Thursday, March 21, 2019

Kapangan Grand March 25-Kilometer Road Run Set For May 5

Gear up, runners. Another running event is coming your way on Cinco de Mayo. The town of Kapangan is cooking up a 25-kilometer road run that stretches from La Trinidad through Tublay and finally into Kapangan. The race is part of the events scheduled for the town's upcoming fiesta.

The run is named after the Grand March, a type of dance that's very popular in the town during occasions like weddings, reunions, anniversaries, graduations, and holiday celebrations. The story has it that the dance traces its roots during the turn of World War II. American soldiers stationed in barangay Sagubo performed a "grand march" when they learned of the Allied victory in the war. Locals replicated the moves of the dance and over time, it spread throughout the town.

In 2017, the town council enacted an ordinance declaring the Grand March as the town's official dance. The goal of the ordinance was to institutionalize the dance to ensure its preservation and continuity with upcoming generations of i-Kapangans. The provincial board of Benguet also gave the ordinance their support and approval.

Road runners will be treated with views like this along the route. Photo by Daniel Ted C. Feliciano/The Cordilleran Sun

The Kapangan Grand March Road Run came to fruition through Mark Fermin of Igohiking in partnership with various hiking groups and the local government units of Kapangan, Tublay, and Kapangan. For more information about the run, visit the run's Facebook event page here.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Mt. Pigingan Trail Run: Brace Yourselves For The Unforgiving Heat

I don't know how many times I've climbed Mt. Pigingan in Dalupirip, Itogon. Probably five or six times. I'll always remember those climbs for the difficult assault to the summit and the unforgiving heat. The hike to the top isn't by any means a long one. It's just difficult because of the heat. It doesn't help that large sections of the trail are open with very little options for shade. It's for this reason that in some of the instances I've been there, I often resorted to running instead of hiking.

I would usually run until I get to the next shaded section of the trail. I'd either rest or walk until I get to another open section of the trail. And then I would repeat the process. Running the trails of Mt. Pigingan is fun especially the downhill from the summit to the banks of the Agno River below.

Since embracing the sport of trail running last year, I've always wanted to go to Mt. Pigingan and run its trails, not just hike them. At one point, I even planned to run from Kayapa, Nueva Vizcaya, get to the summit of Mt. Ugo, then proceed to Mt. Pigingan. Unfortunately, that's too much of a challenge especially for a newbie runner like me. I've climbed Mt. Ugo a few times and the trail from Kayapa to the peak of Mt. Ugo is in itself a difficult trail. Needless to say, I rightfully shelved the plan of traversing from Mt. Ugo to Mt. Pigingan.

It's been a while since I've climbed Mt. Pigingan. All of my trips this year in Dalupirip was to climb Mt. Marikit, a lesser known mountain range on the shadows of Mt. Ugo. Last time I've heard, Mt. Marikit has been closed to hikers due to the forest fires that ravaged its slopes last February. If I want to go back there again, my only choice is to climb Mt. Pigingan.

I was in the process of finalizing the itinerary of a climbing and camping event there this coming April when a friend notified me of a trail running event to be held there on the same month. So there was an immediate change of plans. We will cancel the hiking and camping trip and sign up for the trail run instead. What can I say, the timing is perfect.

The bridge that spans over Agno River in sitio Tabu. Photo by Daniel Feliciano/The Cordilleran Sun.

The run will be on April 21 which means we have about four weeks to train and prepare. It also happens that we are planning to join the HP by TP on April 14. HP by TP is a road run but it stretches for more than 50 kilometers. If I'll run it, will I be able to recover and run the Mt. Pigingan Trail Run just a week later? There's only one way to find out. And that is to sign up for both.

If I'm not mistaken, the race director for the Mt. Pigingan Trail Run will be Jonel Mendoza, the man behind the King of the Mountain Trail Run series. The man's a veteran of the sport and an experienced race director so I'm expecting a well-organized event. With that said, see you Dalupirip on the 21st of April. For more details about the trail run, visit the Facebook event page for it here.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Jeremy Pacatiw Of Team Lakay Defeats Mark Alcoba Via Submission

Jeremy Pacatiw of Team Lakay extended his winning streak to 3 with a dominant victory over Mark Alcoba in the undercard of Brave Combat Federation: Storm of Warriors on Friday night (March 15). In front of a raucous crowd at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City, Pacatiw outstruck and outgrappled Alcoba enroute to an arm-bar submission victory in the third round.

Pacatiw mixed things up with leg kicks and takedowns. He would go high with kicks then catch Alcoba off-guard with takedowns. Alcoba is as tough as they come but he has very little to offer to stop Pacatiw's pressure. When on the ground, it's all Pacatiw as he grapples, maintains his positions, and goes for multiple submission attempts. Alcoba was on defensive and survival mode for the duration of the fight.

The end came in the third and final round when Pacatiw saw an opportunity for an arm bar. He tightened his grip and Alcoba had no choice but tap out.

With the victory, Pacatiw improves his record to 6 wins and 3 loses. Alcoba drops to 4 wins and 2 losses. Pacatiw has been fighting for Brave since 2016.

Harold Banario Of Team Lakay Makes Successful Comeback With Impressive Submission Victory

Harold Banario, a young prospect who fights under the Team Lakay banner, has been inactive for nearly four years. His last mixed martial arts fight was way back in June of 2015 where he was knocked out by Mark Abelardo in the second round.

Tonight at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City, Banario redeemed himself with an impressive victory over Ariel Oliveros with a submission in the very first round.

Banario and Oliveros locked horns in the undercard of a Brave Combat Federation event dubbed Storm of Warriors. Banario entered the cage with a record of 4 wins and 1 loss. His opponent Oliveros had a record of 3 wins and 3 losses.

Banario surprised Oliveros by going for a takedown right off the bat. Banario got the takedown and quickly went to work on a leg lock. Oliveros tapped seconds later.

This is Banario's debut in the Brave Combat Federation promotion. He is the younger brother of Honorio Banario, another Team Lakay standout who fights for One Championship.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Makedsang Trail Run 2019: My First Crack At A 50-Kilometer Race

My first attempt in running a 50-kilometer trail race was a roller-coaster. When a friend sent me an invitation for the inaugural Makedsang Trail Run, I wasn’t sure if I’m ready to take on the 50-kilometer course. I said I wasn’t ready for it so I declined. But he insisted so I said, okay, I’m going. A week later, I found myself standing at the starting line at 3:00 in the morning waiting for the race to start. And off we went.

Suffice it to say that it was the hardest and most difficult run I ever did. It took me 10 hours to finish the 50-kilometer course. I don’t know if that’s a good time or a bad time. The course was very technical. Steep uphills, steep downhills, river crossings, rock boulders, dirt roads with dust that’s inches deep, you name it, the course had it. Not only that, the heat was scorching. It’s hard to run with the unforgiving sun bearing down on you for hours at a time. And we got lost quite a good number of times. At one point, several of us were running back and forth at a river bed trying to find trail markers and ribbons. The run also involved a lot of bushwhacking.

It was a hard and difficult run but it was fun. I enjoyed it very much. As they say, if you want to be a trail runner, you should be willing to embrace the pain and the struggle of trying to reach the finish line. It doesn’t matter if it’s a 15-kilometer course or a 50-kilometer course, you will suffer through it. As a newbie in this sport, I learned a lot of lessons from the event. I need to learn how to maintain a pace that won’t burn me out. I was so tired that I stopped running and walked the last 10 kilometers or so to the finish line. I need to learn how to refuel and rehydrate while on the move. At one point, I ran out of water. Hunger and thirst took their toll. That was a huge mistake and a humbling experience.

Thank you Tuba and Camp 1 for a great experience. A million thanks to the organizers, the volunteers, the marshalls, the BFP, the PNP, and everyone involved in making the race a success. Congratulations to all the runners. It was great to be running alongside masters of the trail like Allison Tellias, Edu Losnong, and Jomar Buclay. You are a source of inspiration for newbie runners like me.

When I reached the finish line, I said “never again, I don’t want to go through that suffering again.” I take that statement back. I would definitely do it again. See ya in the trails.

Photo Credit: The Sleepy Owl/Jarlaw Virgino - Photo taken at the uphill climb towards the aid station in Camoag, if I remember the name of the place correctly. The view from this hill was amazing. It has sweeping views of Tuba and nearby towns in Pangasinan.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

A Walk In The Woods: When The Appalachian Trail Beckons

[This is a review of the book A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. Published in 1997 by Doubleday and by Black Swan the next year, A Walk in the Woods chronicles Bryson's attempt to trek and complete the Appalachian Trail. Other travel books by Bryson include Notes from a Small Island and The Lost Continent.]

If you have any semblance of interest in hiking, then I’m sure you’ve heard of the great Appalachian Trail. Fans of brevity simply refer to it as the AT. Stretching for more than two thousand miles along America’s eastern seaboard, it’s the granddaddy of long treks. This gargantuan trail is the muse for Bill Bryson’s book called A Walk in the Woods. In his early forties, Bryson thought it wise to go on an adventure and hike the entirety of the Appalachian Trail. For company, he brought with him a friend, a weirdo named Stephen Katz.

With their backs bent and burdened by overloaded packs, they embarked on a bittersweet journey through the legendary nooks and corners of the Appalachian Trail. With honesty, cleverness, and humor, Bryson chronicles their exploits on the trails. Bryson has achieved something extraordinary here. You would think that a one-time attempt of completing the Appalachian Trail would only merit an article or two. Bryson said to hell with that and proceeded to write a 350-page book about his attempt. With undeniable storytelling prowess, Bryson weaves stories that inspire you and make you pine for the woods.

I’d like to assume that Bryson wrote the book with hikers and outdoor enthusiasts in mind. The fact that I’m a hiker myself made the book more enjoyable to read. In many ways, the book pays tribute to the perks and tribulations of being a hiker. Yep, I get that reference. Yes, that’s exactly what I felt after a 12-hour trek. Yeah, sometimes I feel like I’d rather push an ice pick through my head rather than go on a long hike ever again. Bryson’s prose connects with you as if you are right there sitting right beside him in a cold shelter along the trail with Katz trying to build a fire with damp twigs just a few feet away.

It’s nice to know as well that Bryson did his research. He gave the book a nice dose of historical stories and anecdotes. You get a quick history lesson about how the Appalachian Trail came about. He connects these historical snippets with his own experiences in the trails. This is a rare talent that only a few writers are able to master. With that said, A Walk in the Woods isn’t just a fun and readable adventure book, it’s also “Exhibit A” for aspiring writers wanting to learn a trick or two on nature writing.

Overall, A Walk in the Woods was an enjoyable read. If you are a hiker, there’s a good chance you will like this book. If you’re not much of an outdoors person, you may not like the topic but Bryson’s humor and good writing might carry you through.
Wikimedia Commons
On that note, I’ll leave you with this quote from the book: “I had come to realize that I didn’t have any feelings towards the Appalachian Trail that weren’t thoroughly contradictory. I was weary of the trail, but captivated by it; found the endless slog increasingly exhausting but ever invigorating; grew tired of the boundless woods but admired their boundlessness; enjoyed the escape from civilization and ached for its comforts. All of this together, all at once, every moment, on the trail or off.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Exploring Mt. Marikit in Itogon, Benguet

In this age of social media saturation wherein information travels at the speed of light, it never ceases to surprise me how little I know about my immediate surroundings. I had yet another one of these surprises when I was invited for an exploratory climb of a fairly unknown mountain somewhere in Itogon, Benguet. I enthusiastically jumped at the invitation. Climbing and exploring a mountain that only a few souls know about is every hiker’s dream. It’s a treat that comes only once in a blue moon. There’s something endearing and magical about owning a mountain even for just a day. It’s just you and your group scaling the slopes.

That mountain turned out to be Mt. Marikit, a rocky peak sandwiched between the villages of Dalupirip and Tinongdan. “Marikit” is the Ibaloi term for “beautiful”. Prior to the climb, I’ve never heard of this mountain which is surprising because I’ve been to Dalupirip and Tinongdan countless of times. These two secluded villages serve as either the entrance or exit points for hikers climbing either Mt. Ugo or Mt. Pigingan. It turned out that Mt. Marikit is just a kilometer or two away from Mt. Pigingan, a mountain which I’ve climbed for like ten times already.

We started early. Our group of around twenty hikers were at the registration site in sitio Salapsap just as the sun started to rise over the horizon. We were not the only group climbing that day. A group of runners (Team Pinikpikan) have decided to run the trails to the summit of Pigingan. They hit the trails a half hour or so before us.

The trail to Mt. Marikit starts within Dalupirip central. This is a quiet village surrounded by rice fields, river tributaries, and towering mountains. The place is in itself a thing of beauty. Folks from open windows greeted us with subdued smiles as we passed by. At the edge of the rice fields, the assault to the summit began. For a couple of hours, we hiked through a steep incline with winding dirt trails. This is the hardest part of the trail. Once you reach the mountain’s ridge line, there’s very little climbing to do. The next two hours or so to the rocky summit is merely a stroll through grassy slopes and pine forests.

True to form, the views from the trails were beautiful and refreshing. We were welcomed by sweeping views of the Cordillera mountains. You can also view the towering peaks of other well-known climbing destinations like Mt. Ugo, Mt. Pigingan, and even Mt. Pulag in nearby Kabayan. The trail to the summit is easy to follow so it would be rare for anyone to get lost. The first half of the trail is actually a route for the Cordillera Mountain Ultra, a running event held there every year. Every few meters of the trail, you see the remnants of the markers for the annual run. Just follow the markers until you get to the grassy clearing near the top of the ridge leading to Mt. Marikit.

The summit of Mt. Marikit features a rocky terrain with clumps of trees and brush. Technically speaking, we didn’t go to the actual summit. We congregated a few dozen feet below the main summit. There’s a high cliff that you need to scale to reach the main summit. We didn’t have the necessary ropes and gear so we contented ourselves with a view of the top. However, I think that it’s possible to get to the summit from the north side through a pine forest without having to scale the rocky cliff. To do this though, you have to skirt around the peak from the east or west side. Maybe next time.

The descent was in itself a huge challenge. For several hours, we trekked through pine forest trails. A huge section of the trail follows an irrigation canal that winds for a kilometer or so back to where we started. The irrigation canal runs across a steep cliff. We had to navigate through the narrow walkways. A misstep or two can have you plunging below. One of us actually fell off the walkway but she managed to grab onto something. God knows what could’ve happened if she fell all the way down below. With that said, I wouldn’t recommend hikers to take that route. For safety reasons, I would advise those planning to climb Mt. Marikit to get to the summit and return to the jump-off point following the same route they used to get to the top (backtrail).

Overall, Mt. Marikit lives up to its name. It’s beautiful. The trails are great. The views are awesome. It’s the perfect place to conduct a long hike. It took us around twelve hours to finish the trek. It was already dark when we got back to the jump-off point in sitio Salapsap.

I will return, that’s for sure. Maybe to run the mountain’s trails or camp on one of its grassy clearings. See you soon again, Mt. Marikit.

Here are a few photos from the climb. Photos courtesy of Ana Fe.