On Nuts, Ruts, and a Whole Lotta Guts

Monday, 16 December 2013  |  Race Reports

This is a guest post by my teammate and friend Javy Olives on his recent trail ultramarathon, the Clark-Miyamit Falls Trail Ultramarathon 50miles.  

The crazy idea of diving headfirst into a Trail Ultramarathon, with 4 weeks to spare, was my fault. Completely. That much I admit.

When my ‘A’ race for the year, Enervon Activ 226 was cancelled due to the massive earthquake that hit Bohol in October, I started scouring online, looking for something to do. Another triathlon perhaps? Nahh…  An Ultramarathon? Hmmmm…Interesting. A TRAIL ULTRAMARATHON? Now we’re talkin’!

A few text messages later, I had gotten  both Drew & Andy on board. Woooohoooo! CM50 here we come!

CM50 is the Clark-Miyamit Falls Trail Ultra. It takes runners from Clark Airbase in Pampanga to the beautiful Miyamit Falls in Porac via Aeta trails. The course has over 4,000m in elevation gain…that’s like climbing Baguio 3 times. There were two distances – a 60k and a 50 mile.

The Plan

We had 4 weeks til raceday, and only a half-marathon base to show. And so Andy came up with a plan – a ‘mini’ weekday block, consisting of 1-2hr runs 3 days in a row, with lots of hill repeats and then back-to-back long runs on weekends. Quickly we had made the transition from Triathlete to Runner. The bikes got parked, never to be seen in the 4 weeks that followed.

Crash Course in Trail Running

Personally, I had only really done one real trail run, the Xterra Trail 22k in Timberland in 2010. I didn’t even own legit trail shoes. Weekends were then spent in Timberland trying to adapt best we could to the conditions and terrain we would face on race day.

With Majo Liao (2012 CM50 Champ) &  Aldean Lim (CM50 Champion and Course record holder) (Photo: Drew Arellano)

One Saturday, we did a 3hr run around the Blue and Green trails with Aldean Lim, who would eventually set a course record and win the 50mile race. That evening, we had decided to do another 3-4hr trail run the following day. And so the following morning, we began our run, led by Trail Master Gene Olvis & Dabobong delos Angeles. What we didn’t realize was we were in for an Adventure. The supposed 3-4hr run had turned into a 9hr expedition, from Timberland to Wawa Damn in Montalban, thru uninhabited mountains and rivers. Adding insult to injury was the fact that I wasn’t in trail shoes, and that both the soles of my shoes had fallen off 2hrs into the run! Until this day, most of the day remains a haze…but would prove to beneficial come race day. Weekend 1, CHECK!

Having Coffee 7hrs into the 9hr Adventure Run (Photo: Aldean Lim)

What was left of my shoes (Photo: Drew Arellano)

The following weekend, we did the same 3hr Trail run on saturday, but then decided to run on the road on Sunday. I texted Drew “Let’s run 42k.”. “Sure”, he replied. The 42k went by without much fanfare, and the legs felt great too. It was then when I started feeling pretty confident. 

4 City Marathon

Race Day

Guntime was at 1am on a Sunday morning, and so the plan was to try and rest most of the day Saturday, then drive straight to Clark Saturday evening late enough to catch the race briefing at midnight. Resting was close to impossible, and so with much anxiety, and 4 cups of coffee, we had made it to the starting line. As we lay in the grass of the Clark Parade grounds awaiting the start, I could not help but smile, as I would once again venture into the unknown. Unlike other races, we were completely on our own with regards to navigating the course. We were shown little orange markings which would be mark the right path. Simply put, if you are not seeing any more of these markings, you are lost, so backtrack until you find one, then proceed.

And We’re Off

The race began without any pomp. A hundred or so of us jogged ever so calmly into the darkness as the horn sounded off. The first 4km took us from the parade grounds to the entrance of the Sacobia river, thru paved roads. The next 5km proved a lot more difficult, as we we running on a riverbed, with rocks and ankle-deep water. Navigation was not easy, as markings were only visible every kilometer or so. We arrived in Aid Station 1 (AS1) as we exited the riverbed.

The next 20km was a combination of some very technical trails, with some rope climbing, and mostly rolling terrain. After 3hrs of running, we had reached AS3. It was still dark as we began the mountain assault. The next stage featured a mountain assault – close to 1,000 meters elevation gained over 10km over rough terrain. The next 2 hours was a mix of power hiking, scrambling and very little running. As we reached the top, the sun began to rise, and for the first time that day, I started to marvel at the beauty that surrounded us.


From AS4, it was a technical 1.5km descent to Miyamit Falls. It was there where I really appreciated the grip and protection the Berghaus Vapour Claw provided. I was confident and surefooted, even over moist and mossy rocks and boulders. We reached the turnaround point after about 5 and a half hours. We were not in any rush, so we took a dip in the pool, and took photos and videos, as each of us carried a GoPro.

My trusty Bergaus Vapour Claw

 After appreciating the view, and the chilly cold water of the falls, we proceeded to head back home. By this time the sun was shining brightly, and so visibility was no longer a problem when navigating and finding your footing. After climbing back up to AS4, we proceed to run the 10km downhill to AS3, and had to stop many times to take pictures and goof around. 

At the chilly and beautiful Miyamit Falls

Appreciating the beautiful views at the peak

7 hours into the race, and we were back in AS3, having already surpassed the marathon distance mark. We were in uncharted territory. The volunteers in AS3 were so fired up when we got there, it felt like we were rockstars. They pumped us up so much we took off at a sub 5min/km, which didn’t last so long. We then ran thru the same route, but this time in daylight. At around the 50km mark, we had caught 2 runners, putting us into 4th and 5th place respectively. I was starting to fade, but Drew was feeling good, so we decided to go at our own pace.

WU salute on top of a tractor (Photo: Drew Arellano)

Running Empty

A few kilometers later, I had gone off-course and lost my way. I did not realize that I had missed a turn until a few kilometers later, and took quite a while getting my bearings, and finding my way back. 9 hours into the race and I was running empty – literally and figuratively. I had emptied out my Camelbak, and my energy was at an all-time low. Mentally however, I knew I was going to finish, come what may.


I hobbled into AS1, sat down, and tried to gather myself. I attempted to eat some bread, but I could not swallow it. All I could take was Coke, and so I just started downing glass after glass. As I left the last aid station, tackling the last 9km, I started to feel a little better. Rain started to pour down, making it cooler, but also more difficult. The 5km through the now ankle deep Sacobia river was tricky. Heavy & wet shoes. Slippery rocks. Tired feet.

Home Sweet Home

Exiting the Sacobia river felt really good, as I knew that all I had I had left to traverse was 4km of paved roads. A little over 11hrs later, I had reached the finish line. Very tired, yet very fulfilled. I was met at the finish line by Drew, my wife Hannah, and my training buddies Levy & Elmer. I had accomplished what I set out on doing. The icing on the cake was finishing 7th overall, and Drew grabbing 3rd overall. 

Headstand at the CM50 Finish (Photo: Hannah Olives)

with Levy, Drew & Elmer (Photo: Hannah Olives)

I have had my fair share of dark times in races, especially in 2 of the 3 Full Ironmans I have completed, but I can confidently say, that without a doubt, this is the most difficult thing I have ever done. I always have and always will have respect for the Ultramarathon.

Would I do it again? HELL YEAH.


Javy Olives picked up running immediately after a paparazzi photo showed him in his gluttonous best in YES! Magazine. 40 pounds lighter, this runner/triathlete turned endurance junkie has completed 1 Ultramarathon, 3 Full Ironmans, 8 70.3’s & 6 marathons (3 of them an Ironman). Recently, he has been going off-road and dabbling in other Ultra-Endurance events.

Meet a Triathlete: Gelo & Drew Arellano

Saturday, 3 August 2013  |  Interviews + Features

“Meet a Triathlete” is a series of interviews with age-group triathletes that I’ll be publishing for the next few days leading up to Ironman 70.3 Cebu.  For all these interviews, I collaborated with my Coach Andy Leuterio of Alpha Tri.  To read more interviews, search “Meet a Triathlete” in the search box.

Gelo and Drew are brothers who are into marathons and triathlons. We featured them on TBR Magazine – Sept-Oct 2012.  The photos you’ll see here are taken for the magazine by Ben Chan of Blacksheep Manila.


NAME: Angelo Arellano
Number of years in triathlon: 5 years
Age: 42
Job: HVAC Contractor / Entrepreneur

NAME: Drew Arellano
Number of years in triathlon: 6 years
Age: 33
Job: TV Host

What do you like about triathlon?

G: Triathlon keeps me focused on continuous self-improvement.

D: Triathlon steers me to the right direction in life. Conditions me to have the proper dedication, perseverance, discipline, time management, among others. It gives me an opportunity to inspire other people to get up, move and live a healthier lifestyle.

– Gelo and Drew hamming it up for the cam. Drew is just hilarious –

Why did you decide to sign up for Ironman 70.3 Cebu?

G: I wanted to see if I could improve on last year’s performance knowing that my 2013 schedule will be more challenging. I also enjoy joining races that have a vacation feel to it.

D: IM 70.3 Cebu is probably everyone’s A-race this year including mine! Besides showcasing an awesome race course with beautiful scenery, the fantastic energy during the weekend is contagious!

Give us three words to describe your training with Coach Andy for Cebu.  Please tell us why you chose those words.


  1. Flexible – Coach Andy’s program is dynamic and takes into account this thing called life.
  2. Challenging – Coach Andy’s workouts are not only based on time and distance but also heart rate, power, etc.
  3. Inspiring – There are days when things don’t go your way. Coach Andy will be there to give you just the right amount of challenge to pick yourself up again.

– Gelo is part of the Fitness First Tri Team –

Can you share what your training week looked like the past weeks?

G: My main workouts last week were a long swim and race simulation. I failed to execute on the run leg and so Coach Andy made me do a long brick the following day instead of a recovery ride. His message after my “failure to execute”: Stay Focused!!! The race doesn’t care about your problems, soldier!!!

D: Coach would kill you, if i told you. Scary noh?

– Drew is a member of Team Unilab Active Health –

What is your goal for IM 70.3 Cebu? Do you feel confident in achieving your goal?

G: The obvious answer is to improve on last year’s performance but given my SBR result last week, I admit I am a bit concerned. Hopefully, slapping Coach Andy’s butt on the run can give me the added boost I need! J

D: My goal is just to finish… NOT! haha! Will let you know once i cross the line 🙂 Do i feel confident? I guess i should feel confident because i put in the hours. Luck would probably prevent tire punctures but hard work and dedication will get me across the finish line with a fulfilled smile on my face.

If you could only give one tip to people who want to get into triathlon, what would it be?

G: Find the perfect balance between family, work and triathlon because that is a challenge in itself.

D: Prepare to feel sexy in your spandex! Don’t worry about the unwanted bulges, they’ll soon disappear!

TBR Magazine Shoot – Behind the Scenes (July 2009 issue)

Friday, 25 September 2009  |  Bullish Insights

As the 3rd issue (Oct-Dec 2009) gets inked and stapled at the press, I thought of sharing with you the behind the scenes shots of our last TBR Magazine issue (July-Sept 2009) with Drew Arellano on the cover.

Together with Ben Chan of Blacksheep Photography/ Photovendo, our photographer, and his crew, Maui and Kevin, and Marga and Jun, we set off to Sierra Madre for a full day shoot…

– It was the first time I’d ever been to Sierra Madre. Half the time I was wishing I had brought some run gear along. I hope to return for a long run on those roads. Beautiful! –

– Our team: Kevin, Marga, Ben, Drew, Maui, myself, and Jun –

– I’m sure Drew would’ve been willing to run 5k to make our running shots look more realistic. But, to save time, Ben’s trusty spritzer provided fake sweat for Drew –

– What a pro! –

– We wanted this shot to be our cover. Orange was our favored color, but we ended up choosing an even better image –

We also shot Joselyn Saw of Pinoy Ultra Runners who recently returned from the TNF UTMB at Chamonix, France. This was at U.P. Diliman…

– Marie Calica, former beauty and fitness editor of Marie Claire Philippines, did the make up for her good friend, Josaw –

– Josaw, in her element –

And, the fruits of our hardwork…(please refrain from grabbing these shots without permission)





– Loved this shot. But it didn’t make it to the mag –

C’mon Get Happy

Friday, 9 January 2009  |  Race Announcements


If you haven’t heard about Drew Arellano’s Happy Run, then you must’ve been hiding under a rock.  This run, I think, is one of those that you just don’t want to miss. 


1) It’s for a good cause.  ALL proceeds will go to building the annex of the Bagong Tanyag Elementary School in Taguig.  Anything for kids and education!

2) There’s a 15k.  They sure know how to make runners happy.  Woohoo!  (I hope I can run this by then.)  Click here for race route.  Time to get ’em legs ready for another McKinley Hill ascent!

3) It’s going to be well-organized.  If it’s organized by Coach Rio, then runners can be confident about the race.  When a runner/triathlete, such as Drew Arellano, is behind the event, even better.

4) It’s all about passion and spreading the love (peace, man!)  This is a welcome change to the usual serious and competitive races we’re all accustomed to (although, of course, you can go all out and race to win too.)  I can already picture the fun and festive atmosphere of this race. (Drew mentioned to me last year that he planned on having dancers and bands at certain points. Is this pushing through?  I hope so!)

See you there!

WHEN: January 25 (Drew’s birthday)
WHERE: Near NBC Tent, Bonifacio Global City
DISTANCE: 3k (costume jog/ family walk), 5k and 15k 
ORGANIZER: Rio Dela Cruz (703.1736/ 0906.314.3807) 
REGISTRATION: P250 early reg at ROX, BHS; P500 onsite (includes DRI-FIT singlet)
PARTICIPANTS: Limited to 2,500

Click here to visit their cool site!