bit nervous and excited but having survived Runilla, I mustered up the courage to just to with the flow!

The 1st med station had water, foods (light breakfast - bread & bibingka) and then immediately the 1st river crossing
Although I took pics already from the trails, this was definitely something new. And look some runners have stopped and took their time crossing to take photos and selfies themselves.
#Shoefie let the selfies begin!
1st impressions don't last, do not underestimate the river based on the 1st river crossing; I expected the deepest portions to be knee-deep but heck this is almost waist deep or perhaps there are even deeper parts!
My 1st Wet Run since my feet gets wet then dries up and repeat that cycle and this is like a scene from blair witch project or the walking dead #SpiderSenseTingling
Lesson Learned: Expect the Unexpected. So I thought I was just gonna walk, run, trek, wade but dammnit nobody told me there was climbing/bouldering! #HindiPrepared #Katkat #IfYouFallYouFallToTheWater
Those are not small rocks or boulders

after this, lies the Single track cliffs (taking photos is a no-no since I needed my two hands to navigate); if you look to the right side, that goes straight down, don't be deceived.

This is a Real Deal Trail Run! That's what I realized and told myself. This whole damn trails were totally different from Minglanilla which had a lot of slopes and going UPhill. Here was more trails and river crossings (not to mention the bouldering, climbing, trekking, crawling, wading and all the "ings" you can do here)!

Take in the views
You know that famous scene in Lion King where Simba is raised by rafikki? I swear this is the spot! :)
everywhere you look, you can see awesome views (for me) this is my back view!
Hello Bugasok Falls! After this was a hell slope wherein you need to climb upwards with the aid of rope.


Aside from meeting people, your reward is that awesome fulfillment of completion as well as the foods waiting for you at the finish line; did I forget the beautiful trails and views?

Hanging Bridge!!
I forgot to mention, it was also a Hunger Games!
Enjoy each moment #SeizeTheDay
Take a closer look as we navigate this obstacle! #Shetmemeng #SmileNalangTa

2nd to the last obstacle, at this point I got some stiff neck which prevented me from turning easily and enjoying the view
#Shetty ngano naay tunnel oyy stiff neck + helmet + tunnel + ngitngit = #huhubells #kamang after this is the finish line - literally "light at the end of the tunnel"

And ohh my time? 4 hours and 49 minutes! I did not care at that point, I was sweaty & wet, it was hot, I had stiff neck and I was hungry. Glad that I survived though! #PushBeyondTheLimit

Welcome to Coal Mountain Resort - one of their pools
Enjoying the view here as well!
Before going back to the town proper, we had to travel by Canter 25KM -standing. Whoever said it was over? #TortureForTheLegsAgain

So this time, I didn't join the other runners for the free ride back to the city since I had a mission from mother-dear to buy some torta before heading home. It was indeed a very unforgettable experience! #DMD ... I walked...I ran...I crawled... I climbed.. I trekked.. I waded... But above all...I ENDURED!

"Decide to take the road less traveled, hoard extra courage to take risks, bring enough strength to focus on your goal, and keep the right amount of trust in the world to do its thing." - Maria Sepe :P

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