Malaysian runners defy their limits at the Philippines’s mother of all trail runs.
The sun tightens its grip, sapping the energy of the trail runners just ten kilometers into the race. The temperature rises as the sun reaches toward noon.
Taal Volcano, one of the smallest and most active volcanoes in the world, boasts its own share of complex romantic drama, as it sits on the caldera of a much bigger volcano. As if we were not lucky enough to get sucked into the puzzling beauty of this volcano within a volcano, we’re doing so under the shade of the pop-up tents, waiting for groups of two and three, or even just one runner to come by.
We blend into the crowd of 12th June spectators, cheering and capturing pure grit as runners pass by. While the roads and trails of Nuvali, Tagaytay and Batangas open to nearly 1,500 trail challengers, Happy 117th Independence Day, Philippines! is being shouted all over the country.
Running Malaysia follows three Malaysian runners in their bid to break all boundaries in the 100k, 50k and 22k categories of 2015 The North Face 100 Philippines.
MANY START, FEW FINISH
“TNF100 has become that ultimate challenge that makes you feel humble about ‘I cannot finish it’. People have been cursing it, but nobody said, ‘I will not join next year’,” says Race Director Neville Jay Manaois, an ultrarunner-slash-triathlete- slash-MTB rider himself.
It’s murder, say the first-timers. We second that, say the top finishers. Before our very eyes, we see how the runners get roasted in the process under the scorching hot sun. They are runners who knew they’re going to hurt and risk blistered feet, stress fractures, bladder trauma, while pushing through incredible pains, but do it anyway. All because they have learned to accept pain.
The immensely challenging terrains span Nuvali, Tagaytay and Batangas, which incorporated grassland, dirt road, punishing high elevations and river crossing. If that were not harsh enough, run the route in 35 degrees Celsius with aid stations located around 8km apart from each other.