Stronger Together – Building Better Humans

Bacnotan? Bac-nope-tan!

From Benguet to Bacnotan

Weeks before the much-awaited Trailfecta took place, the news was already buzzing. The long-anticipated trail at Benguet has been moved to La Union and when the statement was officially released, different people had various reactions. But everyone knew what to do. They began training harder than before.

La Union is a fairly new landscape for trail runners. Mostly known for its surfing grounds and wild nightlife, most runners initially thought the La Union Trail Run would have a fairly easier (not easy, just easier) course compared to the elevation and altitude of Benguet. They (or we) could never be more mistaken.

What is the Spartan Trailfecta?

The Spartan Trailfecta is an event held during the weekend. With three races of different distances, the goal of each Spartan is to finish the race before the cutoff time. The Trail 50K race is held on the first day of the race, Saturday, with 14 hours to finish the race. The Trail Half Marathon race is then held on the second day, with six hours to finish the course. The Trail 10K race will be held later on the same day as the Half Marathon, with four hours to run through the trail. However, unlike the regular Spartan races that focus on obstacle course racing alongside trail running, the Spartan Trail focuses solely on trail running, with a log jump as the only obstacle to celebrate finishing the course. 

However, one thing the Spartan Trail races are infamously known for is its extremely strict cut-off times. It is one of the unique things that makes a Spartan race a Spartan race. It is one of the many reasons why Spartan athletes continue to train and push through despite the elevation, difficulty, and technicality of the trail.

Bacnotan? Bac-nope-tan!

The race course started with a road and somewhat flat terrain. By the third kilometer, it was easy to see why the Spartan Trail continued to prove challenging. Seeing the trail runners, you can see them look up at the trail, and upon noticing the elevation, hear them utter a curse, say a silent prayer, or even a little bit of both. Hydration, nutrition, and pacing during the race became key factors, and the effects of training for the past couple of weeks or months began to kick in.

Throughout the trail, one can see the view of the rivers and the unique landscape of La Union. But, just like in any trail run, it is also easy to miss the markers while taking note of the landscape and get lost on the trail. One trail runner missed a turn and had to run an extra three kilometers, while another got distracted by livestock and went astray for two hundred meters before realizing the markers were gone. The heat of the trail was also a factor in the difficulty of the runners. At one point, you can see Spartan athletes resting and taking a seat on the side, having to take a break because of the cramps or the heat.

The Danger of the Sport, and the Loss of a Life

With the difficulty and intensity of the Spartan Trail, athletes–whether beginners, experienced, or elites–were reminded of the dangers of the sport as well. It is also important to note that while we celebrate races with milestones and take home our learning and points for improvement, we are also reminded to value our lives and not take lightly the dangers and cautionary tales of the sport. An athlete’s life was also lost during the 21-kilometer trail. There can be no words said to lessen the pain of losing a fellow Spartan. He is remembered not just as a Spartan, but also as a son, a friend, a mentor, a father, and a human being with stories and experiences worth being shared as well. A Spartan mentioned her brief conversation with him, and though short, it is a simple yet heartfelt reminder to cherish each moment we have, be it in the trails, or in our everyday life.

The Champions of the Trail

The course ends back on the road, racing through the track, and concluding with a log jump to celebrate the finish of the course. Kristian Joergensen finished the Trail 50K with a jaw-dropping six hours and forty-four minutes, followed by Arnie Macaneras and Rhys Yvan Dane Pawid less than an hour later. Elizabeth Dangadang followed after two hours, finishing the race with eight hours and twenty-five minutes, being the women’s overall champion in the Trail 50K category.

In the Half-Marathon distance, Randolph Gonzales takes the trophy for being the overall champion for the men, finishing the trail two hours and forty-one minutes, and was shortly followed by Sam Bango and Ronald It-Itan twenty to twenty-five minutes after, with the second and third placer having a five-minute time difference. Angelie Dani Cabalo follows suit, finishing the route at three hours and eight minutes, just three minutes behind Ronald It-Itan. She was then followed by Silamie Gutang, who placed second with three hours and nineteen minutes, and was shortly followed by Melissa Campos, finishing the trail with three hours and thirty-one minutes.

Although the 10K race may be deemed “short” compared to the Half-Marathoners and 50K distance, it was still a challenge for most trail runners. Jason Ballawig finished the 10K race with an impressive one hour and six minutes, with Mark Bryan Grey bagging second with one hour and thirty minutes, and was followed by Kym Audrey Serran eight minutes later. Katrina Jane Luna also stole the gold for the overall female champion for the 10K race with only an hour and twenty-seven minutes, while Kimberly Gaela followed eight minutes later. Nerissa Daluyen bags the bronze medal at one hour and forty-three minutes.

From Trailfecta to Trifecta

After a month of more than enough recovery and reflection from the Trailfecta weekend, Spartans will now take on a new challenge: The Trifecta Weekend coming this November. Will you be racing in Montclair?

Find out more about the Trifecta weekend in our next article!

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Fayth Ong

Teach. Write. Move. Expore.

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