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.

CDO-Dahilayan 55k Ultramarathon

Thursday, 7 April 2011  |  Race Announcements

When will you join an ultramarathon? I can’t count anymore how many times I’ve been asked that question. And, honestly, I never felt compelled to give a specific race for an answer.

First of all, I’m not in a mad rush to reach ultra distance.  I’ve been quite fulfilled running my favorite 21ks and challenging myself with a 42k every now and then.  Secondly, I am a bit choosy about my first ultramarathon.  For the longest time now, I’ve had the following conditions for my first ultra:

1) Scenic and surrounded by nature
2) Off-road
3) Safe (traffic-free)
4) Fun (relaxed, nothing too serious, and among good friends)

I planned on shooting for my first ultra abroad, forever envious of Rick’s ultramarathon adventures.  But, after a brief trip to Cagayan de Oro City last Saturday where I was invited by Circle Productions to give an inspirational talk on running at SM CDO, I changed my mind…


Our hosts, Francis Velasquez and Jeffrey Ang of Circle Productions, are the organizers behind The CDO-Dahilayan 55k Trail Ultramarathon, which takes runners from Cagayan de Oro City to Bukidnon.


As soon as we arrived at CDO, they took us through the entire route of the ultramarathon starting from Rodelsa Circle in Cagayan de Oro City to Dahilayan Adventure Park in Bukidnon…

– The route is a mix of road and trail. It passes through the backroads of CDO to Bukidnon skipping major highways. Lots of trees along the course –

– I won’t lie to you. The course has a lot of climbs, but that shouldn’t scare any of us, right?  RIGHT?! –

– Vehicles are few and far between –

– Scenic route? Check! –

– Hardly any vehicles nor pollution on the route? Check! –

– Yes, we had to stop, ooh and aah over the route, and have a touristy shot taken. Lit, myself, Francis, and Jeffrey –

– Course passes through cornfields… –

– …and Del Monte’s pineapple fields –

– with Francis who I first met at Condura 2010. We were minutes away from each other after crossing the finish of our 42km. He recently finished BDM 102km –

– Aaack. I can’t wait to run on roads like this… –

– …and this! –

– Icing on top of the cake: the race ends at picturesque Dahilayan Adventure Park. Francis and wife Margie (TBR DM 2011 Finisher), myself, Cheryl and Jeffrey –

– Weather and atmosphere was very much like Baguio City. There are activities for the entire family from ziplining to a small zoo –

– Pinegrove Mountain Lodge is brand new and would be a great place to stay. KC Concepcion and Sam Milby stayed here a couple of weeks ago. Yes, I just had to share that bit of trivia –

– Right outside Pinegrove is the zipline rides which comes free with your CDO Dahilayan race fee. They have the longest zipline in Asia! –

– These are the brand new rooms for sharing. If you plan to stay here, reserve  ASAP. Limited rooms available. Details below –

– with Elpie Paras (2nd from left), owner of Pinegrove, after our presscon –


  • Event: CdO-Dahilayan 55K Trail UltraMarathon
  • Date: July 9, 2011
  • Assembly Time: 3:00 am
  • Gun Start: 4:00 am
  • Cut-Off Time: 12 hours
  • Distance: 55 kilometers
  • Starting Point: Rodelsa Circle, CdO
  • Finish Line: Dahilayan Adventure Park
  • Registration Fee: P2,000 inclusive of:
    • Free Zipline Ride
    • Carbo Loading Party on July 7, 2011
    • Finisher’s Jacket
    • Medal
    • Free Shuttle Ride from Dahilayan back to CdO
  • Registration starts on April 20, 2011. Early Bird Rate: P1,800 until May 31, 2011
  • Registration Centers:
    • Manila- A runner’s circle ph along Roxas Blvd
    • Cebu- Vivo Barefoot in Ayala Center Cebu
    • Cagayan de Oro- Max’s Restaurant CdO and La Cabana Spa
  • Accommodations: Pinegrove Mountain Lodge
    • Call 0922 880 1319
    • Family Room P5000 (6pax), Standard P2800 (2pax w/ free breakfast), Deluxe P3200 (3pax w/ free breakfast for 2pax), Extra bed P500


As with many things in life, I wasn’t looking for this one, but it just appeared out of nowhere. And, I think it’s the one!

So, after I viewed the route and before I left Dahilayan Park, I was 97% sure I was going to sign up for this as my first ultra. Then, I received a little surprise after our talk in SM. Francis and Jeff presented us with a little gift: a complimentary race pack for the Cdo-Dahilayan Ultramarathon. Thanks Circle Productions! It upped my decision to 98%!


– See the joy in my face?! Thanks to Margie for this photo –

As for the last 2%, I’m working on it…gotta get permission from the hubby and kids. Let’s see! For now, training shall commence anyway!  To my running buddies, expect me to bug you about joining this one.  It’s going to be great fun!

Botak Postponed to Aug. 23

Wednesday, 24 June 2009  |  Race Announcements

Botak has announced that it will only hold the BOTAK Paa-tibayan Takbo 100KM Ultra-Marathon Race this Sunday.  All other race distances—the street mile challenge, 5 miler, and 10 miler—-has been postponed to August 23, 2009.

Official memo from Botak: 

The Ultra-Marathon Races – 100K and 50K solo shall proceed this coming weekend but due to the pressure from our school participants we are re-scheduling the date for our Street Mile, 10 and 5 Miler Race this coming June 28, 2009 to Aug. 23, 2009 in the UP Campus Diliman.

We had received a number of requests from our school participants who had been affected by the recent virus scare also. BOTAK has been tapping grass roots participants (kids and students from various schools, public and private) to participate however a lot of schools had been closed or either cancelled. The bulk of our registrants came from the corporate and schools category.

With all this we had painstakingly considered a changed of schedule.




Top 3 Ultramarathon Tips from Bataan Death March Ultramarathoners (Part 2)

Friday, 17 April 2009  |  Interviews + Features

I asked 11 Bataan Death March Ultramarathoners (see their profile here) for their top 3 tips for wannabe ultramarathoners.  Here’s what they said:


  1. Read up everything you could on ultra. I mean everything you could get your hands on. Knowledge and preparation are everything. Everything is intertwined. For example, you messed up in your fuel or hydration intake during a race and you wish you did not join. 
  2. You simply have to love pain. You have to be crazier than the ordinary mortals out there to join these kinds of races! Can you endure running with blisters (the size of golf balls) under the balls of your feet for several hours and not cry mama? You just have to have high tolerance for pain but please remember the glory is in the difficulty.
  3. Have an inspiration. Run for others whether for family, friends, enemies or even your pet. There has to be selfless side to it.


  1. Plan and organize your training program then gradually build up your mileage and try to hit your target weekly mileage
  2. Train for the elements: know what the environment/ weather the race presents then train appropriately for it
  3. Taper well and do a lot of mental training: taper week is a good time to do more mental training because usually as the physical training goes down,  mental training goes up). the last half of the race becomes purely mental almost!!! 


  1. You gotta train and prepare properly, joining an ultra is no joke which is why those who have done long runs/races that test physical endurance capabilities are in the best position to know how their bodies will respond when faced with more similar and daunting challenges.
  2. Never ever forget to constantly hydrate and refuel (this is what kept me going)
  3. You have to be a little crazy or dizzy to join an ultramarathon, ENJOY IT that’s the journey and the experience.


  1. TRAIN PROPERLY — An ultra is not a race that you could cheat.  If you come unprepared, you will feel the toll as early as the first half.  Build on your mileage.  Go long on your runs.  And prepare yourself mentally that this wouldn’t be easy.
  2. BE PATIENT –Learn to pace yourself.  Don’t go all out at the start of a race.  Bear in mind that this is a very long run and all energy should be conserved so as to take you to the finishline.  There are no shortcuts.  At the end of the day, you need to go through all the kilometers you are racing.  Start slow, finish strong.
  3. LOVE WHAT YOU ARE DOING — Training for an ultra takes 100% commitment.  You need to balance work, family, and social life with your training program.  You need to learn how to give and take.  If you see this as a chore, chances are you would not enjoy what you are doing.  In the end, you will find yourself skipping your training days.  And you will find yourself wondering, “Did I train right for this?” or “What am I doing here at this start line?”  If you love what you are doing, you would be able to diligently follow your program, and you would be able to confidently stand along with the other runners and say “Hell yeah, I can do this.”


  1. TRAIN for it, the distance is a huge challenge to many, even experienced marathoners. Do run up to 50km at least prior to the race to get used to the fatigue.
  2. Nutrition is essential, constantly taking in fluids & gels, ensure your body electrolyte storage is not depleted.
  3. Enjoy the run, enjoy the sights & sounds(I have never seen such a beautiful sunrise before (: )


  1. Develop a good physical stamina and build-up endurance gradually so that your body has enough time to adapt and get accustomed to the stress imposed. This will also help you stay injury-free. 
  2. Mental imagery coupled with actual practice of race conditions so that both body and mind is trained and prepared for what is to come. Develop a game plan and stick with it. 
  3. Have a strong support group and running buddies who will give you a push when you need it. In my case, my boyfriend Kevin Fule of Gold’s Gym was there for me through and through. He offered all the support I needed in finishing my first ultra.


You know how realtors say location, location, location?  Well, for aspiring ultramarathoners, it’s train, train, train.  I’m the last person they should listen to because I did everything wrong.  I didn’t deprive myself of anything, my lifestyle didn’t change all that much.  And I realize, if I want to do better, things will have to, there is no other way.


  1. Train real hard.just remember that it is in these training days that makes the race easier come d-day
  2. Train your mental side as well.you can’t simply finish an ultramarathon by merely training your legs to endure the distance.it is the homestretch that will test all your limits-physically,mentally,spiritually and emotionally
  3. No matter how hard the race gets going,enjoy each and every step,however small,painful and slow, because everything will be over even before you know it.  Besides,every step you make will lead you to where it matters the most in the end.


  1. Always have a plan, bawal ang “bahala na si batman”.  If Plan A doesn’t work, make sure you have plan b c d e…. well it’s a long race.  Part of the plan is nutrition.  Thanks to Harvie of Hammer for giving me a nutrition  program that enabled me to race all the way to 102.
  2. Visualize the outcome of crossing the finish line and getting your medal.  You have to believe.  
  3. When the going gets tough and you can’t run or walk anymore, chop runs into small repetitions by targeting objects on the road.  In my case, I would run 3 posts then walk 1.  Run up to the Pajero then walk till the salmon colored house.   This was my plan until the final 10km surge of running to the finish.  


  1. Train for the long haul. Increase your mileage gradually to avoid injury.  Don’t rush things.
  2. Incorporate working out the whole body and core; do cross training like bike or swim for endurance.  An endurance runner needs a strong core.
  3. Rest. Once a week give your body time to recover and heal.


  1. A proper race plan (which includes rest planning) is as important as the training you go through.
  2. Never believe you can’t do it!
  3. Enjoy your race!

The Tough TNF

Monday, 28 July 2008  |  Race Announcements

For weeks, I was mourning the loss of the opportunity to join The North Face 100.  In fact, as I’ve said, I ran the Robinson’s Buddy Wellness thinking of how much fun all the other runners were having at TNF in Batangas.  Little did I know that I should’ve been glad I didn’t join (only because I’m not a mud-loving, rock climbing type of girl.)

Word is out that it was a tremendously tough course reserved for the more experienced runners.  There were four river crossings, dilapidated bridges and snakes!  They say it was more of an adventure race than a marathon.  For the 100km, of the 90 teams (including relay) that joined, I heard that only 30-40 crossed the finishline.  An HK runner who finished the Gobi Desert Ultra Marathon didn’t finish either.

But, despite the toughness of the course, there were runners that did finish and conquer the trails. All of them deserve a big congratulations and a warm cup of hot chocolate: 

– The first runner for 100km crossed in at 13 hours male and 15 hours female.   

– A Singaporean couple joined for the relay.  The first was the man who arrived late in the afternoon.  The woman should have been next, but it was too dark already and the course was dangerous.  So, the man ran another 50km loop to accompany his partner. 

– Jeremy Go, my unofficial editor in this blog, who I met only a few weeks back and came across as an unassuming guy (who I thought at that time was a newbie runner) finished the 100km beating the 30 hour cut off time by 10mins.  While other runners had quit and gone to sleep, he trekked throughout the night without anyone to accompany him.  

– My friend Annie won the 20km despite it being her 1st trail run.  She split four times and ran through slippery, narrow trails yet came out unscathed.  Congrats again Annie!  I’m so proud of you.

How about you?  What’s your story?  Would you do this again?