Rizal Mountain Run: 30k and A Big Serving of Humble Pie

January 28, 2018.

It was a new year and I had loftier fitness goals in mind.

I signed up for this race around September last year. I was excited to run a longer trail distance considering that I had an ultra in my sights in the near future. Having run a few trail races last year, I thought I had a vague idea of how this one would pan out. Boy, was I wrong…


The start/finish line at Basekamp, Pintong Bukawe, San Mateo, Rizal (Source: miccadj)

We got an advisory that it had been raining non-stop in San Mateo for last few days, the trails were gonna be slick and muddy but the race was going to push through. My 2L hydration bladder was filled to the brim, I had berry flavored G Active in my front pocket, and I had snacks ready in my front pockets for easy access. I was ready to roll, after the race briefing and gear check of course.


Rizal Mountains are just an hour away from Manila without traffic! (Source: miccadj)

The gunstart for the 30k race was pushed back from 5:30am to 6:00am in order to let some daylight break through. I’m guessing this was partially done because headlamps weren’t a gear requirement.


Cow time! (Source: miccadj)

The mud was so sticky and heavy that I had fallen on my ass 5 times within the first 3.75 kilometers! It was a rough time for me as slippery descents are truly not my thing. After catching a lot of mud on my shoes, we got to the first of 8 (or was it 9? I lost count) river crossings! I was delighted to wash the mud off my shoes and hands so I could take photos again.


First river crossing after a whole bunch of mud (Source: miccadj)

We got up to a point where I felt that I could run properly again but lots more muddy downhills followed so I just allowed the faster runners to pass me as to not impede them.


Lost the people in front of me (Source: miccadj)

The second river crossing was the widest and had the strongest current! I basically slipped towards a deeper part of the river and went for a splash. Then I found out that I was the literal last runner for the 30k as the sweeper, Kuya Choy accompanied me to make sure that no one else got lost along the race route.


Here’s where I went for an unexpected splash into the water and ended up dead last for the 30k race LOL (Source: miccadj)

Before the second aid station at 12km (Acacia) I was really thinking of just giving up and catching a motorcycle ride back to the start with a big fat DNF (Did Not Finish). It had been replaying in my mind since finding out that I was dead last. By the time we reached the halfway mark at the summit of Mt Parawagan, I knew I wouldn’t make the cut off time of 8 hours. It was a confidence crushing moment of clarity.

I still needed proof that I made it up the summit though so I got a photo taken! #PicsOrItDidntHappen


Made it up Mt Parawagan! (Source: Kuya Choy/miccadj)

Kuya Choy was truly helpful! He really kept my spirits up by telling me stories and checking our progress. I really don’t think I could’ve finished the race without his encouragement. I still tear up thinking about his kindness and positive nature.

As we made our way down the mountain, another sweeper, Kuya Edmund joined us from Acacia to make his was back to Basekamp. I also enjoyed his stories about his races around the world and his jokes (or probs not jokes) about running to lose muscle mass and stay lean!


View from up here… We came from that river! Craaayyyyyy! (Source: miccadj)

One of the hardest climbs I’ve ever done in my life was at this race! Devil’s Down was some crazy hill in the middle of nowhere! The angle was near vertical and with the rain came really bad footing and grip. It was so tempting to just stop while climbing but you just couldn’t lose your momentum going up. A rope would’ve been nice to have LOL!


This was taken at the summit of Mt Parawagan aka JUST HALFWAY THROUGH THE RACE (Source: miccadj Garmin)

We finally caught up with some runners ahead of us and they let me ahead as one of them got cramps. I told them I would wait for them at the end so we could all see each other finish the whole 30k. In the end, 3 additional runners let me go ahead of them but I saw all of them finish in the end. I believe everyone was overcome with sheer relief and joy to accomplish such a grueling race.

I was so tired in the end that I forgot to take a photo of my medal with some nature in the background AND I forgot my free meal! It was Ineng’s BBQ and I totally missed out.

Here’s some Garmin (I made the switch… I know…) data:


3,424 calories! No wonder I was drained! (Source: miccadj Garmin)

I also added the Relive video of my run! It’s a cool app that maps your run when you use Strava to track your runs!

Some takeaways:

  • I did not plan my nutrition well. I just forgot to eat and it went bad.
  • The aid stations seemed so far away from each other. A little over 8km between each aid station.
  • Really need to extra extra tighten my shoelaces.
  • I met Wilnar Iglesia! He refilled my hydration bladder at the last aid station! I’m so starstruck!
  • 2 bruised (dead?) toenails! A record!

Face of relief with the hardware (Source: Rizal Mountain Run/RaceYaya Facebook)

Rizal Mountain Run 2018 was truly a lesson. No matter how much you prepare, things won’t always go your way and you have to adapt. Slowing down is an option but quitting is a totally different story. I’m proud to say that I finished the race despite it being past cut offs but this was the sweetest finish of them all so far. Most thankful to stay injury free!

“Success is failure turned inside out” – Don’t Quit



Ps. I finally ended up getting a Garmin Forerunner 935 because while looking at the Fitbit Ionic, it wasn’t a device that I thought would match how I wanted to move forward with my fitness. The Suunto Spartan Wrist HR was another option as many trail runners use Suunto with stellar reviews but it was heavier on the wrist than I would like. Plus points that the Garmin FR935 matches my cap!

2 thoughts on “Rizal Mountain Run: 30k and A Big Serving of Humble Pie

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