Saturday, March 3, 2012

Post Mt. Kitanglad Rugged Mountain Race' Not--so-quick Thoughts

While waiting for Mark with the two marshalls, these were my quick thoughts about my Mt. Kitanglad Rugged Mountain Race. These can be helpful for newbies like me who entirely have no idea about real mountains.

RESPECT the MOUNTAINS. I overestimated myself, and underestimated Mt. Kitanglad. 

Merlita Dunkin, a Cebuana successive top-3 finisher of this race, had mentioned that in her first participation of the race, she stayed there for 3 days prior to the race to train for it. Enough said.

I don't mean we should train like her. But it's just to give us an idea of how to prepare for it.

Going up to the mountains is totally different from running a 21k, marathon or even ultramarathon. With running, it's just a matter of putting one foot over another, managing occasional lower body pains, stiffness, and cramps.

But with going up the mountains, there are times you need to pull your body to move up or down. As such, you need to have a well-coordinated body whole throughout.

I never had any bodily pains, but still Mt. Kitanglad made me quit even at the start. And, I guess it was because I started to loose my body coordination.

As such, we need:

* Fully-rested and well-fed body before the race. I'm sometimes guilty of being not fully rested before races due to over excitement, but somehow I always made it through the race except Mt. Kitanglad.

One of the things I need to rework on my next Mt. Kitanglad attempt (if ever there will be) is to really have a good sleep and to take time to have a full meal before the race. I was not able to sleep the night before because I was over excited, add to that the place where we were staying has a videoke-han.


Cold weather can be energy drainer. Even before the race started, the cold weather would start to feed on you. That's why we must have a very well-stocked body of food and rest.

Unless you're from Alaska or any winter land or you can be sure you can finish Mt. Kitanglad in 2-3 hours, then you can do away with jackets or windbreakers. But if not, please do cover yourself from head to toe.

Unlike the hot weather, cold weather is like a silent killer. Hot weather makes its presence very obvious that's why you can act on it right away. But the cold weather would feel like harmless, until you just feel yourself weak, drowsy, sleepy.

I never appreciated sun's heat not until the Mt. Kitanglad. After the base camp, the whole area would be under the canopy of big trees, no sun can penetrate into it. There's these few meters of area that was exposed to the sun, and I never felt alive when I feel the sun.

High altitude and steep gradient are not good combination for me. Going up the steep gradient takes away all my energy, while the high altitude makes me barely breathing. I was probably doing a suicide. 

* Fickle weather. Just out of the blue, heavy rain will come pouring.

Other things worth noting:

* Entirely new place, and no friends around. I never understood before when runners would give the advice to take advantage of running your firsts  in your own place.

Running in a familiar ground with familiar places gives you an extra sense of security which makes you go for the extra challenge. When running in Cebu, I know that I can always take the risk of going farther, for more because I know that whatever happens, I have relatives and friends that I can call to pick me up wherever I am -- on top of the mountain, or in some deserted place.

In Mt. Kitanglad, we do not have that option if ever we got stuck somewhere. And, we cannot put that responsibility to the organizers as they also have to attend to a hundred participants.

Also, it's my first time to be running without the usual friends except for Mark. I think it just feels entirely different when you know you have friends scattered around.

Mountaineers may organized races in a different manner from runners. This was my second or probably 3rd time to join a race organized mainly by mountaineers or outdoor adventurers. I noticed that if organizers are mountaineers, they usually expect you to be self-sufficient -- meaning you packed yourself with enough food and water. It can really be such a hassle to be carrying lots of water and food around, but in races like these, it pays to be a mobile food station your own self. Unless, you can finish it in 2-4hours.

* Get a guide  or porter. I'm not sure if this is allowed with the rules of the race. But if it's your first time, and you're totally newbie to running, a guide can be a great help. According to the marshals, guide rate in Mt. Kitanglad is at Php 500. It can be an additional expense but then you're also contributing to their economic activity.


If I can turn back time, probably, things I should have done in my preparation:

* at least climb one mountain here in Cebu -- the best would be 3.
* factor in the coldness. That was one of the things that really caught me off guard since I'm used to the beach weather of Cebu. It was way much colder than in Busay, or whatever is the peak of Transcentral Highway.

Also, we were in Malaybalay, Bukidnon days before the race in the thought that we acclimatize our body. But Sitio Intavas, Impasug-ong, (basecamp of Mt. Kitanglad) has higher altitude than Malaybalay, so it's still  way colder than Malaybalay.

* add in wall climbing
* bring Monster or any energy booster drink

baklay na lang uli