- Date: June 6, 2016
- Venue: Dalupirip, Itogon, Benguet
- Distance: 21K
- Organizer: Cordillera Conservation Trust
Cordillera Mountain Run showcases the beauty of the Cordillera Mountain Range and the Agno River. It had an endless climb but the view at the top of Tenidi Hill is just a scenic masterpiece. #CordilleraMountainRun #KeepItWild
Cordillera Mountain Run
Since I was able to join the first Cordillera Mountain Run, joining this one was an easy choice. I also shifted my preparations to be more prepared with the elevation climb for this one. It was definitely another epic scenic adventure.
Race Route and Elevation Profile
The race starts at the covered court in Dalupirip and heads to the hanging bridge and single track paved roads heading to the main road for the first two kilometers. It goes through about 3 kilometers of rolling roads before heading to the river trails for the next kilometer going to the hanging bridge. It goes on a mix of dirt roads, rough roads and rocky paths by the river for the next 2.5 kilometers. The trail then goes uphill for the next 2.5 kilometers worth 900 meters of elevation gain for the u-turn slot at the top of the hill. The route then goes back using the same route.
Dalupirip was a beautiful site. It had the Agno River, who flowed mightily below the mountain range. It had both a lowland and high altitude view of the towering mountains. It had the isolated laid back feel that keeps you more in touch with nature. It had the exciting hanging bridges that’s both scary and exciting to climb. It had the trail running community up for another round of challenge in the mountains of the Cordillera.
The race started early at 4 AM with both the 21 Kilometers and 50 kilometers category starting at the same time. Seeing how extra hot Dalupirip can get in the morning, it was nice to start earlier. We started slow then we tried to speed up a bit heading to the hanging bridge on the first kilometer. It’s always a challenge crossing hanging bridges, which was extra shaky because of the volume of runners crossing. It then shifts to the single track paved roads heading to the main road. The climbs were at brisk walk pace and the descents were at running pace.
Hitting The Main Roads
The race had its share of the main roads. We started speeding up on the main road. We stayed consistent on the climb and fast on the descent. Even at the dawn, you can already feel the humidity of the area. The paved part of the course were until the 5th kilometer. It then shifted to river trails, which included the aid station before the hanging bridge. The second hanging bridge was much sturdier having thin wooden planks supporting the steps.
Gearing up for the Long Climb
I started pulling down my pace after the hanging bridge. I wanted my heart rate relaxed before I start with the long climb. I’m also conditioning my mind for the mental battle up ahead. I then continued on to the river trails, which had a mix of dirt roads, rough roads and rocky paths. It was run-able so I still tried to be quick on this stretch before slowing down a kilometer into the climb. I was starting to reserve my energy for the climb.
The game plan was to climb a 100 meter at a time then rest and that was still too exhausting. It’s really difficult to get your second wind once you can’t keep the heart rate from slowing down. It was a really scenic climb as the view below was just a perfect symmetry of raw nature being majestic.
About 500 meters into the climb, I met Jonel Mendoza, Frontrunner EIC, a trail master and organizer. He’s been a veteran of so many races and when he was in front of me. I followed his pace. It was steady, easy and consistent. I paced with him for the rest of the climb. He was also more appreciative of the trails as he was trying to look for familiar trails in the area. We were slowly and consistently inching our way to the long climb. It was really great to look around as the the higher we get, the more awesome the views get.
I was learning so much from Jonel on proper pacing and the trails. That’s really a good way to spend your time while on the climb. I just looked straight ahead instead of up as it would just make the climb feel longer. I never thought that I would go through a climb as long and as steep as this without stopping since it’s among my weak points. One climb led to another but we were able to sustain our pace and even pass some of the people on the climb. I’m happy with my effort here. It felt like forever but we’ve finally hit the u-turn. Surprisingly, I had a decent climbing time.
It was nice to see Camp Alpha peeps here. We were just closely bundled on the climb that we were able to see each other at the turning point for the 21 kilometer runnersand a short stop for the 50 kilometer runners. I stayed on top for a while to appreciate the views. It was just a scenic masterpiece.
It was the top of our climb. I always consider finishing the hardest part of the race my finish line as the rest of the race would be routine. We were about 1,100 meters above sea level after climbing ascending about 800 meters of elevation. We were surrounded by mountain ranges with cloud formations sitting below us. It was beautiful.
I headed downward. It was not an easy descent because of the steepness but it took about half the time going down compared to going up. I tried to move fast on the descent yet remained cautious as the drops can really be dangerous. It was a long and crazy descent but I finally reached the bottom. I mistakenly followed a group of runners taking the upper trail instead of the regular. It was a bit longer and had additional elevation gain but it would also intersect with the main road so no big deal.
It Was Now a Hot Race
We were on the last 6 kilometers of the race and it was really hot already. I went back to the hanging bridge and had refreshments at the aid station. It really helped cool me down and replenished my energy reserves. I went back to the river trail and brisked walk until I reached the road part and that’s 5 kilometers to go. I decided to have another break this time buying hydration at the store.
The road started with a long climb and I maintained a steady pace. The heat was a challenge as it can really deplete energy fast so I made it a point to take a sip at my hydration bag every now and then. The top of the climb had an overlooking view of the other side of the mountain and Agno River below. There were still several ascent here but it was tolerable considering the long climb at the mountain. I just went at a steady pace as I moved from the main road to the single paved roads and the hanging bridge.
I realized that I’ve used up every drop of hydration I have but the good thing was that I was just 1 kilometer away from the finish line so I just brisked walk my way to the finish line.
It was another great and epic race from Cordillera Conservation Trust. I’m happy with my effort in the race as I was consistent all throughout. Hats off to all finishers. It was not an easy race but it’s the tough ones that we’d always treasure. ‘Til the next Cordillera Mountain Run.