Tuesday morning we enjoyed locally made buns slathered with peanut butter and both strawberry and pineapple jam (both of which had been made home grown ingredients in Baguio) before heading out for a hike.
Our guide took us on what he thinks (and from the map as far as I can tell) is the trail for the race. It is basically a thin dirt road with the occasional motor bike passing by. At the beginning of the hike, so much was passing through my mind. Driving from Baguio the day before had prompted some serious doubts. The climbs seemed much steeper and higher than I’d imagined, it was hotter that I had predicted, and i’d just spent three weeks traveling through the Philippines, not running much at all. To top it all off, I was getting over a cold that I’d picked up the week before. Altogether not quite an equation that adds up to doubling the distance I’d ever completed.
Over and over I was hearing advice from friends leading up to leaving North America. I was also thinking about my experiences that lead me to this point (the four peaks attempt, training runs, the Grizz and three years ago where it all began, Running Tunisia).
As we climbed and I stirred all my thoughts around I just got more excited. First of all, if this road was the race trail, it was more runable than I’d imagined. Unlike the hiking trails in Kananaskis which go straight up the mountain, these wound around gradually building altitude (for the most part). It made sense really, since these roads are what supplies many small communities or extensions of Kayapa. Don’t get me wrong, there were steep parts, which after yesterdays roller coaster road was no surprise. But generally they started giving me back a little confidence.
The winding around, up and down was building into what I think is one of the race check point, Indupit. Indupit is a tiny community where our guide lives, essentially on top of a mountain. I was sorry that I didn’t have my gps with me when we reached the top (one of the items sacrificed as unessential when packing for our three month trip). I wanted to know how much we’d climbed and how far wed come. Luckily we had an old race map that gave us an idea. It was about 700 vertical meters from Kayapa and approximately 7 km.
Although we’d decided this would be the end for the day, we wondered a little further to turn a corner to get a better view of the trail. Ahead along the ridge we could see another future check point and the peak of Mount Ugo in the distance. From Indupit it would be around a 5km (very rough estimate) ridge run before a long descent and ascent to the top of Ugo which would be the highest point of the race and the second out of four mountain peaks. Ugo was mostly covered in fog but peaked out just enough to wink at me with a promise of it’s challenges to come.
We took a short cut down, led by our guide. My legs complained a little bit as we spent about an hour going down the steep type of trail that we normally hike at home. I’m crossing my fingers that the road is indeed the race trail or there will be a lot of hiking not running in my future.
All in all it was so great to test out what I will be doing in a few days. It was just a fraction of what I’ll have to do, but gave me a preview of the stunning scenery I will have as my running buddy for the duration of the race. It also allowed us to learn a little more about the area from our guide and even helped my scout out some potentially excellent pee break places (what could be better than that! Haha).
I have a feeling that after another good sleep tonight I will start getting impatient for the start horn to sound!