I am currently travelling in South East Asia and as part of my trip I decided to do the Four Lakes 100km Ultramarathon in Kayapa, Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines on May 25th, 2013. Because of it’s remoteness, Kayapa does not have internet, however I wrote a few blog posts while I was there and will post them retroactively.
Tuesday May 21, 2013 – Kayapa, Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines
We arrived in Baguio City on Sunday after a long trip that began Friday night in Naga City. As Keith and I got closer to Baguio, we both felt that we were in our element; we were surrounded by mountains.
For one blissful night we enjoyed a reprieve from fried meat and rice, eating at two vegetarian restaurants and relishing in the many delicious types of vegetables grown in the fields around the city. At home the biggest part of most of my meals are fresh fruit and veggies, and while the freshly picked mangos are divine, they just can’t fill in for all the other veggies and fruit.
Monday afternoon we caught a roller coaster to Kayapa. The van was the most insane journey I’ve ever taken, much more crazy than a traditional roller coaster and lasting just over two hours. The mountains in this area are serious, the tallest one stretching 2922 m above sea level (and unlike Alberta where we live, the ocean is really close). The roads are literally on the side of mountains. Neither Keith or I have ever seen roads like this, especially not at speeds that these vans go. In the 75 km ride we probably climbed ten mountains. We would start at the very bottom of a valley at a river and climb all the way to the top. The views (when we could tear our eyes away from the road) were stunning. Lush greenery, big open sky, just a dusting of mist, it was like a fairy tale.
And nothing like I had pictured in my mind. Somehow, even though I knew the elevations, I had expected more rolling hills. After all, I live in the Rockies which mostly consist of steep climbs with abrupt summits. It’s not as rocky here so how could it be steep was my (deluded) logic. So not only was my stomach upset from the roller coaster, it was also getting more and more butterflies with every mountain we saw.
Arriving in Kayapa was unnerving. We were dropped by the town hall and could see both ends of the village from that spot. Kayapa has 20,000 residents but only some live in the village. The rest live in/on the mountains farming (where you’d never imagine farms could exist – think next to vertical fields). Jonel, the extremely helpful race director had warned us of Kayapa’s size and told us to ask the nearest person for the Baltazar residence, where we would be staying (there are no hotels in villages of this size).
Once we found the place (“It’s the green house over there” which was about 25m away), we were welcomed with open arms by Sheryl, the Baltazar’s daughter and her adorable three year old son Charles Ivan, who was quick to warn us about the “scary trees” surrounding the village. Our room was clean, quite and comfortable, just what I needed for some pre race R and R.
I was the first runner to arrive which made me both nervous and excited to welcome the others who arriving later in the week. My goal was to acclimatize to the altitude, do a little hiking and get some serious rest after all of the sleep depriving travel we’d done in the last month.
I can’t wait to meet everyone and explore the mountains!